Washington Times

Understanding China’s Antisemitism

Communist Party fans its flames 

Senior Fellow and Director, China Center
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on December 8, 2022. (Photo by Yao Dawei/Xinhua via Getty Images)
Chinese President Xi Jinping meets with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, on December 8, 2022. (Photo by Yao Dawei/Xinhua via Getty Images)

With Israel waging war on Hamas in the wake of the worst massacre of Jewish people since the Holocaust, it is easy for Western leaders to take their collective eye off Beijing. Yet in China, antisemitic rhetoric and actions are not only fueled by ignorance, but the national government also inculcates them.

In a post-Oct. 7 age, where combating the age-old poison of anti-Jewish hatred has taken on a new urgency, leaders in the West must call out and combat the Chinese government’s promotion of antisemitism. To do this, they must understand both its state-sponsored iterations and its ideological roots.

Unfortunately — and perhaps surprisingly to many young people in the West who parrot the aphorisms of Marxism — antisemitism is deeply rooted in the writings of Karl Marx himself, writings that form the core of the Chinese Communist Party’s governing ideology.

One of Marx’s first serious publications was his 1844 pamphlet “On the Jewish Question,” in which he argued that Jews constituted “a problem” for Europe, the solution to which was for Europe to rid itself of what he termed the Jews’ real religion — the worship of money. “Money,” Marx wrote in his pamphlet, “is the Jealous God of Israel, beside which no other God may exist.”

Anyone looking for how Marx’s virulent antisemitism has found expression in China over the past month has not had to look far. While most Western governments have condemned Hamas in the strongest possible terms, Beijing has refused to do so. Not only that, but it has also censored pro-Israel expression, both online and offline.

Within the past month, China’s state-controlled internet search giants Baidu and Alibaba removed Israel from their map services, making the Jewish state disappear from the river to the sea. As if on cue, many outlets of the pro-Hamas Palestinian media cheered this topographical elimination of Israel.

Moreover, the state-owned Chinese Central Television has repeatedly spread antisemitic conspiracy theories since the outbreak of the war. On Oct. 10, a Chinese TV report stated that “Jews represent a mere 3% of [U.S.] population but control more than 70% of its wealth.” This state media organ further claimed that Jews constituted the United States’ “most influential minority.”

As if it had not gone far enough, it capped its report with the assertion that “six or seven Jews” control 200 of the most influential U.S. companies.

In a country with free and independent media, comments like these would be reprehensible. In a country like China, where all media is either state-owned or state-controlled, such reports are a damning indictment of the kinds of ideas the authorities in Beijing consider worth promoting.

It is no surprise, therefore, that antisemitism in the national consciousness trickles down from the highest echelons of government to the populace at large. Evidence of this abounds in Chinese life. Steven Spielberg’s Oscar-winning film “Schindler’s List,” widely regarded as a classic, was review-bombed so aggressively on China’s largest film-sharing platform, Bilibili, or B Site, in the immediate aftermath of the Oct. 7 Hamas atrocities that its rating plummeted from 9.7 to 4.3. “Where is the Palestinian Schindler?” asked one characteristic commenter.

Antisemitism has found its way to China’s bookshelves, too. The book “Currency Wars,” though largely unheard of in the West, is a bestseller in China. Its premise reads like a Jew-hating diatribe straight from Marx’s writings. The book stipulates that Western nations are secretly run by a cabal of Jewish bankers who manipulate currencies to increase their own wealth. The book also blames Jews for many of history’s worst horrors, including the assassination of President John F. Kennedy.

Some Western observers, to their credit, have caught on to and condemned the Chinese government’s encouragement of antisemitism. The German Embassy in Beijing, for example, recently called out China’s anti-Jewish hate, stating: “Those who deliberately combine the Israeli flag with Nazi symbols in their profile pictures are either ignorant idiots or shameless bastards!”

Yet China’s antisemitism does not raise alarms in the West nearly as often as it should.

With the world’s most comprehensive and Orwellian electronic surveillance system, the Chinese Communist Party has complete control over who can say what within its borders. When antisemitism finds a voice in China, the world should know that the government in Beijing is amplifying it.

This should change, as nowhere in the world do we see a more momentous and poisonous combination of rampant ultranationalism, Marxist-Leninist ideological fanaticism, and state-fanned conspiratorial antisemitism as we do in today’s China. This dangerous extremism once caused unspeakable pogroms in the 20th century.

Everyone in the free world today has the obligation to prevent them from happening again in the 21st century.

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