May I Have Fried Chicken for Spring Festival Please, or Can China Say Yes?

Beneath the frothy surface of Internet outrage over the sliding dragon, not everyone agrees with the naysayers. In a survey of nearly 52 thousand people, although 41% agreed with the statement that the Nippon Paint ad “was a provocation to our national feelings,” the rest of the respondents took a more moderate view: 23% thought that it was “good, but failed to take into account national sentiment,” and 19% thought that it was “a good, creative advertisement”.[1] While there are very few opinion polls in China on “sensitive issues,” the results of the 2006 Pew Global Attitudes Project’s China survey – granted that it was carried out, according to Chinese regulations, in partnership with a local organization and vetted by the government before the release of results – suggest that attitudes towards Japan are not as universally negative as it would seem from the media. While 70% of those polled held “unfavourable” views towards Japan, 21% had “favourable” views. In the case of the United States, those with favourable views (47%) actually outnumbered the unfavourable ones (43%).[2] We may recall the dissenters with Yan Xuetong’s ideas on military spending, although a minority of about 15%, asserted themselves successfully in the debate. Thus, the post that labeled Yan’s views the “dream of a sick man” and asked how it was even possible to think of becoming the world’s leading military power while China has such a gap between the rich and a poor received 30 clicks “in support” to 22 “against”.[3] Even more remarkably, the comment that read “I hope the Chinese army will really become the people’s army rather than a party’s army; otherwise, the more advanced it gets the more of a nightmare it will be for the people” attracted 34 clicks “in support” and only seven “against”.[4] The remark “In China, what counts is what one man says – economy or the military, he’s made a mess of it all” –obviously referring to Hu Jintao – generated 42 clicks “in support” along with 39 “against.”[5] And the most intriguing comment, written in a rather cryptic style, read as follows:

Dictatorships proliferate arms, terrify the world. If democracy were practiced, entering the world’s mainstream, that would bring common people ten thousand happinesses. Money from arms proliferation should be used for health care, pensions, education, and employment of ordinary people: would that not be better.[6]

This post attracted a very high number of clicks “against” – 75 – but also 76 “in support:” the second highest in the whole debate. In fact, Zhou Yongming points out that even on the belligerently nationalistic Iron Blood website, there are posters who think that a China-Japan war is not inevitable and who criticize extreme nationalism and indiscriminate hatred of Japan.

While nationalist consumer campaigns are unlikely to run out of steam any time soon, there might be accompanied by increasingly vocal skepticism. Although online reactions to the 2007 Starbucks affair took their predictable course, conventional media – though almost certainly under guidance “from above” – reacted in a remarkably level-headed way. They reproduced readers’ opinions both supporting and opposing the initiative and, generally, described the conflict as one between conservation and commercialization, not China and the West. Guangming Ribao, traditionally considered the Party’s ideological mouthpiece, ran an article advocating greater attention to protecting the authenticity of the environments in which cultural monuments are located, rather than just the monuments themselves, as is often the case with tourist sites in China whose surroundings are frequently razed to make room for a more newly built souvenir street. (True to its credentials, Guangming Ribao illustrated this on the examples of the former residences of Mao Zedong and Zhou Enlai: “though the surroundings have been beautified,” it observed, “there is nothing left of the environment in which the arduous struggle of those days took place.”[7])

Unusually, also, Guangming Ribao – which had remained aloof of the McDonalds and other affairs – opened a debate on the Starbucks issue. In it, a professor of art history called Rui’s statements “a bit extreme. Don’t we Chinese sell Coke and other foreign drinks in our shops too? After all, every traditional Chinese cultural venue can’t say no to foreign brands!”[8] Nearly all articles raised the question whether, if Starbucks is inappropriate for the Forbidden City, various Chinese snack and souvenir vendors should also be asked to leave. A commentator in Southern Metropolis pointed out the irony of Rui’s using Westerners’ opinions to underpin his crusade not to defer to Westerners and called the crusade an “expression of a lack of cultural self-confidence.” He suggested that “the fateful question of the coexistence of commercialization with traditional culture surely cannot be solved by simply choosing one and rejecting the other”.[9] The popular New Beijing News wrote:

