According to Beijing police, there are currently about 200,000 foreign residents in Beijing. Since May 15, 2012, the Chinese government has started ‘cleaning out’ illegal foreign residents. Local newspapers claim that this campaign is in reaction to a sexual assault committed by a British citizen on May 8, 2012 in Beijing.
Echoing the official campaign, Yang Rui, television anchor of state-controlled China Central Television English Channel (CCTV 9), suggested in Chinese micro-blogging site Sina Weibo that foreigners are ‘spies’, ‘trash’ and ‘thugs’. He also called Melissa Chan, Al Jazeera's Beijing correspondent, who was expelled by the Chinese government in early May 2012, a ‘bitch’ and furthermore, suggested that more representatives of foreign media should be kicked out of China. The inclusion of the expelled AJ reporter in the list of ‘foreign trash’ somehow confirmed speculations [zh] that the campaign to remove illegal foreigners has hidden political motivations, in particular as seen against the background of the escape of blind dissident Chen Guangcheng to the U.S.
Josh Chin from China Real Time Report, the Chinese branch of the Wall Street Journal, wrote an article about this issue which included the following translation of comments made by Yang Rui:
The Public Security Bureau wants to clean out the foreign trash: To arrest foreign thugs and protect innocent girls, they need to concentrate on the disaster zones in [student district] Wudaokou and [drinking district] Sanlitun. Cut off the foreign snake heads. People who can’t find jobs in the U.S. and Europe come to China to grab our money, engage in human trafficking and spread deceitful lies to encourage emigration. Foreign spies seek out Chinese girls to mask their espionage and pretend to be tourists while compiling maps and GPS data for Japan, Korea and the West. We kicked out that foreign bitch and closed Al-Jazeera’s Beijing bureau. We should shut up those who demonize China and send them packing.
This report caught Yang Rui's attention and he responded [zh] in Sina Weibo as follows:
清扫洋垃圾，华尔街日报这么在意？暗示我排外，扯吧！在华的外国人渣不少，优秀的友好的和尊守中国法律的外国人也很多。甄别一下，打扫卫生，理性相处，中国人是非常好客的，有些好客得有些媚外，丧失了人格和国格。周末愉快，buddies, have fun on weekend
It’s interesting that this outburst came from Yang Rui, who is in some ways one of the faces of China’s soft power push. Dialogue is an English-language program, which means it is targeted at foreigners in China and abroad by default. The fact that its host (one of them, anyway) is apparently a racist xenophobe is probably indicative of how successful China’s soft power push is likely to be.
But beyond that, it is rather incredible that someone who has been talking to foreigners for years — indeed, someone who is supposed to be one of China’s representatives to foreigners — apparently knows so little about us that he actually believes crazy shit like this…
Mr Custer also demanded that CCTV fire the xenophobic host. On the right hand side is his online pamphlet, which has been circulated widely on Sina Weibo.
In response to this action, Yang invited the police [zh] to check on the blogger's background:
Quite a number of Chinese netizens are conscious of Yang's position in the propaganda machine and have challenged his idiocy. However, many netizens are in support of the government policy of cleaning out foreigners in Weibo, with feelings inflamed by extensive reports in local media on criminal activities by foreign individuals and abusive behavior, such as this shameful incident on a passenger train. Below are some typical comments under the Sina Weibo's popular tag: #Beijing clean out illegal foreign residents# (#北京清理非法居留外国人#):
@网游快报：#北京清理非法居留外国人#在清理 “三非”老外的同时，也要严加管教，那些合法的外国人，让他们知道 来了中国就要给我老实本分的 遵守中国法律 ！
This post was sub-edited by Jane Ellis.