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“6 Things Chinese People Should Know About the US-China Trade War”

Chinese state media say: “We don’t want a trade war with America – but we certainly do not fear it.”

Manya Koetse

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This image, used on Weibo by netizens, is actually made by artist 'Sharpwriter', who sells their prints via via Etsy.

In a response to Trump’s plans to impose tariffs on $60bn of Chinese imports, China’s Communist Youth League has published a Weibo article that suggests that the nearing US-China trade war is similar to the Japanese invasion of China during WWII. Its main message is that China will not appease.

After Trump announced plans to impose tariffs on Chinese goods last Thursday, Chinese social media users have been feverishly discussing this topic, with some calling for a boycott of American goods.

In a telephone conversation between China’s vice premier Liu He and US Treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin on Saturday, Liu reportedly said that he hoped the two countries would be able to maintain stable trade relations, but that China is also ready to defend its interests and take countermeasures.

One online movement dubbed ‘Counterattack the Trade War’ (#反击贸易战), initiated by state-run media platform Xinhua, had received over 55 million views on Sina Weibo by Saturday night (Beijing time). The hashtag intro states: “We do not want a trade war with America, but we certainly do not fear it.”

Counterattack the Trade War Hashtag on Weibo.

On March 24, China’s Communist Youth League posted a lengthy article on Weibo addressing the alleged US-China Trade War. The post is titled “Six Things Chinese Persons Should Know About the Sino-US Trade War” (“关于中美贸易战,作为中国人,这六个问题是你应该知道的……”).

In the article, the Communist Youth League writes that it seems that “at the society level,” “some ordinary Chinese do not have a clear understanding of what a ‘Sino-US Trade War’ actually is.” It, therefore, lists six points to clarify the nearing trade war and China’s position in it.

Wirhin 30 minutes after posting, the Communist Youth League article was shared 4775 times, receiving over 9600 likes.

In its first point, the Communist Youth League compares the US trade war to the Japanese invasion of China:

1. CHINA IS UNDER ATTACK BY THE US AND WE CAN’T APPEASE

The Sino-Us trade war is a unilateral and provocative trade war that damages international trade regulations. Clarifying this issue should be the basis of all discussions: this is not what China provoked, this is not what China wanted, it is the US Trump administration that has violated international rules and has forced this on China. In other words, it is like the Japanese invasion in the past*; it is not something we could have solved through Manchuria or North China. We are only deceiving ourselves if we think we can reach peace through appeasement or by surrendering. In the face of interests, the desire of a businessman can never be satisfied.

*”这就好比是当年日本的侵华战争”

The photo posted by Communist Youth League accompanying its article, writing: History proves that appeasement does not bring peace”.

2. CHINA IS READY FOR WAR, AND YOU SHOULD TRUST THE GOVERNMENT

“China is fully prepared for a trade war,” is the second main point made in this article, in which is stated that China has done its homework and is ready to face any challenges a trade war might bring. “Trusting and supporting the Chinese government is the right thing to do know for us,” the Youth League writes.

3. CHINA WILL FOLLOW INTERNATIONAL RULES DURING (ECONOMIC) WAR

The third point made here is that for China, “the law is the bottom line,” claiming that China will counterattack any actions made by the US, but that it will strictly follow international laws in doing so. The article also says that “Chinese and American citizens should not suffer due to the short-sightedness of its politicians.”

4. CHINA IS NOT THE ONLY COUNTRY VICTIMIZED BY TRUMP

The fourth point stressed here is that it is not just China that is victimized by Trump’s decision to impose import tariffs on foreign goods; other countries will also have to deal with these measures and their consequences – and they are China’s allies. China Youth League states: “This [action] may benefit the [US] commercial economy in the short term, but in the long run, it is just a sign of the continued decline of the American Empire,” which is doomed to fail.

5. A TRADE WAR WILL EVENTUALLY BACKFIRE ON THE PEOPLE OF THE US

“The outcome of any economic war, but especially one between world leading countries such as China and the US, will impact the wellbeing of the Chinese and American people, and can even bring a blow to the global population,” the fifth point says, stressing that Trump is making a wrong choice by initiating this ‘war’, which will cause economic disaster. If China is affected, the article says, then it will unavoidably reciprocate in the US and seriously impact its people. “The Chinese government will do its best to avoid this situation,” it says: “But if it does happen, then let’s please choose the same enemy and support the Chinese government because, as stated in the first point, this war is not what we want. It is what the Americans want.”

