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8/7 LEE SIU HIN: ''White Left'' (Baizuo) is a popular Chinese net term, a total myth created and advanced by the right-wing media
“White Left” (Baizuo) is a popular Chinese net term, a total myth created and advanced by the right-wing media
How an online myth created by Chinese neo-liberals has become part of ideological warfare. Chinese right-wingers and U.S. right-wing media like Fox have joined together to use this term to redbait and block progressive forces to keep them from building and achieving China-U.S. international activist solidarity.
李小轩 Lee Siu Hin
中美民间交流协会 China-U.S. Solidarity Network
August 7th, 2022
I am in Shanghai, China, in the middle of a China-U.S. bi-national activist solidarity working trip. At this critical moment we have: the U.S./NATO proxy war in Ukraine against Russia, President Biden escalating military pressure and rhetoric against China, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (known for her hardcore, life-long anti-communist/anti-China stand) just completing a visit to Taiwan to play the “Taiwan card” against China and possibly making a military confrontation between China and the U.S. unavoidable.
At this critical moment, I am talking with many Chinese public opinion leaders, from left to right, about the importance of China-U.S. progressive activist solidarity, but many have given me a cold shoulder: Why do we need to work with the American “Baizuo” (the white left)? “Baizuo” is a popular term in China, as in: “Baizuo are dishonest and arrogant, we should work with the far-right Republican Party because at least they’re honest and less hostile to China.” Many Chinese right-wingers, even many left-liberals, have told me this, falsely subscribing in part to these ideas, created and hyped by the right-wing of both countries.
So where does “Baizuo” comes from?
Many Chinese think it comes from the U.S., but it was really created by Chinese right-wingers; it’s not just a term of ignorance, but also is misleading by using an anti-communist right-wing racist stereotype against progressive forces from around the world, who might bring a positive political influence in China.
The term “Baizuo” originated as an insulting term aimed at the left in general by neo-liberals on the Chinese Internet. After the escalation of the refugee problem caused by U.S./NATO proxy wars in Syria and Libya, at 2015 in Europe, it gained a racist, anti-immigrant connotation as well. Now the meaning of the word is similar to the English word “libtard.” The term is often used by the right-wing to describe what they called the “Islamist white” or non-white leftists who advocate tolerance for restrictions on individual rights in pursuit of so-called "cultural diversity" and economic Marxists who support a non-revolutionary line. "Baizuo is a Chinese term for certain naïve: highly educated Westerners who support peace and equality simply for the satisfaction of their own feeling of moral superiority.” Baizuo “only care about immigrants, ethnic minorities, sexual minorities and environmental issues... Baizuo is an arrogant Westerner who takes pity on the rest of the world as a savior," explained according to the Chinese blogger at the China’s “Zhifu” website (similar to the Medium on U.S).
Who created “Baizuo” term is a mystery. According to western “scholars” and Wikipedia, the term was apparently first used by a China’s Renren (like Facebook in the U.S.) user "Li Shuo." In 2010, Li Shuo published an article on China’s Renren online discussion platform. The article accused any western-educated Chinese progressive of being purely evil and a hypocrite.
So who is Li Shuo? No one really knows; some suspect he’s not a person, rather a group of Chinese right-wing anti-communist bots, most likely living in the U.S., using the internet to spread rumors and running an information war against China.
At least until 2015, the term didn’t get much public attention. It became a popular online term during the Hillary Clinton vs. Donald Trump 2016 U.S. presidential election campaign. Chinese right-wingers exploited the negative Chinese public feeling about the Obama/Clinton Democrats’ policy against China, and suggested giving a “chance” to Trump Republicans. “Baizuo” was part of information warfare and became a simple brainwashing redbaiting term to show dislike of anyone from the “left” in the western world – and to portray the U.S. right-wing Republicans as China’s “true” friends and “teachers.”
By 2017, the term had become a mainstream Chinese term according to China’s Baidu online dictionary. It had also entered mainstream usage in the West and had triggered attention among netizens. The English online "urban dictionary" that collects Internet terms already includes the word "Baizuo."
