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The 25th Anniversary of Hong Kong’s Return to Chinese Sovereignty on Weibo

Chinese state media push the Hong Kong anniversary narrative on Weibo: “If Hong Kong is doing well, the nation is doing well, and when the nation is good, Hong Kong is even better.”

Manya Koetse

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July 1st 2022 marked the 25th anniversary of Hong Kong’s return to Chinese sovereignty. The silver jubilee of Hong Kong’s handover from Britain to China was celebrated in various ways, including light shows, movie screenings, a flag-raising ceremony, and boat parades.

For the occasion, Chinese President Xi Jinping visited Hong Kong for two days – although he did not spend the night there – and spoke at the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Center, praising “one country, two systems” and stressing that there is “no reason to change such a good system” and that “it must be adhered to in the long run.” During the ceremony, ex-police officer John Lee was sworn in as Hong Kong’s new chief executive.

While Chinese state media described the 25th anniversary as “festive” and “joyous,” Hong Kong Free Press wrote about “muted celebrations” and the event being overshadowed by the security blanket, media restrictions, Covid-19 concerns, and a typhoon.

On Chinese social media site Weibo, the event was completely dominated by the official narrative, and Chinese state media propagated the 25th anniversary through various hashtags and online posters.

The hashtag “Blessed Hong Kong, Blessed Motherland” (#祝福香港祝福祖国#) was initiated by CCTV and received over 189 million views. CCTV also published an online poster showing the Hong Kong skyline in the number 25.

One post by CCTV including the online poster received over 716,000 likes and more than 95,000 comments – most of them included hearts and well wishes to Hong Kong.

The hashtag “25th Annniversary of Hong Kong’s Return to the Motherland” (#香港回归祖国25周年#) received over 280 million views.

China Youth Daily initiated the “Hong Kong 25th Year Since Returning to Motherland” hashtag (#香港回归祖国25载#), while People’s Daily released a song video in cooperation with China Mobile to celebrate the event (#香港回归25周年纪念曲祝福#) featuring singer Zhou Shen (周深).

State media outlet Xinhua also released a song dedicated to the 25th anniversary. Titled “Hello Hong Kong” (你好香港), the song features the super popular mainland singer Wang Yibo (王一博). The video was reposted over a million times.

People’s Daily also published another post on July 1st, at 0:00 exactly, writing: “If Hong Kong is [doing] well, the nation is [doing] well; when the nation is good, Hong Kong is even better” (“香港好,国家好;国家好,香港更好”).

The hashtag “Ensuring That ‘One Country, Two Systems’ Is Always Heading in the Right Direction” (#确保一国两制事业始终朝着正确的方向行稳致远#) was promoted by the People’s Daily Commentary account – and even pushed to the top of the Weibo hot search lists – stressing the historical and future role of Hong Kong in ‘the great rejuvenation’ of the Chinese nation.

Meanwhile, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Zhao Lijian (赵立坚) posted a lengthy Ministry statement on Weibo condemning some of the international responses to Hong Kong’s handover anniversary, such as that by the White House about Beijingh eliminating “any meaningful political opposition in Hong Kong and stifling dissent.”

According to the statement posted by Zhao, these kind of responses were just attempts to “smear” China’s “one country, two systems” policy and merely are meant to meddle in China internal affairs, disregarding “the basic norms of international relations.”

There was also some online controversy after Hong Kong singer and actor Jacky Cheung (张学友) cheered on Hong Kong by saying “Go Hong Kong!” [“香港加油!”] in a video celebrating the anniversary. Cheung was criticized on Chinese social media for not mentioning the “motherland” and only cheering on “Hong Kong”, with people accusing him of not being patriotic enough. The video was later taken offline.

Jacky Cheung issued a statement on July 3rd, clarifying that he is patriotic and loves Hong-Kong, and above all, is “proud to be Chinese.” That statement also went trending on Weibo (#张学友声明#), where many people also said they found the online storm over Cheung’s ‘Go Hong Kong’ comment exaggerated and unnecessary.

Some commenters wondered if all pop stars from Hong Kong and Taiwan would need to repeat “I am Chinese” all the time in order to be politically correct, avoid controversy, and avoid being accused of being a traitor. “It is a bit lamentable to force Jacky Cheung to prove his innocence like this,” one blogger wrote.

According to FreeWeibo.com, a website monitoring what gets censored on Weibo, many comments relating to ‘Hong Kong’ were censored these past few days.

