|After chasing him since September 11, 2001, Americans breathed a collective
sigh of relief when bin Laden was gunned down on May 1, 2011. However, many
Chinese were upset about Bin Laden‟s death and praised him as an “anti-U.S.
What made the Chinese eulogize one of the worst criminals of this century?
This article analyzes this phenomenon and identifies that the Chinese Communist
Party‟s (CCP‟s) promotion of the philosophy of struggle, its relentless
anti-U.S. campaign, and the deliberate attempt to belittle human rights and
universal values have brainwashed and confused the Chinese people, thus making
them unable to tell good from evil.
Chinese praise for Bin Laden
480,000 Chinese people participated in a survey conducted by Phoenix
Online about bin Laden‟s death. The first question was “How do you view the
U.S. killing of bin Laden?" The following are the results: 
1. Happy, the head of the terrorists was finally killed – 87,700
2. Sad, an “anti-U.S. fighter" is down – 287,619 votes, 59.9%
3. Wow, the U.S. finally got revenge after ten years – 58,606 votes,
4. Just observing, it has nothing to do with me – 46,157 votes,
Some comments made after the survey:
Luckily we have had bin Laden to deal with the U.S. for the past years,
which distracted the U.S. Now that bin Laden has fallen, the U.S. will create
more damage worldwide.
Hope that as one bin Laden falls, more “bin Ladens" stand up! Continue
the fight against the U.S.!
2011/05/02 13:57, by Jiutianlanyue from Xianning City, Hubei Province
The U.S. has made too many enemies and eventually they got revenge, not
just from bin Laden. One bin Laden died, but there will still be a “bin Laden
2," “bin Laden 3," ad infinitum. As long as the U.S. does not give up hegemony,
what it will get is endless acts of revenge. I feel sad for bin Laden.
2011/05/02 15:18, by Shenbeilaopu from Shenyang City, Liaoning Province
He dared to fight U.S. imperialism. Definitely a formidable man! Who can
compare to him? Only Mao Zedong.
2011/05/02 15:11, by Yanzhi from Yueyang City, Hunan Province
A salute to the great anti-U.S. fighter; long live bin Laden‟s
2011/05/02 15:11, by Kaixinhaoren from Minhang District, Shanghai 
Zhang Xin, Director of the CCTV’s Military Channel, stated
in his blog, “Bin Laden is the greatest national hero from the Arab world in
Chinese scholars’ explanation
Even some Chinese questioned the “pro-bin Laden" sentiment. The Blog “Is bin
Laden an Anti-U.S. Hero?" said, “Bin Laden is known to the world for being
the architect of the „9/11‟ terrorist action. On the Chinese Internet, thereare
many postings of „tearful condolences to the great anti-U.S. bin Laden.‟ Though
many of them were half-joking, the subtext behind it is worrisome."
Why do the Chinese overwhelmingly favor bin Laden, a world terrorist leader?
Several Chinese scholars explained that Chinese support him because China and
bin Laden have the same enemy – the U.S.
VOA quoted Li Kaisheng, a PhD and professor who teaches
international relations at Xiangtan University in Hunan, who said that it is not
that Chinese netizens sympathize with terrorist activities, but rather bin
Laden‟s status as an “anti-U.S. fighter" makes them mourn him.
“Why (do we) sympathize with bin Laden? Because we are in a complex
situation with the U.S.-at the very least we can call it a rivalry. So from the
Sino-U.S. relationship angle, many Chinese (feel) that, to a certain extent, bin
Laden diverted whatever attention the U.S. paid to China. This was very obvious
in the Bush administration‟s policy. The strategic focus of the Obama
administration has moved further and further east. Now bin Laden has been
killed, and I feel that many Chinese citizens think it a great pity. This means
less resistance for the U.S. as it moves its strategic focus eastward. The end
result is that China will face more and more strategic pressure from the
Another comment said,
“Of course, the most important reason for Chinese netizens to grieve over
bin Laden‟s death was the controversy in Sino-U.S. relations and China‟s
national interests. “After the Cold War, the U.S. immediately established China
as its contained target. It has continued to challenge China‟s core interests,
such as Tibet and Taiwan. In 2010, shortly after his trip to China, President
Obama chose to meet with the Dalai Lama during the Chinese New Year! He did this
to humiliate and provoke China. Besides Tibet and Taiwan, the U.S. has started
interfering with China‟s claims of sovereignty in the South China Sea. The point
is, whether it is Tibet, Taiwan, or the South China Sea, they are unrelated to
the U.S. The U.S. is just using China‟s interests to blackmail China."
