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Anti-Japanese Sentiments on Weibo after News of Shinzo Abe Getting Shot in Nara

On Weibo, some are gloating over the shooting of Shinzo Abe, who has been called the “‘chief’ anti-China politician in Japan.”

Manya Koetse

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The shocking news that Shinzo Abe was shot twice during a campaign speech in the city of Nara on Friday morning has become top trending on Weibo, where many commenters show little sympathy for Japan’s former Prime Minister.

In the morning of July 8, 2022, Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (安倍 晋三) was shot twice during a speech for an election campaign event in the city of Nara. According to the latest reports, the 67-year-old Abe has been rushed to hospital. Update: just before 18:00 local time, news came out that Shinzo Abe died after being shot.

The shooting incident happened around 11:30 when Abe was giving an Upper House election campaign speech in front of Yamato-Saidaiji Station of the Kintetsu Line.

Ex-Tokyo governor Yoichi Masuzoe (舛添要一), who was also at the event in Nara, tweeted that the former President was suffering “cardiopulmonary arrest” (心肺停止状態), meaning he is showing no vital signs.

According to the Asahi newspaper, a 41-year-old man by the name of Tetsuya Yamagami has been arrested on suspicion of attempted murder and the weapon was seized.

On Chinese social media, the incident immediately became a trending news topic and various images were shared showing the alleged suspect. Other photos showed the former Prime Minister laying on the ground surrounded by medical staff. The hashtag “Abe Shows No Vital Signs” (#安倍已无生命体征#) received over a billion views on Friday.

One Weibo news post about the shooting by CCTV received over 1,6 million likes. The top comment said: “Exam candidates, remember this for extra points: July 7 is the day of the 1937 Marco Polo Bridge Incident that started China’s War of Resistance against Japan; July 8 the day when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was shot and killed.” The comment received nearly 100,000 likes.

Influential media blogger Zhang Xiaolei (@张晓磊) posted: “Walking alone down a dark alley*, this man will go down in the history of Japan,” referring to the gunman.

Some of the comments called the shooter a ‘hero’, saying he would no just also go into Japanese history, but also would be remembered in Chinese history books. The comment that “this is a historical day” is a recurring one on Weibo today.

Former Prime Minister Abe was President of Japan’s Liberal Democratic Party (LDP), and he was the longest-serving prime minister in Japanese history from 2006 to 2007 and then again from 2012 to 2020. He retired as Prime Minister in 2020 due to health reasons.

 

An old man gets shot and falls to the ground yet you are gloating over it. Where is the morality? Where is your bottom line?

 

In China, Abe has never been popular. After his 2020 retirement, he visited the controversial Yasukuni Shrine war memorial just days after stepping down. An 2021 editorial in the Chinese state media outlet Global Times called the former Prime Minister the “chief anti-China politician in Japan.” In a 2021 Security Dialogue on Taiwan-US-Japan, Abe said that “Taiwan must be a leader among democracies.” Some weeks earlier, he had also stated that “a Taiwan emergency is a Japanese emergency,” urging China not to provoke its neighbors or seek territorial expansion.

In 2017, a video of a Japanese kindergarten recital saying that the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islands belong to Japan and that China should not “spread lies” about Japan went viral and sparked controversy on Chinese social media. That incident also put Shinzo Abe in a bad light as his wife previously visited the school, and he had reportedly once said that the ideology of the school’s chairman was similar to his.

Anti-Japanese sentiments often surface on Chinese social media, where the history of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-1945) is still actively remembered (read more here).

“Shinzo Abe needs to let go of his hatred, excuse the gunman, and erase this part from history,” another popular Weibo comment said, sarcastically referring to previous Japanese history textbook controversies regarding the silencing of Japan’s war crimes.

But there are also those who are condemning those who apparently delight in the fact that the former Prime Minister was shot. One popular Weibo comment criticized these Weibo users, writing: “An old man gets shot and falls to the ground yet you are gloating over it. Where is the morality? Where is your bottom line?”

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian (赵立坚) commented on the attack on Shinzo Abe during a regular press briefing on July 8, expressing shock and concern, adding: “We hope that former Prime minister Abe will be out of danger and recover soon.”

Some could not resist making a sarcasting comment in the post reply section, writing: “There is still the danger that he might live?”

Despite all the reactions expressing a negative stance toward Abe and Japan, some Weibo users are posting a candle emoticon for the former Prime Minister, writing: “Sending prayers for Shinzo Abe.”

Update: On Friday late afternoon, local media reported that Shinzo Abe died after the attack. Soon after, before 18:00 CST, the hashtag “Shinzo Abe Passed Away” (#安倍晋三身亡#) became the number one topic on Chinese social media platform Weibo, with the hashtag page receiving over 280 million views within thirty minutes.

Also read: Chinese Reporter Cries during Live Broadcast on Shinzo Abe Attack

To get more insights on Shinzo Abe, we can recommend The Iconoclast: Shinzo Abe and the New Japan by Tobias Harris (2020).

