The term is a sarcastic reference to those whose political opinions are perceived as being guided by emotions or a hypocritical show of selflessness and empathy.
And because he understands the ideology of its adherents, China’s top diplomat humiliated US Secretary of State Antony Blinken during talks in Anchorage, Alaska last week. “I don’t think the overwhelming majority of countries in the world would recognize that the universal values advocated by the United States or that the opinion of the United States could represent international public opinion, and those countries would not recognize that the rules made by a small number of people would serve as the basis for the international order,” said Yang Jiechi. The values that Yang was referring to, were those held by the baizuo. He added: “The United States does not have the qualification to say that it wants to speak to China from a position of strength.”
Baizuo, according to the popular Chinese definition, is a hallmark of virtue-signalling hypocritical humanitarians who claim they support peace and equality but in fact are more concerned with “satisfying their own feeling of moral superiority”. They are “obsessed with political correctness” to the extent that they “tolerate backwards Islamic values for the sake of multiculturalism”. They believe in the welfare state that “benefits only the idle and the free riders”. Thus, for the Chinese, baizuo are the “ignorant and arrogant Westerners” who “pity the rest of the world and think they are saviours”.
Former US President Barack Obama was considered by the Chinese state media as an advocate of baizuo ideology.
The term was previously used as a general critique of certain socialist values in the American mainstream. Users on the Chinese forum Zhihu through 2013–2015, applied the term to criticize those ignorant of real-world consequences, and advocate destructive behaviour like political sacrifice and identity politics.
The initial term zuojiao became widely famous in Hong Kong during the 2014 Hong Kong protests. The definition of this term includes: Metropolitan elites embracing Postmodernism based on contemporary liberalism and Cultural Marxism indoctrination in colleges and universities. The ideology of zuojiao made reference to Karl Marx, the Frankfurt School, John Dewey and John Rawls according to Hong Kong netizens. Chinese netizens inherited this term from Hong Kong and it evolved to baizuo.
Substantial use in Chinese Internet culture began in early 2016, at first at MIT BBS, a bulletin board system used by many Chinese in the US, during the 2016 United States presidential election. Baizuo was used to criticize the Democratic Party’s emphasis on pro-black affirmative action policies perceived as discriminating against Asians.
After the United States presidential election of 2016, the term came to be more widely used in reference to perceived double standards of Western media, as well as in relation to the curious tolerance of left-wing activists for Islam.
Today the term baizuo is not limited to referring to the white liberal elites alone. The derogatory slang is also for those who romanticise Islam. According to Zhang Chenchen, a PhD in political theory and science, baizuo first emerged to describe German Chancellor Angela Merkel for her decision to welcome more than one million third-world immigrants to Europe, which infringed upon Chinese people’s right to stay in Europe.
Additionally, other observations about baizuo include intellectuals who “advocate inclusiveness and anti-discrimination but cannot tolerate different opinions.” The political opinions of baizuos are considered exceptionally shallow and facile because they generally espouse ideologies that run against the basic concept of equality.
Harvard’s admission policy, pushed by white liberals in America, has perpetuated racism against Asian students. Fox News host Tucker Carlson commented on this contradiction: “A study of Harvard’s admissions policy, for example, found that if the school admitted students solely on merit, as we thought they did, the percentage of Asian students in a given class would double to 43 percent.”
“Harvard doesn’t want that many Asians, so it denies admissions to Asians because they’re Asian. That’s the definition of discrimination. That’s what racism is. But it’s everywhere. It’s going on in all elite schools right now, as well as in almost every major corporation. The current administration wholeheartedly supports it,” Carlson explained.
Similarly, the Biden administration dropped a lawsuit against Yale University for racist anti-Asian admissions practices. “The meritocracy is racist, they claim. So is succeeding through hard work,” Carlson noted about the Democratic Party baizuos.
Chinese state media has described baizou as people who, “only care about topics such as immigration, minorities, LGBT and the environment”. And the problems that Western leftists are concerned about, are largely unknown to Chinese society.
Another derogatory name often used alongside baizuo is shengmu, which according to its users refers to those who are “overemotional”, “hypocritical” and “have too much empathy”.
In May 2016, Amnesty International published a survey claiming that the most welcoming country for refugees was China, but this news was not at all welcomed in the Chinese media. Global Times conducted their own online survey in response to Amnesty’s claim, and found quite the opposite: 90,3 percent said “no” to the question “would you accept refugees in your own household?” while 79,6 percent rejected accepting refugees “in your city, or would you like to be neighbours with refugees?”. Chinese netizens saw the survey as part of a foreign conspiracy, intended to pressure the Chinese government to accept more foreigners. A senior researcher at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences called the Amnesty results “weird” and designed to “incite citizens against the government”.
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