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The Rising Cult of China Experts
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Claremont McKenna College Professor Minxin Pei on the sources and implications of China’s kleptocracy, 2014 Hudson Institute Kleptocracy Initiative, Credit: Wikimedia Commons, CC BY 2.0.

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BEIJING – A couple of years ago I met a German man at Harvard who boasted about his political stipend, his up-coming talk in New York City, and how he worked hard on the liberalization of Tibet and the breaking-up of China. There are no human rights in China, he explained to me. I was impressed and reminded him that if he ever plotted this way against our German government he could be tried for treason. He left in contempt.

He isn’t the only one. There is a cult of Western evangelists and self-righteous crusaders who are determined to dislodge non-Western nations and usurp their governments.

In China they act as if above the law. That’s because they see the Chinese government as corrupt, non-elected, and communist, and thus illegitimate. So why care about what it says or stands for? Moreover, these evangelists believe Westerners can do whatever they want in China because America and the entire Western propaganda apparatus will bail them out should trouble arise.

These so-called China experts are now a political force in direct opposition to the Communist Party. They form clusters and networks, with a strong hierarchy and code of ethics: They reward their Twitter followers and lickspittles and praise each other’s work, while policing social media and punishing “traitors” or “China apologists”.

When Yang Rui, a CCTV news anchor, condemned the activities of foreigners in Beijing, his character was assassinated and internationally paraded by China experts as a glaring example of what happens to any Chinese should he or she dare to look askance at them.

In the West, foreign extremist groups, left or right, are monitored and tightly controlled. But no-one controls these Western imperialists. Germans finance Xinjiang separatists, Americans finance Taiwan separatists, British finance Tibetan separatist. US journalism even dispatches tactical troops to Hong Kong determined on bringing down Xi Jinping, the president, and his family.

The hierarchy of China experts is this: At the top we find the philosophers and statesmen who set the stage and agenda for the universal ideology – exclusively serving Western interests. They always reside in the West, know little or nothing about China, and discuss China solely on Western terms. In the past there were the likes of Kant, Hegel, and Wilhelm II; today we have Henry “on China” Kissinger, Francis “End of History” Fukuyama, and Samuel “Clash of Civilizations” Huntington.

Next we have the journalists and editors, most of them white or accessory white, in key positions at the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Economist, and so on. Thanks to the Western planetary media monopoly, they have become the new global fascist elite. Their culture is narrowly interbred, and some personal relations border on the incestuous, so they float each other’s boat and write almost identical muck-raking stories. Everyone in China knows who they are, and their China-bashing is green-lighting all of us to join the onslaught.

Most China experts are culturists down to the last fiber. They tolerate all races as long as they Westernize and speak English, but show utter disdain for all foreign words, concepts, and terminologies (language imperialism). They also prominently decide who – Chinese or foreigner- gets praised and who gets defamed, and – most importantly- what gets omitted in their China reports. Their own corrupt ways get omitted. Ask yourself, when was the last time you read a piece by a prominent Chinese (other than a dissident) in your nation’s newspaper? You haven’t. It is a tight Orwellian grip.

Last, we have legions of lesser, disposable China watchers. Few of them enjoy fat expat packages, bigwig relatives in the media, or peddling political influence. Unable to find proper jobs and secure a future in China – apart from becoming activists, bloggers, or English teachers- they are recruited easily and radicalize quickly. Everyone has met those frustrated Westerners who once believed in their entitlement, got disillusioned, and found a way to spend their days: to patronize and correct the Chinese.

China isn’t the only victim. All other six non-Western civilizations are feeling the whip of Western imperialism. The West claims it is “universal” and that it does not (and cannot) take responsibility for any of its abusive individuals in foreign lands since they are all free agents. It’s the same old excuse since the age of colonialism.

Taking part in the Western mission to civilize the East is highly spiritually rewarding. And what is political destabilization and social unrest but a sweet revenge for China’s disregard for Western hegemony. Favorite targets are: corrupt officials, suppressed minorities, Han chauvinism and misogyny, demonstrations, currency manipulation, and censorship. It makes China experts feel good about themselves. They feel like social justice warriors. The problem: this is not their country, and their negativity is poisoning everything.

Thus, China experts are constantly on the look-out for Chinese stand-ins. Dissidents, pro-Western activists, any Wang who can waive the American flag. The collaborators are showered with media coverage, prizes, and stipends, visa, freedom awards, and even Nobel Peace prizes. This tactic didn’t get unnoticed by the zhishi fenzi (intellectuals), a class who would do anything for Western media attention – like the artist who in May sliced himself and cut out his own rib for a “more open China”.

