Nanheyangrouchuan has commented 532 times on this blog, of which we have published 531. I do not remember exactly why we blocked that one comment, but I think I felt it too cruel/racist. We have received a number of comments and emails from our readers asking why we publish nanheyangrouchuan at all and suggesting we block him completely.

We always try to block “junk” comments, which basically consist of comments we deem to have been posted solely for advertising purposes. From time to time, we also block comments that make unsubstantiated allegations against people. Two examples highlight this. One was when we posted on a very thoughtful article (with which we disagreed) on China written by a China consultant. Someone left a comment saying this consultant had been run out of China for owing many people a lot of money and went on to trash his China business acumen. We did not publish that comment. Another time, we praised someone’s knowledge of China and someone left a comment on how this person had been fired from some job about ten years ago. We did not run that one either. I will also admit to having blocked a few comments that are nothing more than a string of vituperative adjectives regarding me. I also have blocked a few that I deemed to be nothing more than hate speech. Now before anyone writes to question my standards on this, I will freely admit to having none beyond blocking what offends me too much.

The difficult decisions come when someone leaves a serious comment that includes something we deem hateful. Do we block the whole comment or do we delete portions? Does deleting a portion mean we are somehow changing that which the commenter intended. We have had only a couple of these and we have handled them inconsistently. One was from someone we know personally and for that one we deleted parts of it and then emailed the writer telling him what we had done and why. He thanked us for it. If we do not know the person, we usually delete the entire comment.

In the life of this blog, we have completely banned only one person and that was early on. We banned someone whose sole purpose in life seems to be to paint the Catholic church as the source of all evil in the world, including in China. I am not even remotely Catholic, but I will be damned (pun intended) if this blog is going to be a forum for someone to spread vicious and unmitigatingly hateful nonsense.

Now on to nanheyangrouchuan. My sense is that most China blog readers revile him, though he must have his supporters as well. I see him as a provocateur, who oftentimes goes too far to make his point. I think he knows China pretty well, but I also think his impressions are clouded by his rigid ideologies. Despite all this, there have definitely been a few times when I have agreed with him and there have been countless times where I have disagreed with him, but have been impressed and even pleased with his raising contrary facts and opinions. Overall — and remember this is coming from someone who disagrees with him at least 90 percent of the time and frequently harshly criticizes him — I think Nanheyangrouchuan raises the level of discussion on China in the blogosphere. He also is not without a sense of humor, which goes a long way towards redeeming people in my eyes. Everything is not political.

Nanheyangrouchuan likes to maintain his anonymity and I do not know who he is. That has obviously caused many of us to wonder who the person is behind the troll and in a recent post, entitled, “My Interview with the BBC, er Shanghaiist,” on his recently created China, Eat My Lamb Kebab blog, we get a somewhat better feel for that. The post is based on 24 questions posed by email to Nanheyangrouchuan by Dan Washburn of the Shanghaiist blog (which BTW, was just deservedly chosen by Shanghai Week as Shanghai’s Best Blog). Nanheyangrouchuan answers most of the questions and, by doing so, gives us additional insight into his mysterious persona.

One of the issues on which Nanheyangrouchuan and I always disagree is on how to handle a rising China. To greatly oversimplify, I am of the view that the West cannot stop China’s economic rise and so rather than our focusing on how to block China, we should instead be focusing on influencing it for the better. Nanheyangrouchuan seems to call for boycotting China and I wholly oppose that. Fareed Zakaria recently came out with an excellent article (nominally about Burma), entitled, “Sleepwalking To Sanctions, Again:If the purpose of sanctions is to bring about a better system for a country, devastating its society is a strange path to the new order.” That article goes a long way towards explaining my views on why I favor engagement with China, not sanctions. I do not always oppose sanctions, but I do when it comes to China.

What are your thoughts?