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CNN Question “What Do You Think Is the Main Reason Behind the US Campaign against Huawei?” Goes Trending on Weibo

The fact that the majority of participants in a CNN poll on the Huawei case labels the issue as being “politically motivated” has become top trending on Weibo today.

Manya Koetse

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The Huawei case is an ongoing topic of discussion on Chinese social media. This time, a poll held by CNN is top trending on Weibo: the majority of those participating said the US campaign against Huawei is all about politics.

Trending on Weibo today is a segment of CNN’s Quest Means Business, in which news anchor Richard Quest asked the CNN audience “What do you think is the main reason behind the US campaign against Huawei?”

The news item focused on a recent BBC interview with Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei (任正非), who stated that the arrest of Huawei’s chief financial officer Meng Wanzhou (孟晚舟) – the founder’s own daughter – is politically motivated.

In January of this year, the US Justice Department officially filed charges against Chinese smartphone maker Huawei for allegedly stealing trade secrets from T-Mobile.

Among many other things, US prosecutors allege that Huawei launched a formal policy in which bonuses were offered to employees who succeeded in stealing confidential information from competitors.

The Department also filed criminal charges against Meng Wanzhou, who was detained in Canada on December 1st of 2018 during transit at the Vancouver airport at the request of United States officials. She is now out on bail in Canada.

The Huawei case has triggered worldwide discussions on the security risks posed by Huawei’s equipment and mobile networks, with authorities in various countries reassessing Huawei’s role in 5G networks.

Huawei founder Ren Zhengfei told BBC that “there’s no way the US can crush us.” He also said: “The world cannot leave us because we are more advanced. Even if they persuade more countries not to use us temporarily, we can always scale things down a bit.”

 

ALL ABOUT POLITICS?

“Your viewers are just as smart as we thought they were”

 

Quest invited the audience to reply to the question “What do you think is the main reason behind the US campaign against Huawei?” Via CNN.com/join, viewers could choose between the options “security,” “politics,” “business,” and “something else.”

The anchor explained the answers to the question as follows: “Is it security, as Donald Trump and the administration claims? Is it politics? Does it have something to do with protecting American business? Or something entirely different?” He later added: “So security concerns? Or politics? In other words: the US just wants to bash China? Or business – the US wants to protect US cooperations?”

As the answers to the question came in, the “politics” box immediately filled up to 100%, with the presenter, seemingly surprised, saying: “So far, 100% of you are saying it is politics!”

The news anchor then briefly spoke with business & technology correspondent Samuel Burke, who stated that if Ren Zhengfei would vote in CNN’s poll, he would definitely pick “politics.”

Burke also stated that the US campaign against Huawei might be a mix of all aforementioned motives and that “the lines were completely blurred” after US President Trump stated he might use Meng Wanzhou “as leverage in the negotiations with the Chinese.” Trump’s statements on using the arrest of the Huawei CFO as a “bargaining chip” were already made in December of last year.

Answering the anchor’s question on whether there was a “legitimate risk,” Burke responded: “There’s always going to be a risk, but you could also argue that there is a risk from American equipment.” He later added: “There’s always risk, it’s just about figuring out how big that risk is.”

When the poll then came to a 58% majority of viewers choosing “politics” as the main motive behind the Huawei campaign, Burke noted that “your viewers are just as smart as we thought they were,” motivating this comment by arguing that the US has no natural companies to take the spot of Huawei, so that protectionism of American companies is definitely not a reason behind the campaign.

 

“SMART VIEWERS”

“Anyone could see this is politically motivated”

 

On Weibo, the hashtag “Even CNN anchors say their viewers are really smart” (#连CNN的主播都说观众真聪明#) came up with 8.5 million 9,8 million views today, ending up in the top 10 trending topics on Weibo. The topic was also promoted by various state media such as Global Times (环球时报).

Many commenters were surprised with the fact that CNN, or its viewers, would ‘side with’ China in this matter: “They even know it themselves!”, some wrote.

“How nice that America has freedom of speech,” some netizens noted, while others said: “Foreigners like to critique their own governments, and the media is one method to attack their authorities.”

“Of course it is political: America thinks that Huawei and the government cannot be separated.”

“This poll is to be trusted,” the commenter in the screenshot below said: “This is definitely politically motivated.”

“Actually, it is so clear, that anyone could see this is politically motivated,” economy expert Yu Fenghui (余丰慧) wrote on Weibo: “Ren Zhengfei’s daughter was framed by America, yet he won’t yield and lets his strong voice be heard. I really admire that.”

