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Chinese Netizens on World Refugee Day: “Don’t Come to China”

A heightened focus on China’s role in solving the refugee crises on World Refugee Day has triggered waves of criticism on Chinese social media.

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A heightened focus on China’s role in solving the refugee crises on World Refugee Day has triggered waves of criticism on Chinese social media. The general sentiment: “Refugees are not welcome in China.”

The topic of World Refugee Day has unleashed thousands of comments on Chinese social media this week after the United Nations Refugee Agency raised awareness for refugees on Sina Weibo. Earlier this month, UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi visited Beijing and stated that China can play key role in solving refugee crises.

China became a member of the International Organization for Migration in June of 2016.

Chinese celebrity Yao Chen participated in a World Refugee Day event on Tuesday in Beijing, where the film Welcome to Refugeestan was screened. The popular actress is the Goodwill Ambassador of the UN Refugee Agency.

Yao Chen together with UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi.

With over 80 million fans on Weibo, Yao Chen is one of the most influential celebrities on Weibo. She is the first-ever Chinese UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador and has been a strong voice for refugees over the last seven years.

 

REFUGEES TRENDING

“China will not take in refugees! “

 

On Tuesday, the UN Refugee Agency posted on Weibo:

Because June 20 is #World Refugee Day#, the UNHCR has hosted a public welfare event in Beijing to pay tribute to the world’s 65.6 million people who are displaced and homeless, and to pay tribute to all those who support and care for the refugees. @NicholasRosellini @United Nations Development Program @YaoChen #westandtogetherwithrefugees#.

The post soon attracted over 28,000 shares and 20,000 comments – many were negative about China’s role in solving the refugee crisis. The topic ‘Should China accept refugees?’ (中国要不要接收难民) eventually became one the week’s biggest topics on social media.

“Let the USA and Europe take in refugees, they started this war to begin with,” many said: “China will not take in refugees! We can give some money, but don’t come here!”

“Why should we pay our respects to people simply because they are refugees?”, one popular comment said: “How do we know if they are all virtuous people? Did they become terrific people because they became refugees? What kind of logic is this? What is the UNHRC teaching us?”

Hosting refugees is currently not a prominent issue on China’s current state agenda, and there is no national legislation for refugees in China. According to UN Refugee data, there were 317,923 “persons of concern” (refugees, asylum-seekers, stateless persons and others) in China in 2016 – a figure that is very small compared to the country’s native population.

Of this number 317,098 people are refugees from Vietnam – mostly ethnically Chinese. As for Syria, the data shows that China in 2016 had a mere 20 refugees from Syria and 35 Syrian asylum seekers. From Afghanistan, there were 20 asylum seekers. There were 102 refugees from Somalia and 5 from Iraq.

 

THREE VIEWS ON CHINA TAKING IN REFUGEES

“We didn’t have 30 years of One-Child Policy in order to let in other people now.”

 

The overall negative view on social media about China accepting refugees generally has three different perspectives.

Firstly, people on Weibo refer to the situation in Europe and say that taking in refugees will negatively impact a country’s society. They want to protect a stable Chinese society.

“We would not be so hateful [about refugees] if they were more well-behaved and had better morals. What became of Germany because of the refugees? They have led in wolves in sheep’s clothes. It’s not easy to create a stable Chinese society and we must treasure and protect it,” one netizen says.

They also say that China already has enough domestic issues with migrants and poverty.

Second, many refer to China’s One-Child Policy, that lasted from the late 1970s to 2015. The policy was implemented to reduce the growth rate of China’s population. If China would now take in large numbers of refugees, many say, then why could Chinese families not have more than one child for over three decades?

As one person writes: “China shouldn’t just let in refugees. We didn’t have 30 years of family planning [one-child policy] in order to let in other people now.”

A third perspective behind the negative comments on refugees coming to China is people’s anti-Islam stance.

“Many netizens have this logic,” one US-based Weibo female netizen writes: “Refugee = Middle Eastern refugee = Islam = Terrorism.”

“We’re not really against taking in refugees,” one man from Shanghai writes: “We’re against taking in islamic refugees.”

 

MOST WELCOMING TO REFUGEES?

“Your core mission should be to tell the world how China maintains peace.”

 

Many netizens turned their negative comments against Yao Chen. “Yao Chen should take in some refugee children herself and raise them together with her daughter. Does she dare?”, some said. Many blamed Yao Chen for standing up for international refugees while China has “enough issues” to deal with already.

“Yao Chen, as the Chinese UNHCR goodwill ambassador, your core mission should be to tell the world how China maintains peace, and how it contributes to taking in neighboring refugees,” others say.

One year ago, the issue of China taking in refugees also became a trending topic when Amnesty International published a global survey that ranked Chinese, German and British people as “most welcoming to refugees” among the 27 countries surveyed. Russia ranked as ‘least welcoming’ in the so-called ‘refugees welcome index.’

The survey triggered controversy on Weibo, where many people questioned how representative it was (also see our 2016 video about this topic).

The wave of criticism on Weibo shows that most netizens do not share the ‘refugees welcome’ sentiments portrayed in Amnesty’s survey.

