Every Chinese Canadian feels the heat of Meng crisis as the tension between China and Canada continue to soar. But not every one of us views the crisis through the same lenses. Living in Canada, a country of freedom, allows me to have a front row seat to the real face of China, forming a view about the bullying government that I would never have made under the influence of the regime’s propaganda.
China detained two Canadians on spying charges and sentenced a Canadian drug dealer to death in retaliation to Canada’s arrest of Meng Wanzhou heeding the US extradition request. A wave of nationalism swept through WeChat as cheers erupted to praise China’s actions. “Excellent punches! They hit back hard and hurt our target (Canada) badly!” “They help defend our national pride and country’s sovereignty, washing off our century of humiliations! “China’s rise is unstoppable, and it will terrify the westerns to death.”
The cheering reactions are unsurprising. WeChat, a Chinese language social media has immense influence among Chinese citizens and newcomers to Canada. Beijing has been running its censorship operations in full throttle, using its “Red Dot” mechanism to marginalize different voices and to keep out any information that threatens the regime’s power. Meanwhile, it has blasted the site with bombastic rhetoric, clogging it with its misleading directives and prejudiced accounts.
A different image of China emerges as I switch my news feed from WeChat to independent media, which are free from Beijing’s control and influence. The vast information sources have led me to see the other side of China obscured from WeChat users – an authoritarian government bullying a middle-powered country, arbitrarily detaining and mistreating the innocent, and eroding democratic values and the rule of law. It is a country with a wild and aggressive ambition to become the world’s unique superpower, willing to go at any lengths – even by resorting to hostage taking, cruelty, and torture -- to intimidate those who dare to stand in its way.
“The lesson to be taken from the arrests of Michael Kovrig and Michael Spavor, and the death sentence to Robert Schellenberg, is plain: Countries that defy Beijing may face reprisals, including having their citizens detained and maltreated,” says a Globe editorial with headline “With Meng affair, China shows its true face to the world.” “The regime wants other countries to know that they will pay the price if they cross Beijing… It is how Beijing will behave as its influence and power increase,” the article continues.
Kidnapping individuals and using their lives as bargaining chips are the gross violation of human rights – which has been in the crosshair of Western media’s condemnations. “There is no single ounce of pride in using the state power to attack unarmed individuals, but only disgrace and shame,” writes an op-ed writer. “Can you imagine similar incidents happening in a nation of democracy and law?” writes another.
After I closed WeChat app on my phone, the deafening noise from it continues to haunt me, filling me with dread about the social media’s magic ability to churn out massive idiots in droves– day in and day out. I slapped my version of “Red Dot” on these posts – by deleting them one by one, feeling blessed that I am not one of the victims.
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