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“Witness to China’s Diplomatic History” – Netizens Commemorate Diplomat Wu Jianmin

Chinese diplomat Wu Jianming was killed in a car accident on June 18, at the age of 77. Although Wu has been criticized to be a “dove diplomat”, netizens generally remember him as a sincere and truthful man. His death is widely commemorated on Chinese social media.

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Chinese diplomat Wu Jianming was killed in a car accident on June 18, at the age of 77. Although Wu has been criticized to be a “dove diplomat”, netizens generally remember him as a sincere and truthful man. His death is widely commemorated on Chinese social media.

Wu Jianmin (吴建民) was a prominent Chinese diplomat in China. He was trained in French language and literature in Beijing Foreign Studies University, and has since then played an important role in Chinese diplomacy.

During the 1971-1977 period, Wu was one of the first Chinese diplomats residing in the United Nations. He worked at the Chinese Embassy in Belgium, and was ambassador to the Netherlands and France. He was the first Asian president to the International Exhibition Bureau.

Wu was killed in a car accident on his way back home from the airport in Wuhan. The accident was believed to have been caused by driver fatigue. Wu was scheduled to have a meeting the next day for the publication of China’s Peaceful Development White Paper 2016.

Wu’s Diplomatic Ideas

As a diplomat, Wu was an advocate of China’s non-conflictual interaction with the world. Acknowledging that the world’s knowledge of China is asymmetric to China’s knowledge of the world, Wu believes that the proper manner to increase mutual understanding lies in sincere communication. China should also stick to its ancient philosophy of harmony and peace.

A list of Wu’s quotations by People’s Daily provides a brief look into Wu’s diplomatic thoughts:

  • “We should not jump with rage at foreign criticism.”
  • “There should be no calculation of petit interests in foreign aid. If one wants something, one needs to offer first.”
  • “From 5m dollars to 550 billion, how could this be possible without mutual trust between China and America?”
  • “The world today runs no longer on ‘jungle rule'”
  • text

    His Death is a Loss to the Country

    Wu was particularly anxious about the rise of nationalism combined with popularism in China. He believed both trends to be deceptive, as they could potentially lead China and its people back to an inward looking, self-centered worldview – a perspective that would not benefit China’s role in the international society.

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    Wu’s take on China’s role in the world was also why some criticized him. Some deemed him a “dove diplomat” with a naive believe in peace and too soft to stand up to the world. Wu himself reacted to such criticism by stating that those who view global politics as dangerous and confrontational no longer understand the world today. This view has brought Wu to the centre of the national debate on China’s diplomatic strategies.

    Although not everybody agreed with his views, most netizens see Wu as a truth-speaking diplomat. Many lit candles for the deceased diplomat under the Sina Weibo topic “Wu Jianmin Killed in Car Accident” (#吴建民车祸去世).

    “Mr. Wu was a witness of Chinese diplomatic history. He had a rational and distinct view of the world. He was an excellent diplomat and his death is a loss to the country”, writes one netizen.

    wujian

    Some netizens show sympathy with Wu’s diplomatic ideas and worry that China’s future foreign policy will become less peaceful: “Does the death of Ambassador Wu suggest the end of a diplomatic époque? Must the national discourse be diverted to international fractures in a time of economic pressure? Now many are propagating war on line. This is not a good phenomenon.”

    Netizens Show Concern over China’s Diplomacy

    This is not the first time Chinese netizens express concerns over China’s diplomatic strategy. Last month, Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi sharply berated a journalist during a state visit in Canada.

    When the journalist questioned why Canada pursued closer ties with China despite the PRC’s human rights situation, Wang Yi interrupted and criticized the journalism for being too prejudiced: ““I have to say that your question is full of prejudice against China and arrogance … I don’t know where that comes from. This is totally unacceptable,” he said. He also stated that only Chinese can comment on its human rights situations.

    Wang Yi’s reaction triggered much discussion on Chinese social media. While some felt proud that Wang spoke out against foreign criticism, there were also those who did not agree with the manner in which he did this. A video clip of Saudi Arabia Minister of Foreign Affairs Adel Al Jubeir was widely shared as a contrasting example to Wang Yi. Al Jueir, when confronted with a journalist’s statement that Islam and terrorism cannot be separated, answered with grace and reason.

    “A man is a true man not because he persists he’s right even when he knows he is wrong”, says one netizen, “he is a true man because he has the courage to own up to his mistakes. Look at our foreign minister. Patriotism is horrible; it can deprive a nation of its sense of right and wrong”.