By Manya Koetse

* “孤身走暗巷”, “walking alone in a dark alley”, comes from a song titled “Lonely Warrior” (孤勇者) by Eason Chen.
 

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©2022 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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China Military

China ‘Strikes Back’: Taiwan Military Drills, Countermeasures, and Waves of Nationalism on Weibo

One poster by China Daily on Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan said: “The Chinese people will fight back twice as hard.”

Manya Koetse

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During this tension-filled and eventful week, the general mood on Chinese social media went from angry to frustrated. With the start of China’s military drills around Taiwan and the announcement of countermeasures in response to Pelosi’s Taiwan visit, there’s been a new wave of national pride and expressions of nationalism.

When Nancy Pelosi’s plane landed in Taipei on Tuesday, August 2nd, many Chinese netizens expressed frustration and anger that she had “gotten away too easy” with visiting Taiwan despite repeated warnings by Beijing. Things had not turned out the way many had hoped, and the U.S. House Speaker’s visit to Taiwan – which Beijing considers to be a province of China, – was seen as a provocation at a time when the China-US relationship was already strained.

On Thursday, however, the mood on Chinese social media turned around when China began its announced live-fire military drills around Taiwan. State media channels, official accounts, military bloggers, and regular netizens shared the sometimes movie-like videos showing large-scale military exercises, including ballistic missiles fired into waters.

From Fujian’s Pingtan Island, one of mainland China’s closest points to Taiwan, tourists and day trippers had a front-row view of some projectiles launched by the Chinese military and helicopters flying past (see Twitter thread embedded below).

On Friday, August 5th, during which military drills continued, China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs also announced sanctions on Pelosi and her immediate family members, along with a string of countermeasures against the U.S., which are the following:


“1. Canceling China-US Theater Commanders Talk.
2. Canceling China-US Defense Policy Coordination Talks (DPCT).
3. Canceling China-US Military Maritime Consultative Agreement (MMCA) meetings.
4. Suspending China-US cooperation on the repatriation of illegal immigrants.
5. Suspending China-US cooperation on legal assistance in criminal matters.
6. Suspending China-US cooperation against transnational crimes.
7. Suspending China-US counternarcotics cooperation.
8. Suspending China-US talks on climate change.”

By Friday evening, one CCTV-initiated Weibo hashtag regarding the countermeasures (#针对佩洛西窜台反制措施#) had received over 280 million views, and another one regarding sanctions on Pelosi (#外交部宣布制裁佩洛西#) had received over 780 million views.

On the same day, news that lightning struck outside the White House, critically injuring four people, also went trending on Chinese social media. Many people responded to the remarkable news with sayings about how this was “Pelosi’s curse” and that “evil doings will rebound onto the evildoer.”

State media outlet China Daily posted an online poster with both Chinese and English text, writing: “Let me be serious and clear: we will not fight if they don’t fight us. For any act in violation of China’s sovereignty and territorial integrity, the Chinese people will fight back twice as hard,” referring to the words of the spokesperson of the Chinese mission to the EU.

When news came out on Friday that Japanese authorities condemned China’s firing of ballistic missiles during the ongoing military drills around Taiwan, claiming Chinese missiles fell into Japan’s exclusive economic zone, Chinese state media outlet Global Times dismissed Tokyo’s concerns, calling the complaints “unprofessional” and “baseless” since Japan was referring to an overlapping area it allegedly has no exclusive rights to (#日本碰瓷中国导弹毫无道理#).

In response to the issue, Xu Ji (@徐记观察), a blogger with over 3 million followers, posted a gif on Weibo showing Chinese actor Wu Jing in the iconic action film Wolf Warrior II with both middle fingers up. Wu Jing stars in the movie as Leng Feng, a Chinese veteran who travels around the globe and punishes those who offend China (Sun 2021, 128).

The image set the tone for the overall mood on social media regarding the recent international developments.

“Beautifully played!” many commenters said.

“First steps of striking back! Countermeasures! Hitting back! Sooner or later the national flag will rise on Taiwan!”, Chinese actor Huang Haibo wrote on his Weibo account (@real黄海波).

“I trust in the motherland, I trust in PLA,” was another recurring comment.

“We gave you a choice, you didn’t want it, now you have to deal with the consequences,” one Weibo commenter said.

When news came out on Friday night that a mountain fire broke out on an outer island during an artillery exercise held by the Taiwanese military, a streak of schadenfreude shot through Weibo, with some netizens wondering if the PLA had helped Taiwan to extinguish the fire they started themselves.

“It’s probably better if our troops climb up the hill and put out the fire,” multiple people suggested, and others writing: “I feel embarrassed for them.”

“The PLA will come to the rescue,” others also said, repeating the same trust and pride in the People’s Liberation Army that was echoed across Chinese social media the entire day.

Also read:
*From ‘Starting a War’ to ‘Just for Show’: Chinese Social Media Views on Pelosi’s Potential Taiwan Visit
* Pelosi in Taiwan: “1.4 Billion People Do Not Agree with Interference in China’s Sovereignty Issues”

By Manya Koetse

 

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Featured image is an edited picture showing an image from Wolf Warrior 2 as posted on Weibo today.

