Friday, June 30, 2006

Shave and a Haircut? You're Dead


Last month I wrote about West Point’s Islamic Imagery Project which, when you get right down to it, is about gang signs. The jihadis’ use of the bismillah, the rider on the horse, and the green flag of Islam are just slightly more sophisticated (narratively speaking) than the Crips’ and the Bloods’ bandana colors and other gang signals.

There’s another layer of gang signs and symbols present in Iraq today: hairstyles, as Sharon Behn demonstrates by interviewing an Iraqi barber in “Haircut, Shave Can Mean Life or Death in Baghdad”:

The shape of a beard or haircut often marks its wearer as Shi'ite or Sunni, ensuring support in some neighborhoods but putting him at risk in others.

Religious Sunnis, for example, do not remove any neck hair, and fundamental Wahhabis never shave or trim their beards, but will cut down their mustaches to almost nothing -- "zero to one" on the razor notch, Mr. [Abu] Saif said.

The customer in his chair, a Shi'ite named Abu Sara, wears his hair short and has his beard trimmed every three weeks to a tight one-week growth.

A few people have changed their cuts to match ethnicities or religious leanings other than their own, he said. Mr. Saif dismisses them as cowards: "I know some are doing that, but as Shi'ites we don't need that 1 percent."

Needless to say, it’s a bad idea to get the gang haircut of the occupying forces:

"The 'Marine' cut, or shaven head, is forbidden. It is considered to be something of the foreigners," said Mr. Saif, 52, who has been cutting hair and shaving beards in his small Mansour barber shop since he was a boy of 12.

That said, Behn writes, some Iraqis will get their hair cut like famous Iraqi singers or Brazilian soccer players. None of this appears in any textbook on the Middle East; it’s just one more facet of Iraqi society that U.S. forces and policymakers must have people on the ground—outside the Green Zone—to understand.

For more on the gangs/tribes phenomenon, David Ronfeldt writes at length about Al-Qa’ida’s attempt to recreate the paradigms of tribes, which are essentially family- or village-based gangs, at a global level in his recent “Al-Qa’ida and Its Affiliates: A Global Tribe Waging Segmental Warfare?” at

Thursday, June 29, 2006

State Narrows Its Focus


John Brown forwards “Public diplomacy program targets key nation” from Reuters’ Sue Pleming. It details a classified list of countries the U.S. is focusing its public-diplomacy efforts on. Reuters quotes under secretary for public diplomacy Karen Hughes, who

said strategic plans were being developed for those "pilot" countries over the next three to five years.

"The exact list is a classified matter but it includes the type of countries where we believe it is very important to counter ideological support for extremism," Hughes said in an interview with Reuters on Wednesday.

She declined to list the nations but officials said they included Afghanistan, Indonesia, Malaysia, Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries that were chosen based on classified information in meetings among the Pentagon, State Department, the CIA and others. Hughes also hoped the approach would improve coordination among government agencies.

One goal was to identify what Hughes called "strategic influencers" -- local people such as sports stars, clerics and others who could explain America's values and confront "ideologies of hate."

Hughes cited a recent dinner at the U.S. ambassador's home in Morocco where the person on her right was a famous cooking show host, while on her left was a track star.

On the one hand, it’s disappointing that an interagency task force apparently had to be created to figure out where the U.S. should put its public-diplomacy bets; can’t State, which after all probably has the broadest country knowledge in the government, run its own show?

On the other—proactive interagency cooperation on PD! You’ve waited for it, you’ve looked for it, you’ve hoped for it, and here it is.

Incidentally, I hope the track star seated next to under secretary Hughes at dinner was the phenomenal but retired Hicham El-Guerrouj. He was Morocco’s first international track star and has many years in front of him as a goodwill ambassador for both the Maghreb and UNICEF. If you want to get the ear of Morocco’s elites—and it looks like State is focusing heavily on elites through exchange programs and dinners like this one—El-Guerrouj’s access to and influence on his countrymen is unparalleled.

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Leaving the Embassy


Ambassadors are supposed to be a country’s best foot forward, and they usually are; but their spouses aren’t usually noticed except when they turn out to have interesting side jobs back in the homeland. If an ambassador’s spouse is just doing the standard diplomatic meet-and-greet, it’s trade journals or the society pages at best, or perhaps a photo next to an ambassador of the same gender.