6. THE CHINA THREAT IS AT THE ROOT OF THIS ATTACK

In the last point, the Communist Youth League writes that behind the “China-US trade war” lies American fear over the rise of China. This US fear of a changing international community where China plays an increasingly more important role will keep on surfacing, the article says. It will show itself through the South China Sea dispute, an economic war, or Taiwan travel laws. “China needs to be prepared for this mentality,” it concludes.

By Saturday night, the article was viewed more than 3,7 million times and received thousands of comments – many supporting the “firm stance” of the article. “You can’t bully China,” a typical comment read: “We have a strong country.”

By Manya Koetse

Copyright for featured image belongs to the artist Sharpwriter. Prints for sale: via Etsy.

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Hongli Lai

    March 25, 2018 at 4:00 pm

    I know the Chinese netizens didn’t do it either, but I think it would be a good idea if you credit the artist that made the Trump portrait: https://sharpwriter.deviantart.com/art/The-Donald-605337203

  2. Avatar

    Trent Emerick

    July 22, 2018 at 6:55 am

    Lol to say China is under attack by the US Government is absurd. It’s as if Chinese citizens dont Realize how much Manufacturing they’ve taken from the US and all the Pollution China gets away with while the Americans are forced to follow ecosystem rules. Trump Tarriffs may not be great for the US but its definitely Not an economy killer for China or the US. China owns all these Hollywood studios and owns the largest movie theater corporation in the US and own all these US Farms, and they Have a huge Trade Imbalance with the US. The US is not going to get bullied by China or Any one else anymore. Americans are sick of being told to get over it When our leaders Refuse to use any leverage for Americans during trade policymaking. Trump is finally Using leverage as China has done to us for decades.

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China and Covid19

Announced Changes in Nucleic Acid Testing and Further Easing of Covid Measures Across China

Bus and subway operators in Beijing will no longer refuse entry to passengers without a 48-hour negative nucleic acid certificate.

Manya Koetse

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On Monday, directly after that noteworthy unrest-filled weekend, the hashtag “Multiple Locations Announce Nucleic Acid Testing Changes” (#多地核酸检测通知发生变化#) went trending on Chinese social media, receiving over 660 million clicks by Monday evening.

Immediately following demonstrations in Beijing and a second night of protests in Shanghai and elsewhere, various Chinese media reported how different areas across the country are introducing changes to their current Covid19 testing measures.

On Wednesday, November 30, China’s vice-premier Sun Chunlan made remarks at a meeting on epidemic prevention, underlining the importance of “constantly optimizing” China’s Covid-19 response and talking about a “new stage and mission” – without ever mentioning “zero Covid.”

This is what we know about easing Covid measures thus far:

▶ Strict lockdowns have been lifted in Guangzhou, Zhengzhou, and Chongqing.

▶ On November 28, Guangzhou announced that people who do not actively participate in social life will no longer need to participate in continuous nucleic acid screening. This includes elderly people who stay indoors for long periods of time, students who take online classes, and those who work from home. The change will apply to residents in seven districts, including Haizhu, Panyu, Tianhe, and Baiyun (#广州7区无社会面活动者可不参加全员核酸#).

▶ Guangzhou, according to Reuters, also scrapped a rule that only people with a negative COVID test can buy fever medication over the counter.

Harbin will follow the example of Guangzhou, and will also allow people who are mostly based at home to skip nucleic acid test screenings.

▶ Same goes for Shenyang, and Taiyuan.

▶ In Chongqing, various districts have done widespread Covid testing campaigns, but the local authorities announced that those communities that have not had a positive Covid case over the past five days do not need to participate in nucleic acid screening anymore. This means an end to district-wide testing.

▶ On November 30, Beijing also announced that it will start exempting some people from frequent Covid testing, including those elderly residents who are bound to home and other people who do not go out and have social interactions. This also includes younger students who are following classes online.

▶ Starting from December 5, bus and subway operators in Beijing will no longer refuse entry to passengers without a 48-hour negative nucleic acid certificate (announced on December 2nd).

▶ Although not officially announced, there have been various social media posts and reports about Covid-positive people in Beijing being allowed to quarantine at home if they meet conditions.

Chengdu Metro announced on December 2nd that it will no longer check passengers’ nucleic acid test reports. Passengers still need to scan their travel code and those with a green code can enter. Other public places will reportedly also start to accept the ‘green code’ only without a time limit on nucleic acid testing.

Tianjin metro announced that the 72-hour nucleic acid certificate check will be also be canceled for passengers on the Tianjin metro lines. As in other places, people will still need to wear proper face masks and undergo temperature checks.

▶ In Hangzhou, except for at special places such as nursing homes, orphanages, primary and secondary schools, people’s nucleic acid tests will no longer be checked in public transportation and other public places. They will also stop checking people’s Venue Codes (场所码).

