Nanheyangrouchuan is the most unabashed China-basher and the most hated commenter/troll in the English-language China blogosphere. If you still haven’t heard of him by now, check out the trail that he has left all over the Internet, and some of his comments left on this blog.
This is possibly the most unconventional interview we’ve ever done on Shanghaiist (not to mention the “riskiest”), and some of you are probably going to wonder why we are giving this semi-anonymous guy air time, but the truth is: not everyone hates him. In fact, it was a reader who suggested that we conduct this interview with him, and we asked ourselves: Why not? Anyone who’s been reading English-language Chinese blogs long enough will have heard of him because like it or not, this guy features largely in our little corner of the big, bad blogosphere, at least in the comment section — for better or for worse.
What is your age, nationality, ethnicity, profession, current location? You’re a guy right?
US citizen, environmental engineering/water quality, Rocky Mountain region. The rest kinda takes away the “mysterious allure” of my identity.
Okay, let’s try that again. Are you older or younger than 30? Are you a Uighur? Were you born in the United States? You really can’t tell us if you’re male or female?
Sorry, I can’t disclose any of that information. I consider what I have to say more important than who I am so as far as I’m concerned that kind of information is a non-issue.
What is your educational background? What degrees have you earned? What did you study?
Masters, PhD may be in the works too.
Masters in what? PhD in what? US universities?
Civil Engineering at a US university.
Is it part of your job to post comments on China-related blogs? Do you get paid to be a troll? If it is not part of your job, how do you find the time? Walk us through a typical day.
Hehe, “troll”. Typically a troll would throw out completely baseless jabs at the air. The level of emotion I generate in the blogosphere clearly demonstrates that I am no troll. Elvin Ranger maybe, but no troll. I do receive compensation and knowledge support for my activities from a larger group including US and foreign intellectuals. A typical day involves getting up and working either at home or if harassed enough, in an office. I do travel to China from time to time. The wonders of VPN technology.
Where in China do you normally travel? How often is “from time to time”?
Mostly the east coast and along the Yangtze, a pretty standard route for many in my field. Frequency is “infrequent”. Could be twice in three months or once in six months.
Are you in a relationship? if so, what does you significant other think about the time you spend online.
I spend less time online than you might think, I use a computer for work, so combining work and other online activities is a very efficient use of my time. I would say my internet usage is probably much less than your typical coffee shop crowd on average.
Why don’t you use your real name when commenting?
You are in the press and you don’t recognize the power and mystique of anonymity? And why would I want people to know my real name? This isn’t about me, its about the messages I convey.
The press? Us? But wouldn’t your messages hold more weight if you didn’t hide behind a cloak of anonymity? Are you afraid for your safety?
Well, since I do go to China, it wouldn’t make much sense to deliver my message and everyone know who I am, would it? But in the end, it is what I have to say that is more important than me.
When, if ever, was the last time you were in China?
Three months ago. [Editor’s note: This part of the interview was conducted in early October.]
Where did you go? Was it work-related? Did you enjoy yourself?
Ironically, Wuxi. But that was before the sudden algae bloom. The local authorities told us and SEPA that they weren’t concerned about nitrogen and phosphorous levels, among other chemicals, then attacked everyone’s credibility with a contest to see who could recite the most scientific theories and do math in their head. I guess the joke is on them now.
Why do you hate China so much? When did you first start hating China? Do you differentiate between the Chinese government and the people?
“Hating” China by pointing out its flaws and consistently bad behavior vs “loving” China and turning a blind eye? Did this question come from your Chinese staff, blind panda-lickers or some guys from the foreign chambers of commerce down the street from your office? My position (and the growing position of others) on China is more correctly seen as the inversely proportionate response to roughly 15-20 years of corporate propaganda regarding the wonders of China’s vast and increasingly educated labor pool. At the same time companies in the West muscled their governments to let them give away sensitive technology, jobs and expertise to a government with a 5,000 continuous years of suppression, conquest and subjugation, these companies became the sock puppets of the current dynasty and also leverage their home governments to tow the line. And this didn’t start with Taiwan, it started with treaties regarding southern Mongolia (which China did fight and lose a war with Russia over) and Tibet (which Kissenger gave away as a precondition to Nixon’s visit to China).