Except for a recent article in the Seoul Times, “Division of Labor Put in Diplomacy,” which highlights the public-diplomacy contributions of four ambassadorial spouses, all of whom happen to be women. Read it to see how the UAE’s Aida Al-Maainah, the United States’ Lisa Vershbow, Portugal’s Arlinda Frota, and Qatar’s Naomi Maki are getting out of the embassy and helping their countries’ images.

And yes, Lisa Vershbow is the wife of U.S. ambassador to Seoul Alexander Vershbow. I should have known anyone married to Ambassador Vershbow wouldn’t likely be a stay-at-home-and-bake-cookies type—although she may do that too.

(Thanks as always to John Brown's Public Diplomacy Review for the initial item.)

Monday, June 26, 2006

The Ugly Chinese?


The phrase “ugly Americans” has come to stand for the supposed cultural insensitivity of Americans overseas, which is a lot of insensitivity considering that roughly a million Americans are abroad at any given moment.

Today, “Chinese Tourists Export a Mix of Cash and Brash” describes a new phenomenon: ugly Chinese, the beneficiaries of the People’s Republic’s ongoing economic boom and loosened political strictures that are combining to send Chinese tourists abroad in record numbers:

For decades after the 1949 Communist takeover, the idea of traveling overseas for pleasure was anathema, a sign you were ideologically suspect, even a possible spy. "I couldn't imagine a trip like this a couple of decades ago," said Han Yushu, 63, a retired teacher heading for Europe, his first trip outside China. "Life is really improving."

About 32 million Chinese ventured overseas last year, a sixfold increase over 1997 and a fiftyfold increase since 1985, with 100 million projected annually by 2020.

"The potential is just enormous," said Jia Yiyuan, outbound deputy general manager with China Comfort Travel, a Beijing-based travel agency. "Some people say Venice is sinking because of all the Chinese tourists."

Although most remain close to home, a growing number are venturing to Europe, Latin America and Africa. Their priorities are also different. Even as they scrimp on rooms and food, they're shopping aggressively for luxury bags, watches and designer clothes to the tune of $987 per overseas visitor, more than the Japanese, making them the world leaders, according to a survey by ACNielsen and Tax Free World Assn.

It’s definitely worth reading Mark Magnier’s article, as he goes on to describe how Chinese tourism is used by Beijing as a carrot for shunning Taiwan, as well as how visitors from the Middle Kingdom have clashed with the well-scrubbed culture of the Magic Kingdom, a.k.a. Hong Kong Disneyland.

Friday, June 23, 2006

DIY Public Diplomacy


The USC Center on Public Diplomacy is taking an unusual path in attempting to collate what’s known about public diplomacy: create a wiki and let people contribute to and edit it. Information is arranged both by theme (see the “corporate diplomacy” entry) and by country (see a new case study on Malaysia’s public diplomacy) and format closely follows the Wikipedia model.

The wiki's core is likely to change rapidly—watch for copious edits to the definition of public diplomacy, any section on whether USIA should be revived, and any opinions on the utility of international broadcasting—but there should soon be interesting, stable information at the edges.

From a brief glance this morning, most of the entries are brief or placeholders, just waiting for knowledgeable people like yourself to put their two cents in.

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Thoroughly Modern Krrish


All the way back in Beacon No. 3, I blogged about Hero, which I saw as the first epic movie from the People’s Republic of China that could have wide appeal in the West—not just as a beautifully produced, swashbuckling action movie, but also as a powerful export of one view of China’s creation myth.

The swashbuckling and the action are just as important to get people to watch the story, though, and today—perhaps timed to coincide with the release of Superman Returns in the States?—the Times has a Reuters article on Krrish, an Indian superhero tale that looks similarly export-ready, if wildly different from Hero: modern, pan-Asian, with the main character’s superpowers generated by godly aliens rather than human demigods, featuring lots of singing and dancing in the Bollywood style.

Success in India, driven by a massive advertising campaign and star Hrithik Roshan’s good looks and charm, seems assured; let’s see how it plays outside the Subcontinent as Bollywood stretches its creative boundaries.

(Thanks as always to John Brown's Public Diplomacy Review for the initial item.)

