Patterico's Pontifications


Chinese Citizens Flex Their Muscles in the West

Filed under: General — JVW @ 4:23 pm

[guest post by JVW]

I saw this item in a post written by Madeline Kearns at NRO titled “Public Pianist Takes on Authoritarians in London.” It interests me because I am actually somewhat of a fan of the YouTube channel of Brendan Kavanagh, a boogie-woogie pianist who records himself playing in public spaces such as airports, train stations, parks, and malls, along with his interactions with the crowds who watch him. He oftentimes invites audience members who play to join him for duets or take over the piano entirely to play different genres of music, or to provide vocal accompaniment. As with any YouTuber, some of his stuff is no doubt contrived and scripted, but I’m a fan of boogie-woogie so his videos are usually a harmless way for me to pass time while doing something else around the home.

But Mr. Kavanagh had a rather real encounter with onlookers a couple of weeks back. Here is how Ms. Kearns describes it:

Brendan Kavanagh, or “Dr. K,” was playing the public piano at London’s St Pancras station, while a friend filmed him for a live-stream to his YouTube channel. He was approached by Chinese nationals with Chinese flags who wanted to use the piano but asked that he not film them.

One of the women explained that she works for Chinese TV and can’t show her face on other channels. But Kavanagh wasn’t having it.

“We are in Great Britain, we are not in China,” Kavanagh said, explaining that in Britain, people are free to film in a public place, and those not wanting to be filmed are free to simply walk away.

Events then took a strange turn when one of the group, a young man, accused Kavanagh of being racist and began shouting at him when he touched one of the women’s flags.

This brought a London policewoman onto the scene, and she immediately instructed Dr. K to stop filming her interaction with him, as well as to not publish the film of the Chinese nationals to his YouTube channel. To his everlasting credit, Dr. K was having none of it, and Ms. Kearns excerpts their exchange as follows:

Officer Kerry: The matter is, they [the Chinese nationals] say you’ve been making communist comments at them. . . .

Kavanagh: No, I said they were waving a communist flag. That’s all I said. . . .

Officer Kerry: They’ve requested that the video where they approach gets deleted and not used on your channel. . . .

Kavanagh: No, they don’t have that right.

Officer Kerry: Because there’s money being made, and they work for a company where their faces can’t be shown on TV or somebody else’s channel.

Kavanagh: You’re not their private security agent.

Officer Kerry: I’m not their private security agent.

Kavanagh: And we’re in a free country. We’re in a free space. We’re not causing any trouble. The problem is not from us, Kerry. The problem is they are coming over telling us what to do. And playing the piano. Now fair is fair, but you are not their private security guard.

Officer Kerry: I never said I was and I’m having a conversation with you.

Kavanagh: And we’re in a free space, in a free country.

Officer Kerry: There’s an allegation being made and that’s why I’m talking to you.

Kavanagh: What’s the allegation? You told me to stop filming and now you say there’s an allegation. The camera never lies. That’s why I’m filming.

Officer Kerry: The reason why I’m asking you not to film it is because I know you’re putting it on your YouTube channel.

Kavanagh: It doesn’t matter where it goes. We’re in a free country. Sorry. We’re in a democracy. We’re not in China. And that’s not racist. That’s the truth. That’s what our forefathers fought for.

Officer Kerry: Exactly. But you can’t say things like that either. You can’t just say things like that.

Kavanagh: What? That we’re in a free country.

Officer Kerry: No. “We’re not in China.” We’ve got Chinese people. . . .

Kavanagh: Listen, Kerry. If I was over in China and I started laying the law down to Chinese people at the piano, telling them what they cannot do. Do you think that’s appropriate? They came over here. The guy started shouting at me. They were saying “You’re not allowed to film, you’re not allowed to film!” And I said, “Sorry, we’re in Britain. I’m allowed to play.” And I said, “You’re waving a communist flag.” And then he said, “You’re racist.” So, if I’ve done anything wrong, tell me.

Because Dr. K refused to knuckle-under to the outrage of an English bobby doing the bidding of members of a totalitarian society, Officer Kerry eventually tired of the exchange and departed the scene. She of course comes off looking awful in this exchange, and though I feel that in a small way she deserves the derision she will likely receive from the nearly 10 million people who have viewed this video to date, I can’t help but feel a measure of pity for her since she no doubt was trained in all of the intersectionality and social justice nonsense which would perhaps lead her to believe she was at least some bit in the right.

But I am saving my real contempt for the Chinese nationals who tried to enforce their nasty authoritarian will while visiting an (ostensibly) free nation. I have special contempt for the man who tried to manufacture a battery charge because Dr. K had touched the flag of one of the Chinese groups. In a comment on the post, Dr. K links to a YouTube video by the anti-CCP Chinese-American journalist David Zhang, who believes this was an coordinated operation by CCP agents, testing the limits of how far they can push people in the West.