References

Sun, Jing. 2021. Red Chamber, World Dream – Actors, Audience, and Agendas in Chinese Foreign Policy and Beyond. United States: University of Michigan Press.

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China Insight

Pelosi in Taiwan: “1.4 Billion People Do Not Agree with Interference in China’s Sovereignty Issues”

“The Old Witch has landed!”, many commenters wrote on Weibo when Pelosi arrived in Taiwan.

Manya Koetse

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August 2nd was a tumultuous day on Chinese social media, with millions of netizens closely following how Pelosi’s plane landed in Taiwan. Chinese state media propagate the message that not only Chinese authorities condemn the move, but that the Chinese people denounce it just as much.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is all the talk on Weibo, where netizens are closely following the latest developments and what they might mean for the near future of Taiwan and Sino-American relations.

“Today is a sensitive time, as it is said that Pelosi will fly into Taiwan tonight, challenging the one-China principle,” Global Times political commentator Hu Xijin wrote on Weibo on Tuesday afternoon, while Pelosi’s plane was still en route:

“At this time I’d like to tell everyone, that I firmly believe the Chinese government will definitely take a series of countermeasures, which include military actions. The Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of National Defense have repeatedly said they are “on the alert and combat-ready” and will not “sit and watch.” This is the country’s prestige, how could they not hit back? So let’s wait and see what will happen next.”

Tuesday was an extremely tumultuous day on Chinese social media as Taiwan- and Pelosi-related hashtags popped up one after the other, and news and videos kept flooding the platform, sometimes leading to a temporary overload of Weibo’s servers.

Around 20.30, an hour before Pelosi was expected to land in Taiwan at that time, more than half of all the trending search topics on Weibo related to Pelosi and Taiwan as virtually everyone was following the plane’s route and when it would land.

Not long before the expected landing of Pelosi’s plane, footage circulated on Weibo showing the iconic Taipei 101 building with a display of greetings to Pelosi, welcoming her to Taiwan and thanking her for her support.

By Tuesday night, Chinese official channels promoted the hashtags “The United States Plays With Fire & Will Burn Itself by Taiwan Involvement Provocation” (#美台勾连挑衅玩火必自焚#) along with the hashtag “1.4 Billion People Do Not Agree with Interference in China’s Sovereignty Issues” (​​#干涉中国主权问题14亿人不答应#).

Image posted by Communist Youth League on Weibo.

Millions of Chinese netizens followed flight radar livestreams, with one livestream by China.org receiving over 70 million viewers at one point.

On Tuesday night at 22:44 local time, after taking a detour, Pelosi’s plane finally landed in Taipei. About eight minutes later, Nancy Pelosi, wearing a pink suit, stepped out of the plane together with her delegation.

“The Old Witch has landed!”, many commenters wrote on Weibo, where Nancy Pelosi has been nicknamed ‘Old Witch’ recently.

Not long after, Hu Xijin posted on both on Twitter (in English) and on Weibo (in Chinese), writing that Pelosi’s landing in Taiwan opened an “era of high-intensity competition between China and US over Taiwan Strait.” Hu wrote that the PLA is announcing a series of actions, including military drill operations and live-fire exercises in zones surrounding Taiwan from August 4 to 7.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying (华春莹) also posted a series of tweets condemning the “wrong and dangerous path” the U.S. is allegedly heading down, reiterating the same ‘1.4 billion people do not agree’ narrative that was previously propagated on Weibo by official channels: “Making themselves an enemy of the 1.4 billion Chinese people will not end up well. Acting like a bully in front of the whole world will only make everyone see that the US is the biggest danger to world peace.”

Many netizens expressed frustrations over how seemingly easy it was for Pelosi to land in Taiwan despite repeated warnings. “It’s not like I want us to go to war,” one person wrote on Weibo: “But they are getting off too easy. For days we shouted about countermeasures, what kind of countermeasure is this?”

“Even our community guard who makes 1500 a month [$220] does a better job; if he says you can’t come in, you can’t come in,” another blogger wrote.

The majority of commenters do express their dissatisfaction and anger about Pelosi coming to Taiwan, some even writing: “I hope that Taiwan is liberated when I wake up” or “We must unify again, once the Old Witch is gone, we can do so.”

Passed midnight the hashtag “There Is But One China” (#只有一个中国#), initiated by CCTV, picked up on Weibo and received over 320 million views. The post by CCTV that only said “there is but one China” was forwarded on Weibo over 1,3 million times.

“Taiwan is China’s Taiwan,” many people commented.

“I don’t think I can sleep tonight,” some wrote.

Meanwhile, on FreeWeibo, a website monitoring censored posts on Chinese social media platform Weibo, there are some posts casting another light on the Taiwan issue.

“Regarding ‘Taiwan is China’s Taiwan.’ Every person can vote, there’s multi-party rule, and there can be democratic elections. Only then can we talk about a reunification,” one comment said. It was censored shortly after.

For our other articles relating to Pelosi and her Taiwan visit, click here.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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