But there are also some commenters who say that the fact that CNN suddenly seems so “friendly” towards China has nothing to do with China per se, but more so with the fact that it is Trump who is opposing China in this matter (literally: ” CNN has always been unfriendly to China. Is this now because Trump is standing opposite China?”).

There are also dozens of Weibo users who, besides rejoicing in the fact that viewers seem to ‘support’ China, also praise the American TV programme, writing: “This programme is quite daring, and the American people are reasonable. We could never have such an objective programme in China.”

“They have no Great Firewall; if they want to understand an issue they can just look it up.”

For now, Meng Wanzhou is still out on bail in Canada, reportedly staying at a family residence in Vancouver. In time to come, Canadian courts are expected to hear arguments to decide whether to comply with the US extradition request for Meng to stand trial in the US federal court.

Watch the CNN video here.

By Manya Koetse

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

©2019 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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2 Comments

2 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Joseph DUrso

    February 23, 2019 at 5:10 pm

    An effort on the part of the anti-China mafia to poison negotiations on a US-China trade agreement.

  2. Avatar

    Michael Stewart

    February 27, 2019 at 2:12 am

    Meng will never get a fair trial in the USA. This is a case which is politically motivated. The USA is hoping to make China lose face and possibly steal Huawei’s trade secrets. Meng should simply leave Canada and Chinese should avoid traveling to western nations as they might be kidhapped like Meng was. The USA sanctions on Iran are wrong anyway so I will proudly buy Huawei phones knowing that I am both supporting the Chinese Communist Party and Ayatollah Khameini

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China Media

Iran “Unintentionally” Shot Down Ukrainian Airlines Flight 752

Despite the overall condemnation of Iran, there are also many pointing the fingers at the US, writing: “It’s all because of America.”

Manya Koetse

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Shortly after Iran’s military announced on Saturday that it shot down Ukrainian Airlines flight 752 on Wednesday, killing all 176 passengers on board, the topic has become the number one trending hashtag on Chinese social media platform Weibo.

In a statement by the military, Iran admitted that the Boeing 737 was flying “close to a sensitive military site” when it was “mistaken for a threat” and taken down with two missiles.

Among the passengers were 82 Iranians, 63 Canadians, 11 Ukrainians, 10 Swedes, four Afghans, three Germans, and three British nationals.

Earlier this week, Iranian authorities denied that the crash of the Ukrainian jetliner in Tehran was caused by an Iranian missile.

The conflict between US and Iran has been a much-discussed topic on Chinese social media, also because the embassies of both countries have been openly fighting about the issue on Weibo.

Although many Chinese netizens seemed to enjoy the political spectacle on Weibo over the past few days, with anti-American sentiments flaring up and memes making their rounds, today’s news about the Iranian role in the Ukrainian passenger plane crash is condemned by thousands of commenters.

“Iran is shameless!”, one popular comment says. “This is the outcome of a battle between two terrorists!”

“Regular people are paying the price for these political games,” others write: “So many lives lost, this is the terror of war.”

The Iranian Embassy in China also posted a translated statement by President Hassan Rouhani on its Weibo account, saying the missiles were fired “due to human error.”

Despite the overall condemnation, there are also many commenters pointing the fingers at the US, writing: “It’s all because of America.”

Meanwhile, the American Embassy has not published anything about the issue on its Weibo account at time of writing.

The hashtag “Iran Admits to Unintentionally Shooting Down Ukrainian Plane” (#伊朗承认意外击落乌克兰客机#) gathered over 420 million views on Weibo by Saturday afternoon, Beijing time.

Chinese state media outlet CCTV has shared an infographic about the US-Iran conflict and the passenger jet news, writing they hope that these “flames of war” will never happen again.

By Manya Koetse
Follow @whatsonweibo

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.

©2020 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

The Weibo Battlefield in the US-Iran Conflict: Iranian and American Embassies ‘Argue’ on Chinese Social Media

The US-Iran conflict has extended to Weibo, where Chinese netizens watch the online ‘battle’ unfold.

Manya Koetse

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“Don’t know if you all have discovered it yet, but the Iranian Embassy in China and the American Embassy in China have started to fight on Weibo,” prominent Chinese media outlet 21st Century Business Herald (21世纪经济报道) writes on Weibo on January 10th.

