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The Brexit “Divorce Drama” Captivates Chinese Netizens

As politicians, (British) citizens and international media are feverishly discussing the post-Brexit turmoil, many Chinese netizens see the Brexit referendum as a “divorce drama” rather than a critical political decision-making process: will Mrs. Britain and Mr. EU ever get back together?

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As politicians, EU citizens and international media are feverishly discussing the post-Brexit turmoil, many Chinese netizens see the Brexit referendum as a “divorce drama” rather than a critical political decision-making process: will Mrs. Britain and Mr. EU ever get back together?

Brexit is not just making headlines in Europe. The topic is also trending on Chinese (social) media. On Sina Weibo, the topic #Brexit Referendum (#英国脱欧公投) has attracted 980 million readers since Sunday.

The question how Brexit might affect China has been discussed by different official Chinese media such as Global Times, that suggests that Britain leaving the EU might indirectly affect China’s export. Britain is China’s second largest trade partner in EU.

As the “leave” vote also affects the overall financial market, it could also cause instability and a possible setback to the internationalization of Chinese currency, according to Global Times.

[rp4wp]

China Daily reported that especially Chinese companies with a significant presence in Britain and the EU will be impacted by UK’s decision to leave the European Union, as they might encounter legal issues and problems over taxation or employee mobility.

 

“Although deep down B. still had faith in their marriage, she could not make this decision by herself.”

 

But for most Chinese netizens, Brexit is not so much a political decision-making process but rather a “divorce drama” – with Britain’s EU leave actually being compared to a married couple in a relationship crisis. Many netizens wonder whether their crisis is severe enough for an actual divorce.

A popular illustrated article by Phoenix News best represents the so-called “divorce drama between Britain and the EU”:

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“A long time ago, Little B. [Britain] was very powerful, with villa’s on every island and fields on half the globe..At the same time, on the continent of Europe, some people had been fighting for hundreds of years. Until one day, after the war, they finally stopped and made a baby named E. [EU, previously ‘European Community’]..It did not take long for E. to grow up and notice his pretty neighbor B. Although E. seemed small and harmless, Little B. feared that he might grow big pretty soon and would then cross the English Channel to bully her.”

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But E. did not grow up to be a spoiled brat – and he actually gathered quite some money. Although E. was not very handsome, he was a capable young man. Little B. had some bad luck; all her fields over the world turned independent, after which she had less to eat. In a moment of desperation, B. thought E. was not so bad after all – and she was hungry – so she decided to marry him. But married life was quite tragic for the couple. Because E. was a real male chauvinist, and meddled in all kinds of big and small issues, which made B. very uncomfortable.”

The story continues:

“E. really wanted some kids with B., but she firmly refused as she was afraid it would turn her into a faded old woman.(..) Although B. and E. always had some small frictions during their marriage, Mr. E. always thought B. was very pretty, and her family was rich, so he treated her like a princess. Although B. was not really satisfied with the marriage, she had no intentions to actually divorce…until E. brought home some poor neighbors recently…”

divorce drama2

“B. was outraged, and all the anger of the previous years came out, as she said E. would never listen to her – she wanted a divorce. Despite all the havoc, E. still really liked B. and would do everything to make her stay. Although deep down B. also still had faith in their marriage, she could not make this decision by herself. So she decided to consult her family” – and we all know how that story ended.

divorcedrama
Caption: E. (man): “It is all my fault!” B. (woman): “I drink milk tea, you eat sausage, how come I marry you!!?”

 

“The drama is coming to an end; go wash up and sleep.”

 

The story of “B. and E.” continues on Chinese social media, where some netizens believe that Britain threatening to leave the EU is just a symptom of the UK needing some extra TLC: “Britain wants out of EU? It’s just like a wife demanding a divorce. It is merely a matter of a romantic night and giving her an extra handbag. It just takes some persuasion and it will pass”, one netizen says.

Although there are now more voices rising saying that Brexit might not actually happen, some netizens still see reasons to worry: “It is so awkward for EU now – Brexit is like a couple that wants a divorce. Even if the marriage remains, life will remain to be difficult in the future.”