I get along great with a lot of Chinese people (at least on the surface in most cases) at the street level. Though the old people seem more amiable than the youngsters, whom I’ve started to ignore because they seem to be looking for a verbal confrontation over this or that. The Chinese government is evil and has been for a long time mostly due to its self-perceived mandated, heavenly racial superiority. Yes, many other countries including the US were guilty of this during their history, but for the most part we’ve all moved on, the Chinese government hasn’t and has stepped up the educational brainwashing of its youth regarding what the world, particularly the West and Japan, owe China. This is very, very dangerous especially because China has a very developed non-conventional military arsenal. And yet businesses and their lobbyists convince everyone to ignore this. The Chinese people have been as much victims of MNCs’ “pro-China” policies. To raise up the living conditions of 300 million, 1 billion had to be pushed down and now everyone gets to live in a toxic hell that has long surpassed industrial age Europe or the US in variety and concentration.
More to the point, did something happen to you personally or your family members that spawned your anti-China sentiments? We have heard — we forget where — that your parents are ethnic Uighurs who have been persecuted (maybe worse) by the Chinese government. What is the real story?
There are several versions of who I am. Another one is that my parents were caught behind the lines when China invaded India. But why would my motivation, gender or ethnicity be so important unless others wanted to attack those features?
What are some of the beliefs and attitudes of Chinese with which you take issue?
1. That China is somehow more special than other countries and cultures.
2. China invented this and that. The neolithic man dug out of a glacier in Italy (nicknamed Otzi) has markings on his body that coincide with meridian lines and acupuncture needle place marks used in TCM and he died 5,000 years ago.
What China blog do you read every day? Every week? How do you keep track of them? RSS? If so, what reader do you use?
What? And no payment? China Law Blog and Shanghaiist are two, Sinocidal (infrequently), China business blogs, Chris D-E’s stuff.
Do you actually enjoy these blogs?
TTC/Sinocidal would have me in tears, had everyone in tears. I enjoy Shanghaiist’s articles that don’t involve some idiotic DJ show. DJs nowadays are fake anyways, just an iPod and an electronic mixer. Working two belt driven turntables with only a manual mixer/fader requires real multitasking … and club music sounds the same anyway.
Another pisser back in the day was Shanghai-ed, and for a real Shanghaiist exclusive, I started out my blogging career on Shanghaiist as “The Lone Gunman”.
Really? We searched for “The Lone Gunman” and didn’t come up with anything. Now for something completely different: If China was in a steel cage wrestling match with Satan, who would you root for?
OK, what if China was wrestling Paris Hilton?
What is your opinion of Kadeer and the community in exile?
More shame on the world for ignoring them in the name of business, shame on Beijing for wasting valuable resources and lives for 400 years on a region that doesn’t want to be harmonized. I support full military and then economic support for E. Turkestan. Buying “Made in China” also supports Beijing’s continued efforts in that country, Tibet and S. Mongolia.
Do you honestly believe that there is any hope for the independence movement?
Historically, has there ever been any semblance of a true nation state in Xinjiang (or the area of Xinjiang that is aka East Turkestan)? I think if you looked at tribal “areas of influence” you would see this. The Muslim world has given up fighting China for a long time. The Tang were obliterated at Talas River and Muslim invaders were defeated and absorbed.
Do you think that other Turkic peoples who lived under the USSR have it better than do Uighurs today?
Somebody’s looking to set me up for a historical blunder, hehe. I felt a tremor in the force. From the hip, I’d say probably not, but the Russians also didn’t believe in “watering down” the ethnic populations under them. Now look at the ethnic populations of other minorities in China. Many of these groups used to be large and powerful nation-states, now they are a collection of villages making trinkets.
What is the purpose of your internet campaign to malign China? And do you honestly believe that you are having any effect on public opinion?
If I was having no effect we wouldn’t be having this interview and there are things going on behind the scenes that you won’t be made aware off. I do participate in policy discussions at the think tank level and there is a reason I included Shanghaiist’s email address in my list of informative broadcasts.
Things going on behind the scenes? About our email address… were we supposed to have received something?
Yes, you were. You might want to have a chat with your secretary about emails that contain alot of text and have “nanheyangrouchuan” at the bottom. I’ll bet she either didn’t like what she read or didn’t understand it and just deleted it without wondering about the meaning of the email and who the other recipients were.
Wait … Shanghaiist has a secretary? Why weren’t we informed of this?!? Next question: Be honest, do you use ANY products made in China?
I make it a point not to if at all possible. I know it could trickle down to hurt Chinese laborers, but their lives are pretty sucky anyways, at least at the level of socks, shoes, etc. The last two pairs of running shoes I bought were made in China and have made it through three months of half-marathon training, but then the lace holes tear. Almost like your new car suddenly falling apart at 60,000 miles. But in the end, it is the PLA and CCP who benefit the most when anyone anywhere in the world buys a “made in China” product as they get to collect taxes, bribes and own 10% or more of every private Chinese company.
