China’s top official newspaper The People’s Daily is taking aim at the United States with a newly unveiled column initially called “The Dishonest American Series”, in what appears to be the latest media campaign to target US enterprises.
The column, which is published in English and Chinese, was later renamed as “Americans You Don't Know Of”, an apparent move by the paper to tone down the indecorous wording. Written by the paper’s Chinese news staff in New York, the series so far includes six articles lashing out at practices from greedy corporate culture to companies’ disdain for customers. The English version of the column has retained the original title.
In an editor's note, the paper indicated that the column aimed to help the Chinese foster a better understanding of America and its people:
From editor: Most Chinese people think that Americans are honest, reliable, and righteous. But once you live in the country for a while, you may discover the descriptions above are a bit misleading. Today’s topic, “The Dishonest Americans Series”, does not refer to all Americans. We want to unveil some incidents and Americans we have encountered, so to provide a more objective picture of what the US and Americans are really like.
The US arm of the People’s Daily launched the column in March 2013, but public attention was brought to the column only recently when a number of news portals reposted the newest installment, which described a Chinese passenger’s run-in with airport staff in New York and United Airlines’ refusal to refund him after he wasn't allowed to board a plane to China.The airline company has faced curt criticism from passengers for its alleged poor service and frequent flight cancellations.
United Airlines has issued an apology that the passenger said was “insincere”, according to the article.
Generally, ordinary Chinese view America positively. Hollywood movies and American high-tech products enjoy enormous popularity in China.
According to a 2012 poll by GALLUP, a US-based consulting firm, China tops the world's list of immigrants who want to move to the US. It seems likely China is seeking to edge out America's influence by unleashing periodic media criticism toward its businesses.
In March 2013, Chinese state media accused Apple of discriminating against its China customers, forcing Apple CEO Tim Cook to issue an apology after a week-long media blitz to bash the technology giant.
Such moves were often met with online backlash, as was the case of the column by the People's Daily.
Lei Yi, a prominent Chinese historian weighed in, writing [zh] on the popular microbloging service Sina Weibo sarcastically:
Thirty years ago, we were educated that Americans all lived in extreme misery, but American people were good, they were waiting to be liberated by us. Thirty years later, we are educated that Americans are dishonest and not reliable.
Ding Laifeng, a former subeditor for a magazine, had [zh] the following ironic remarks:
【人民网专栏：无德无信美国人】至于你信不信，我反正信了。美帝官员普遍贪污，将老婆子女送到其他国家享受美好 生活，自己在国内包二奶嫖幼女，这还不是无德吗？！美帝政府口口声声为人民服务，但苛捐杂税盘剥人民，自己吃特供小灶却让百姓吃地沟油毒大米，这还不是无 信吗？！怒赞人民网么么哒！
“People's Daily column: Dishonest Americans” I don't know if you believe it, I do. American officials are widely corrupt, they send their children to other countries to enjoy good lives, they themselves have mistresses and rape young girls, isn't this dishonest?! The US government keeps on saying they are for the people, but they impose different taxes and loot others, they have special supply of food but let common people consume swill-cooked oil and poisonous rice, isn't this unreliable!? I have to angrily give thumbs-up to People's Daily!!
Xie Ming, a Weibo user from Shanghai, alluded [zh] to the fact that many high-ranking officials send their children overseas:
Professor Sun Liping has a good point: Don't talk any grand theory, wherever you send your children, you are leading your people toward that direction, that's it.
Lei Xiaomao, an agricultural scientist residing in the US, wrote [zh]:
I've been living and studying in China and US for 24 years respectively after I began to understand this world, dishonest and unreliable people exist in every nation, it's only a matter of degree. Objectively speaking, dishonest and unreliable people in China far exceed those in the States, especially officials and business people, they collude with each other and to a point where practically no officials are clean, high-ranking officials commit corruption big time, lower-ranking officials commit small corruption. Ten years ago, I had been intended to go back to China for two years, I could write an entry of 10,000 words about my experience of being tricked and fooled.
Changchun Qiche lamented [zh]：
Americans’ dishonesty and unreliability are isolated cases, so it's worth digging into. Chinese, especially official, dishonesty and unreliability are the norm, their honesty and reliability are rare, hence they are worth to be reported.