Anti-Western sentiment has been increasing in China since the early 1990s, particularly amongst Chinese youth. Notable incidents which have resulted in a significant anti-Western backlash have included the 1999 NATO bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, the 2008 demonstrations during the Olympic torch relay and alleged Western media bias, especially in relation to the March 2008 Tibet riots.
While available public opinion polls show that the Chinese hold generally favorable views towards the United States, there remains suspicion over the West’s motives towards China stemming largely from historical experiences and specifically the ‘century of humiliation‘. Some allege that these suspicions have been increased by the Communist Party’sPatriotic Education Campaign. The reliability of public opinion polls of the Chinese population has also been questioned due to the ‘political culture’ in China, which may lead to respondents giving socially acceptable answers.
Anti-Western sentiment manifested itself in the First and Second Opium Wars as well as the Boxer Rebellion when the Righteous Harmony Society attacked westerners, missionaries and converted Chinese Christians. The Qing dynasty was divided between anti-Westerners, moderates and reformists. A Manchu prince, Zaiyi, and a Chinese general Dong Fuxiang who led 10,000 Muslim Kansu Braves attacked foreigners and defeated them at the Battle of Langfang during the rebellion.
Hatred of foreigners from high ranking Chinese Muslim officers stemmed from the way foreigners handled Chinese affairs, rather than for religious reasons, the same reason other non-Muslim Chinese hated foreigners. Promotion and wealth were other motives among Chinese Muslim military officers for anti foreignism.
Some members of the Kuomintang party held anti-Western sentiments. Kuomintang Muslim General Bai Chongxi led a wave of anti foreignism in Guangxi, attacking American, European, and other foreigners and missionaries, and generally making the province unsafe for foreigners. Westerners fled from the province, and some Chinese Christians were also attacked as imperialist agents. Westerners were attacked in the streets, with many of them fleeing to their respective consulates. The three goals of his movement were anti-foreignism, anti-imperialism, and anti-religion.
As a Kuomintang member, Bai and the other Guangxi clique members allowed the Communists to continue attacking foreigners and smash idols, since they shared the goal of expelling the foreign powers from China, but they stopped Communists from initiating social change.
General Bai also wanted to aggressively expel foreign powers from other areas of China. Bai gave a public speech in which he claimed that the ethnic minorities of China were suffering under “foreign oppression”. Bai called upon the Chinese government and the people of China to assist them in expelling the foreigners from those lands. He personally wanted to lead an expedition to seize back Xinjiang to bring it under Chinese control, in the style that Zuo Zongtang led during the Dungan revolt. It is important to noted that Bai Chongxi was a Hui himself.
The Blue Shirts Society, a fascist paramilitary organization within the Kuomintang modeled after Mussolini’s blackshirts, was anti foreign and anti communist, and stated that its agenda was to expel foreign (Japanese and Western) Imperialists from China, crush communism, and eliminate feudalism. In addition to being anti Communist, some Kuomintang members, like Chiang Kaishek’s right-hand man Dai Li were anti-American, and they wanted to expel American influence.