China's Xinhuanet published an article at the end of November titled "Awakening of National Consciousness — Yihetuan (Boxer Rebellion) — Anti-imperialist Patriotic Movement." It recalled the history of the siege of international legations in the summer of 1900 in Peking (Beijing), the capital of the former Qing dynasty, during the Boxer Rebellion. Starting with the lyrics of a folk song that have allegedly been passed down among generations for over 100 years, the article described the song as a manifestation of an important scene in the anti-imperialist movement in modern Chinese history. It viewed the Boxer Rebellion as a spontaneous gathering of people in response to the invasion of foreign enemies, showing the determination of the Chinese people to unite against foreign aggression a century ago. In truth, the author distorted the facts to manipulate history by reframing it in a way that suits the purposes of the Chinese government today.
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He described the large-scale persecution of Christians as an anti-imperialist patriotic movement, and elevated the torture and slaughter of one's countrymen to the "untouchable" level of patriotic fervor. State-run media like to gobble up such propaganda, as the Chinese Communist Party (CCP)
knows this is the best way to cover its tracks. From land reform to the Cultural Revolution
, each communist movement in China was murderous and self-destructive, and often saw comrades pitted against one another. After over 40 years of reform and opening up, the CCP has once again raised this so-called patriotic movement to serve its own interests. Since President Xi Jinping
assumed office in March 2013, China has gradually returned to its old ways. Not only has it cracked down on freedom of speech like never before, but its political ideology and economic management have all moved closer to the Mao Zedong era. The words and phrases of the Cultural Revolution, political censorship, counter-revolution and other terms have re-emerged to shape the public's vision, as though Chairman Mao himself has been revived 40 years later. The Boxer movement was not an anti-imperialist patriotic movement at all but a self-determination movement against the intellectual and economic enlightenment of the people. Since Western Christianity arrived on the mainland, it enlightened the people and broke the intellectual confinement that had been imposed on them for thousands of years. This gradually let women gain the respect and rights they deserved, breaking the suppression of the people by their respective clans and bringing a new way of thinking to traditional farming. But the progress of civilization was resisted by the ignorant. That is happening again now, with even stronger levels of ignorance in effect. A century ago, we could blame this on underdeveloped communications and the influence of old-fashioned ways of thinking, which had confined people's minds for thousands of years. In contrast, the CCP media's "revival" of the Boxer Rebellion is a deliberate attempt to incite patriotic sentiment and resist the advances of the digital era and the rise of the internet. Reflecting on the changes in China's religious policy, and the extent of the suppression of Christianity in China over the past few years, we can clearly see the CCP's attitude toward advanced civilization. In a "normal" country, politics and religion are separated, but the CCP has always tied religion with patriotism and constantly interferes with people's religious faith. The CCP has not only inherited the means of obscurantism that the rulers of China used to lock the people in a cage of ignorance for thousands of years, but has also done its utmost to control the public for decades using its centralized power. The party is brutally trampling on human nature, brainwashing people in all directions and constantly tampering and fabricating history to achieve this kind of control. The aforementioned article concluded with the following thoughts. "Although the process of the Yihetuan and its organizational movement had a color of exclusionism in general, the Yihetuan in their fight against the armies of the Eight-Nation Alliance displayed the connections and support they made with each other, the courage to fight and the spirit of not fearing sacrifice, now still reflecting the determination and courage of the Chinese people in fighting foreign aggression." This is a shameless beautification of the barbarous acts that were carried out during that time, by repackaging various mobs as national heroes. This is no longer nationalism or statism. It is akin to Nazism, treating cruelty as good deeds and keeping the people downtrodden. The CCP's recent promotion of the Yihetuan movement aims to further expand and strengthen this Nazism and reject advanced civilization, if not outright declare war on it once again. Paul Tse is a Catholic in mainland China.