    Many Chinese netizens are increasingly concerned about China’s diplomacy in the world today. Their stance is different from the public sentiment that was reported on some years ago when China’s Foreign Ministry claimed they were under pressure of the public and frequently received packages of “calcium tablets”, allegedly intended to “strengthen their spine against foreign pressures” (Shambaugh 2013, chapt 3).

    Although many Chinese might have believed the diplomatic strategy of their country was far too soft, the foreign minister declared in 2014 that they’ve been receiving far less packages of calcium tablets.

    The growing online discussions and lessening calcium deliveries might be an indication that China’s public opinion is slowly changing into questioning a too assertive tone in China’s foreign affairs.

    – By Diandian Guo 

    Shambaugh, David. 2013. “Chapter 3: China’s Diplomatic Pressure”, in China Goes Global: The Partial Power. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press (Google Books).

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

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    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

    Exchange Student to Be Deported from China for Harassing Young Woman at University

    An exchange student studying at the Hebei University of Engineering has been expelled and will soon be deported after harassing a female student.

    Manya Koetse

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    An exchange student from Pakistan who was studying at the Hebei University of Engineering (河北工程大学) has been expelled and detained after harassing a female student at the same university.

    The incident, that is attracting much attention on Chinese social media this week, adds to the wave of recent controversies over the behavior and status of overseas students in mainland China.

    On July 31, a female student at the Hebei university filed a police report against a Pakistani student who allegedly harassed her and attempted to forcefully kiss her and touch her breasts.

    Screenshots of a supposed WeChat conversation between the exchange student and the female student, in which the man apologizes and claims the interaction is a “requirement for friendship,” are being shared on social media.

    According to various reports, the police initially tried to mediate between the two students, which the female student refused.

    Together with the school principal, the police then further investigated the case and found ample evidence of harassment after examining the university’s surveillance system.

    On August 1st, the Hebei University of Engineering announced that they had expelled the student and that he will be deported from China. The announcement received more than 14,000 reactions and 150,000 ‘likes’ on Weibo.

    The student is now detained at the local Public Security Bureau and is awaiting his deportation.

    A photo of two officers together with a man in front of the detention center in Handan is circulating on social media in relation to this incident.

    At time of writing, the hashtag page “Exchange Student to Be Deported after Molesting Female Student” (#留学生猥亵女学生将被遣送出境#) has been viewed over 310 million times on Weibo.

    Among thousands of reactions, there are many who praise the Hebei university for supporting the female student after she reported the exchange student to the police.

    “This may not be the best university, but at least they stand behind their students!”, some say, with others calling the university “awesome.”

    Many say that the Hebei university should serve as an example for other Chinese universities to follow, with Shandong University being specifically mentioned by Weibo users.

    Shandong University was widely criticized earlier this summer for its “buddy exchange program,” which was accused of being a way to arrange Chinese “girlfriends” for male foreign students.

    Another incident that is mentioned in relation to this trending story is that of an exchange student who displayed aggressive behavior towards a Chinese police officer in July of this year. The student was not punished for his actions, which sparked anger on Chinese social media.

    By Manya Koetse

    Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

    ©2019 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

    “Bolt from the Blue”: Mainland Tourists Can No Longer Independently Travel to Taiwan

    Chinese tourists who were planning a solo trip to Taiwan are out of luck.

    Manya Koetse

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    Starting from August 1st, 2019, mainland residents can no longer individually travel to Taiwan for tourism purposes, and can only visit the island with a pre-approved travel group until further notice. The news has become top trending on Chinese social media.

    After Chinese authorities announced on July 31st that China will stop issuing individual travel permits for mainland residents visiting Taiwan, the topic became one of the most-discussed topics on social media this week.

    China’s Ministry of Culture and Tourism stated on its website that independent travel to Taiwan will be suspended from August 1st “in view of the current cross-strait situation.”

    The brief statement announcing the ban.

    State media outlet Global Times writes that the individual travel suspension is a result of “repeated provocative actions by the Tsai Ing-wen administration and secessionist forces on the island.”

    Taipei Times explained the move as “another attempt to isolate Taiwan in the hope of spoiling President Tsai Ing-wen’s re-election chances.” Taiwan will hold its presidential elections in January 2020.

    On Wednesday night local time, hashtags relating to the individual travel ban had gathered millions of views and comments on Sina Weibo.