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

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China History

Mourning Jiang Zemin, Weibo Turns Black and White

Since the rise of Chinese social media, Jiang Zemin became a recurring part of Chinese memes.

Manya Koetse

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Following the announcement that Jiang Zemin (江泽民), the former president of the PRC, has passed away, various Chinese online platforms have turned into ‘grey’ mode as a sign of mourning. Jiang Zemin died due to leukemia and organ failure. He was 96 years old.

Besides Weibo, the home page of major Chinese websites such as Baidu, Sogou, Taobao, Alipay, Xinhua, People’s Daily, The Paper, and many others all turned into black-and-white mourning mode on Wednesday.

Bilibili turns into grey mode on November 30.

Search engine Sogou also in black and white mode.

On Weibo, one post about Jiang Zemin’s passing received a staggering one million reposts and over two million ‘likes.’ The hashtag “Comrade Jiang Zemin Passed Away at the Age of 96 in Shanghai” (#江泽民同志在上海逝世享年96岁#) had received over 2,5 billion clicks by Wednesday night.

Jiang Zemin was appointed as President of the People’s Republic of China in 1993. In the years before, the former Shanghai Party chief already held official positions as the chairman of the Central Military Affairs Commission and general secretary of the Party. In 2003, Jiang Zemin retired and was replaced by Hu Jintao (Sullivan 2012).

Since the rise of Chinese social media, Jiang became a recurring part of Chinese memes. Jiang had created a wide group of online fans, who are commonly referred to as ‘toad worshippers’ as the online phenomenon of ‘worshipping’ Jiang Zemin is called mo ha (膜蛤), ‘toad worship’ (Fang 2020, 38). The entire phenomenon has become its own subculture that is called ‘mo ha culture’ (móhá wénhuà, 膜蛤文化).

What started as a joke – nicknaming Jiang a ‘toad’ due to his big glasses, signature pants, and wide smile, – became an actual online movement of people who were appreciative of Jiang Zemin.

They loved him, not only because the former leader spoke many languages and other talents, and because of his unique appearance, but mainly because he was not scared to show his emotions, was very expressive, and good at telling stories.

One famous example of this, is when Jiang Zemin got upset with a Hong Kong journalist in 2000 and told them off using three languages (link to video, also here). The much-repeated quote “too young, too simple, sometimes naive” comes from this noteworthy moment as Jiang told journalists that they still had a lot to learn, whereas he had gone through “hundred of battles,” saying “I’ve seen it all.” This also led to Jiang later being called ‘the Elder’ (长者) by netizens.

Another popular Jiang Zemin video is when he met with American journalist Mike Wallace in August of 2000 in Beidaihe. During the interview, the two discussed sensitive topics including the Falun Gong and Tiananmen protests. The interview reportedly was one of the longest ever between an American journalist and a Chinese head of state (watch here).

A study by Kecheng Fang (2020) about ‘China’s toad worship culture’ suggests that for many online fans of Jiang, the cult around him is apolitical, playful, and part of a shared digital cultural tradition.

For some, however, it does hold some political meaning to ‘worship’ Jiang, who only became a popular online meme around 2014, after Xi Jinping took power as a conservative strongman who is not as emotionally expressive. Fang describes how one meme creator said: “We couldn’t express our criticism through normal channels, so we turned to other indrect ways, including lauding Jiang’s personality and characteristics in various ways” (2020, 45).

Although Jiang became popular among younger Chinese on online platforms over the past decade, he was not necessarily that popular at the time of his leadership, and opinions vary on the legacy he leaves behind. Jiang continuously pushed for reform and opening-up after Deng Xiaoping’s rule.

As summarized by Foreign Policy, Jiang oversaw two crucial transitions that shaped and improved the lives of the people of China: “First, he peacefully guided his country out of the shadow of China’s founding revolutionaries, who had spent decades purging one another and at times caused great pain and sorrow for everyone else. Second, although hesitant at first, Jiang came to embrace the market economy.”

As various places across China have seen unrest and protests over the past few days, the announcement of Jiang’s death comes at a sensitive time.

Many on Chinese social media are burning virtual candles in memory of Jiang Zemin today. “I will fondly recall your style and manners,” some say.

By Manya Koetse , with contributions by Miranda Barnes

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References:

Fang, Kecheng. 2020. “Turning a communist party leader into an internet meme: the political and apolitical aspects of China’s toad worship culture.” Information, Communication & Society, 23 (1): 38-58.

Sullivan, Lawrence R. 2012. Historical Dictionary of the Chinese Communist Party. Lanham: The Scarecrow Press. See page: 3-43, 208.

 

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