When we extend the topic of preserving traditional culture too far beyond the topic, people tend to get lost in recollections and fear about the wounds of history, or else they sink in self-satisfaction about history. At that point, even if Starbucks moves out, ‘Zhang-bucks’ or ‘Li-bucks’ will move in. Influenced by such discussions, it is often hard, because of the emotions of the crowds, for officials in charge of cultural preservation to focus on the real goals of conservation. … If we simply see Starbucks moving into the Forbidden City as “foreign peddlers usurping the dignity of the heavenly dynasty,” that is disrespecting both traditional Chinese culture and the rules of global business. Besides, we can hardly avoid discussing the fact that those who allowed Starbucks to move into the Forbidden City in the first place were, sadly, Chinese people themselves.[10]

During much of a live online talk show on the Netease portal, Rui was also forced on the defensive and called himself “a patriot, not a nationalist.”[11]

Even more interesting is the fate of a campaign against Kentucky Fried Chicken, which was launched on the popular Tianya forum on 7 March 2007. Perhaps because KFC has been present in China longer than its competitors (since 1987), has spread even to relatively small cities (it has over a thousand outlets and, according to a 1999 survey by ACNielsen, was the “most recognised global brand in China”[12]), and its stores have a more low-key feel to them, customers may perceive it as being more “local;” in any case, it has in the past escaped attacks. This time, it was its Spring Festival billboard advertisement that aroused poster Lao Chu’s ire. The billboard uses the format of a traditional Chinese new-year print featuring a baby boy – the traditional bringer of good fortune in such prints – carrying a family-size takeaway bucket of chicken. The boy is flanked by two Chinese lions that appear seduced by the Family Bucket (全家桶), and the image is framed by a traditional-style couplet that reads “Prosperity and fortune go into the Family Bucket; year after year will be happy and harmonious” (福到运到全家桶,岁岁年年乐融融).

Lao Chu assails the ad for “profaning traditional Chinese culture” and, in well-tried language, accuses KFC of plotting to “subjugate not only the Chinese baby but also the Chinese lion” and of having “gravely insulted the national dignity of all Chinese people”.[13]

An increasing number of international brands have been trying to link themselves to such traditional gift-giving and feasting occasions as the Spring Festival and the Mid-Autumn festival. For example, Ferrero-Rocher’s chocolates have become a common Mid-Autumn gift instead of the traditional mooncakes, perhaps because they are round and white like the moon. Nowadays, department stores and supermarkets offer a variety of eye-catching Mid-Autumn gift sets containing based on chocolate, French wine, or even Nescafé. As habits of celebrating holidays are rapidly changing – Spring Festival, traditionally the time for a family get-togethers in one’s ancestral village, is now a popular occasion to travel abroad – the idea of eating takeaway Kentucky Fried Chicken instead of home-wrapped dumplings is, perhaps, no longer inconceivable.

Lao Chu’s case against Western junk food invading China’s most important festival seemed as strong as Rui Chenggang’s, and the lions prancing around the KFC bucket appeared to guarantee another juicy scandal. Yet – whether because the idea of “subjugating lions” with fried chicken was pushing the limits of absurdity or because netizens were simply getting tired of such calls to arms – the campaign fizzled out spectacularly. Lao Chu’s post aroused only a handful of “iron blood” responses: “Evil People’s Tales” (恶人传说) speculated that young people in China have been “poisoned” by foreign junk food to the extent that Americans could now threaten them: if you don’t behave, we’ll stop running these junk food restaurants in China, and Happyer-1 expressed outrage at another ad, in which, he wrote, KFC advertised a foundation designed to teach Chinese people about healthier food. Overall in the debate, however, comments in support of Lao Chu were far outnumbered by skeptical, sarcastic and dismissive ones. Several posters said they liked the billboard. A number of them praised international chains for “knowing how to hook onto local culture” at a time when Chinese no longer care about it. “Look at education these days! How many schools take Chinese language seriously – it’s all English from dawn till dusk!” – commented “Beast Without Tears” (兽无泪). “KFC still remembers these elements of Chinese tradition, but Chinese people themselves may have forgotten them all. How many people in China can still make paper cuts? How many families still paste couplets on their doors and flowers on their windows?” – asked “Merry Beggar” (丐逍遥). “What’s the use of scolding others? In trampling upon their own traditional culture, every Chinese is a perpetrator” – commented “Thread-bound Lip Ointment” (线装唇膏). A few others dismissed Lao Chu’s post as “rubbish,” sniggered at him for having nothing better to do, accused him of working for McDonalds, or simply said that they had never noticed the billboard.