So it’s ironic that soon after beginning his presidency Trump launched a trade war against China, a war against Huawei, and spread racist Chinaphobic slurs including the “Wuhan virus” hoax. But all this didn’t keep the Chinese right-wingers from continuing to defend and sell the term “Baizuo.”
After Democrat Joe Biden won the election in 2020, Biden continued, even intensified, the trade/military/racist war against China. Chinese right-wingers and right-wing media like Fox exploited public anxiety to create more division and distrust between the people of both countries.
On March 19, 2021, Tucker Carlson, a right-wing Fox Broadcasting News host who has long supported Donald Trump, introduced his viewers to the Chinese Internet slang with a poor pronunciation. He used the word to play up the Chinese threat while attacking the Joe Biden administration and the policies of the Democratic Party.
Today, regardless of their political affiliation or whether they are pro- or anti-U.S., workers or government officials, they subscribe to the idea of “Baizuo,” which has a very negative impact on the global progressive movement. Using a redbaiting word to shut everyone up during an argument (western leftists are up-to-no-good when it comes to China) has been a successful move in the “divide and conquer” ideological war in China. In the western world, it’s the term “Chinese spies” which has become a common racist myth implying that every local Chinese person must be an undercover Chinese communist spy up to no good – such are the political lies largely created by right-wing media such as Fox TV. As long as distrust between the Chinese and the western left exists, unity and solidarity between the two peoples cannot be achieved. The only winners will be the right-wing of both countries – and the U.S./Western imperialists who want to rule and exploit the world.
The fallacy of the “Baizuo” most likely created by Chinese right-wingers from the U.S., possibly based on the right-wing false-notion of “white liberals,” “liberal bias” myth, assuming every “leftist” must be middle-class, white elite or a white opportunists.
In reality, the U.S. is a very diverse society; the “leftists” in the U.S. are more likely people of color, LGBTQ+, low-income working class then members of the white elite. I personally have been involved in the U.S. and western social justice movement for over 40 years. It has been more likely that I have seen and worked with the “black left,” the “Asian left,” the “Latino left,” the “LGBTQ+ left” then the “white left.” It’s true that white people still control more resources then do people of color (POC) activists, so there are still more whites in the progressive leadership then POC.
According to ”Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology,” a research report from the Pew Research Center, November 9th, 2021, based on their percentage of the population, there are more white people who identify themselves as conservative (and progressive, based on Pew research’s labeling), compared with POC who identify themselves as progressive or left/liberals. And from another report on June 2nd, 2020, “In Changing U.S. Electorate, Race and Education Remain Stark Dividing Lines,” four-in-ten Democrat registered voters are nonwhite (Black, Hispanic, Asian and other nonwhite racial groups), compared with 17% of the GOP. A clear conclusion that Black, Hispanic and Asian voters remain overwhelmingly Democrat/left/progressive; and by comparison right-wing conservative Republicans are more likely white. Therefore, in reality it’s more likely we’ll see “White right,” “white conservative,” even “white Fascist” then “white leftist” in the society.
“Baizuo” is a bogus term, it doesn’t exist in the U.S., and certainly shouldn’t exist in China; we should fight against the right-wing deceptions from both countries, and replace them with positive messages from progressive forces from China and U.S.
Journey to China 2022 Reports
Part Two: My Shanghai Lockdown Life- Challenge and Community Spirit in Lockdown Shanghai at Socialist China http://www.actionla.org:8080/actionla/front/detailed3.jsp?title=Lee%20Siu%20Hin%20Journey%20to%20China%202022:%20My%20China%20Activism,%20Factfinding%20&%20Solidarity%20Working%20Trip&newsId=2016&filename=1653562372468&ext=jpg
Journey to China 2021
Part One: My Trip to China https://immigrantsolidarity.org/China2021/PartOne.html
Photos: Part One https://immigrantsolidarity.org/China2021/Photos-PartOne.html
About Lee Siu Hin
The book “Capitalism on a Ventilator”, a book comparing COVID responses by capitalist and socialist governments, co-published by Lee Siu Hin and Sara Flounders, can be found online at these locations:
Lee lives and works between Los Angeles, California, and Shanghai, China. e-mail: ActivistWeb@gmail.com WeChat: 16266953405
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