After asking the world to recognize China's enormous sacrifice and its efforts in the fight against COVID-19, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) launched a propaganda campaign in which it asks the Chinese to thank the leadership of the party.
However, instead of showing gratitude, many expressed their anger on social networks, which led to a complete elimination of all the news and comments related to the campaign called “thanks to the CCP's education”
While the official figures of new COVID-19 infected in China continue to fall in the last two weeks, it seems that propaganda authorities want to show the CCP's supposed success in its leadership in the fight against the epidemic. However, the political propaganda effort has been questioned by angry citizens who have been quarantined for weeks or have seen sudden deaths of relatives, neighbors and acquaintances.
An example of the propaganda attack took place on March 5, 2020 when Chinese Deputy Prime Minister Sun Chunlan visited a residential district of Wuhan. The visit was organized to show success in the management of the quarantined area. To guide the tour, local representatives were invited, but during the visit several people shouted “lie, everything is a lie!” and “everything is a (show)” from the windows of their apartments.
The video soon went viral on social media and even media associated with the state like Diario del Pueblo and Global times They posted the video on their social accounts abroad, such as Facebook and Twitter.
In response to the incident, the next day, the city's new CCP secretary, Wang Zhonglin, insisted on the need to teach citizens how to thank the party. His speech in front of city officials was widely published in local media.
要 在 全市 廣大 市民 中 ， 感恩 ， ， ﹑ 感恩 共產黨 ﹑ 聽 黨 話 ﹑ 跟 黨… 、 形成 強大 ， ， ， 也是 ， ， ， ，
It is necessary to educate people on how to express their gratitude. They should thank the party secretary general (Xi Jinping), the CCP, they should obey the party and follow the party, they should become a strong positive energy … The people of Wuhan are heroic and know how to express their gratitude.
His speech immediately caused an online protest. The Hong Kong Citizen News media collected a series of typical Webio responses:
我們 不需要 被 教育 感恩！ 的 是 你 的 出來 作祟 了 ， 還是 幾 千年 封建 社會 在 作祟 的！
We do not need to be educated to express gratitude. Saying that is just the reflection of his slave nature that was common among officials of the feudal era.
王忠林 ， 你 想 對 上面 感恩 就 感恩 ， 但 千萬 別 拖着 武漢 感恩 ， 他們 還在 瘟疫 的 威脅 下 苟延殘喘 ， 沒 心情 和 你 一起 跪下 ， 高呼 萬歲。
Wang Zhonglin, if you want to thank your leader, nobody will stop you. But do not include the inhabitants of Wuhan. They still suffer the plague and (many) are not in the mood to kneel and say live the emperor.
According to a report citing unverified minutes of a meeting organized by the Information Office of the State Council on March 7, the authorities asked for the elimination of all news and comments on the “thanks to the CCP's education.” At the meeting, Huang Kunming (黄坤明) of the Central Propaganda Department insisted on the need for all news teams to alleviate people's concerns and align themselves with (people's) knowledge. ”
Among these censored publications, the article by veteran Chinese journalist Chu Chaoxin was the most popular:
2349 條 生命 ， 2349 次 死亡 ， 他們 屍骨未寒 ， 他們 的 家人 、 朋友 、 同學 都 還在 悲痛 之中 ， 他們 的 家人 、 朋友 、 同學 甚至 自己 都 還在 醫院 里 躺著 等著 搶救 ， 根本 無力 悲傷 ， 此時卻 有人 要 對 他們 加強 感恩 教育 ， 這 是 沒有 人性 的 行為。
There are 2349 lives and 2349 deaths. Their families, friends and partners are still in mourning; their families, friends and themselves could still be in hospitals suffering from the disease. They don't even have the strength to cry properly and now someone is telling them that they have to learn to say thanks. It is not humanitarian.
Wang Zhonglin's speech is the latest example of the propaganda authority's narrative to turn this health crisis into a “heroic battle” of the Chinese people under the leadership of the CCP.
A similar attempt can be seen in the publication of 'A battle against the epidemic: China fights Covid-19 in 2020', a book that highlights the “Secretary General Xi Jinping's commitment to the people, his sense of mission, his broad strategic vision and his outstanding leadership as the leader of a greater power ”.
The book was published on March 2, as the World Health Organization finished its tour of experts and praised China for taking aggressive measures to contain the spread of COVID-19.
On March 4, the state agency, Xinhua published an opinion article entitled “With the reason on our part: the world should thank China” (理直气壮 ， 世界 应该 感谢 中国). Below, you can read the main argument of the publication (translated by Human Rights in China):
We should now say, with reason on our side, that the United States owes China an apology, and the world owes China a thank you; without the enormous sacrifices and efforts made by China, the world could not have gained a precious window of time to combat the novel coronavirus epidemic; one can say that China has, by its own strength alone, staunchly held off the novel coronavirus epidemic for a very long time. It’s truly earth-shattering, and the gods themselves would be moved!
Now we should say, we are right on our part, that the United States owes an apology to China and that the world should thank China; Without China's enormous sacrifices and efforts, the world would not have gained a precious margin of time to combat the new coronavirus epidemic; one can say that China has firmly contained, only by its own means, the new coronavirus epidemic for a long time. It is truly transcendental and the gods themselves should be moved!
However, the latest CCP propaganda campaign has harmed this argument, as it has been unsuccessful in convincing local citizens to give thanks to the party and the national leader in its management of the COVID-19 crisis.
Read more about Global Voices' special coverage of the global impact of COVID-19.