The debate then drifted off in a dietetic direction: was Western junk food bad for you? Because of the traditional importance attributed to food in Chinese thinking about health, child nutrition has become a battleground contested by parents and grandparents with traditional beliefs, consumer goods companies targeting a generation of single and therefore supposedly spoiled children, and medical professionals with a Western-inspired view on health.[14] In this particular debate, Happyer-1 angrily rejected KFC’s latest efforts to recast itself as a nutrition expert, “as if Chinese people had no idea about nutrition;” but other posters wrote that, on the contrary, Chinese people’s lack of health education was responsible for KFC’s popularity. One, Lishui Qingyun, laid the blame for that at the feet of the Chinese government, pointing out that “abroad, KFC is banned from school cafeteria” and saying that instead of cracking down on it, the government should invest its energies into educating people about “what kind of food is junk food.” Some readers rejected “junk food” altogether, others wrote that was okay in moderation, but several also believed it was the responsibility of parents and teachers, not outsiders, to tell children when to stop. There were also a few who thought Chinese food was no healthier: “Bounded Universe” (中千世界Zhongqian Shijie) pointed out that “people say junk food is bad but eat food that’s even more junk, like youtiao” (fried dough sticks). Hisqs added that “it’s Chinese food these days that is a hodgepodge of junk” and accused Chinese restaurants of reusing oil and the broth used to cook Sichuanese hotpots. Videoseven refused to call KFC “junk” and wrote that it compared favourably to the standards of hygiene and freshness and amounts of MSG found in Chinese restaurants. In sum, not only did Lao Chu’s call to arms fail to elicit a significant following, but readers were also divided in their evaluation of Western fast food itself.

The Chinese Internet has at least one celebrity who openly satirizes nationalism, and his rise on the Net has been no less meteoric than Muzi Mei’s. Luo Yonghao, or Fatty Luo as he is known, coaches students who plan to sit for the GRE, the test required to apply for graduate study in the United States. Luo acquired his fame while teaching at New Oriental (新东方), the most famous of private schools specializing in preparing students for such tests. Founded in 1993, New Orient has branches all over China and has since expanded into other areas of teaching, becoming, according to its website, “the largest provider of private educational services in China” with a network of two million registered online users.[15] The school describes itself as promoting a “global vision encompassing both traditional Chinese values and modern thinking”[16] and has a carefully cultivated image as an incubator of future top managers. In 2006, New Oriental went public on the New York Stock Exchange. Because of the school’s prestige, its overseas links and its high-powered online network, its cachet among Chinese yuppies is both of a trendy brand and of an exclusive club. This lends its teachers – who earn, in dollar terms, five-digit annual salaries – a special authority.

Luo – who had left secondary school after Year 2 and calls himself an “old indignant youth” (老愤青) – became famous when students fascinated by his off-topic rants in the classroom began recording and posting them on the Net. The audio files began circulating in e-mails, and fans set up online collections of “quotations from Old Luo”.[17] Later, he started a blog on, which, until he moved in March 2006, received over two million visits.[18] In October 2006, a search for Luo Yonghao on web sites inside China resulted in over 130 thousand hits. In 2006, Luo launched his own blog hosting site,

Luo’s rambling speeches cover a wide range of subjects; the titles of his clips include “Counterrevolution” as well as “Polygamy” and “Dirty jokes”. But no matter what the subject, he is always irreverent towards received wisdoms about the nation. He “can’t stand Japan” but calls Confucius “the biggest country bumpkin” (最土最糖醋最家常便饭的, literally “the most earthen, the most sweet-and-sour, the most home-cooked”). [19] He bemoans students’ lack of critical thinking and gets “the creeps” from statistics that show 80 per cent of Chinese netizens supporting the “liberation of Taiwan by military means”:

I resolutely oppose Taiwan independence, but I don’t… I don’t support liberation by military means. I haven’t expected that so many Chinese support liberating Taiwan by military means, it makes me feel like I don’t live among human beings, right? … Besides, Taiwan isn’t that sacred and inviolable either. Intellectuals who think hard needn’t look for overseas reactionaries or whatever [to conclude that]; you can just check Taiwan’s history in any library in China and understand that. … We’ve fallen back just a hundred years ago; in our ancestors’ times, China was as hyper-hip as it gets; do you think there’s no chance it bullied weaker countries around it? People say “No, we Chinese are industrious and kind, we never bully other people, we are just bullied by others.” Is that possible??? … Go read up on the history of those weaker countries – it’s one long history of intimidation by China. So when Japanese people are unable to face up to their history, we are right to criticize them. But if you haven’t soberly reflected on your own history, what right do you have to criticize the Japanese for denying their history, right?

… Whose was Taiwan originally? Sacred and inviolable, fucking right, it belonged to the Taiwanese aborigines, just like [America belonged to] the Indians. … All the way until when a few hundred years ago a few big ships moored there, and some people with scary faces, called Han, got off. Soon as they were ashore, seeing that the locals were backward, they set off to kill the men and rape the women, burned the houses to the ground, slaughtered those people until they were scared shitless. …

So Taiwan independence people say: “According to natural law and human rights, we want to be free and independent, this is sacred and inviolable!” Mainlanders say: “This has been an inseparable part of our sacred territory since antiquity; I’m gonna fucking kill you!” If it’s so fucking sacred and inviolable on both sides, what should the aborigines feel? … So you’ve got to face history and keep a healthy attitude to international affairs, right? [20]

On 1 January 2006, Luo’s New Year’s wish list, posted on his blog, included these wishes: “I hope all ultra-nationalist indignant youth will be enlightened … I hope political prisoners in all countries will be released. I hope those countries with no political prisoners will not just be satisfied with the fact that their own country has no political prisoners. … I hope all websites will not have keyword filtering, and I hope all websites which set up this filtering do not do so voluntarily…. [21]

Fatty Luo’s ideas find much support on Bullog, which hosts some of China’s well-known bloggers. (They include Wang Xiaofeng, who has already published a selection of articles from his blog in book form.) On 21 October 2006, someone posted an article quoting Dr. Johnson’s famous words about patriotism being the last refuge of the scoundrel. A poster named Xifeng Duziliang commented that “narrow-minded nationalism and mindless patriotism has naturally become the ‘indignant youth’’s fig leaf.” The post received 246 clicks “in support” and only seven “opposed”.[22]

Fatty Luo’s popularity suggests that Chinese who think China should sometimes say yes are not that few. And they are found not only in the lowbrow circles of the Internet, but also in the solemn couloirs of the National People’s Congress. The run-up to the 2008 Peking Olympics is serving to ratchet up a new wave of nationalism: both because it is the largest sporting event and because the right to organize it has been a major item of the nationalistic agenda. Accordingly, government officials have reportedly proclaimed the goal of China winning the most medals at the Games. As in East Germany and the Soviet Union, the medals hierarchy is a matter of close government attention: sports victories in China are treated by the government as a metaphor for political victories. Sports officials put tremendous pressure on athletes to win gold medals, and the system of financial rewards is also heavily slanted towards gold medalists. By demanding that China win most medals in 2008, officials are raising the stakes: achieving the status of top medalist would be a symbolic way to assert that China’s “rise” has been accomplished. Yet at the meetings of the National People’s Congress and the People’s Political Consultative Conference in early 2007, writer and former Minister of Education Wang Meng and Deng Yaping, a multiple table tennis world champion, separately made statements warning against overpoliticizing the Olympics and suggesting that the drumbeating about being top medalist is damaging to China’s image abroad. In Southern Metropolis, Jing Kaixuan, a professor at Nanjing University, cited them approvingly and denounced the

aberrant idea that “victory is patriotism and defeat is treasonable.” … [Chinese] coaches and athletes seldom show bearing and dignity. Win a competition and this is the glory of race. Lose a competition and we blame the machinations of the other side. For example, during an open badminton tournament in Germany recently, a Chinese athlete dropped out of a match due to illness. This caused dissatisfaction in the [tournament’s] executive committee [which wondered about the reason for the withdrawal]. It was a matter that could easily be explained [owing to the player’s illness], but a [Chinese] official blamed the German people’s lack of understanding of the game, saying that German’s were jealous of the achievements of the Chinese team. Who would believe such an assertion, saying Germans were jealous over badminton? This could only cause others to believe that you suffered from lack of character.[23]