This reminded me of a similar situation I observed probably six or seven years ago outside a hotel in San Diego. I saw security having a discussion with two Asian men. I don’t know for sure that they were Chinese, perhaps they were not, but given the relative population sizes among countries in what we used to refer to as the Orient, they likely were. What was apparently happening is that the older of the two men was smoking a cigarette right next to the hotel’s revolving door, standing maybe only four or five feet away. Security was trying to explain to him that he had to move farther away from the door in order to smoke. The man didn’t (or pretended not to) speak English, so a younger man who seemed to be an assistant of sorts was translating. But no matter how patiently it was explained to the man that he had to move farther out, he stubbornly refused. I didn’t wait around to see how it all ended up, but I remember being a bit peeved that this visitor to our country had so little respect for our rules and regulations.

I think it’s pretty clear that China is more than willing to probe societies in the West to find just how susceptible we are to tolerating their thuggish ways. Recall that just a little over a year ago we discovered that the CCP was operating rouge police stations in New York City, Los Angeles, and at least one other U.S. city, dedicated to monitoring the behavior of Chinese citizens living here under our freedoms. Chinese nationals, many of whom are here on student visas, also have been found to enforce repressive Chinese laws while living here, not only on their own countrymen but also sometimes on Americans whose freedoms offend their totalitarian sensibilities.

The West has failed miserable in managing the rise of China as an ambitious influencer in free societies. Britain suffers from residual guilt over their Asian colonialism, but our country has no good excuse for our passivity. Donald Trump seems to have the willingness but not the deftness to challenge China, and Joe Biden simply lacks the intestinal fortitude. Either way, we’re not looking at any viable solutions anytime soon. So much the worse.


16 Responses to “Chinese Citizens Flex Their Muscles in the West”

  1. The worst thing that America did to China was refuse, for a while, to take their huddled masses who were yearning to breathe free. Come to think of it, we could do a better job even now.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  2. Donald Trump seems to have the willingness but not the deftness to challenge China, and Joe Biden simply lacks the intestinal fortitude.

    Near as I can tell, both of them what to wage a protectionist war, just wanting to protect different groups.

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  3. In a democratic republic you get the kind of government you deserve. What makes conservatives deserve any better? Conservatives had no problem buckley vs vallajo or citizens united. Biden got money where he could, democrats will not let republicans buy elections so if communist china will give money they will take it. Only the left Bernie Sanders AOC and the squad can raise large sums of money from small donors. Hillary had to get money from goldman sacks and sell herself to the banks. Biden sells himself and the democrat party to communist china. Like eric swalwell.

    asset (526847)

  4. Tell them what you are going to tell them, tell them, them tell them what you told them!

    Thank you for this post, JVW. It is an important reminder to those sentinels who slumber while the barbarians enter the gate, who have already been warned by the matter of the rogue Chinese policing operations on our soil. Why must the citizens be the canary in the coal mine?

    felipe (5045ed)

  5. Kevin M (ed969f) — 2/1/2024 @ 7:07 pm

    Good observation, Kevin.

    felipe (5045ed)

  6. Personally, when I go out in public, I want a reasonable expectation that I will be seen only by the people I see (ok, and whose windows I see). Not that some asshole with a camera phone will show me to the whole world on YouTube.

    England is already like Orwell’s 1984 with CCTV cameras in every public place. And I understand that much of China is too. Those Chinese tourists probably knew and accepted that they would be on a government database. But not that they would be unwilling and uncompensated bit players in some geek’s video.

    As the world becomes more crowded, and technology makes privacy harder to protect, rules of etiquette about when to “avert your eyes” are important.

    No sympathy for voyeurs.

    nk (f22e8d)

  7. Great post.

    DRJ (5d4c55)

  8. It’s the police stations the CCP is running in the U.S. that are most troubling to me. I feel like they should be a top priority and be dismantled as quickly as they pop up. That they aren’t, is really sending China a signal about the lack of priority. I do remember reading that they’re hard to locate, so that may explain things. But really, how brazen down a state have to be to put their own law enforcement in another nation and then proceed to not just surveil, but arrest and even deport residents.

    Dana (8e902f)

  9. But really, how brazen down a state have to be to put their own law enforcement in another nation and then proceed to not just surveil, but arrest and even deport residents.

    You misspelled “kidnap”

    Kevin M (ed969f)

  10. The Chinese are a very proud people, and when they are in the West they often act like they are still in China. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been referred to, in America, as “lao wai”, which means “outsider”.

    norcal (403962)

  11. The counter-complaint of anti-Chinese racism is probably what they were taught to say as standard operating procedure, but their initial objection to being filmed was probably because of fear of their jobs – they were told not to do that because the CCP did nit want to tell them what not to say or do so they just gave them a blanket prohibition,

    Sammy Finkelman (c2c77e)

  12. Interesting aspect of the Fani case is that she’s pretty much admitted to adultery, which is still on the books in GA as a misdemeanor. While the law is observed much more in the breach, the idea that she’d be doing something she’s got to know is a misdemeanor – and related to her conduct as a DA in this instance – so it’s beyond breathtakingly stupid.

    Al Kuhseltsur (88118c)

  13. Deceit, Inciting hatred, playing the victim, justifying behavior, making threats and putting up a facade. Donald Trump is stealing a page from the CCP playbook.

    purplehaze (ff7d1a)

  14. purplehaze (ff7d1a)

  15. Qatar wants a reputation for negotiating.

    Sammy Finkelman (1d215a)

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