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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

 

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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.

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.

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 Memes & Viral

The Impossible Love Story: Nancy Pelosi and Hu Xijin Become Popular Imaginary Couple

When Pelosi met Hu – imagining love in times of U.S.-China escalation risk.

Manya Koetse

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While everybody is watching whether or not Nancy Pelosi will visit Taiwan (with all recent indications suggesting that she will make a stop on the island), there is still time for some online banter amid growing tensions: Chinese netizens have created a fantasy love affair between U.S. House speaker Pelosi and Chinese Global Times commentator Hu Xijin.

On July 31st, Hu posted an old military photo of himself on Weibo to pay tribute to the active military for August 1st, the annual People’s Liberation Army (PLA) day. “We depend on you to safeguard our national sovereignty and territorial integrity and protect the interests of China’s peaceful development,” Hu wrote.

Hu Xijin has been making international headlines this week for his strong condemnation of a potential visit to Taiwan by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Hu suggested that a Taiwan visit by Pelosi would be a clear provocation of China, giving the PLA “good reason” for “waging a war.”

One of Hu’s tweets, in which he voiced the view that U.S. military planes escorting Pelosi to Taiwan could potentially be shot down, was deleted by Twitter on July 30.

Hu Xijin tweet which was deleted by Twitter on July 30.

Hu is an influential Chinese commentator and journalist, who is mostly known for being the former editor-in-chief of the nationalist state media outlet Global Times and his Hu Says political commentary videos on social media. He is also known for his ‘Wold Warrior’-style brash and bold statements, often echoing the Communist Party line.

At this time of great U.S.-China tensions in light of Pelosi’s potential Taiwan trip, there perhaps could not have been a more unimaginable couple than the American Pelosi (aka “Old Witch” 老妖婆) and Chinese Hu (aka “Old Hu” 老胡), yet the moment a netizen photoshopped an ‘old’ wedding photo showing a much younger Nancy Pelosi and Hu Xijin, it immediately went viral.

“The handsome and the beautiful, it’s a good match,” some commenters said, with others calling it a “classic” and a “fine match” between a “talented man and a beautiful woman” (郎才女貌 láng cái nǚ mào).

Others thought “it was not a good deal for Hu,” since Pelosi is twenty years older than him.

“No wonder he always climbs over the wall,” another Weibo user jokingly said.

The practice of imagining a relationship between two famous people or fictional characters, often using photoshop and fan art, is also known as ‘CP,’ an abbreviation for “coupling” or “character pairing.”

Although many netizens seemed to appreciate this CP joke, Chinese blogger ‘Chairman Rabbit’ (兔主席) did not approve of it, writing that the country is facing a serious situation and that this is not an appropriate time to joke around.

Hu Xijin himself, however, did not seem to mind. When someone sent him the ‘wedding photo’ of himself and Pelosi, he responded with three thumbs up.

Also read our latest article on Chinese online views on Pelosi’s potential Taiwan visit here.

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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China Media

From ‘Starting a War’ to ‘Just for Show’: Chinese Social Media Views on Pelosi’s Potential Taiwan Visit

Some voices say that regardless of a Taiwan visit by Pelosi, US-China relations have already reached one of the lowest points in decades.

Manya Koetse

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On Chinese social media there are different views on what a potential Taiwan visit by Nancy Pelosi might mean for China, the U.S., and Sino-American relations. But whether she might actually visit Taiwan or not, virtually nobody seems to be looking at the latest developments with rose-colored glasses.

She is called ‘the American Old Lady’ and ‘the Old Witch’ on Chinese social media. Nancy Pelosi, or Pèiluòxī (佩洛西), is all the talk on Weibo this week since reports came out that the U.S. House Speaker is planning a visit to Taiwan.

It is the second time this year a potential Pelosi Taiwan trip raises U.S.-China tensions. Earlier this year, there were also reports that Pelosi would lead a delegation to visit Taiwan on April 10. But just days before, on April 7, news came out that Pelosi had tested positive for Covid-19 and her Asia trip was postponed.

In July 2022, although not officially announced, reports again came out that Pelosi might visit Taiwan during her rescheduled Asia trip, during which she is planned to visit Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, and Japan (no mention of Taiwan as of July 31st). If she would also land in Taiwan, she would be the first House speaker to visit Taiwan in 25 years.