Wang Meng has something of a reputation of a 1980s liberal. But some mainstream writers like Yu Qiuyu, a well-known intellectual whose popularity has been boosted by appearances on television shows, have, too, been growing tired with nationalism. Recently, Yu criticized China’s strategy of promoting itself abroad, saying that it focuses too much on shopworn images of antiquity, “always complaining about China’s tribulations” and lacking “self-mocking humor”. [24] He warned against exaggerating China’s cultural uniqueness and

speak[ing] of western culture only to throw up nationalistic psychological barriers. Ultimately, what should obviously be shared human spiritual values end up speaking a nationalistic language, lowering ourselves and turning others into strangers. … For example, these sorts of reports and commentary are quite common: “Peking Opera will conquer the world!”, “Hollywood and Japanese animation are stealing Chinese youth,” and so forth. These reports elevate the question of cultural forms to thoughts of national and ethnic unification, and imagine about life-and-death conflict between cultural forms. [25]

More fundamentally, Yu criticized the mainstream discourse on “Chinese culture” as a set of timeless and inviolable symbols:

Actually, China’s ancient sayings are not Chinese culture in practice… In recent years, many officials and literati have indulged more and more in spouting off strings of idioms, ancient sayings, descriptive words, and parallel sentences to describe Chinese culture and the Chinese spirit, and the proper connotation and denotation of many of these are hard to understand when they are translated into a foreign language; they become an impenetrable “flood of words” or “mass of ideas” and present another obstacle to cultural communication.[26]

Yu’s ideas, expressed in a more conventional, highbrow style, are not very different from Luo’s. They suggest that impatience with both the hidebound canon of “five-thousand-year-old superior Chinese culture” and the pigheadedness of the nationalistic “indignant youth” finds its expression not only in irreverent but explicitly apolitical public acts – such as Muzi Mei’s sex blog – but also in a modicum of debate. The “anaconda in the chandelier” ensures that public discourse, from lowbrow to highbrow, from advertising to the Internet, is dominated by naysayers: their stance is politically safe and encouraged by mainstream, state-controlled media, and they feel empowered to question the patriotism of anyone who disagrees. Indeed, one of the authors of China Can Say No, now a member of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and of the People’s Political Consultative Conference, said in 2007 that he wanted to introduce to the National People’s Congress a draft law banning treasonable speech (汉奸舆论), aimed to punish scholars and media who have “reversed the verdict” on important historical incidents (for example, by debating the official version of the Nanjing massacre).[27] But while the naysaying canon has, since 1996, drowned out most other voices, its hegemony is not absolute. The chorus of knee-jerk patriotism, puzzling at first in its unanimity, may after all perhaps be explained by the effects of cultural control in a state-dominated capitalist media economy.

By the 1980s, most people in the Soviet Union understood that when their governments justified their actions by a universalist ideology that gestured to the equality of persons and nations, to the delegation of all power and ownership to the people, and to the liberation of the working people’s creativity, they were lying – whether these actions were at home or abroad. So do most people in China today. After the demise of the Soviet Union, the memory of Eastern European elites constructed the Soviet era as the era of lies, and nationalists to this day invoke the truth/lies dichotomy to struggle against their post-Communist left-wing rivals. Why don’t Chinese nationalists mind if their government is lying to them?