Fallacies in Chinese netizens’ viewpoints
The Chinese netizens‟ view of bin Laden echoes a simple formula – “our
enemy‟s enemy is our friend." This viewpoint has three fallacies.
Fallacy 1: The “U.S. Is China‟s Enemy"
The implicit assumption on the part of Chinese netizens is that China and the
U.S. are enemies. Actually, though the U.S.-China relationship is complicated,
it is never one of absolute enemies.
The Chinese people have the impression that the U.S. is an “enemy" because of
the ongoing anti-U.S. campaign carried out in all major Chinese media.
The following are a few excerpts from China‟s main state media.
The U.S. government swings back and forth, and even adds insult to
injury. In a heartless way it abandoned Mubarak at the critical moment, which
not only upset the U.S. allies in the Middle East, but also allowed them to
realize the pragmatic nature of U.S. diplomacy in the Middle East.
People’s Daily Online, “The U.S. „Changes Face‟ in
the Middle East"
As of today NATO‟s military action in Libya has not been convincing to
the international community. Some media think that a particular member of NATO
probably uses it as a “toolbox" to implement its own political and diplomatic
agenda and to interfere with other countries‟ internal affairs. People in the
21st century do not need “world police."
Xinhua, “Where is NATO‟s Boundary?"
Fallacy 2: “Our Enemy‟s Enemy Is Our Friend"
This argument can be seen throughout many Chinese netizens‟ postings. It
is based on the struggle philosophy that the CCP has consistently promoted in
China. Mao Zedong once stated, “Whatever the enemy is against, we are for it;
and whatever the enemy is for, we are against it."
The following blog exemplifies the viewpoint “our enemy‟s enemy is our
friend: “In February 2001, U.S. President George Bush announced (that the
U.S. would) protect Taiwan with arms. In April, a U.S. military surveillance
plane hit one of our military planes in the sky above the South China Sea. The
U.S. had sent forces to surround us and wanted to threaten China‟s rejuvenation!
At this critical moment, bin Laden started the world-shocking 9/11 sacred war
that changed the direction and strategy of U.S. attacks. The U.S. had to shift
all of its attention and forces to the war against terrorism‟ and leave China
alone. It was bin Laden‟s direct hit against the U.S. that delayed the U.S.
C-shaped plan to deter China! While China has achieved a great national
rejuvenation, it should award bin Laden a first-class, top hero medal."
“Let‟s not forget Saddam – it was he who decided to fight the U.S. army,
who used his own life to pin down over one hundred thousand U.S. and Western
troops, and who let the U.S. imperialist pay with the lives of over five
thousand soldiers at a cost of over a trillion dollars. This bought the
wonderful strategic time and space for China‟s national rejuvenation! Award
Saddam a first-class hero medal!
“We should also thank Wall Street. They created the financial crisis so
that the U.S. had to focus on its internal matters and ask China to help, which
made for a year-long honeymoon for Obama and China. ¼ Award Wall Street‟s elite
a second-class hero medal! “Actually, we should also recommend awarding Gaddafi
a third-class hero medal! Lastly ¼ award Iranian President Ahmadinejad a
first-class hero medal!"
Fallacy 3: “Bin Laden‟s terrorist actions are irrelevant to
There are two subtexts behind this argument:
First, “I don‟t care about terrorist actions as long as
they do not affect me." In the past several dozen years, the CCP‟s political
movements (1949 – 1976) and pursuit of economic success at any cost (1978 – the
present) have made the Chinese become less caring about others. They care only
about their own things. Therefore, as long as bin Laden does not attack China
or, more accurately, does not attack the person himself, he has no opinion about
whether bin Laden kills anyone else.