There have been several hashtag pages on Weibo dedicated to the topic of Pelosi’s alleged Taiwan visit. One of the hashtags popping up on Chinese social media on July 25 was “Pelosi Visiting Taiwan” (#佩洛西访台#). By July 30, there was the CCTV-initiated hashtag “If Pelosi Visits Taiwan, China’s Military Will Not Sit Back and Watch” (#若佩洛西访台中国军队绝不会坐视不管#).

On the same day, there was the Global Times-initiated hashtag “Trump Slams Pelosi’s Possible Visit to Taiwan” (#特朗普抨击佩洛西可能访台#), and “If Pelosi’s Visit Happens, Mainland Will Take Decisive Taiwan Measures” (#佩洛西若窜访成行大陆将对台采取断然措施#), hosted by the official account of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC). And then there was the “Geng Shuang Says Involved Countries Should Not Play With Fire” hashtag (#耿爽说有关国家不要玩火自焚#), referring to an address by China’s deputy permanent representative to the UN. On July 29, Geng Shuang highlighted the apparent hypocrisy of individual countries repeatedly stressing the principle of sovereignty when it comes to Ukraine, while challenging China’s sovereignty when it comes to the Taiwan issue – and in doing so, “deliberately creating tensions.”

On Sunday, the hashtags “Pelosi” and “Pelosi Sends Our Four Messages without Mentioning Taiwan” (#佩洛西发文4条没提台湾#) (referring to these tweets by Pelosi) both went trending, receiving 110 and 270 million views respectively within one day.

What would Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan mean to mainland China? Chinese state media outlets are clear about China’s official stance. China Daily (Global Edition) headlined “Xi: No Room for interference on Taiwan question” on its newspaper frontpage on Friday. The English-language Global Times published a statement via Twitter, saying: “We have ways to raise the risk of Pelosi’s “performance” through the visit, greatly increase the cost of her performance, and boost the price she has to pay. Let Pelosi deeply realize that Taiwan island is not a place where she can run wild.”

In light of a two-hour telephone conversation between President Xi Jinping and President Joe Biden on July 28, there were also some softer stances. The Chinese-language People’s Daily published an article suggesting that Sino-American relations should focus on strengthening communication to avoid misunderstandings and promote further cooperation between the two countries.

Meanwhile, there are many netizens and bigger bloggers discussing this issue on Chinese social media. Combing out all the posts on Pelosi flooding Weibo these days, there seem to be three main views shared by the majority, which we will further detail below.

 

VIEW 1: PELOSI’S VISIT MEANS THE U.S. SUPPORTS TAIWAN INDEPENDENCE (AND THAT MEANS WAR)


 

A common stance on Chinese social media regarding Pelosi’s visit is that it would mean a U.S. recognition of Taiwan as an independent state, which is a direct provocation of mainland China.

One popular blogger (@封起De日子) writes:

“If Pelosi really visits Taiwan, it actually means the U.S. approves of Taiwan independence. Taiwan has then become de facto independent. Pelosi would be the third U.S. government person to do so, which is extraordinary. Taiwan is Chinese territory, and if we ignore such an undertaking, we would deny that foundation ourselves. This is a serious provocation. We have so far lacked a strong voice and statement, and the central government and the Central Military Commission and other departments should declare that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan means a war provocation! If Pelosi’s plane enters China’s airspace and territorial waters of Taiwan, the armed forces of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army have the right to decisively shoot down (kill) it at any time! This position would be the right one for any sovereign country.”

Another commenter writes: “If Pelosi visits Taiwan in the next two days she’ll cause a war. If the country needs donations, I, as an ordinary Chinese citizen, am willing to donate to my country, and I would even be willing to sacrifice my life.”

“If a U.S. Army Aircraft dares to enter Taiwan, it is an invasion, and we can shoot it down,” an influential gaming blogger (@老刀99, over 2 million fans) also wrote.

This kind of reasoning follows that of the influential Global Times commentator Hu Xijin (@胡锡进), who suggested that a Taiwan visit by Pelosi would be a clear provocation, giving the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) “good reason” for “waging a war.”

One of Hu’s tweets, in which he voiced the view that U.S. military planes escorting Pelosi to Taiwan could potentially be shot down, was deleted from Twitter. He reported about this on his Weibo account.

Hu Xijin tweet which was deleted by Twitter on July 30.

In another post on July 31, Hu warned Taiwan leadership that by agreeing to a Pelosi visit and “seeking ‘international support,'” they are “forgetting that their fate is in the hands of the mainland.”

