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“Paris is a Battlefield” – Weibo Responses to Paris Attacks (updated)

The Paris attacks on Friday 13/11, that have killed at least 40, have become trending topics all over the world. On China’s Sina Weibo, netizens are responding with shock to the shootings in France.

Manya Koetse

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The horrific Paris attacks on Friday 13/11 have become a trending topic all over the world. On China’s Sina Weibo, netizens are responding with shock to the stunning wave of violence in the capital of France. The topic is also drawing criticism from Chinese bloggers for the way Europe is handling terrorism.

The hashtags “Paris Shootings” ( #巴黎枪击#) and “Paris Terrorist Attack” (#巴黎恐怖袭击#) are trending on Weibo. As news of the horrific events in the capital of France widely spread on social media in Europe around ten o’clock on Friday evening, it was also quickly picked up by Chinese media and netizens during the early hours of Saturday morning. Like on other social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook or Reddit, netizens on Sina Weibo are also posting the latest news on the Paris situation.

Many users are posting images in support of Paris or emoticons of candles, with many saying they are “praying for Paris”.

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According to latest news reports, there are at least 39 dead in separate shootings and explosions around central Paris and an estimated 100 dead in the concert venue Bataclan (巴塔克兰), where people were held hostage for hours. There is a total of at least 128 people killed and 180 people injured.

According to eyewitnesses, the two men who opened fire at Bataclan had shouted “Allah Akhbar” before entering the building. A state of emergency has been declared across France, and its borders were closed.

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“You cannot go to Europe now. France is in chaos.”

 

Sina Weibo sent out news alerts on the Paris attacks to its mobile users. “Waking up early in the morning with the news of Paris terror attacks, leaving at least 40 innocent people dead, I realize how fickle life is,” one Weibo user says. “Paris won’t sleep tonight,” one female user says.

There are also people who go online with the question if any of the victims are from China. “I heard there were Chinese nationals in the concert venue,” a netizen named Tea77 says. Others also worry for their safety if traveling to Europe: “I won’t go to Europe anymore,” one user says: “It’s too scary.” He is not the only one. Another user named Qiqi says: “You cannot go to Europe now. France is in chaos, and with the wave of refugees in Germany..”

“Again, a meticulously planned shooting – Paris has changed into a battlefield,” one netizen says. A woman named Autumnnan says: “It’s hard to believe that a massacre like this can happen in 2015 Paris.”

 

“The Islamic belief has an inherent problem, and it needs to undergo a change.”

 

On Saturday, within half a day after the terrible attacks, another topic goes trending: “Interpreting the Paris attacks” (#解读巴黎恐怖袭击#), questioning the motives behind the killings in Paris.

Opinion leader/researcher Hu Yanglin (244667 followers) writes: “Terrorists have no humanity, and must be severely condemned and punished. But, no matter if it’s France or another country, we have to reflect on religion and some extremist religious ideas. Everyone condemns it, but you cannot discriminate the whole religion (..). Freedom and equality is a basic human right, and not just the right of some social group. As for countries, they have to respect the sovereignty of other countries, and cannot destroy others for personal gain”.

One netizen named ‘Spectator 45448’ responds: “In Europe, pacificism prevails. There is no principle to oppose war and battle Muslim terrorism, and they have tolerated the spread of Muslims in France. I believe France has to revise its policies, and has to strongly control the dissemination of violent Muslim religion.”

“There should be no religion in this world, let alone Islam,” another netizen says: “A couple of hundred years ago, you would be hanged and burned by some religious groups if you said the world is round. Religion makes ignorant people more stupid, and it makes heinous people more evil. We can only progress if people stop believing in religion.”

Many people on Weibo are talking about the subject of religious extremism and Islam. A Weibo user named Zuojia Beifeng says: “The Islamic belief has an inherent problem, and it needs to undergo a change, like Christianity did in Europe after the Middle Ages. If not, Arabic society will not progress.”

 

“Europe and America have done wrong themselves! The invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq has triggered terrorism from Muslim countries.”

 

On Saturday ‘isis’ was the number one searched keyword on Sina Weibo. The CCTV news on the Paris attacks was shared 45000 times, attracting countless of comments from China’s netizens. While the majority of Weibo comments right after the events in Paris mostly were those sending sympathy to the people of France, there are also many comments on Saturday expressing anti-Western sentiments.

