Yellow Peril Mk 3.

Lots of people have already commented on the Chinese professor video, which is getting a lot of play in the US. If you have not seen it, it is  set in the year 2030, and shows a Chinese professor (an updated Fu Manchu) laughing at the Americans whose empire has fallen because (unlike China) they have allowed the government to interfere with the free market.

Fallows and others have pointed out how absurd the content is, and he suggests that we will see more like this. I suppose so, but I don’t predict ads claiming that Chinese Baozi are made with the blood of American babies till at least 2016.  Actually some of these anti-China ads are coming out already.

What I find most interesting about the Chinese professor ad though is the iconography. There are lots of administrators in my school who would no doubt laugh till they choked at the idea that in 2030 an advanced country would still be delivering educational products through the appallingly old-fashioned method of putting tuition-generating units and an instructional employee  in a room and having them talk.

Even more interesting are the Mao-period posters on the walls of the classroom. Are they predicting a resurgence of Maoism in China? Yes, the old guy gets some face time even now, but I have never seen anything like these in a Chinese lecture hall. Or maybe they wanted pictures that would say “”China” to an American audience. I presume the decision went something like this.

Pandas  -Say China, but are too cute to be a threat.

Yao Ming -Says China, but can’t stay healthy. Sick Man of Asia is not what we need here.

Ichiro Suzuki- Says China to Americans, still healthy and still hitting well, but Seattle stank last season. No threat.

Great Wall. Possible, but not scary enough. Just sits there. Sure you can see it from space, but how many Americans go into space nowadays?

So Mao is pretty much all that is left. I could actually imagine a world where by 2030 Chinese nationalists were recycling Maoist imagery as sort of a we Chinese are bad-asses type of thing. (Maybe not the Mao as bald guy pics, but certainly some of the heroic poses from the C-R stuff. )


  1. The only thing for sure that you can say about the Great Wall is that you CAN’T see it from space! Urban myth alert!

  2. Mao seems like the most appropriate. I think the ad here is going for “don’t re-elect Obama or we will be working for Chinese overlords” and Mao is one among the boilerplate tropes of things we should be fearful of (who is afraid of working for Panda overlords?). My guess they would have loved to put Hitler up there, but perhaps TOO many Americans would be aware of the disconnect?

    That being said, American political ads in Chinese? I’m sort of impressed with at least attempts at multi-culturalism, as opposed to Chinese (who are actually played by Japanese people) speaking bad Chinglish. A step in the right direction?

  3. Yeah gotta agree with Eric here. That lie bugs me every time I hear it. If you can see it from space, than you can see the road outside my house from space. Their dimensions are equivalent for all intents and purposes.

    Not only that, what the hell does it mean with “from space” anyway?

  4. Alan, I knew you were going to get one of those, but the joke was worth it.

    According to Lovell’s The Great Wall which I’m reading now, “the Great Wall can be seen from space” was first claimed in 1893, well before anyone had any idea what things would look like from space, and popularized by “sinophile” cartoonist and mythmaker Robert Ripley (“Ripley’s Believe It or Not!”) in the ’30s, well before anyone had any idea what things would look like from space.

    My understanding is that the first Chinese astronauts were interviewed about this, and explicitly denied that the Great Wall was visible from orbit.

    Lovell’s book is OK, but definitely on the popular side and a bit breezy over some critical (for me) issues; now I want to read Waldron’s.

  5. Representing the Chinese-professor ad as particularly anti-Chinese may rally some base, but those who find the ad effective aren’t typically seeing the Chinese represented as *evil*; merely as *rival*. And one is just *not* going to get many *converts* by telling these people that they presently think or feel differently from how they actually do.

    As to the laughter of administrators, I’d note that the classroom of to-day uses little of the advanced technology that, thirty and forty years ago, I was told would dominate well before now. The technology exists; sometimes it is even installed; but it’s not much used. The classroom looks pretty much as it did when I was a student. Perhaps 2030 will be very different; perhaps not.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.