Journalists and academic quacks who preach China doom

But let us return to Harvard and its agency of China doom. When press soldier Michael Forsythe paraded another academic quack for the New York Times‘ ‘Q. and A.’ on the future demise of the Communist Party of China, the “China experts” were all tuned in.

Not because Mr. Forsythe is particularly original or anything, but because he’s member of a very militant group blending journalism with soldiery. It’s like “journdiery.”


You know what I’m talking about. It is no secret that the New York Times, like so many other powers in this day and age, have abandoned traditional “news reporting” and instead focused on “news creation.”

And why not? Google how they create Chinese “Dissidents” and “Heroes,” and “Saviors”. Google how they support violent riots in Hong Kong. Google how they shame Chinese women for marrying too early. And you can’t blame politics. Those press soldiers are the vanguard of a very violent, sick society. (The destruction of Donald “Law and Order” Trump, anyone?)

But let’s not digress from this Minxin Pei. His actual name is Pei Minxin. He’s been turned into a “Minxin Pei” by Western media. It’s an old European fetish. We have to turn the names of the “good Chinese” around (as opposed to “evil Chinese” such as Mao Zedong and Xi Jinping who stay the same). So, Minxin Pei has this crystal ball and predicts… hold your breath: “that the odds are high that by 2030, China’s government will be quite different…” Bravo! Feichang hao!

He could also have said: “Tomorrow, nothing will ever be the same again,” or “Mike, we won’t meet so young anymore.” It is very interesting how truisms and prophecy are now sold off as the latest New York Times “journalpop.”


Journalism + agitprop. I can’t help but think that Mr. Forsythe must have foreseen that this interview was going to be complete trash. Mr. Pei had “predicted” the Party’s downfall no less than three times! In 1994, in 2006, and in 2016!

Ok, his 1994 take doesn’t really register, because he could not possibly have predicted the rise of the internet, email, September 11, and Starbuck frappuccinos. But by 2006 Mr. Pei could clearly tell, deduced from the wiggle of his toes, that the 60-million-members strong Communist Party of China would call it quits after his powerful book was published. Well, it didn’t.

So, when asked about his colleagues’ professional skepticism, this charlatan said, and I quote: “This is understandable since regime transition is an ultralow probability event.” Well, so, maybe, just MAYBE, this interview really has a ‘ultralow probability’ of ever becoming a triumph for journalism? Just saying.

Not that Mr. Forsythe isn’t morally flexible, though. He’s been manipulating another professor before, making Gardner Bovingdon look as if he condoned terrorism in Xinjiang.[1]New York Times, Q. and A.: Gardner Bovingdon on Uighur Discontent and China’s Choices, May 23, 2014, New York That was fun! So, maybe Mr. Forsythe, reluctant to do this interview in first place, purposely let stupid escalate.

This is one of my all-favorite Mr. Pei quotes: “China may be huge, but it is governed by human beings who, like their counterparts in small countries, make choices that are limited by practical and predictable constraints.” He could also have said: “Listen, my pants are down, I know shit.”

Journalists are scheming creatures: They call you up because they did research on you and know you are probably going to say certain things to support their agenda. And if you don’t, they’ll never call again.

Such tests of integrity cannot deter Pei Minxin, for now. His “serious intellectual exercise with potentially profound policy implications” is selling like hot potatoes to Westerners who must be thinking, hey, why don’t I become “a China expert” myself. I can do that! I can do “serious intellectual exercise with potentially profound policy implications”!

Look, this is a video, “Minxin Pei: China’s Crony Capitalism,” with Steve Paikin,[2]The Agenda with Steve Paikin, Minxin Pei: China’s Crony Capitalism, March 19, 2012, Ontario where Mr. Pei’s friendship with Ezra Vogel, previously on the show, is mentioned. Ezra Vogel is a fine Harvard man. But he is also a former government adviser and CIA man. China expert Michael Forsythe is Harvard, too. Mr. Pei is a PhD Pei from Harvard. They all quote and reference each other, you see. So here’s my pitch for the next Paikin show: “Harvard’s Crony Journalism!” No? I thought so.

But maybe our anti-China propaganda press has ‘good intentions’, right? In 2030. The probability is high. The Communist Party of China. Could indeed be very different. The crystal ball. The smoke. Mr. Forsythe’s creepy pasta: “Bigger forces shaping our lives.” But brother Pei is not lying, is he? “He believes one-party rule in China is unsustainable,” says Mr. Forsythe. Much like biodiversity, the environment, your health, capitalism, and the Cable TV model. Damn he is right! That shit over there in China is unsustainable! I knew it!

