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“RIP, Friend of China” – Chinese Netizens Light Virtual Candles for ‘Comrade’ Castro

Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro has died at the age of 90. On Chinese social media, netizens light digital candles to commemorate Castro, whom many refer to as an old friend and comrade of the Chinese people.

Manya Koetse

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Cuban revolutionary leader Fidel Castro has died at the age of 90. On Chinese social media, netizens light virtual candles to commemorate Castro, whom many refer to as an old friend and comrade of the Chinese people.

“For China, Fidel Castro has a special position in many peoples’ hearts,” Chinese state media wrote on November 26, the day that the news about the passing of the Cuban revolutionary leader became trending on social media all across the world.

The generally positive Chinese public view on Castro was apparent on social media on November 26, as many netizens lit digital candles and shared pictures of Castro.

On China’s Sina Weibo, Fidel Castro (Fēidé’ěr Kǎsītèluō 菲德尔.卡斯特罗 in Chinese) became the top trending topic of the day under the hashtag “Castro passes away” (#卡斯特罗去世#). The topic that was soon viewed 60 million times.

“Old friend of the people of China, rest in peace,” one commenter said.

[rp4wp]

“Castro is immortal for resisting American hegemony,” another Weibo user commented.

One netizen (@斗歌先生见您笑, 1986) wrote: “I once said about the great Kim Jong Il: when I was in kindergarten, he was chairman; throughout primary school, he was chairman; when I went to high school, he was chairman; during my college years, he was chairman; when I got my first job, he was chairman; I got married, he was chairman; when my son was born, he was still the chairman; when my son went to school, he was chairman … I finally understand that for communist leaders the ‘the struggle for communism’ really lasts a lifetime.”

Under the leadership of Castro, Cuba became the first country in Latin American to establish diplomatic relations with China. China’s former president Hu Jintao described China-Cuba relations as those between “good comrades, good friends, and brothers” (Creutzfeldt 2016)

Hu Jintao and Castro in 2004 (picture: www.chinaconsulatesf.org).

Hu Jintao and Castro in 2004 (picture: www.chinaconsulatesf.org).

“I do not know much about the life of Castro,” one Weibo user wrote: “But I do know he believed in communism and supported it, and that he was a great communist. He stayed true to his ideals, and perhaps we lack that kind of perseverance. Rest in peace, Castro! You may have left this world, but you are already immortal.”

One other person commented: “It seems that China’s old friends are slowly all disappearing (..). I now feel the pain of the fox that’s grieving over the dead rabbit [Chinese saying 兔死狐悲 Tùsǐ húbēi: to have sympathy with a like-minded person in distress].”

Although the majority of netizens show strong favoritism of Castro, there are also those who are more critical. One micro-blogger described Castro as “evil” and a “failed leader” for causing suffering in Cuba and prosecuting many people to death. At the time of writing, the post was not censored.

Most Chinese netizens will not remember Castro as an “evil” leader, but as an old friend of China who stayed true to his communist ideals.

“Great communist soldier, our comrade Castro will never be forgotten!”, one netizen writes.

– By Manya Koetse
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Sources/References
Creutzfeldt, Benjamin. 2016. “One Actor, Many Agents: China’s Latin America Policy in Theory and Practice.” In Margaret Myers and Carol Wise (ed), The Political Economy of China-Latin America Relations in the New Millennium. London & New York: Routledge.

©2016 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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China Local News

On Wuhan’s ‘Reopening Day’, Even Traffic Jams Are Celebrated

As the COVID-19 lockdown has ended in Wuhan, many people are happy to see the city’s traffic finally getting busy again. “I hated traffic jams before, now it makes me happy to see them.”

Manya Koetse

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It was chilly and grey in Wuhan when the coronavirus epicenter city went into a full lockdown on January 23 of this year. On April 8, 76 days later, it is sunny and twenty degrees warmer outside as people leave their homes to resume work or go for a stroll.

The end of the Wuhan lockdown is a special day for many, as the city finally lifted the 11-week-long ban that shut down all travel to and from the city in a radical effort to curb the spread of COVID-19.

On Wednesday, city residents returned to work as public transport started again. Roads, bridges, and tunnels were reopened, and the local airport resumed flights.

On Chinese social media, various hashtags relating to the Wuhan lockdown end have become popular topics. Using hashtags such as “Wuhan Lifts the Ban” (#武汉解封#), “Wuhan Open Again after 76 Days” (#武汉暂停76天后重启#), and “Wuhan Reopens” (#武汉重启#), the end of the coronavirus ban is a much-discussed news item, along with the spectacular midnight light show that was organized to celebrate the city’s reopening.

The Wuhan lightshow, image via Xinhua.

“Today has finally arrived! It’s been difficult for the people of Wuhan,” some commenters write.

