By Patrick Wong
For years, Global Times, a tabloid affiliated with China’s state-run People’s Daily, has earned popular disdain for its nationalistic take on current affairs. Leading the paper’s particular bent is editor-in-chief Hu Xijin.
Hu is publicly regarded as a flamboyant, ultra-leftist character who makes use of the Global Times to court the government by fueling zealous brands of patriotism and nationalism — two ideas endorsed by Chinese Communist Party officials in recent years. His controversial views have also boosted the publication’s circulation.
Recently, Hu decided to further promote himself and his views using another medium — online talk show. His first try came in September 2015, when he made an appearance in a short video defending communism in response to Chinese real estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang’s criticism of the Communist Youth League’s assertion that “we are successors of communism.”
Now Hu has debuted a new talk show online — “Hu’s Talking” or Hu Kan in Chinese. He proudly claims it is “the first Chinese talk show that comments on global current affairs,” and in the first episode he knocked the use of disparaging terms for “patriotic” Chinese.
‘What kind of people invented this terrible word?’
Hu launched his debut episode on Chinese Twitter-like Weibo with the following message:
He kickstarted the show, which opens with a professionally animated sequence featuring a cartoon version of himself, by addressing the political labels that have been attached to him. He then attempted to present the “real Hu Xijin“ by reminiscing about when he entered college following the turbulent Cultural Revolution — the violent campaign led by Chairman Mao to rid Chinese society of elements deemed anti-communist — and his time working as a war correspondent in Bosnia-Herzegovina.
During the latter topic, he made use of his foreign linguistic knowledge to condemn the popular use of the term “patriotic thief” on China’s Internet to refer to those who are overzealous or inappropriate in their love of country:
Guan Xin, a freelance translator, quickly rebuked Hu’s sophistry on Weibo:
‘A typical patriotic thief’
In 2012, Hu wrote an editorial suggesting that people should be “understanding of the moderate corruption of Chinese officials.” Only a year later, he seemed to betray his patriotism and put those words into practice.
In September, a photo of an official document circulating online showed that the editorial board of the People’s Daily issued a disciplinary warning to Hu, who had attended a Chinese-German media forum and had spent the budget he received to arrange his guests for a three-day tour in Poland in the summer of 2013.
One Weibo user considered Hu’s words contradictory to his behavior in real life:
Another Weibo user advised Hu to use his position to become one of the critical voices that Chinese society so needs:
Since his talk show was uploaded to Youku, the largest Chinese video site, it has been played over 200,000 times in two days, despite netizens flooding the comments section with negative remarks.