Today’s China Readings May 24, 2012

"Sinocism is the Presidential Daily Brief for China hands"- Evan Osnos, New Yorker Correspondent and National Book Award Winner

CCTV’s Yang Rui may have another problem on his hands. Shanghaiist has just published a series of messages from Yang’s Weibo in Is CCTV host Yang Rui an anti-Semite? One sample:

Why do the US media not dare to support the call for the establishment of a Palestinian state? It’s because they’re afraid of getting fired by their Jewish bosses. When I interviewed the chairman of the US Jewish Association, I questioned him on this. He snarled at me ferociously and said that in America, no one would dare to speak to him this way. He was like a mafia chief. So please stop saying how beautiful American press freedom is.

In my experience Yang Rui’s comments are not outside the mainstream here, but attitudes towards Jews in China are complicated and tend more toward admiration and respect, at least among the Chinese I know. Isaac Stone Fish was recently sent an ad for a Beijing job, which he posts in Chinese business looking for a few good Jews:

My contact is (deleted) and is slightly obsessed with Jewish people and thinks they are the smartest, so he naturally prefers this person to be Jewish. If he can’t get someone Jewish, he would also like someone who went to a famous university — Harvard, Yale, etc.

In 2010 I wrote China, Anti-Semitism and the “Goldman Sachs Conspiracy” about a book by Li Delin (since disappeared from public view after his detention for spreading rumors on Sina Weibo) and specifically his numerous comments about Goldman Sachs and its Jewish founders and executives, including a comparison to Isreali Shar Pei dogs. At the risk of wading into a real morass, he is an excerpt from the 2010 post:

As for any anti-Semitism, I should have given more perspective in my original post beyond that it contains “an undercurrent of anti-Semitism”. Apparently some Chinese people think that Isreali Shar Pei dogs are an especially smart breed. In my experience, Chinese tend to like Jewish people because they believe that the stereotypical Jewish person places very high value on family, education and money–just like Chinese do. In fact, some of my friends have told me that if their daughters have to marry a foreigner they hope he is Jewish. As anyone who has lived in China knows, the Chinese are very open about discussing other races and religions, sometimes pejoratively, sometimes not.

Growing up I was taught to try to avoid viewing people through racial or religious prisms. Maybe that makes me too sensitive, or maybe not. I read through this book and thought about the firestorm that would erupt if Matt Taibbi or others had written about Goldman Sachs and said they had the IQ of Israeli Shar Pei Dogs (p. 26), referred to founder Marcus Goldman as having Bavarian Jewish blood (p. 217), or described J. Aron as a firm “with pure Jewish bloodlines” (p. 249). And these are just references I found skimming through a handful of chapters in the book; there are no doubt more.

To my Jewish readers, do you think this has anti-Semitic undertones? Or are these just innocent descriptors used by Chinese with no inhibitions discussing foreigners?

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