“If something like this happens in Europe or America, it’s called terrorism and needs to be condemned. But if it happens in Russia or China, they call it ‘rebellion’ or ‘uprising’, it’s a double standard,” one person writes.

Another popular comment (liked 3100 times) by a blogger says: “Europe and America have done wrong themselves! The invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq has triggered terrorism from Muslim countries. And now they’re destroying Syria, making the refugees flow into Europe. And yet they keep on sending troops, making the situation in Syria worse. Together with America, they bring about more terrorism, and Europe has to prepare to welcome more refugees, deepening the crisis.”

Other netizens also do not show much sympathy for France: “You act for yourself and suffer the consequences, why should we pray for you?” some say. Others respond that they will only pray for their fellow Chinese countrymen who are in Paris. “Why should we light candles for them?” one person says: “If China is in trouble, will they do that for us?”

There are also many who express their sympathies: “Be strong, Paris! These terrorists are crazy, otherwise they would not kill innocent people with their hail of bullets. We all want to live in peace. I just hope this will not happen again.”

The Embassy of France in Beijing has not yet responded to the attacks on its Weibo account.

By Manya Koetse

©2015 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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    Sigurd

    November 14, 2015 at 5:10 am

    The Gov must do something,not the candles or prayers.

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China Insight

Looking at Your Phone While Crossing the Road Will Now Cost You Money in Zhejiang

Pedestrians looking at their phones while crossing the road are getting a red light in Zhejiang.

Manya Koetse

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Zhejiang Province in eastern China has recently launched a new policy: pedestrians crossing the road while looking at their phone risk getting a 50 RMB ($7) fine.

The policy has been attracting the attention of netizens on Chinese social media, where the so-called “Bowed head clan” (dītóuzú 低头族) – a slang word for smartphone-addicted people – has been a recurring hot topic.

People paying more attention to their phone than watching traffic while crossing the road can lead to very dangerous situations. Some graphic videos making their rounds on Weibo today show security camera footage of people getting run over by cars while looking at their phone.

The majority of people responding to the hashtag “Should people be fined for looking down to their phone while crossing the road?” (#低头玩手机过马路该罚款吗#) agree that this kind of behaviour is a risk to traffic safety, but some wonder if a small fine would be effective in combating this problem.

Some cities in China have introduced sidewalks with a “phone lane” and “no phone lane” over previous years, with Chongqing being the first city to do so in 2014.

Mobile phone sidewalk in Chonqgqing. Source https://tech.qq.com

As of earlier this year, the Pedestrian Council of Australia is also looking to implement a law that makes it possible to fine pedestrians who cross the road while looking at their phones.

In Honolulu, the ‘distracted walking law’ already makes it illegal for people to be distracted by their cellphones while walking in a crosswalk.

“Fine them!”, some commenters on Weibo say: “And also fine those people using their phone while driving their electric bicycles!”

“I’m not sure about the fine,” another person says: “I only know I bumped into a tree today walking looking at my phone..”

For many commenters, however, the issue is a no-brainer: “Just don’t use your phone while crossing the road. Personal safety comes first.”

Also read: The ‘Bowed Head Clan’ (低头族): Mother Watches Phone While Son Drowns in Pool

By Manya Koetse, with contributions by Jialing Xie.

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

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China Arts & Entertainment

‘American Factory’ Sparks Debate on Weibo: Pro-China Views and Critical Perspectives

‘American Factory’ stirs online discussions in China.

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Award-winning documentary American Factory is not just sparking conversations in the English-language social media sphere. The film is also igniting discussions in the PRC, where pro-China views are trumpeted, while some critical perspectives are being censored.

By Anna Wang and Eduardo Baptista

Even as China posts its lowest industrial output growth since 2002, Weibo’s ongoing reaction to Netflix documentary American Factory is rife with declarations of the Chinese manufacturing sector’s impending victory over its US rival. This, however, is not the full story.

The first documentary distributed by Higher Ground Productions, owned by former US President and First Lady, Barack and Michelle Obama, American Factory painted a damning picture of Trump’s protectionist policies.

US manufacturing cannot keep up with the brute efficiency of its Chinese competitors. The story of a shuttering American factory revived by Chinese investment and an influx of Chinese workers, opening up a Pandora’s Box of cultural clashes, paints a telling, but pessimistic, picture of the current strategic conflict between the two superpowers, from the ground-up.