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Beacon No. 92: We Didn’t Create Him


As soon as the evening after Abu Musab al-Zarqawi was killed by a U.S. airstrike, someone said to me at a party, “Well, didn’t we create him?” By the next morning, this notion had hardened into the accepted wisdom among left-ish commentators: The U.S. inflated the importance of an otherwise second-rate thug in order to have a concrete enemy to fight, to give a face to the faceless insurgency, and to create a needed linkage between Al-Qa’ida and the Iraq war.

The lapdog press, these same commentators said, went along with it. Zarqawi, they argued, wasn’t really that important and so what was the Bush administration crowing about?

I can understand where administration opponents would want to minimize any success in Iraq, but it’s silly to suggest “we made Zarqawi" in a way that minimizes his importance.

I could argue that the U.S. government didn’t vault Zarqawi to the top of his insurgent group, a doubtless bloody process. The U.S. media didn’t kidnap Americans in Iraq and produce videos of their beheadings, then thrust them into Zarqawi’s previously innocent hands. The State Department didn’t lobby Osama bin Laden to explicitly embrace Zarqawi as His Man in Mesopotamia.

But the simple answer to the Zarqawi-was-nothing argument is that no one was making this argument before Zarqawi was killed. Only after Zarqawi turned up dead did I read anyone suggesting he was unimportant. Until then it seemed more or less accepted by everyone that Zarqawi was important to both the Iraq insurgency and to al-Qa’ida’s stated goal of expelling Crusader-Zionist-whoevers from Muslim lands.

Zarqawi said he was the big man in Iraq; Osama bin Laden confirmed this, as did all the Iraqis killed because of the part of the insurgency Zarqawi led. And there’s nothing abnormal about the media extensively covering someone who makes news; killing people is news, and making videos showing someone killing people is doubly so.

It’s no contradiction to be relieved that Zarqawi was killed but see this purely as a success of the U.S. armed forces—without endorsing the Bush administration’s policies in Iraq. If the U.S. says it is going after someone, then does that unrelentingly for years, then finally captures or kills him, that’s an important plus for the reputation a nation that is seen as fickle—even in the midst of a war whose mistakes make those of the British during the Revolutionary War and America during Vietnam (see Barbara Tuchman’s The March of Folly) look like models of efficiency.

People who press the Zarqawi-was-nothing argument do have one point: Parts of the press really were administration lapdogs, at least in hindsight. Note Time magazine’s quietly histrionic cover, which Michael Shaw discusses with some clarity at Huffington Post. Where was the red X over Stalin's portrait, or Pol Pot's? How about Mao, who instead got a beautiful painted portrait and a cover after he died?

If someone argues that the U.S. didn’t kill these butchers, whose body counts were at least two or three orders of magnitude greater than Zarqawi’s, I would respond that American forces didn’t kill Hitler either; he committed suicide.

Monday, June 19, 2006

China in Africa and Vietnam


Two articles to note this morning:

China’s Wen Jiabao kicked off a seven-nation Africa tour in Cairo on Sunday, pledging to not interfere with other countries’ internal affairs—a nice way of saying that Beijing is unconcerned about internal politics or human rights in Egypt, Ghana, the Congo Republic, South Africa, Angola, Uganda or Tanzania so long as its deals for raw materials and minerals are respected. This should play well at least with the government officials Wen visits, and is actually a page from the old U.S. playbook vis a vis the Saudis and other large oil producers; but don’t look for adoring peasant crowds to mob China’s premier as he demonstrates China’s tirelessness in the resource-rich Southern Hemisphere and equatorial regions.

Mobs did adore Bill Gates on a recent visit to Vietnam, though, where the U.S. and China are jousting over the Hanoi government’s (and people’s) allegiance. A story in today’s Times nicely bears out my thesis last week about Vietnam’s new importance to the U.S. as Beijing attempts to peel away more traditional American allies in the region. Vietnam is taking a page from India’s Cold War playbook, where it was happy to reap financial and prestige benefits that come with being in the middle of a turf war.

If you wait long enough, everyone becomes a capitalist; note particularly the words of Ly Qui Trung, who grew a single restaurant into 33 outlets based on the McDonald’s model of standardized processes. Ray Kroc’s industrialization of foodservice continues to ricochet around the world:

Called Pho 24, after the national dish of noodles, beef, spices and greens served in an aromatic broth, the stores earn their franchisees up to $40,000 a year, Mr. Trung says, a handsome income in Vietnam.