So, what’s it gonna be, asks Mr. Forsythe: “Reform? Revolution? Or… a combination of the two: refolution?” Since Mr. Pei is too stupid to answer this simple question, I’m going out on my nipples here and say: It’s definitely gonna be a “refolution.”

Yes! “Refolution!” it’s gonna be!

Here’s another New York Times‘ ‘Q. and A.’, this time by Chris Buckley, with a certain David Shambaugh, China expert on the Communist regime going down the toilet.[3]The New York Times, Q. and A.: David Shambaugh on the Risks to Chinese Communist Rule, March 15, 2015, New York Shambaugh is a regular at Harvard, too. [Here[4]Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, David Shambaugh, Quarterly Journal: International Security, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge and here.[5]Fairbank Center, David Shambaugh, ‘China’s International Identities’, Charles Neuhauser Memorial Lecture, Harvard University, Cambridge] So he says things like: “This is where the exodus of the elite and the systemic traps in the economy come in.” Or: “For these reasons, this is why I see the “endgame” of the Communist Party as being underway.” Now, you will say, wait a minute: Mr. Shambaugh’s message is essentially the same as Mr. Pei’s? From the same group of people, Harvard? In the same paper, the New York Times? Wow! Woow!

It gets better. The New York Times evidently promotes such charlatans and quacks all the time. Gordon G. Chang, a favorite of Voice of America, for example. Although he’s no Harvard material, he still made it into the New York Times with an op-ed, here.[6]The New York Times, Chinese Economy On the Edge, July 25, 2013, New York As one commentator, AmateurHistorian, remarks: “[Mr. Chang] has been banking on his 2001 book ‘The Coming Collapse of China’ for the last 15 years. Talk shows and universities absolutely love him when he extols the virtue of America and why China must collapse.”

This is not to say that the New York Times only features doomsayer and pro-US Chinese muppets. They do try hard to throw in, every now and then, some proud Chinese patriot, like Yan Xuetong from Tsinghua University with his “more assertive China” theory. But then, “Xuetong Yan” is also a graduate from the University of Berkeley, California. Tsinghua is plagued by US agents and CIA people. Mr. Forsythe’ spouse, also a New York Times journalist, also from Harvard, is a (feminist-PhD) graduate from Tsinghua.[7]Big Think, When Should Chinese Women Marry –And Whom, April 10, 2014, New York Their boss at the Times until Sept 2014 was Jill Abramson, also Harvard. So, this is a surprisingly small group of China expert collaborators orchestrating subversive campaigns and deciding who gets mentioned, and who doesn’t.

Anyway, if the US flagship media says Minxin Pei is our man, he’s our man. The Wall Street Journal, following top-down propaganda protocol, immediately set up a page: “Notable Quotable Minxin Pei on China,”[8]The Wall Street Journal, Notable & Quotable: Minxin Pei, Nov 26, 2015, New York honoring Mr. Pei’s latest contribution to ‘The American Interest’ magazine and his essay “The Twilight of Communist Party Rule in China.” And – do we really need to mention this – The Wall Street Journal did similar features for David Shambaugh and Gordon G. Chang, too.

I’ll be completely honest with you, alright: Our Western media are practicing a form of unnatural selection by promoting not giants but quacks who tell them what they want to hear. This has inflated Pei Minxin (and many others) unrecognizable. It has corrupted academia. Who needs serious scholarship if you have benefactors with the New York Times, right? And so the business of China-bashing goes on and on.

If Beijing dares to protest, there will be ever harsher Western media campaigns: China is told it must not impede on Westerners’ “freedom” to slowly destabilize the country from within: Censor them, and they will tattletale. Incarcerate them, and they will become martyrs. Ignore them at your own peril.

Thorsten J. Pattberg, Ph.D. is a German cultural critic and political commentator on Sino-Western relations.


[1] New York Times, Q. and A.: Gardner Bovingdon on Uighur Discontent and China’s Choices, May 23, 2014, New York

[2] The Agenda with Steve Paikin, Minxin Pei: China’s Crony Capitalism, March 19, 2012, Ontario

[3] The New York Times, Q. and A.: David Shambaugh on the Risks to Chinese Communist Rule, March 15, 2015, New York

[4] Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, David Shambaugh, Quarterly Journal: International Security, John F. Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, Cambridge

[5] Fairbank Center, David Shambaugh, ‘China’s International Identities’, Charles Neuhauser Memorial Lecture, Harvard University, Cambridge

[6] The New York Times, Chinese Economy On the Edge, July 25, 2013, New York

[7] Big Think, When Should Chinese Women Marry –And Whom, April 10, 2014, New York

[8] The Wall Street Journal, Notable & Quotable: Minxin Pei, Nov 26, 2015, New York

• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Academia, American Media, China 
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