While exposing the government’s lies in the Soviet Union attracted applause for the whistleblowers and – if temporarily – delegitimized the regime, the reaction to such exposure in today’s China is often cynical agreement. We all know that countries and peoples are not equal, people seem to say; but if pretending that they are helps the Chinese government in its battle with America and Japan, then so be it. All states lie to advance their interests, after all. We don’t really care what the government means by “five thousand years of Chinese culture;” it doesn’t matter what Confucius teaches us or whether pop renditions of Tibetan songs are authentic; it doesn’t matter even if we have a culture; the point is that foreigners must respect it. When exiled Chinese writer Gao Xingjian was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2000, reactions in China were muted. While some writers expressed pride at the first literary Nobel awarded to a Chinese, Shu Yi, head of the Institute of Modern Literature and son of famous writer Lao She, reportedly called it a joke and a reflection of the Nobel Committee’s lack of understanding of Chinese literature, adding that the Nobel Prize for Literature has lost its credibility in Chinese eyes.[28] A commentator on Xinhuanet saw this imposition of a Western judgment overruling the Chinese canon as a reflection of the committee’s grievous ignorance of China’s “five-thousand-year-old” culture and, indeed, as an act of “aggression against the Chinese civilization.” It was a matter of national strength, he argued, for China to obtain a fair representation among Nobel laureates; after all, a country like St. Lucia, where 1992 Nobel laureate Derek Walton had come from, could not possibly produce better literature than China[29] Yet in Chinese schools and media, Socialist Realist art – the novels of Gorky, Nikolai Ostrovsky and Fadeev, Soviet painting and the folk ensemble of the Red Army – are still the representative pieces of Russian culture. When Russians object to this, Chinese are surprised – not so much because of the merit of these works, but because arguments about what constitutes high culture appear unimportant compared to the token of respect paid by the naming of canonical works.

It is a common point of view in the West that after the “bankruptcy” of Marxist ideology – usually linked to 1989 – the Chinese government sought legitimation in nationalism. Some explain this as a consequence of the “communitarianism” of “Chinese culture”. But if there is anything that becomes clear from the stories discussed in this book, it is Chinese people’s overwhelming distrust of universalist ideologies and their equally overwhelming acceptance of the struggle between nations as the underlying principle of world history. This is not Confucius; this is Herbert Spencer, the “social Darwinist” whose work has – as Frank Dikötter and others have shown – been so influential for Chinese reformists since the early twentieth century. Eastern Europeans have had much more exposure to universalist ideologies, but even for them, the crucial – and as is now obvious, temporary – separation of patriotism from loyalty to the government was precipitated by the fact that the governments’ lies were omnipresent and seemingly linked. When the government said that production soared to new heights and people had never lived better, those who queued for hours even to buy rotten potatoes could identify with commentators on the Voice of America. But the Chinese government does not always lie. When it says that Chinese people are living better then ever, the experiences of many confirm that. When it suggests that foreign media deny this fact because foreign governments are intent on preventing China from becoming strong, it sounds plausible to many. For them, squabbles over culture and creativity are secondary, and the suppression of a few critics, even with arguments that are patently untrue, is a price worth paying for stability. Growing prosperity and more entertainment for a large part of the population and unrelenting control of the media has proven, so far, a winning combination.

Yingjie Guo has pointed out that the period since 1989 has been characterized by an epistemological (and tactical) alliance between “establishment intellectuals,” post-colonial theorists, and cultural neotraditionalists, all of whom mounted assaults on Western representations of China, though each for somewhat different reasons.[30] The aggregate of these offensives have, Guo argued, had a “totalizing effect” since “such an enormous range of positions, interpretations and representations are branded ‘Orientalist’ or ‘imperialist’ that one wonders what is not so branded.”[31] But the “totalizing effect” would not have been achieved had the state’s own representations of China not been able to maintain a certain discursive authority, and had it not controlled internally dissenting representations, at least in the popular realm, with an iron fist.

Guo’s recipe for breaking up the totalizing image of the West is to “inject into the Chinese postcolonial discourse … an additional dose of deconstructionism” that would subject Chinese views of the West, or itself, to the same critique as Western views of China.[32] Sounds academic, but this is precisely what Fatty Luo and Yu Qiuyu are doing. They, the critical and the creative are there in the cracks of popular culture. Whether they will one day surface with the same violent intensity as in post-1991 Russia or in a gradual manner, much in the world will depend on whether they choose to maintain the intellectual tradition of national struggle and perhaps go down the path of a violent expansionism that the state currently suppresses or, for the first time in modern China, embrace some new form of self-reflexive universalism.