Whether they are positive, negative, or indifferent about the Brexit turmoil, the majority of Chinese netizens see the referendum as a “relationship drama” which will probably end with Britain remaining in the EU. “Britain will not leave”, many netizens remark matter-of-factly: “The drama is coming to an end; go wash up and sleep”, writes another netizen.

 

“It will be Scotland all over again.”

 

One of the reasons why many netizens are convinced Brexit will not end up in an actual break-up is because it reminds them of another “divorce drama” in 2014: the Scottish independence referendum.

Back in 2014, the Scotland referendum also attracted much attention on Chinese social media, with the topic #Scotland referendum (#苏格兰公投) being viewed over 11 million times at the time. The referendum was framed in a similar “divorce” narrative, with many netizens referring to the referendum as Scotland proposing to end of its 300-hundred-year marriage with England.

“It will be Scotland all over again”, says one netizen: “Create a scenes, make some headlines, and then get some extra rights”.

Many netizens created their own “dramas” around this referendum. One netizen even wrote a romance story featuring Arthur, a young man who was losing his charm, anxious about whether others would stay with him.

 

“Dear Little B, if you ever want to get back to me, I will always be here for you!”

 

Many netizens also get poetic about the Brexit crisis: “Dear Little B, if you ever want to get back to me, I will always be here for you!”, one netizen writes, posting the following video [turn on subtitles]:

“I just broke up with my girlfriend,” one netizen comments: “and then came Brexit. This video perfectly represents our epic love story.”

The original poster is not too positive about this love story’s outcome: “The UK will say: ‘I’d rather cry in my Rolls-Royce, then laugh on the back of your bike!”

“B. and E. have really split up,” one netizen writes: “And matchmaker Cameron has left the stage.”

Scotland leaving Britain or Britain leaving the EU might be far-away political events for many Chinese, but recent social media reactions show that netizens form their own understandings of the tumultuous events. Although the actual story might go beyond a simple marriage crisis, many Chinese netizens are eager to see if the B. and E. will finally get to live happily ever after.

– By Diandian Guo and Manya Koetse

©2016 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Diandian Guo is a China-born Master student of transdisciplinary and global society, politics & culture at the University of Groningen with a special interest for new media in China. She has a BA in International Relations from Beijing Foreign Language University, and is specialized in China's cultural memory.

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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

 

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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 Media

Chinese Internet Company Sina Abruptly Shuts Down ‘Sina Taiwan’ Platform

Sina Taiwan is longer available and has suddenly suspended its operations in Taiwan.

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WEIBO SHORT | Weibo Shorts are concise articles on topics that are trending. This article was first published

On August 2nd, Taiwanese media sources reported that the online Sina Taiwan platform was longer available and had suddenly suspended its operations in Taiwan without prior notification.

Sina (新浪) is the company that also owns (Sina) Weibo. Founded in 1998, it is a leading Chinese Internet company and media platform that operates various localized websites, including Sina Taiwan (sina.com.tw) which was established in November 1998.

Multiple sources, including Taiwanese news site ETToday , reported news of the closure of Sina Taiwan today. According to ETToday, Sina Taiwan’s parent company confirmed the company has suspended its services in the Taiwan market and ceased operations on August 1st due to the company’s “operational strategy.”

Weibo also set up a localized version in traditional characters for the Taiwan market. Earlier today, the Weibo Taiwan site (tw.weibo.com) also seemed to be inaccessible for a while but was accessible again at the time of writing.

On Weibo, the official ‘Sina Taiwan’ Weibo account (@新浪台湾爆头条) posted its last update on July 14.

News of Sina Taiwan’s abrupt closure comes at a time of heightened tensions over Taiwan between China and the U.S. in light of reports of a potential Taiwan visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (more here).

However, although the timing is noteworthy and Weibo users wonder what it means, it is unsure if Sina’s decision is related to this issue. The English-language Sina portal (english.sina.com) stopped updating its homepage earlier this year.

By Manya Koetse and 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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