By Jordyn Haime, Times of Israel—
Two months ago, shortly after the Olympics began in Beijing, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) took a shot at China for its treatment of the Uighur minority group.
“At the #Olympics you’ll see a well-known tradition — the torch relay — which the Nazis used at the 1936 Olympics for propaganda purposes,” the museum wrote on Twitter. “Today, we witness how the Olympics can still be used to distract from atrocities, such as the persecution of the #Uyghurs.”
Days later, Chen Weihua, a columnist for the Chinese state-run media outlet China Daily, responded: “Shame on the Holocaust Museum. Are you saying Nazi Holocaust of Jews was nothing but vocational training? More than 30,000 Jews sought refuge in Shanghai during the war and this is now your appreciation to the Chinese people?”
Chen’s comments sparked outraged responses online and even made some headlines in American conservative news outlets. But the phenomenon — a Chinese official channeling the Holocaust and elevating China’s role in saving Jews who found refuge in Shanghai during World War II — was not new, experts say.
Several other countries, including Israel and the United States, often reference their Holocaust records for political clout. But as China’s relationship with the West continues to sour, state media and diplomats have increasingly used its Holocaust narratives to position China as a savior of Jews at a time when the rest of the world neglected them.
“Engagement with the Holocaust as a representation of bad European history, and the kind of bad representation of Europe, it’s certainly a way to construct China as a much more civilized place than Europe based upon the idea that it saved Jewish people during World War II,” said Mary J. Ainslie, a professor of communications at the University of Nottingham’s campus in Ningbo, China. Continue Reading…