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China's ‘Foreign Forces’ Propaganda, Redefined

Categories: East Asia, China, Citizen Media, Digital Activism, Governance, Humor, Politics

“Foreign forces” is a term frequently used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its mouthpieces to describe the political motivation behind opposition voices and groups in China. Once an individual or a group is labelled as being controlled by foreign forces, political prosecution becomes justified.

Now, some Chinese Web users are turning the term back on the Communist Party.

In recent years, as more and more scandals have come to light involving party leaders and government officials who smuggle money out of the country to support the luxury lifestyle of their overseas family members, netizens are actively redefining the meaning of “foreign forces” to mock the corrupt ruling class.

A recent political cartoon [1] by microblogger “Speaking genuinely” is one of the best examples in appropriating the party's political label for describing domestic corruption:

Political cartoon unloaded by micro-blogger "Speaking genuinely" to Sina Weibo. [2]

Political cartoon uploaded by microblogger “Speaking genuinely” to Sina Weibo. The official said: Now that my family is overseas, I can take whatever I like.

Below is an explanation note attached to the cartoon:


[What is “foreign forces”?] The wife, who has settled overseas, is responsible for money laundering the family property. The children are showing off the family wealth in top universities overseas. Their properties are spreading all across the world. Their money has been deposited in all major banks around the world. While the father is a public servant responsible for the hard duty of turning yuan into US dollars, delivering speeches on every occasion against corruption. That is called foreign forces!

Many microbloggers joined in to define “foreign forces” in the post's comment section:

章立凡 [3]: 这种势力才是“正能量”,骂他们的人是不爱祖国的“人渣”…

Zhang Lifang: Such forces are the so-called “positive energy”. Those who criticize them are the “scumbag” who do not love their motherland.

大圣2004 [4]:身在天朝心在外的“爱国者”!

“Holy 2004″: They are the “patriots” whose bodies are in the Empire but their hearts are all settled overseas.

“Script writer Xiaohua” twisted “a handful of the minority”, another official propaganda term used to describe those who are controlled by foreign forces, to fit the redefinition of “foreign forces”:

编剧少华 [5]:境外势力不假,可他们并不是一小撮人。

“Script writer Xiaohua”: They are the real foreign forces, but they are not “a handful of the minority.”

Some commented on the lack of democracy behind the problem of foreign forces:

杨济诚 [6]:百姓手中无选票,任凭党棍横行时。

“engine888″: While ordinary people don't have the vote, party bullies can do whatever they want.

薇菡儿 [7]:“境外势力”还骂民主,骂普世价值呢。

“Rose bud”: “Foreign forces” also like to criticize democracy and universal value.

道非无道 [8]:经济“全球化”,利益“私有化”,子女“西洋化”,政治“牌坊化”,人民“奴仆化”

“Daofeiwudao”: Economy “globalized”, interest “privatized”, offspring “westernized”, politics “sloganized”, people “enslaved”.

“infantry soldier” looked to Russia for ideas how to solve the foreign forces issue:

步兵都尉 [9]:期望能象普京一样拿出铁腕来,凡国外有存款的,一律不得担任公职。

“infantry soldier”: I hope to have an iron-clad policy similar to Vladimir Putin [10]‘s and ban those who have foreign bank accounts from becoming government officials.

Others fleshed out the reimagining of the term “foreign forces” even more:

我是老纪 [11]:只要风吹草动,他们立刻会回到自己的祖国–美国,与家人团聚。星条旗下他们热泪盈眶,发誓要用生命保卫自己的祖国。

“I am Laoji”: When they spot anything against their interests, they would return back to their motherland — the U.S. — to reunite with their family. Under the U.S. national flag, they have tears in their eyes and swear to protect their motherland.

阳光_珠珠 [12]:写的深刻真实可信!不要说上层的高官!我们的身边不也有这样的典范!

“Sunbeam pearl”: So vividly depicts the real situation. This group of people occupy not only the top position. We see so many examples around us.

殷成刚的微博 [13]:辛苦这些贪官了,国内做贼一样,贪钱不敢花;国外的老婆寂寞难耐,找男人打发无聊时间;孩子满世界炫富,不时整点事出来!贪官的境界,其实挺高的!

“Yan Chenggang's blog”: These corrupt officials are so poor. They act like thieves and dare not spend any money. Their wives overseas feel lonely and spend time with other men. Their children keep showing off money and creating trouble. It takes a certain character and skill to become a corrupt official.

“Superspeed” (@-劲速- [14]) explained the impact of corruption on the domestic economy:


“Superspeed”: By the end of 2012, the out flow of cash to overseas is as high as 3,000 billion yuan (500 billion US dollars). It has an impact on our domestic currency flow already. The “positive energy” is working so hard.