“China shouldn’t receive ‘green’ [Muslim] refugees, we must refuse. We haven’t even sorted out our own problems with Chinese Muslims. I must ask: Why do Syrian and other war refugees do not go to Saudi Arabia and their other rich neighbours? That’s simply the best place for them to adapt seamlessly. But instead they do everything in their power to go to Europe, not Eastern Europe, but to Western Europe where the welfare and economy is good,” one netizen named Alex writes.

An editorial by Global Times editor Hu Xijin (胡锡进) of June 22 questions what all the fuss is about on Weibo: “Refugees from the Middle East don’t even want to come to China. Why should we worry about whether or not China should take in refugees?”

Although it is unlikely that China will take in large numbers of refugees from Africa or the Middle East in the near future, the government does play an active role in refugee aid by donating money to refugee camps and humanitarian assistance.

By Manya Koetse

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, Sino-Japanese relations and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

China Media

Jiang Ge Tokyo Murder Case: Chen Shifeng Sentenced to 20 Years in Prison

More than a year after the fatal stabbing, the main suspect in the much talked about Jiang Ge case has been sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Tokyo judge.

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The main suspect in one of China’s most talked-about crime cases of 2017 has been found guilty of murdering Chinese student Jiang Ge, and was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Tokyo on Wednesday. It was not the death penalty that the victim’s mother had hoped for.

The Chinese exchange student Chen Shifeng, who was the main suspect in the controversial Jiang Ge murder case, was sentenced to 20 years in prison by a Tokyo judge on Wednesday.

Chen was found guilty of intentionally killing Jiang Ge, who was also a student in Japan. Chinese media report that Chen fainted when the judge ruled the verdict.

Chen was sentenced to 20 years in prison.

The Tokyo murder has become a frequent trending topic on Chinese social media over the past year, as the victim’s mother turned to netizens for help earlier this year.

A ‘Public Drama’

In November 2016, the 24-year-old Chinese student Jiang Ge (江歌) was fatally stabbed outside her apartment in Tokyo by Chen Shifeng (陈世峰), the ex-boyfriend of her roommate and close friend Liu Xin (刘鑫), who was also studying in Japan.

According to media reports, an altercation had occurred earlier that day between Chen and the two young women. When Liu and Jiang arrived back to their apartment later that night, Liu entered the apartment first while Jiang, still outside the apartment, was attacked by Chen with a knife.

Jiang Ge and the apartment hallway where she was fatally stabbed.

The case became a ‘public drama’ for the role of Liu, who said she had heard her friend’s cries in the hallway but could not open the door because it “was blocked.” She called the police, but when they arrived at the scene it was already too late.

Victim’s mother Jiang Qiulian (@江秋莲) later blamed Liu for purposely not helping her friend, never contacting the family after her daughter’s murder, and for not even sending her condolences.

Jiang Qiulian spent weeks collecting signatures on the streets of Tokyo for an online petition that called for the death penalty for Chen, and received much support from Chinese netizens.

The Verdict

On Wednesday, the long-awaited verdict finally came out. Chen Shifeng was not given the death penalty, but was sentenced to 20 years in prison for murdering Jiang Ge.

The knife used in the stabbing played an important role in the trial. Chen claimed that it was not his intention to stab Jiang, but that the knife was given to Jiang by Liu through the door for her own protection.

But police researchers pointed out that the same kind of knife used in the stabbing was missing from the school lab where Chen studied, which was bought by his professor. The judge eventually ruled that there was enough evidence that the knife was Chen’s.

On Weibo, many people are discussing the outcome of the trial, saying that 20 years in prison is not enough for taking someone’s life. “He’ll only be 40-something when he gets out – it’s not enough,” some say.

But there are also people who praise the Japanese juridical system, and say that the ruling is fair. “I support them for getting out the facts and exposing Chen Shifeng as a liar and a murderer.”

– By Manya Koetse

With contributions from Miranda Barnes.

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

©2017 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

These 36 Chinese Naval Officers Have Tied the Knot in a Group Wedding

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The collective warship wedding of 36 naval officers of the East China Sea Fleet has drawn the attention of Chinese netizens. Besides a romantic event, the wedding spectacle is also a propaganda opportunity to stress the importance of the Chinese Dream and building a powerful military.

Recently, 36 commanders of the East China Sea Fleet who had been postponing their marriages due to military tasks held a collective wedding on a warship in Zhoushang, Zhejiang.

The Chinese official military news outlet military.cnr.cn reported the remarkable wedding event earlier this month.

Besides a festive event, the collective wedding was also a media spectacle propagating the importance of China’s national defense in accordance with the speech delivered by President Xi Jinping during the 19th National Party Congress.

In this 3,5 hours speech, one segment focused specifically on the Chinese Dream and building a powerful military:

Comrades,

Our military is the people’s military, and our national defense is the responsibility of every one of us. We must raise public awareness about the importance of national defense and strengthen unity between the government and the military and between the people and the military. Let us work together to create a mighty force for realizing the Chinese Dream and the dream of building a powerful military.”

On Weibo, many commenters praise the collective wedding. “Why doesn’t my work unit organize such a group wedding?” one person wants to know.

“I also want to marry a naval officer!,” multiple netizens write.

– By Manya Koetse

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

©2017 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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What’s on Weibo provides social, cultural & historical insights into an ever-changing China. What’s on Weibo sheds light on China’s digital media landscape and brings the story behind the hashtag. This independent news site is managed by sinologist Manya Koetse. Contact info@whatsonweibo.com. ©2014-2017

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