"I use the method of McDonald's: everything is standardized, everything is uniform," he said. "It's nine steps from taking the order to serving the food to saying goodbye."

He expects to open 100 stores in the next two years, including a restaurant in southern China next month.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Anholt on Africa


In late May, Simon Anholt wrote a short essay about negative public diplomacy for Africa that’s posted at the USC Center on Public Diplomacy’s site. In it, he argues that well-intentioned pleas by charities and celebrities like Bono and Bob Geldof have created a “continent brand effect” for Africa. Rather than being seen as 53 distinct countries, someone like Bono pleading on behalf of an entire (suffering!) continent perpetuates the idea that it’s all one big basket case:

... Because there is so little public awareness and knowledge of the individual countries, every country on the continent apart from South Africa ends up sharing the same reputation. Even a relatively prosperous and well-governed nation like Botswana ends up sharing perceptions of violence with Rwanda, of corruption with Nigeria, of poverty with Ethiopia and of famine from Sudan.

The major exception to this may be Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s recent stay in Namibia while awaiting the birth of their daughter; despite an economic slump, officials in Windhoek can hope for a jump in Northern Hemisphere tourism and perhaps some resulting brand differentiation from the surrounding nations.

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Beacon No. 91: “Let Me Get Back to You”


Words fail to express the slow-motion calamity that Guantánamo has become for U.S. soft power. It’s a bit like a merry-go-round that keeps bringing the same ugly news about U.S. policy to the world’s attention. And every so often, as with last weekend’s triple detainee suicide, the ride speeds up and flings riders off their horses into the political amusement park.

I can almost understand Rear Admiral Harry Harris Jr.’s comments about the suicides—almost, but not quite. Adm. Harris is the current Guantánamo camp commander, and the BBC described his reaction to the suicides thusly:

... Rear Adm. Harris said he did not believe the men had killed themselves out of despair.

"They are smart. They are creative, they are committed," he said.

"They have no regard for life, either ours or their own. I believe this was not an act of desperation, but an act of asymmetrical warfare waged against us."

Harris could be precisely right; but you don’t just say something like that in public. Your first reaction, regardless of what military theories you subscribe to, is to show some form of sympathy for the loss of life.

Almost lost in the admiral’s wake are the comments of General Bantz J. Craddock, who heads U.S. Southern Command (Southcom), and whose theories about the suicides also seemed divorced from reality:

[Craddock] speculated that the suicides may have been timed to affect the Supreme Court decision on the [Salim Ahmed] Hamdan case.

“This may be an attempt to influence the judicial proceedings in that perspective,” he told reporters, according to a transcript of his comments to reporters during a brief visit to Guantánamo Sunday.

From what I understand, most Guantánamo inmates are kept in an information-deprived environment, particularly if they are being interrogated regularly. This is done to ease a subject out of his or her previous external reality and into an information environment that interrogators fully control, the better to get them to talk. In this light, it seems unlikely that the three suicides had a lot of information about the timing or substance of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld or even that the United States has a court system.

Sure these are flubs, you might say, but the speakers are top military men dedicated to fighting Al-Qa’ida and its ilk. However, along came remarks by a civilian administration official, who is currently one of the nation’s top public diplomats. Here’s the lede of a BBC story describing her remarks:

A top US official has described the suicides of three detainees at the US base at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, as a "good PR move to draw attention".

[Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Public Diplomacy] Colleen Graffy told the BBC the deaths were part of a strategy and "a tactic to further the jihadi cause", but taking their own lives was unnecessary.

But lawyers say the men who hanged themselves had been driven by despair.

A military investigation into the deaths is under way, amid growing calls for the centre to be moved or closed.

Speaking to the BBC's Newshour programme, Ms Graffy ... said the three men did not value their lives nor the lives of those around them.

Detainees had access to lawyers, received mail and had the ability to write to families, so had other means of making protests, she said, and it was hard to see why the men had not protested about their situation.

The U.S is not well-served by a public diplomat whose first reaction is to a cluster of suicides is, “Some people will do anything to get on television.” It wouldn’t have been too much to ask for Ms. Graffy to deflect the Guantánamo question—which she had to have known was coming—to her bosses.