[1] See poll here.[2] Pew Global Attitudes Project, “Publics of Asian Powers Hold Negative Views of One Another:
China’s Neighbors Worry About Its Growing Military Strength,” 21 September 2006. See report here.

[3] Posted 16 January 2006.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Ibid.

[6] Ibid.

[7] “由星巴克看文物环境的保护” (Through Starbucks, looking at the protection of cultural monuments’ surroundings), Guangming Ribao, reproduced on, 18 January 2007.

[8] “专家交锋‘星巴克开进故宫’” (Experts discuss Forbidden City Starbucks), Guangming Ribao, 18 January 2007.

[9] Zhou Qing’an, “星巴科能否搬出中国人心灵的故宫” (Can Starbucks move out of the forbidden city in Chinese people’s minds), Nanfang Dushibao, 17 January 2007.

[10] “以理性态度看待故宫星巴克” (Looking rationally at the Forbidden City Starbucks), Xin Jing Bao, 17 January 2007.

[11] “芮成钢、徐勇韬聊故宫内星巴克去留” (Rui Chenggang, Xu Yongtao discuss Forbidden City Starbucks: stay or go?),, 17 January 2007. See article here

[12] Carlye Adler, “Colonel Sanders’ March on China,” Time, 17 November 2003.

[13] Lao Chu 老_处 “『传媒江湖』肯德基,莫压垮了中国娃” (KFC, you can’t daunt the Chinese baby), 7 March 2007. See post and responses here.

[14] See Jun Jing, Feeding China’s Little Emperors: Food, Children, and Social Change. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2000.

[15] See the school’s website.

[16] See the school’s website

[17] For example, here


[19] “牛人罗永浩:传说中不佩服都不行的罗胖子” (Ultracool Luo Yonghao: the legendary Fatty Luo you can’t help admiring),, 29 September 2005. 

[20] “老罗讲台湾问题” (Old Luo on the Taiwan question). This transcript was posted on 10 October 2006 on the popular Jimei Xuecun (集美学村) BBS ( We accessed it on 28 October 2006. A year later, the BBS had been shut down “due to electricity blackouts”.

[21] English translation by China Digital Times. 

[22] See post on Zhao Mu’s blog.

[23] Jing Kaixuan, “金牌不等于奥运精神” Nanfang Dushibao, 19 March 2007, p. A23. English translation by David Bandurski at the Chinese Media Project.

[24] “中国处于‘文化独立’之中吗?” Huanqiu Ribao (Global Times), 9 October 2006, p. 11. English translation: “Is China stuck in ‘cultural isolation’?”  on

[25] Ibid.

[26] Ibid. Yu is not the first to express such misgivings. In 1997, Wang Xiaobo’s book 我的精神家园 (My spiritual home) criticized the “Chinese civilization saves the world” mentality as “following in the tradition of ‘masturbating Chinese culture whilst harbouring lustful intent for the rest of the world’” (translated in Song Xianlin and Gary Sigley, “Middle Kingdom Mentalities: Chinese Visions of National Characteristics in the 1990s,” Communal/Plural 8(1):47-64 [2000], p. 56).

[27] David Bandurski, “Wen Wei Po: Well-known Chinese leftist official proposes law against seditious speech in China,” China Media Project.

[28] Zhang Hui, “诺贝尔文学奖开了中国人一个大玩笑” (Nobel Literature Prize a big joke for Chinese),, 11 August 2001.

[29] Cao Weixia, “诺贝尔文学奖与中国” (The Nobel Prize for Literature and China),, 8 October 2003.

[30] The exception is the Falungong religious movement. Although the Falungong has a deeply traditionalist worldview and condemns contemporary society as morally lax, it has picked up the West’s human rights discourse after having been banned in China. Having lost the option of a tactical alliance with the Communist Party, it assaulted the latter for betraying Chinese tradition and imposing an alien, “heterodox“ cult, that of Marx and Lenin.

[31] Yingjie Guo, Cultural Nationalism in Contemporary China. The search for national identity under reform. London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004, p. 130.

[32] Ibid., p. 132.

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