According to China’s official statistics, that are disputed, over 3330 people have died from the new coronavirus since its outbreak; 80% of these fatal cases were reported in Wuhan. On April 6, authorities claimed that for the first time since the virus outbreak, there were zero new COVID-19 deaths.

Some state media, including People’s Daily, report that the reopening of restaurants and food shops is going smoothly in the city, as people – for the first time since January – are back to buying pan-fried dumplings and noodles from their favorite vendors.

Meanwhile, the fact that the traffic in some Wuhan areas is back to being somewhat congested is something that is widely celebrated on social media.

Some call the mild traffic congestions “great”, viewing it as a sign that the city is coming back to life again after practically turning into a ghost town for all these weeks.

“I hated traffic jams before, now it makes me happy to see them,” one Weibo commenter writes.

“I won’t complain about congested traffic again, because it’s a sign the streets are flourishing,” another Weibo user posted.

While netizens and media outlets are celebrating the end of the lockdown, several Chinese media accounts also remind people on social media that although the ban has been lifted, people still need to be vigilant and refrain from gathering in groups and standing close to each other.

For more COVID-19 related articles, please click here.

By Manya Koetse (@manyapan)
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China Local News

Online Anger over “Special Treatment” for Quarantined Foreigners in China

Are foreigners in quarantine being treated better than Chinese nationals? This Nanjing Daily article has triggered controversy.

Bobby Fung

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On March 27, an article titled “For the Good Health of 684 Foreigners” (“为了684个“老外”的安康”) sparked controversy online over the alleged special treatment of foreign nationals during their mandatory 14-day quarantine period.

According to the article published by Nanjing Daily, Nanjing’s Xianlin Subdistrict set up a special WeChat group for foreign nationals and their families returning to the city after the Spring Festival holiday, which coincided with the outbreak of the new coronavirus.

In special WeChat groups, subdistrict officers, doctors, translators, and property managers provide assistance and daily services to these China-based foreigners. Examples of such “daily services” include delivering fresh bread or contacting pet boarding facilities.

“One young man loved online shopping on Taobao, and once we delivered twenty packages for him within one day,” one member of the service group told Nanjing Daily.

Although foreign residents in China and foreigners with previously issued visas are currently no longer allowed to enter China, they needed to undergo a two-week quarantine period upon entry until the travel ban of a few days ago.

Jiangsu Province, of which Nanjing is the capital, tightened quarantine rules on March 23, making every traveler from abroad subject to a centralized quarantine (e.g. in a hotel) for fourteen days.

The special services for returning foreigners reported by Nanjing Daily triggered controversy on Chinese social media this week. Many netizens criticized it as a “supra-nationals treatment” (超国民待遇).

Under one Weibo post by media outlet The Cover (@封面新闻), which received over one million views, many people are criticizing local officers’ favorable treatment of foreigners. One commenter writes: “Will they provide the same comprehensive services to their compatriots?”

Another person writes: “Why don’t they also adhere to the slogan of ‘Serve the People’ (..) when dealing with Chinese citizens?”

In discussing the supposed inequality between the treatment of foreigners and Chinese nationals in quarantine, many netizens raise a recent example of a quarantined Chinese student who asked the civil police staff for mineral water. In a video that circulated online in mid-March, the girl quarrels with the police for not being offered mineral water. The student, demanding mineral water over the available boiled tap water, was ridiculed for suggesting that having mineral spring water is a “human right.”

Ironically, the Nanjing Daily article explicitly mentions how the Xianlin Subdistrict deals with foreigners drinking purified water: “[This] Laowai [foreigner] wants to drink bottled purified water, [so] we bought four barrels for him (..) and carried them from the community gate to his apartment.”

The contrast in treatment of quarantined foreigners versus Chinese nationals prompted some Weibo users to reflect on their previous remarks on the female student: “I apologize for previously mocking the Chinese student at the quarantine center in Pudong, Shanghai, for demanding to drink mineral water,” one commenter writes.

In response to the online controversy, the office of the Xianlin Subdistrict clarified that Chinese nationals would receive “corresponding services” during their quarantine period. Some netizens question what these alleged “corresponding services” exactly entail.

In another media report, the official reply was that “the Subdistrict treats Chinese and foreign citizens the same.”

Over recent years, there have been many online controversies on the issue of privilege in China. Earlier this year, there was public outrage over two women driving a Benz SUV into the Palace Museum, where cars are usually not allowed.

The issue of the perceived privileges of foreigners in China has particularly triggered anger among netizens. The “preferential treatment” of overseas students and the “dorm disparities” between Chinese and foreign students in China, for example, previously became major topics of online discussion.

A popular WeChat article that comments on the Nanjing controversy of this week also lists examples of special treatment for foreigners, including cases where foreigners were not fined when breaking rules in China or being “treated better” in other ways. By now, the article has received over 100,000 views.

For more COVID-19 related articles, please click here.

By Bobby Fung (@bobbyfungmr)

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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