Second, “a crime against humanity is not a big deal." To
the international community, human rights are universal values. A crime against
humanity is a serious crime, but since the Chinese media has systematically
downplayed or even demonized human rights and universal values, Chinese are
indifferent to crimes against humanity.
Here is an example of how China‟s state media belittles U.S. promotion of
Washington used some non-government organizations (NGOs) in the U.S. to
carefully train so-called “human rights," “democracy," and “non-violence"
promoters and organizations in the Middle East and North Africa ¼ With financial
and technical support, (the U.S.) teaches them how to “creatively" use new media
and digital technology to mobilize the public, to stir up and arouse the local
young people‟s and some unhappy people‟s extremist sentiments, and to create
social turmoil and regime changes, and thus to realize its strategic goal of
reforming and controlling the Islamic world.
The Chinese netizens have only paid attention to bin Laden‟s anti-U.S.
position. They have ignored the basic fact that Bin Laden is anti-humanity and
he is a world terrorist leader. That is largely because of the CCP‟s struggle
philosophy (“our enemy‟s enemy is our friend") and the Chinese media‟s
relentless anti-U.S. imperialism and anti-human rights campaigns.
As a result, many Chinese view the U.S. as the bad imperialist that wants to
victimize China, but they can’t tell why bin Laden is bad, because, in their
minds, a humanitarian cause is nothing. Therefore, they find it easy to ally
themselves with bin Laden against the U.S. imperialist. Thus their praise for
bin Laden is sincere.
Yang Hengjun, an independent Chinese scholar, has further
elaborated on how the CCP has brainwashed the Chinese people:
“So, I just tried to suggest to (the Chinese youth): Can you not like the
U.S., but also not like bin Laden? “The first reaction on the part of those
young men was as if they didn‟t know what I was talking about:
was that even a choice? Then they started asking me, “Are you a patriot
or a traitor?‟ Lord! I found out at that point that, in their minds, when
talking about China, there were only two choices: “patriot‟ or “traitor.‟
It was as if their minds had been programmed. That either/or dichotomy
has been drummed into their brains since elementary school and is now a
“Thinking about the 28 years after 1949,  everyone in China, nearly 1
billion human beings, was categorized into one of only two groups: good guys or
bad guys. There was no third choice. You were not a person. You had to be either
a “good guy‟ or a “bad guy‟ by the (CCP‟s) standards. The „bad guys‟ made up
about 5% of the total population. If they were reformed, which meant destroyed
either physically or spiritually (usually through brainwashing), then (the CCP)
would find another 5% to be the “bad guys.‟
The entire world is similarly categorized: friend or enemy. Friends are
scarce; only North Korea, Romania, and Yugoslavia are our friends. Enemies are
abundant; the rest of the world are our enemies.
“For the past few years, I have been writing blogs in China to promote
universal values. I thought it would be easy, because some universal values-such
as freedom, humanism, making one’s own decisions (democracy), and human
rights-are just crystal clear as black and white. However low the person‟s I.Q.,
at most that person might not understand it or accept it temporarily, but there
should not be so many people against it.
However, in China, ironically, those whose personal rights have
been stripped away and those who don’t have freedom and live at the bottom are
strongly against “universal values.‟
“Later I realized that it was not really their fault. This is because their
brains were programmed. For example, in many young Chinese minds, “democracy‟ is
a synonym for „chaos and separation.‟ There is no other option. Therefore, no
matter how you explain it to them, when they hear the word “democracy,‟ a lot of
them will automatically think of war, turmoil, and a divided nation.
“How did these ideas get formed and fixed in their minds? Very simple. In
their textbooks, newspapers, or on TV, whenever „democracy‟ is mentioned, it is
almost certainly paired with „chaos and separation.‟ Chen Shui-bian‟s corruption
almost made “corruption‟ another name for “democracy.‟
“I think, it’s easy to explain the principles and the truth, but
it‟s hard to (change) this fixed mindset. No matter how well you write or how
patient you are, how can you fight against the decades of education and the
propaganda that brainwashes (the Chinese) people every day?"
This article originally appeared in Chinascope.