Image via Netflix.

Despite the Great Firewall, Chinese netizens found ways to watch the documentary, that was made by Ohio filmmakers Steve Bognar and Julia Reichert. Temporary links to streaming and subtitle services litter the Chinese Internet, making any accurate count of total mainland viewership nigh-impossible. However, one indication of the film’s popularity among mainlanders was the 259,000 views for a trailer posted on Bilibili.

One likely reason for netizens’ interest is that it neatly plays into Chinese state media rhetoric on the US-China trade war.

The inevitability of China’s rise up the global supply chain (and a corresponding decline on the US side) is a recurring theme in opinion pieces penned by the likes of Xinhua and Global Times, but also an increasingly louder cacophony of bloggers.

 

American Factory shows that the US will probably lose out to China in manufacturing.”

 

One Chinese company (Wind资讯) posted on Weibo that “what Obama means in this film, in a very oblique way, is that anti-globalization will produce a lose-lose scenario.”

The official Weibo account of Zhisland, a Chinese networking platform for entrepreneurs around the world (@正和岛标准) posted a review of the Netflix film titled: “Behind the Popularity of American Factory: Time Might Not Be on America’s Side” (“《美国工厂》走红背后:时间,或许真的不在美国那边了“).

It warns the audience right off the bat to “not assume that this film will promote cooperation between China and the United States. In contrast, it will surely stir up mixed feelings among both audiences.”

American Factory shows that the US will probably lose out to China in manufacturing,” Zhisland writes. The article argues that China will win out due to its lower labor costs, lack of trade unions, and more disciplined managerial styles. “It’s an uneven playing field,” the author continues: “Time may not be on America’s side.”

Toward the end, the author claims: “We are about to enter a new era in which China will gradually become the most dominant player in the global marketplace.”

The fact that many on Weibo shared these kinds of pieces as a reaction to the documentary suggests there is confirmation bias at work here. As is common on Weibo and other social media, comments on the pieces like the above simply rattle unsubstantiated claims, frequently descending into ad hominems.

Another Weibo user (@用户Mr.立早) adds comments when sharing the above article: “The American workers repeat Trump’s mantra, but won’t act on it. They’ve been idling for almost a century. They’re hopeless.”

 

“American Factory tells you: separate the US economy from China, and the US will go bankrupt.”

 

Chinese state media also chimed in on how American Factory proved their most important talking points on the ongoing US-China trade conflict.

Xinmin Evening News, an official newspaper run by the Communist Party’s Shanghai Committee, published an article by Wu Jian called “American Factory Tells You: Separate the US Economy from China, and the US Will Go Bankrupt” (“《美国工厂》告诉你:将美国经济从中国分离,美国会破产“).

In this piece, Jian claims that “in the age of globalization, ties between China and the US cannot be cut. Using high tariffs to force U. S. manufacturing return to the States… is simply not realistic. Separate the US economy from China, and the U.S. will go bankrupt.”

The article was also shared widely on Weibo. Thepaper.cn, an online news site affiliated with Shanghai United Media Group, published a review titled “American Factory: The Things that Are Spelled Out and the Things that are Implied” (“《美国工厂》:那些说出来的,和没有说的“).

The author, Xu Le, writes: “What struck me most about the film was the look on the faces of the American workers. All of them … had the same burnt-out expression… Their faces reminded me of photos of people in the late Qing Dynasty. That dull expression reflects a civilization in decline.”

“We’re a family at Fuyao” American workers listen to a rosy speech from their new bosses.

In the film, When American foremen visit a factory run by glass manufacturer Fuyao in China, they are alarmed to see Chinese workers picking up glass shards without safety glasses or cut-resistant gloves.

A Chinese worker picks up glass shards with minimal safety equipment, shocking his American co-workers.

Xu comments: “Why is it that Chinese workers are able to put up with even more drudgery while being paid far less than their American counterparts? This is something we Chinese are very familiar with.”

 

“Are you the glory, or are you the cost of the glory?”

 

Qin Hui, professor of history at Tsinghua University, once argued that China’s economic growth isn’t because of economic liberalism or government oversight, but because of China’s refusal to guarantee certain basic human rights.

