A YOUNG BRITISH filmmaker in China is being celebrated today after playing a spectacular trick on the anti-China lobby.
Curt McArdle, 27, is one of many people who have been labelled “wumao” (meaning “paid propaganda agent”) for daring to have said something positive about China: considered a terrible crime in much of today’s social media/ mainstream media environments.
In a cheeky stunt, Curt composed a fake “reply” to the Chinese government complaining that he had not received his latest propaganda payment, and attaching a photo of a Chinese government card to prove his status as a propagandist.
He then “accidentally” sent it to a notorious Twitter Sinophobe who uses the name Wumao Alert.
Curt then added notes pretending that he had made a mistake: “sorry wrong person” and “do you know how I can delete this?”
(In fact, the photo was just a normal Chinese social security card that most adults in China carry and most people who have spent time there would instantly recognize.)
Wumao Alert fell for the trick completely and started sharing the news around the community of China-haters – believing that it proved that people who said positive things about China were paid for it. It was soon being widely shared.
The same accusations that people who write positively about China are paid by the government, without evidence, have been made by the Times of London, the BBC, the New York Times, and numerous individuals on Twitter. (Click here for a sample.)
Wumao Alert even made a video about his “discovery”.
BIG FISH NETTED
- One of the many people who quickly shared the “news” on his own page was Luke De Pulford, a notorious London-based activist who works for the “World Uyghur Congress” (a U.S.-funded organization) and for Lord David Alton, notorious for pushing a patently fake story that Hong Kong police murdered protesters and sent their bodies away in a secret death train. “Is this… for real?” De Pulford wrote.
- Another sharer was Magnus Fiskesjo, a Cornell University lecturer, known for declaring China to be the new Nazi Germany in a piece published in the Hong Kong Free Press in 2018. Considered an extreme example of demonization at the time, his allegation is now (click this line for evidence) a mainstream media theme.
- A third “big fish” fooled by the simple prank was Solomon Yue, CEO at Republicans Overseas. Yue has long maintained that more than 14 million people really died in the Wuhan outbreak of Covid-19. (Wuhan’s total population is 11 million.)
“Even Solomon Yue couldn’t read five simple characters,” Curt said.
The filmmaker, who runs a YouTube channel called Curt Explores China, was delighted at the success of the prank. “What a cracking birthday present, cheers!” he said. “This is the level of ‘China Watcher’ were dealing with.”
Many people of Chinese origin, including the musician Xiangyu, commented how sad it was that so many of China’s harshest critics didn’t have the basic knowledge to realize that the picture showed a social security card – even though it was clearly labelled as such.
“Imagine if I painted myself as some sort of US expert and couldn’t even read English,” Xiangyu said.
Curt said that he had chosen his social security card because it would make a powerful point. “If they fell for it, it would prove that they can’t read very simple Chinese and know absolutely nothing about life in China.”
Daniel Dumbrill, another target of the campaign to vilify people with a positive attitude to China, said: “This is hilarious but also very useful. It helps illustrate what happens to the intellect of people like Luke De Pulford when it comes to anti-China content and the level of B.S. they’re prepared to take seriously to satisfy their desperate narrative.”
Yue, De Pulford and Fiskesjo have not responded.
Image at the top comes from Curt Explores China, a YouTube video channel