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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.

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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.

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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, 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

The Day After the “3•21” Devastating Yancheng Explosion: 47 Dead, 640 Injured

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The enormous explosion at a chemical plant in Jiangsu’s Yancheng on March 21st has sent shockwaves through the country. While state media are focusing on the efforts of rescue workers, Chinese social media users are mourning the lives lost and are searching for those still missing.

One day after a devastating explosion occurred at a chemical plant in Yancheng city in Jiangsu, at the Xiangshui Eco-chemical Industrial Zone, the number of confirmed casualties and injured has now gone up to 47 dead, 90 critically injured, with around 640 requiring hospital treatment (issued Friday 19.00 local time).

The explosion happened on Thursday around 14.48 local time at the Jiangsu Tianjiayi Chemical Plant (天嘉宜化工厂). Images and videos of the explosion and its aftermath quickly spread on Weibo and other social media, showing the huge impact of the blast.

Site of the explosion.

Footage showed shattered windows from buildings in the area and injured persons lying on the streets. Other videos showed children crying and blood on the pavements. There are residential areas and at least seven schools located in the vicinity of the chemical plant, leading to injuries among residents and students due to glass that was allegedly “flying around.”

According to official sources on Weibo, a total of 930 firefighters worked side by side to control the fire.

Trending photo on Friday: exhausted firefighters.

The hashtag “Lining Up to Donate Blood in Xiangshui” (#响水市民自发排队献血#) also attracted some attention on Weibo, with state media reporting that dozens of local residents have donated blood to help the injured. On Thursday night, there were long lines at a local mobile blood donation bus.

What is quite clear from the Chinese media reports on the incident and the social media posts coming from official (authorities) accounts, is that there is an emphasis on the number of people who are helping out, rather than a focus on the number of people that were killed: there are at least 930 firefighters, 192 fire trucks, 9 heavy construction machinery, 200 police officers, 88 people rescued, 3500 medical staff, 200 people donating blood, etc. – the number of people joining forces to provide assistance in the area is overwhelming.

Meanwhile, there are desperate family members who are turning to social media in search of loved ones, posting their photos and asking people if they know anything about their whereabouts since the explosion.

While dozens of Weibo users are airing their grievances on what happened, there are also more personal stories coming out. The wife of the local factory worker Jiang is devastated; her husband of four years, father of one son, celebrated his 30th birthday on Thursday. She received a message from her husband twenty minutes before the explosion occurred. He was one of the many people who lost their lives.

On Thursday, Chinese netizens complained that their posts about the Yancheng explosion were being taken offline, suggesting that information flows relating to the incident are being strictly controlled. “This is just too big to conceal,” one commenter said.

This is not the first time such an explosion makes headlines in China. In 2015, an enormous explosion at a petrol storage station in Tianjin killed 173 people and caused hundreds of people to be injured. Two years ago, an explosion at a Shandong petrochemical plant left 13 people dead.

By Manya Koetse 

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please 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 Insight

Chinese Netizens’ Response to New Zealand Mosque Attacks

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The shocking New Zealand mosque attack, killing at least 49 people, is making headlines worldwide. On Weibo, it is the top trending topic today. A short overview of some of the reactions on Chinese social media.

At least 49 people were killed and 20 wounded when an attacker opened fire at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, on Friday. According to various media reports, one man in his late 20s had been arrested and charged with murder. Three other people, two men and one woman, have also been arrested in relation to the attack.

Footage of the brutal shootings, which was live-streamed by the gunman, has been making its rounds on social media. Although the videos are being taken down from Facebook and Twitter, people are still sharing the shocking images and footage on Weibo at time of writing.

The gunman, who has been named as the 28-year-old Brenton Tarrant, reportedly also posted a 70-page manifesto online expressing white supremacist views.

On Chinese social media platform Sina Weibo, the New Zealand mosque attack became a number one trending topic on Friday night, local time, with the hashtag “New Zealand Shootings” (#新西兰枪击案#) receiving at least 130 million views, and thousands of reactions.

“It takes the collaborate efforts of all people to work on a beautiful world, it just takes a few people to destroy it,” one Weibo user wrote.

“Extremism is incredibly scary,” others said. “I saw the livestreaming video and it’s too cruel – like a massacre from a shooter video game.” “I’m so shaken, I don’t even want to think of the panic these people must have felt.”

“I’ve seen the footage, and this is so horrible. It makes me want to cry. It’s a massacre.” Other commenters also write: “This is just so inhumane.”

One aspect that especially attracted attention on Chinese social media is that, according to many people posting on Weibo and Wechat, the main suspect expressed in his manifesto that the nation he felt closest to in terms of his “political and social values” is “that of the People’s Republic of China.”

Journalist Matthew Keys reportedly uploaded the main suspect’s manifesto, which was published on January 21, 2019. This article says that to the question about whether he was a fascist, Tarrant indeed wrote that “the nation with the closest political and social values to my own is the People’s Republic of China.”

Some netizens wrote that, in mentioning the PRC, the shooter “also vilified China.” Others also said that the shootings definitely “do not correspond to the values of China.”

There are also dozens of Weibo users who blame Western media for the attacker’s comments on China corresponding to his own values. “What he appreciated is what Western media is propagating about our management of Muslims in Xinjiang,” some say: “He was influenced by the foreign media disseminating that we’re anti-Muslim.”

“He sympathized with the China portrayed by foreign media, not with the real China.”

“Western governments and media have demonized China for a long time, what they are making Western people believe about what China is, this is what the New Zealand shooter felt closest to in terms of his values,” one person wrote.

“These kinds of extreme-right terrorists would be destroyed in China,” others wrote.

Among all people expressing their disgust and horror at the Christchurch shootings, there are also those expressing anti-Muslim views and hatred, with some comment sections having turned into threads full of vicious remarks.

Then there are those criticizing the Muslims that are also commenting on Weibo: “The Muslims in China were quiet when it was about the [islamist extremist] attacks in Kunshan, but now that this massacre happened at the pig-hating mosque, they are all bemoaning the state of the universe and are denouncing terrorism.”

Among the thousands of reactions flooding in on Weibo, there are countless comments condemning those who turn the shocking attack into an occasion for making anti-Muslim or political remarks. “This is a terrorist attack. The victims are ordinary people. Why would you make malicious comments?”

One Weibo user simply writes: “The world has gone crazy.” “A tragic event. I hope the victims will rest in peace.”

By Manya Koetse 

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please 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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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. ©2014-2018

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