Some commenters said they actually hoped Pelosi would go to Taiwan in order to let the real conflict begin: “I hope Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan will succeed,” one Weibo user wrote: “These years, I’ve heard too many forced righteous words, I don’t know where our bottom line is anymore, I just see the non-stop favors, while they’re snickering and looking down on us. It’s no use when it’s all talk and no action and it’s ineffective to keep on crying wolf. Pelosi, come on!”

“If the day Pelosi visits Taiwan is the day we recover Taiwan, should we still prevent her from visiting?” another Weibo user wonders.

On July 28, Fujian’s Pingtan Maritime Safety Administration issued a navigation warning that there would be live-fire exercises on July 30 in the waters near Fujian, opposite Taiwan. On Weibo, the live-fire drill also became a topic of interest (#福建平潭部分海域实弹射击训练#), with many applauding the exercises.

“We must resolutely defend national sovereignty and defend our territorial integrity,” one commenter wrote.

 

VIEW 2: IT’S ALL JUST FOR SHOW (AND TAIWAN IS A POLITICAL PLAYFIELD)


 

Another view expressed on Chinese social media is that a potential Taiwan visit would be just for show, and that neither Pelosi nor the U.S. truly have Taiwan’s best interests at heart.

According to some, a visit to Taiwan would be nothing more than a political “fashion show” for Pelosi, since this might be the last big Asia trip for the 82-year-old politician. “It’s just a superficial performance,” one military blogger wrote. There are more people agreeing with this stance. “This is to show off her courage and guts as a way to end her term of office,” author Zhang Huilin writes (over 2M followers @张慧林).

Others also suggest that China would not start a war over such a move. Keluo Liaofu (@科罗廖夫), an author on military affairs with over 6 million fans, writes:

“If Pelosi really visits Taiwan, the mainland will certainly be furious, and there will be fierce retaliation, including military-diplomatic and economic retaliation such as halting certain Sino-American cooperations, expulsion of diplomats, and other punitive sanctions. Then, as things go, this will be forgotten after a few months.”

Another blogger describes Taiwan as a political play field, literally a ‘chessboard’, that is used by the big ‘chess players’ – China and the United States – who are also surrounded by other supporting players. Taiwan is just a “gambit” and it is not about Taiwan itself, the blogger suggests: the Taiwan issue is just a strategy for the U.S. to “suppress China” and the moves made by both the U.S. and China regarding Taiwan are ways to test out each other’s “red lines.”

“It’s all just bluff. She won’t even dare to visit,” another person writes.

 

VIEW 3: U.S.-CHINA RELATIONS ARE ALREADY BAD REGARDLESS IF SHE VISITS OR NOT (AND THINGS WILL NOT CHANGE)

Another view on the potential Taiwan visit is that whether Pelosi actually visits or not, reports about the trip have already brought China-U.S. relations to a new low point.

“Regardless of whether Pelosi visits Taiwan in whatever way, the political basis for U.S.-China relations is already severely broken, [because] it means that the national will of the United States does not take [our] relationship seriously at all,” one Weibo blogger writes: “No need to harbour any illusions.”

Some netizens express that China always has to be the ‘reasonable voice’ that is ignored by an obstinate and provocative America.

Weibo vlogger Yuanzhezhi (@袁者之) writes:

“As just one web user, and as a Chinese, I would like to express my personal voice. The U.S. side should stop obstinately persisting in making things go the wrong way, to insist on creating global unrest. Can they only be happy when there are regional tensions? If Pelosi ignores the voice of the Chinese, the consequences and responsibilities will be borne by the U.S. side. I hope that the U.S. can listen to some of the domestic and international voices of reason, and that they can stop obsessively making the same mistakes over and over again, resulting in an irreversible situation, moving further and further away from the U.S.-China relationship!”

Another popular educational blogger (@才疏学浅柏拉图, over 1M fans) writes:

“My guess is that America is not prepared, and that we’re not prepared enough either. But our public opinion is already shaped and fixed in place. It makes me think of how Zhuge Liang used the empty city to scare Sima Yi (t/n: reference to ‘Empty Fort Strategy‘, reverse psychology to scare the enemy). Maybe the American Old Lady ends up going to a third-party location where she’ll invite Taiwan leadership, so she can express the American support [for Taiwan] without making us lose face, but the struggle between the U.S. and China remains the same.”

Just before Sunday midnight, news blogger Dayue Chuqing (@大越楚卿) asked his followers what the motive might be for Pelosi to visit Taiwan.

While some say she is doing for herself and others suggest it’s U.S. power politics, there are also those who consider an entirely different motive: “Maybe she just really feels like eating Taiwanese cuisine.”

To read more of our articles on Sino-US relations, click here.

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:

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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