     

    ROC Restrictions for Mainland Travelers

     

    Tourists from mainland China face restrictions when traveling to Taiwan, Republic of China (ROC), and must hold a travel permit to visit.

    In July of 2008, PRC passport holders were first legally allowed to visit Taiwan for tourism purposes, but only if they joined a pre-approved group tour organized by a selected travel agency.

    In 2011, these rules were relaxed after Taiwanese and mainland authorities agreed on a trial to allow mainland residents visiting Taiwan as individual tourists.

    Under the terms of that ‘trial,’ mainland residents from 47 cities could apply for individual entry permits to Taiwan. These cities included places such as Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, Harbin, Xiamen, and others.

    With Wednesday’s statement, that program is currently put on hold. According to Focus Taiwan, this is the first time Beijing authorities have banned individual travelers from visiting Taiwan since June 2011.

    Mainland tourists who want to visit Taiwan will now have to go back to joining tour groups again.

    The Taiwanese tourism industry relies heavily on Chinese tourists. In 2015, the year before Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen was elected, 4.2 million mainlanders visited the island, making up 40 percent of all tourists.

     

    “A Bolt From the Blue”

     

    On Weibo, the “Taiwan Individual Travel” account, an information channel for tourists, called the ban “a bolt from the blue” and said that it is unclear how long the restrictions will last: “We just hope that it is temporary.”

    The post received over 11,500 comments from netizens, many of whom are confused about the ban and concerned on how it will affect their personal travel plans.

    “I already received my permit, can I still go?” many wondered.

    According to the China International Travel Service, mainland travelers with permits issued before August 1st can still go on their planned individual trips.

    In a Weibo poll answered by more than 210,000 social media users, state media outlet China Daily asked people if they would still consider visiting Taiwan after the restrictions on individual travel permits.

    The China Daily poll.

    While more than 10 percent indicated they would be willing to join a tour group and still visit, a staggering 89,5 percent indicated they preferred free traveling and would not go at all.

    “I will go once [the mainland and Taiwan are] unified,” some popular comments said.

    Discussions over the ongoing Taiwan Strait Issue often flare up on Chinese social media. In August of 2018 for example, Taipei-born actress Vivian Sung ignited a storm of criticism on Weibo for a comment she made about Taiwan being her “favorite country.”

    Last November, Taipei’s Golden Horse Film Festival was overclouded by controversy due to a speech about Taiwan independence (read here). Chinese state media responded to the issue by promoting the hashtags “China Can’t Become Smaller” and “Not Even a Bit Can Be Removed from China” (#中国一点都不能少#).

    “Not Even a Bit Can Be Removed from China” propaganda images spread by People’s Daily.

    Earlier this year, many Chinese netizens were furious to discover that the super popular Taiwanese online game Devotion contained secret insults toward President Xi Jinping.

    Although big discussions on the current Taiwan travel ban are filtered on Chinese social media, there are still some smaller threads where Weibo users are speculating about the reasons behind the move.

    Some blame Taiwan leader Tsai Ing-wen, and see the latest travel measures as a way for Beijing to economically impact the island’s tourism industry to influence upcoming elections.

    Others argue that the current ban is more of a “protective measure,” to make sure Chinese travelers who individually roam Taiwan will not be influenced by its election campaigns and media.

    Then there are also those who think the entire issue is all about the ongoing Hong Kong protests.

    Responses are overall very mixed. Although there are netizens supporting the solo travel ban, there are also those who think the measure will have an ‘opposite effect’ of that desired.

    Although Weibo is mostly popular in mainland China, the social media platform is also used by Taiwanese netizens.

    “I heard many of our Taiwanese online friends are happy to hear the news [about the travel restrictions]. Finally, this is something that cross-strait netizens can agree on!” one popular Beijing blogger (@地瓜熊老六) writes, sharing an online meme that shows Taiwanese scenery with the line ‘Welcome to Taiwan, without Chinese.’

    Still, there are also many Weibo users who want to visit Taiwan by themselves and are just concerned about the practicalities: “So, when do you think I will be able to visit again?”

    “I was just preparing to go and visit Taiwan,” one commenter writes, posting a crying emoji: “Nevertheless, I will still support China in this.”

    By Manya Koetse , with contributions from Miranda Barnes

    Featured image: Photo by Vernon Raineil Cenzon

    Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. Please note that your comment below will need to be manually approved if you’re a first-time poster here.

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

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