In Maoist China, the state stripped the underprivileged of all political power in the name of the greater good dictated by socialist dogma. Post-Mao China continues to exploit the underprivileged, but now for monetary gain. He called it China’s “advantage” of “low human rights.”

Despite the nationalism sentiment fanned by American Factory, it has also provoked reflection on China’s advantage of low human rights summarized by Qin Hui.

Weibo user ‘Zhi21’ (@ZHI2i), a recent college graduate, writes on Weibo: “I just finished an internship at a factory. I worked 12 hours a day. More than 11 hours of every shift was spent on my feet without stopping, just to keep up with the assembly line. It didn’t make sense to me. After watching American Factory, I feel like American workers are lucky to only work 8 hours a day. That’s why the production costs are higher in the States. They pay too much attention to whether or not workers are comfortable.”

Another Weibo blogger (@GhostSaDNesS) notes that “in American Factory, Fuyao employees believe that to work is to live. They defend the interests of capitalists while they are actively exploited. Unions in the West chose human rights, Chinese capitalists chose profit, and Chinese workers have no choice at all.”

Some of these posts were apparently censored; threads that displayed as having over 200 comments only showed 12, and users complained that their posts were being deleted or made invisible to other users by Weibo censors. “They didn’t give any explanation,” one blogger wrote: ” I only expressed that I felt sorry for the people at the bottom. I didn’t question the system. I didn’t ask to change society.”

Views like that of @Crimmy_Excelsior (“I was confused. Which country is the capitalist one and which country is the socialist one?“) are apparently sensitive enough to be taken offline – they touch upon the tension between the CCP’s espousal of Marxist-Leninism and the plight faced by hundreds of millions of Chinese that have their working conditions driven down by capitalist markets.

Many users don’t buy into nationalist interpretations of the film, and argue that economic gain achieved at the expense of human rights is shameful. @陈生大王 raises a poignant question: “This is a glorious time for China, but I hope this film inspires you to think about who you really are as an individual. Are you the glory, or are you the cost of the glory?”

“The cost of the glory” is derived from a quip popular on China’s internet. The Chinese government often urges its citizens to rally together, using the rhetoric, “We must win this trade war at all cost.” Some netizens then twisted the phrase, saying, “We must win this trade war at all cost, and we later find out that we are the cost.”

 

“China’s prosperity did not just happen overnight – Chinese people worked hard to make it happen.”

 

Even among those in favor of China’s controversial work ethics, there have been concerns over the status quo. Earlier this year, engineers in the tech industry publicly aired their grievances about their “996” lifestyle. The term refers to a high-pressure work schedule of 9am to 9pm, six days a week. This is the kind of life workers in Fuyao are living, with no hope of improvement – they are that the company would find a replacement in no time, making any form of complaining moot.

Recent events in mainland China only increase the credibility of this representation. Factory workers at Jasic, a maker of welding machinery in Shenzhen, attempted to start a union last year. All those involved were fired. A number of college students and activists who actively supported the workers were detained and persecuted.

According to the “China Labor Movement Report (2015-2017)” by China Labor Bulletin (a NGO based in Hong Kong that promotes and defends workers’ rights in the People’s Republic of China) “intensification of social conflicts, including labor-capital conflicts, has crossed a tipping point, and directly threatens the legitimacy of the regime.”

More conspicuously, there are netizens that don’t buy the narrative that Chinese workers are innately “tougher” than their American counterparts. As user @胡尕峰 observes: “(In the film), a new Chinese CEO explains to his fellow Chinese that Americans have been encouraged too much growing up, and can’t take criticism. Chinese born after 2000 have been raised the same way! In my circle of friends, some mothers nearly faint when their babies are finally able to poop. Is China going to end up the same as America?”

American Factory’s objective portrayal of cultural shocks between American and Chinese workforces clearly generated thoughtful reflections and incisive criticism from a sizeable number of netizens, while also being another reason for Chinese state media to highlight the rise of China in the global market.

The chairman of Fuyao Group, Cao Dewang, made headlines this week with the quote: “China’s prosperity did not just happen overnight – Chinese people worked hard to make it happen.” “We indeed worked hard for it,” some commenters agreed: “That’s definitely true.”

By Anna Wang and Eduardo Baptista

Edited by Eduardo Baptista

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

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