In recent years there has been a trend of “boastfulness” among the mainland media, particularly on digital platforms, about China’s achievements.
Under such a trend, authors and reporters have been calling attention to numerous top positions that China has achieved and exaggerating the country’s might, mainly in an attempt to feed the mass delusions of grandeur among netizens in order to draw more online hits.
To give people an idea of how boastful such online propaganda has become, the People’s Daily recently cited some “eye-catching” article headlines, such as “the US is so scared”, “the Japanese are petrified”, and “the Europeans are having regrets now”.
The degree of widespread boastfulness among the mainland media has reached such an alarming level that even Beijing is getting increasingly dismayed at it.
Recently, the People.cn, the online version of the People’s Daily, strongly bombarded the boastfulness among online media outlets.
It also slammed the rampant yellow journalism in the mainland for “evoking extreme emotions and spreading bias among society”, thereby giving rise to an inflated sense of self and big-headedness among the general public that is totally out of touch with reality.
While it remains to be seen whether People.cn’s warning can serve as a wake-up call for mainlanders, we believe one thing is crystal clear: lies would still be lies even if they are told ten thousand times.
Moreover, a nation can never command true respect from others just by continuing to blow its own horn. Instead, you have to earn it through solid achievements.
Under some circumstances, even if you are not the world’s No. 1, you can still command genuine respect from others with your proven abilities, virtues and grace.
A typical example of how respect can be earned even if you are on the losing side is the way the Japanese team and Japanese soccer fans behaved at the World Cup.
As we all know, Japan was defeated by Belgium 2-3 in the knockout stage last week.
However, while the Belgians were through to the quarter-finals, most of the compliments, admiration and recognition from soccer fans around the world actually went to the Japanese.
And the reason for that is simple: not only did the Japanese players demonstrate dogged perseverance and remarkable sportsmanship throughout the whole match, they also showed great discipline and courtesy even after they had lost, both on the soccer field and back in the locker room.
As Priscilla Janssens, the coordinator-general of FIFA, put it on her social media account after the match, “the Japanese players thanked their fans in the stadium, cleaned up everything in the dressing room and then spoke to the media. They even left a ‘thank you’ note in Russian……what an example for all teams!! Privilege to work with!”
She even uploaded a picture of the Japanese team locker room to show how tidy and spotless it was.
People from around the globe have already been wowed by the remarkable self-discipline demonstrated by Japanese soccer fans, who were often seen collecting their trash spontaneously from the stands immediately after matches.
And the graceful behavior of the Japanese players simply once again showcased the splendid qualities of the Japanese people. They may have lost the game, but they have definitely won the hearts of soccer fans around the world.
Returning to China, we agree with People.cn that the growing unrealistic pride, fueled by a jingoistic media, among the mainland public about China being the world’s No.1 is definitely harmful to society.
It is because on one hand, it could breed populist sentiments. On the other, self-confidence and national pride that are feeding on media boastfulness and mass delusions of grandeur would never earn the country true respect from others.
As such, in order to earn true respect from the international community, the Chinese people should perhaps follow the example of the Japanese and ditch their own trash. The first piece of trash they need to ditch immediately is definitely boastfulness.
This article appeared in the Hong Kong Economic Journal on July 4
Translation by Alan Lee
[Chinese version 中文版]