(Thanks to John Brown's Public Diplomacy Review for the BBC item.)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Bahrainis in Iowa


Every time I think I’m distant from events in the Middle East, I remember that I live 2,000 miles closer to it now than I did eight weeks ago. Really, living within walking distance from a Big 10 university means never being that far from other countries. Not only is this city diverse —I hear languages from Russian to Japanese every time I visit the local coffee house—but last week, five Sunni and Shi’a clerics from Bahrain visited American clerics here, the university’s Daily Iowan reported. (Registration may be required.)

The article doesn’t say much about these clerics’ lives in Bahrain, how they were chosen, who paid for their flights to the U.S. and then India, or how the Iowa City Foreign Relations Council set this meeting up. But I can’t help but be encouraged at the Bahraini visit to the heartland; there’s a mosque in Iowa City (it’s nearly indistinguishable from neighboring buildings, but still), and the oldest designed-and-built mosque in the U.S. is just 20 miles away in Cedar Rapids, as well as the only cemetery in the U.S. that’s reserved exclusively for Muslims. Of course, the tombstones all face Mecca.

Just because of its location, Bahrain is a highly diverse nation both ethnically and religiously. It can only help for some of its religious figures to see landlocked Iowa as more complex than just 33 million acres of farmland tilled by just one sort of (Christian) American.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Beacon No. 90: The Manchurian Candidates


Over the weekend I read Joshua Kurlantzick’s short piece, China’s Charm: Implications of Chinese Soft Power. Much of it restates what’s already known about China’s soft-power drive in Asia and elsewhere: Beijing continues to pour money into trade and development deals from Sao Paulo to the Sudan. Its Confucius Institutes and increasingly sophisticated media services diffuse Chinese perspectives and the Mandarin language worldwide. Its high officials are tireless in visiting, welcoming and persuading other countries’ officials of its “win-win” approach to foreign policy, in contrast with the United States’ “disrespectful” treatment of Asia and its obsessive counterterrorism focus.

However, Kurlantzick takes the discussion down avenues I often downplay. Soft power is a second-order effect of success; a country is perceived as innovative, or wise, or transparent, or even fatherly, and people in other countries examine why through the lens of their own culture and the information they have on hand.

Just as the United States wants others to believe its success results from democratic government, religious plurality and personal freedom, Kurlantzick argues that Beijing’s recent commercial success helps propagate its questionable political model to Asian neighbors:

... China has already begun to export its own poor labor, political, and environmental policies. In northern Burma, Chinese government-linked companies contribute to widespread deforestation, and China has shown little interest in Southeast Asian nations’ concerns about the environmental impact of dams on China’s upper portion of the Mekong River. ...

Meanwhile China’s support for authoritarian regimes in Cambodia and Burma forestalls democratization or at least better governance in those nations. In Cambodia opposition politicians complain of Chinese support for the ruling party, and journalists report that when they write about subjects displeasing to China—like Taiwan—the embassy harasses them. In Burma China’s aid packages and frequent state visits have undermined U.S. and Southeast Asian efforts to push the ruling junta into a dialogue with the democratic opposition; instead, China’s actions have encouraged other powers, like India, to mover closer to Rangoon. ...

In the worst possible case, China’s success in delivering strong economic growth while retaining political control could serve as an example to some of the more authoritarian-minded leaders in the region, like Cambodia’s Hun Sen, who admires China’s economic and political system. In controlling development from the top, of course, Beijing’s model rejects the idea that ordinary citizens should control countries’ destinies.

In a region of shaky democracies, the Chinese example could bring out the worst in leaders who find answering to the people to be a distraction. Continuing along the worst-case trajectory, Vietnam, of all countries, could wind up being a major regional ally because of its historical antipathy to China, and because the memory of China’s attempted invasion in 1978—and Vietnam’s prompt expulsion of Chinese troops—is still fresh.

Kurlantzick’s policy prescriptions aren’t particularly new, but he makes a welcome call for a more thorough understanding of how China conducts its soft-power campaign, discussions of what the limits of Beijing’s regional influence, in U.S. eyes, should be, and re-engagement with Asian organizations that have been allowed to fall off Washington’s radar.

