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Top Editor of ​Chin​ese​ Tabloid Global Times​ ​Defends Patriotism in ​New ​Talk Show

Hu Xijin welcomes audiences in his first episode of the new talk show. Screenshot from the video.

Hu Xijin welcomes viewers in the first episode of his new talk show. Screenshot.

For years, Global Times, a tabloid affiliated with China’s state-run People’s Daily, has earned popular disdain for its nationalistic take on current affairs. Leading the paper's particular bent is editor-in-chief Hu Xijin.

Hu is publicly regarded as a flamboyant, ultra-leftist character who makes use of the Global Times to court the government by fueling zealous brands of patriotism and nationalism — two ideas endorsed by Chinese Communist Party officials in recent years. His controversial views have also boosted the publication's circulation.

Recently, Hu decided to further promote himself and his views using another medium — online talk show. His first try came in September 2015, when he made an appearance in a short video defending communism in response to Chinese real estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang's criticism of the Communist Youth League's assertion that “we are successors of communism.”

Now Hu has debuted a new talk show online — “Hu’s Talking” or Hu Kan in Chinese. He proudly claims it is “the first Chinese talk show that comments on global current affairs,” and in the first episode he knocked the use of disparaging terms for “patriotic” Chinese.

‘What kind of people invented this terrible word?’

Hu launched his debut episode on Chinese Twitter-like Weibo with the following message:

既然来了舆论场,我就不会走。《环球时报》早就被这个时代“抓了壮丁”,除非终老,我没有权利倒下。今天我带着自己的视频节目”胡侃”回到微博,它是我和环时价值观的可视展现。时代给了我们一个角色,我须倾力对它负责。就当我是“胡侃”吧。珍惜多元,团结万岁。

Since I have spent my time in the realm of opinion, I won't leave it. The Global Times has been a “manhood” [meaning a man forcibly enlisted in the army for the ideological battle] serving this era. Only if I were old would I have the right to step away. Today I return to Weibo with my video program “Hu Kan,” the visualization of the values of Global Times and me. The era we live in bestows a role on us all, and I must do my utmost to responsibly perform it. Just see me as “Hu Kan.” Cherish diversity and long live unity.

He kickstarted the show, which opens with a professionally animated sequence featuring a cartoon version of himself, by addressing the political labels that have been attached to him. He then attempted to present the “real Hu Xijin“ by reminiscing about when he entered college following the turbulent Cultural Revolution — the violent campaign led by Chairman Mao to rid Chinese society of elements deemed anti-communist — and his time working as a war correspondent in Bosnia-Herzegovina.

During the latter topic, he made use of his foreign linguistic knowledge to condemn the popular use of the term “patriotic thief” on China’s Internet to refer to those who are overzealous or inappropriate in their love of country:

有一段时间了,互联网上出了一个词,让人很生气,这个词叫什么呀,叫“爱国贼。”我第一次见到这个词的时候,下了我一跳。什么人编这么一个臭词出来,但这个词就是在互联网上流传着……我是懂英语、俄语、塞尔维亚语,在这三种语言中,没有一种语言,能够把“爱国”和“贼”这两个词给拼在一起的。(有些人)还挺得意,只有中文出了这帮孽种啊。现在经常有人拿爱国主义开涮,为了这个意识形态斗争,甚至为了政治斗争,说什么我爱国,但不是爱政府,不是什么什么,编出一大堆理由。

For a while, a certain word on the Internet has been making people angry. That word is “patriotic thief.” The first time I saw this word, it astonished me. What kind of people invented this terrible word? But there it is, just circulating on the Internet… I know that in English, Russian and Serbian, you can't stick the words “patriot” and “thief” together. [Some people] even feel proud. Only the Chinese created this kind of people! Now some people constantly ridicule patriotism. In the ideological or political struggle, they claim, “I love the country but do not love the government” or such and such. [They] have fabricated a lot of reasons.

Guan Xin, a freelance translator, quickly rebuked Hu’s sophistry on Wheibo:

英文也有“patrioteer”,指“打着爱国幌子谋私利者”,也没听说它是什么“英文之耻”。词没有“有耻”“无耻”之分,只有它们形容的人才有这样的区分。换句话说,指定某些词是“中文之耻”,才是中文之耻。

There is also the term “patrioteer” in English, referring to “a person who gains personal interest in the name of patriotism.” I never heard of this term being deemed “the shame of English.” Words can't be “shameful” or “shameless.” Only when describing a person do they take on that distinction. In other words, labeling some words “the shame of Chinese” is indeed the shame of Chinese.

‘A typical patriotic thief’

In 2012, Hu wrote an editorial suggesting that people should be “understanding of the moderate corruption of Chinese officials.” Only a year later, he seemed to betray his patriotism and put those words into practice.

In September, a photo of an official document circulating online showed that the editorial board of the People’s Daily issued a disciplinary warning to Hu, who had attended a Chinese-German media forum and had spent the budget he received to arrange his guests for a three-day tour in Poland in the summer of 2013.

One Weibo user considered Hu’s words contradictory to his behavior in real life:

边喊爱国边公款旅游,爱国就是一门生意而已,典型爱国贼。

Singing a patriotic tune while touring on the public's dime, patriotism is just a business. [Hu] is a typical patriotic thief.

Another Weibo user advised Hu to use his position to become one of the critical voices that Chinese society so needs:

奴性不改,歌功颂德的事少干些,国家需要的是批评的声音,哪个皇帝哪个时代不是需要进谏真言,习皇也是,舔没有一点用…从没听说谁在溜须拍马,歌功颂德中进步。望阅。

[Hu] did not change his subservience [to the government] and should sing its praises less than he does. The nation needs critical voices. Every era’s emperor needs useful advice, as well as President Xi, it is useless to flatter him. I never heard of a person who made progress by flattering and singing praises [to the top leader]. I hope you see my suggestion.

Since his talk show was uploaded to Youku, the largest Chinese video site, it has been played over 200,000 times in two days, despite netizens flooding the comments section with negative remarks.

2 comments

  • […] Top Editor of ​Chin​ese​ Tabloid Global Times​ ​Defends Patriotism in ​New ​Talk Show … Now Hu has debuted a new talk show online — “Hu’s Talking” or Hu Kan in Chinese. He proudly claims it is “the first Chinese talk show that comments on global current affairs,” and in the first episode he knocked the use of disparaging terms for “patriotic” Chinese. […]

  • Joshua Woo

    “Hu speaks” would have been a fantastic pun for Mr Hu and his talk show.

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