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British blogger’s prank shows how much the West’s ‘Chinese experts’ really know about China

Curt McArdle holding his Social Security card Photo: Courtesy of McArdle

People who continue to make China-related threats in TV interviews or write comments to promote anti-China sentiments, or advise Western governments on China policies, do they really know anything about China? ? Or at least know how to understand the information about China that is in Chinese?

The answer seems to be a resounding “No”, as evidenced by a recent “prank” by a British YouTuber, Curt McArdle, who lives in China. McArdle tricked three “prominent” Chinese experts into believing that a card with bold Chinese characters translated to “social security card” written on it was a “positive content payment card” from the Chinese government. McArdle shared the story of why and how he orchestrated the prank in a video and uploaded it, which then sparked heated discussions in China and abroad.

“Never in a million years would I have thought that someone claiming to be a ‘so-called’ expert would fall for something as simple as this like the UK set up when it comes to China, McArdle told the Global Times in an exclusive interview.

As a YouTuber, McArdle typically uploads videos of his trips to China on social media which have drawn criticism, with some calling him “Wumao” – “50 cents” – a term some anti-China forces use to people who give positive feedback. about China, the Chinese government or the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). In recent times, the term has also been used by some foreign media to describe some foreign bloggers who upload videos to share their stories about China.

As one of the foreigners was defamed and attacked online, McArdle decided to retaliate with a prank – he left messages for some social media accounts that typically engage in disinformation about China, in which he made pretending to be hired by the Chinese government and sent a photo of a social security card in China with the message: “Hi mate, I’m still using the same ‘positive content payment card’ that I received at our last meeting, but I haven’t been paid this month. Let me know what I can do about it.” He continued to write that he sent the message to the wrong person and asked how to delete the message.

Although the Chinese characters of the “social security card” are so boldly printed on the card, anyone fluent in Chinese would understand that it has nothing to do with bank accounts but can be used for medical insurance and the elderly ; some people were duped and caught off guard.

Luke de Pulford, who claimed to be a human rights campaigner in the UK, particularly “in the areas of modern slavery and human rights abuses in China”, reposted a screenshot of screen showing McArdle’s messages and commented, “Is this… for real? Magnus Fiskesjö, who claims to be a Cornell University lecturer whose research focuses on ethnic relations and political anthropology in China and Southeast Asia, commented: ‘How pro-regime trolls get paid’ . And Solomon Yue, a Chinese-American Republican Party activist, also posted the screenshot of McArdle’s post and later posted several posts to mock McArdle.

Reading their biographies on social media accounts and public news, the Global Times found that these people were deeply involved in matters concerning China, especially Xinjiang and Hong Kong. Pulford, for example, advises the World Uyghur Congress, a US-backed organization that seeks to bring down the Chinese government. He also coordinates the Inter-Parliamentary Alliance on China, pressuring parliaments and politicians to take tougher stances against China. Since 2019, he has established himself as an adviser to “democracy activists” in Hong Kong and British MPs critical of the CCP.

Seeing these people get duped by such a simple trick made McArdle laugh for a whole day.

“I thought they’d be smart enough not to fall for it. But they’re so desperate to find something to hold on to and haven’t done any research… We have people who work with the UK government, we have university professors teaching people about China… It’s crazy how these people would fall in love with something like that,” McArdle said.

These are the experts who, ironically, know nothing about life in China. Anyone who’s an expert on a country should at least be able to read the language and it’s really concerning that these are the amplified voices about China and these are the people that the BBC and the New York Times and CNN will be talking to and quote from, McArdle said.

“My instinct has always been that these people don’t even really believe what they say. They are opportunists who take advantage of people’s ignorance to make a little money.”

He shared this story on a video and uploaded it to his YouTube account on January 18. As of press time, the video has received over 12,000 views and garnered a lot of attention in China and beyond. One netizen said it was a great video and, “That’s exactly the situation: those who call themselves experts on China take any negative ‘evidence’ and spread it. It doesn’t matter that whether it’s true or not. By the way, most of these experts haven’t even been to China for years!”

Despite talk of the incident, none of the above “Chinese experts” contacted McArdle.

“I’m always happy to have a debate with people, so it’s a shame they didn’t feel comfortable doing it. I think they’d rather just pretend it didn’t happen. product,” McArdle said.

“They have become the butt of mockery from Chinese people all over the country and around the world. I have received so many beautiful messages, too many to count, thanking me for proving what these people really are. I think these pundits want to forget this incident happened and keep pushing their anti-China rhetoric. I just hope that if anyone ever sees a friend or family member fall for their propaganda trap , you’ll remind him that he can’t even recognize a card that almost everyone in China carries!”

McArdle said there was an interesting contrast between the responses from Chinese fans and Western fans when it came to the “duping” video.

“My Chinese fans just laughed, because they knew these people weren’t the experts they claimed to be, and were happy to have proof of that. But my Western fans were pretty shocked, because they have been led to believe that these people should be trusted. They work for our governments or our big universities. They dictate the relationship between China and the UK, or train the next generation of decision makers on China. I think that they’re actually quite concerned about how little knowledge these people have, versus how much power they have,” McArdle said.

The joke comes as no surprise as it exposed the most typical rhetoric these Western so-called “China experts” used to smear China, said Lü Xiang, a researcher at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. social, to the Global Times.

Although well-educated, some Western politicians, media professionals and academics have proven gullible and histrionic about China-related issues. They act like headless chickens running around spreading anti-China rumors without verifying information, Lü said.

It is a sign that the political landscape in the United States and some other Western countries and regions has sunk into the quagmire, from which no one can get out, Lü pointed out. And what the “Chinese experts” are doing is dragging China into the same quagmire rather than getting out of it, Lü said.

Shen Yi, a professor at Fudan University’s School of International Relations and Public Affairs, pointed out that the joke made us doubt the quality of these so-called “China experts” overseas. The ultimate goal of these “China experts” is not to attack China, but rather, anti-China issues are a lucrative avenue for them.

Quoting the popular saying some Western forces usually use, “All the problems in China are rooted in the system,” Shen said in a tit-for-tat manner, the joke reflected that the problem is indeed rooted in the United States. United and its partners. .

Elected politicians and well-received opinion leaders in their countries are just talkers, Shen said. And they have behaved stupidly not only on China-related issues, but also on their domestic policies, Shen noted. “Fools act consistently on every issue,” Shen said.