Friday, June 09, 2006

China's Charm: Implications of Chinese Soft Power

Dick O'Neill of the Highlands Group pointed me to "China's Charm: Implications of Chinese Soft Power," an eight-page piece by Joshua Kurlantzick at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. I'll look forward to reading it this weekend as it seems to look beyond the numbers on Chinese soft power and toward strategic implications.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Beacon No. 89: Iran Broadcasting in Overdrive


A couple weeks back in “Airwave Blitz on Iran,” the Chicago Tribune covered the adventures of Luna Shad, the beautiful Persian-American broadcaster who is the public face of Next Chapter. Shad hosts this Voice of America-produced program from Washington for an Iranian audience; hopefully her looks will attract Persians who will then watch the program’s blend of news and entertainment:

Although it's probably little more than an educated guess, U.S. officials say up to 2 million Iranians may be watching Shad's 30-minute broadcast, "Next Chapter," as she introduces a story about underground garage bands. It follows her piece on a political psychologist who dissects Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad along with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and Saddam Hussein.

"Next Chapter" is aimed at Iran's youth. But the demographics aren't about appealing to advertisers. The show's sponsor, the U.S. government, is trying to foment change in Iran.

As much as I might disagree with President Bush’s Middle East policies, I would still bristle if I saw an anchor on the BBC or Al-Jazeera interviewing a psychologist comparing him with foreign dictators; I don’t think this is an effective avenue for American broadcasting to pursue. But there’s a larger problem with Next Chapter and other U.S. efforts to influence Persian opinion:

These efforts could receive something between the $56 million just allotted by the House and the $75 million allotted by the Senate in their respective emergency spending bills. At the $75 million level, the bill (once it’s reconciled) would mean $15 million for democracy-promotion programs, $20 million for “surrogate” news media, $30 million for Radio Farda and programs like Next Chapter, and the remaining $10 million to other activities the Trib didn't specify.

Normally I would applaud these massive increases in funding for programs to win Iranian hearts and minds; the democracy-promotion figure alone is 10 times what it was three years ago.

Except for one thing: These numbers reek of either panic or ground-laying.

Panic is natural; decades of U.S. effort haven’t managed to separate the Iranian people from their leadership sufficiently to cause regime change, and now President Ahmadinejad thumps his chest by putting words like “uranium” and “Israel” in close proximity.

Of course the U.S. should increase its efforts at this critical moment in Iran’s relations with the West. I only worry that the sudden sharp boost in funding for these programs is Washington saying, “We have nothing on the ground”—no other ways of influencing the Iranian people or measuring their or their government’s intentions. It would be unfortunate if the only tool in the toolbox is international broadcasting, although an intelligence veteran I met at a conference recently assured me and others that the CIA is heavily focused on developing human assets and recruiting more overseas, and Iran must certainly be a center of such recruitment.

The ground-laying possibility is more ominous. One can imagine planners at DoD drawing two neat arithmetic or even geometric curves on a chart: A rising line that represents the number of Iranians exposed to messages of American benevolence over time, intersecting a falling line that represents the number of U.S. casualties during a given military campaign.

This would make some sense in the world of consumer branding, where the number of “brand impressions” made—100,000 cars driving past a billboard in downtown San Francisco equals 100,000 brand impressions—is a key measure of an advertising campaign’s impact and the likelihood that people will try the advertised product or service. But Nielsen ratings, or their Persian equivalents if they exist, are likely to be a poor predictor of receptiveness to an invading army or the likelihood of Iranians helping rather than killing a downed U.S. pilot.

Only if the recent larger budget numbers for Luna Shad’s program and other efforts directed at Iran are maintained over years will I start to have some confidence that the U.S. is following a long-term vision for public diplomacy in Persia, rather than overreacting to Ahmadinejad’s bluster or paving the way for whatever military operations the administration might deem necessary.

Thursday, June 01, 2006

King in Beijing


In “Found in Translation,” Howard French delves into the difficulties of bringing a play about Martin Luther King Jr. to Beijing. In theory, the Communist capital welcomes talk of King’s work as a blow for the masses against American imperialism; but as French points out, the Chinese government “insists that racism and discrimination are purely problems of decadent Western societies.” It’s worth reading to see how the Chinese government—so bent on improving its image abroad—is having difficulty living up to its image at home.
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