The Iranian and American embassies have been all the talk on Chinese social media this week. While US-Iran tensions are dominating international media headlines, the embassies of Iran and US have been taking their conflict to the Chinese social media platform.

Ever since January 3rd, when the head of Iran’s Quds Force Qasem Soleimani was killed by a US airstrike in Iraq, the Beijing embassies of both the USA and Iran have engaged in an online argument over the conflict between their two countries.

The Iranian Embassy (@伊朗驻华大使馆), that has 254670 followers on its Weibo account, condemned the assassination of Soleimani on January 3rd by reposting and translating a Twitter post by Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif, calling it a “dangerous and foolish” act of “international terrorism.”

That post received over 23,000 likes and thousands of comments, with many of them showing support for Iran.

The US Embassy Weibo account (@美国驻华大使馆), that has over 2,5 million followers, also posted a response to the attack on January 4 by translating several quotes by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo asserting that the decision to kill Soleimani was the right one and that it made the world a safer place.

Although many of the thousands of netizens responding to the American Embassy’s post praised the attack, there was also a lot of criticism.

“The terrorist group ‘USA’ has claimed responsibility for this act of terrorism,” one popular comment said, with others also pointing the finger at the American government for behaving as ‘terrorists.’

With the deepening of the US-Iran crisis after the Iranian military launched missiles against US bases in Iraq earlier this week, the Weibo posts and comments just keep coming in.

On January 8, the Iranian Embassy wrote that the “end of malign US presence in West Asia has begun,” a sentence also posted on Twitter by Foreign Minister Javad Zarif.

In between some light-footed Weibo posts about the Golden Globes, the American Embassy published various Weibo posts explaining its stance on the situation. One post of January 7 detailed the “bloody history” of Qassem Soleimani, writing about him as a terrorist and evil man who killed hundreds of people.

The online ‘battle’ between Iran and the US has led to various hashtags, such as “The Weibo Fight of the Iranian and US Embassy of China” (#美伊驻华大使馆微博互斗#), a topic that is receiving a lot of attention on Chinese social media.

The official accounts of two foreign powers’ embassies, discussing their conflict on a Chinese social media platform, in Chinese; it’s not common, and Chinese netizens talk about it while Chinese media write about it.

One sentence* has been reposted dozens of times by Weibo users over the past days: “Here’s the world’s largest imperialist country and the world’s largest theocratic republic, on a social media platform of the world’s largest socialist nation, using Standard Chinese to engage in a fierce diplomatic fight.”

“And we’re all watching and eating popcorn,” one commenter added [literal expression used is “Chī guā qúnzhòng” (吃瓜群众), online expression for “watermelon eating masses,” meaning clueless bystanders watching the situation unfold].

The Weibo battleground has seemingly also turned into a way for the embassies to win the favor of the Chinese public; the Iranian Embassy, for example, published a post on its Weibo account that invites Chinese tourists to visit Iran during the Spring Festival and pinned it to its main page to attract the attention of readers amidst the recent online upheaval.

The online presence of the US-Iran conflict shows the importance of ‘Weibo diplomacy,’ also known as ‘Weiplomacy.’ A large number of foreign embassies in China have a presence on Sina Weibo to engage with local audiences. It is a low-cost, convenient, and seemingly effective tool to promote their countries, political goals, and inform people about their latest activities.

Over the past week, it seems that the majority of Chinese netizens have sided with Iran and condemned the US. This public sentiment, however, might have more to do with the prevailing anti-American sentiments over the past year than a general pro-Iranian stance.

In a 2016 overview of most popular foreign embassies on Weibo, the US embassy scored a number three position with its 1+ million followers, while the Iranian account only came in at number 39 with a mere 6000+ fans on its account.

Although it is unusual for foreign embassies to use Weibo as an online battleground for their offline conflicts, it is not the first time it has happened. In 2014, What’s on Weibo reported how the Beijing embassies of Russia and Poland also argued on Weibo during the aftermath of MH17 crash.

This time around, some netizens conclude that the only one to really ‘win’ in online conflicts such as these is the Weibo platform itself. As the Weibo posts keep going, the ‘melon eating masses’ keep coming. “The Sina Weibo company must be secretly laughing at this ordeal,” one person writes.

By Manya Koetse, with contributions from Miranda Barnes
Follow @whatsonweibo

* Chinese sentence: “世界上最大的帝国主义国家,跟世界上最大的政教合一的神权共和国,在世界上最大的社会主义国家的网络平台上,使用标准的汉语进行激烈的外交缠斗”

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.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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