If we met you in person, do you think we’d like you?
I think you’d be prejudiced against me from the outset. I’ve met some China bloggers at events in my last trip to China but kept my true nature under the surface (playing the Bruce Wayne role here).
We mean if we didn’t know who you were, would you come across as a normal guy? Or are you prone to ranting about China? China issues aside, do you consider yourself likable?
I’m pretty likable and laid back.
Do you think you are racist?
Because I’m American? Because I say things that aren’t popular or tow the line to maintain and even keel? When I first came to China I was completely open minded, when I left I was “altered” (physically altered too, just can’t shake this lingering intestinal bug). I answer the question this way: the condition of China is because its government has tried to keep its people isolated for so long (since the Tang) in the name of “purity” and “superiority”. Social evolution is ugly but left to its own devices does indeed sort itself out. China has not had that chance up to now, and of course Beijing is throwing the clamps back down not just regarding the internet but TV, radio, etc. So a lot of the bad behavior can probably be chalked up to thousands of years of stagnation, including public defecation.
When was that first visit to China? Where did you go? Work or pleasure?
Late 1999, Shanghai, English teaching.
Do you have other more normal interests/hobbies? if so, what are they?
Outdoors stuff, getting back into playing the sax after a long hiatus (‘cause the ladies love good sax), just read Checkov, the Comic Stories.
Thoughts on the World Series? Is it wrong to assume you’re a Rockies fan?
Boston was expected to win 4-2, a sweep just showed how weak the National League is. Not a Rockies fan.
Who are you supporting in the upcoming US presidential election?
1. Barak Obama because he instills hope in people, and his lack of experience means he is not an insider. He is also very candid about policies he supports, doesn’t and why, even when he is addressing a crowd who would not benefit from his policy position. A lot of people respect a candidate who will tell them something they don’t want to hear but they know is true. JFK without the naughty family ties.
2. Bill Richardson, also very frank and as governor of New Mexico has a lot of experience with a very important issue in the US: illegal immigration and its national security implications. He is pretty liberal but economically centrist as his state needs to have pro-business policies (New Mexico is pretty darned poor).
3. Fred Thompson, slightly too socially conservative for my tastes but an experienced statesman with a realist’s point of view.
4. Ron Paul, with all of the useless crap between Republican and Democrats going on, the US government needs a significant shake up and a president who is anti-establishment, totally against surrendering any Constitutional and human rights in the name of “national security”.
I’d bet he’d moderate his stance somewhat if elected, but the Dems and Repubs have gotten too comfortable, the Greens and Libertarians need to do what they can to make big inroads into the US government.
Why did you start your blog now, at this late phase in your China-bashing career?
More of an experiment. My other efforts have proved highly effective so I don’t feel I really “need” the blog, but gaging a few responses across a couple of blogs, my blog does get attention.
Who are some journalists who you believe portray China accurately?
Andy Xie (economics), the BBC, that guy from the Washington Post (politcs, PLA)…and I know one of this guy’s sources on the PLA too, LA TImes, SCMP (though CCP influence is now obvious), Taipei Times.
What do you believe is China’s future place in the world?
Unless there is a real multi-party system and gets on board with real, transparent governance, China’s future place in the world is to cause one really big nasty war in Asia (including lobbing missiles at the US) before entering the history books.
What are your five favorite things (sincere, not cynical or sarcastic) about China?
Traditional characters, some of the food (but Shanghai food sucks, I can just boil everything then drown it in maple syrup at home), conversations with older people, I saw a dragon kiln in operation on the train from Shanghai to Guilin and some sort of real ancient funeral procession taking place in the countryside. Bootleg DVDs/CDs and good quality bootleg clothes (not joking, considering the poor truck drivers or day laborers who fatten their wallets by surpassing The Man at corporate HQ), giving locals a good show while I act “foreign”.
Have you ever lived in China? Or just visited? Are you helping make our water less dirty?
Yes, lived there for three years. A lot of people are trying to help make China’s water cleaner, but that kind of “help” includes regulatory and legal reform. To be honest, the Chinese government hates receiving anything from us foreign devils that isn’t 1.) money and 2.) advanced technology.
Also, consulting companies are very hesitant to get involved with environmental work (and soil/air/water remediation is desperately needed) because they know the government won’t pay and instead come up with endless lists of extra requirements.
And FINALLY: How long do you think you can keep this up? What is your end game?
Some of your above questions, the Bilderberg group, the CCP and my now infamous “Blueprint for Permanently Deconstructing China” are all connected and that is all I have to say about that.
Photo from Tojosan.