TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- A popular South African YouTuber with over 460,000 followers on Monday (Nov. 19) uploaded a video in which he asserts that China's "Golden Age" of sky-high growth and "upliftment" is coming to an end.
On Monday, Winston Sterzel, who goes by the handle SerpentZA, released a video titled "China's Golden Age is OVER!' In the video, Sterzel fondly reminisces about the early years of breakneck growth and optimism he witnessed when first moving to China in 2006, before taking a much more sober assessment of the current situation in the communist country.
After reflecting on the dramatic socio-economic changes he has witnessed over the past 12 years and listing some of the quirky aspects that he once found endearing, Sterzel at the 6:07 minute mark laments that "it all started to regress, and it was obviously since Winnie the Pooh came into power."
Sterzel is referring to the 2012 rise of President Xi Jinping, who is often compared to Winnie the Pooh for his portly frame, though such references are strictly forbidden in China. Sterzel said that once Xi took power, he started to clamp down, roll back reforms, and double down on propaganda.
Sterzel pointed out that many Western TV shows were blocked from China's airwaves, treatment of foreigners has worsened, and nationalist fervor has started to build up due to increased propaganda. From a foreigner's point of view, he asserts that "it is incredibly uncomfortable for foreigners to live here."
He pointed out the grim reality that, for foreigners who wish to have a long-term future in China, "the writing is on the wall, there is no long-term future for foreigners in China. At least not under the current political climate." Sterzel says that life is becoming more restrictive, the internet is tightly controlled, and even simple things such as a "driver for his camera" are becoming hard to acquire.
Sterzel describes the current situation for foreigners in China as "unbearable," because, not only are many websites very hard to access and VPNs being clamped down on, but censorship is also becoming a way of life. He complains that words and activities are being censored across the board.
When it comes to the trade war between China and the U.S., Sterzel says that he actually agrees with President Donald Trump in terms of the unfairness of trade, because "China has always had an advantage." He listed the massive tariffs levied on American cars imported to China, while many countries around the world do not place heavy tariffs on Chinese-made goods, which are shipped to ports worldwide for "free" thanks to heavy export subsidies by the government.
To illustrate how China is unfair and hypocritical in its treatment of foreigners, he mentions the fact that there are many hotels in China where foreigners are not allowed to stay, while Western countries do not discriminate against hotel guests based on nationality. Sterzel estimated that about 80 percent of rural hotels in China do not allow foreign guests to check in.
He also gave the example of buying train tickets in China saying that it's more cumbersome to do so, while in the West, again train passengers are not discriminated against by nationality. Sterzel said that foreigners are regularly discriminated against in China, but when anything similar happens to Chinese abroad, they will cry foul.
Ultimately, Sterzel concluded that, in order to continue to produce "positive content" about China, it would be more effective if he left the country for extended periods of time. Though he surmised their still may be some positive aspects to China, he said "it's difficult to see the positives when you're under a vice."
In a video titled "China is Going Through a Scary Change" on the YouTube channel ADVChina, Sterzel alluded to an apparent run-in with Chinese authorities which is also prompting him and his fellow YouTuber laowhy86 to leave China.