07 June, 2012
The current Anti-Foreigner campaign is the strongest since US bombed the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999 and it is directly targeted at a foreign life-style rather than illegal immigrants. Clearly, there can not be that many spys who cheat chinese innocent woman and not that many that commits serious crimes, but the campaign is focused on those issues and it is becoming quite ugly.
Mandated by Public Security Bureau, the police targets Beijing primarily with Sanlitun (bar/restaurants area) and Wudakuo (university area with a lot of foreigners) in focus; the Ministry of Propaganda is on their feet. Most noticeable, Yang Rui's anti-foreign comments on weibo has spurred debates. Yang Rui leads Dialogue (CCTV9) since many years back, which is a program in English to stimulate dialogue between China and the rest of the world. But his comments rather displays an ugly attitude to the foreign trash that destroys China's purity.
But why now?
I have two thoughts and one could be that it is actually about illegal immigrants or visitors with doubtable visa. E.g. there are many younger people that is in China working on visitor's visa as they either can't find an employer or want to avoid paying taxes. Given the US campaign to clean out visa for chinese teachers, the campaign could be an action towards US to be more flexible.
More likely though, I think this an effort to get the focus away from internal affairs. The Bo Xilai scandal and the move away from leftish state-driven politics along with the escape of house-arrested dissident Chen Guangming have caused a lot of trouble with and for the Chinese leadership. Add that to ever-increasing issues with humongous corruption cases emerging now, there is not a very strong trust in the leadership - and with the new leadership soon to take place, they need peace and quietness to get into the office neatly.
Quite often in the past, the leadership has then directed the discussion on external issues - be it Taiwan, Tibet, Japan or US. This time, the campaign fuels the anti-foreign sentiments where it has become more difficult to get visa and where the campaign is directed against illegal immigrants, it has strong a focus on bad behaviors by foreigners - that is not necessary illegal, just not nice.