For more articles about Hong Kong on What’s on Weibo, see our previous articles here.

By Manya Koetse

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©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the founder and editor-in-chief of whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer, public speaker, and researcher (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends, digital developments, and new media in an ever-changing China, with a focus on Chinese society, pop culture, and gender issues. She shares her love for hotpot on hotpotambassador.com. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China Insight

Pelosi in Taiwan: “1.4 Billion People Do Not Agree with Interference in China’s Sovereignty Issues”

“The Old Witch has landed!”, many commenters wrote on Weibo when Pelosi arrived in Taiwan.

Manya Koetse

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August 2nd was a tumultuous day on Chinese social media, with millions of netizens closely following how Pelosi’s plane landed in Taiwan. Chinese state media propagate the message that not only Chinese authorities condemn the move, but that the Chinese people denounce it just as much.

Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan is all the talk on Weibo, where netizens are closely following the latest developments and what they might mean for the near future of Taiwan and Sino-American relations.

“Today is a sensitive time, as it is said that Pelosi will fly into Taiwan tonight, challenging the one-China principle,” Global Times political commentator Hu Xijin wrote on Weibo on Tuesday afternoon, while Pelosi’s plane was still en route:

“At this time I’d like to tell everyone, that I firmly believe the Chinese government will definitely take a series of countermeasures, which include military actions. The Ministry of National Defense and the Ministry of National Defense have repeatedly said they are “on the alert and combat-ready” and will not “sit and watch.” This is the country’s prestige, how could they not hit back? So let’s wait and see what will happen next.”

Tuesday was an extremely tumultuous day on Chinese social media as Taiwan- and Pelosi-related hashtags popped up one after the other, and news and videos kept flooding the platform, sometimes leading to a temporary overload of Weibo’s servers.

Around 20.30, an hour before Pelosi was expected to land in Taiwan at that time, more than half of all the trending search topics on Weibo related to Pelosi and Taiwan as virtually everyone was following the plane’s route and when it would land.

Not long before the expected landing of Pelosi’s plane, footage circulated on Weibo showing the iconic Taipei 101 building with a display of greetings to Pelosi, welcoming her to Taiwan and thanking her for her support.

By Tuesday night, Chinese official channels promoted the hashtags “The United States Plays With Fire & Will Burn Itself by Taiwan Involvement Provocation” (#美台勾连挑衅玩火必自焚#) along with the hashtag “1.4 Billion People Do Not Agree with Interference in China’s Sovereignty Issues” (​​#干涉中国主权问题14亿人不答应#).

Image posted by Communist Youth League on Weibo.

Millions of Chinese netizens followed flight radar livestreams, with one livestream by China.org receiving over 70 million viewers at one point.

On Tuesday night at 22:44 local time, after taking a detour, Pelosi’s plane finally landed in Taipei. About eight minutes later, Nancy Pelosi, wearing a pink suit, stepped out of the plane together with her delegation.

“The Old Witch has landed!”, many commenters wrote on Weibo, where Nancy Pelosi has been nicknamed ‘Old Witch’ recently.

Not long after, Hu Xijin posted on both on Twitter (in English) and on Weibo (in Chinese), writing that Pelosi’s landing in Taiwan opened an “era of high-intensity competition between China and US over Taiwan Strait.” Hu wrote that the PLA is announcing a series of actions, including military drill operations and live-fire exercises in zones surrounding Taiwan from August 4 to 7.

Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying (华春莹) also posted a series of tweets condemning the “wrong and dangerous path” the U.S. is allegedly heading down, reiterating the same ‘1.4 billion people do not agree’ narrative that was previously propagated on Weibo by official channels: “Making themselves an enemy of the 1.4 billion Chinese people will not end up well. Acting like a bully in front of the whole world will only make everyone see that the US is the biggest danger to world peace.”

Many netizens expressed frustrations over how seemingly easy it was for Pelosi to land in Taiwan despite repeated warnings. “It’s not like I want us to go to war,” one person wrote on Weibo: “But they are getting off too easy. For days we shouted about countermeasures, what kind of countermeasure is this?”

“Even our community guard who makes 1500 a month [$220] does a better job; if he says you can’t come in, you can’t come in,” another blogger wrote.

The majority of commenters do express their dissatisfaction and anger about Pelosi coming to Taiwan, some even writing: “I hope that Taiwan is liberated when I wake up” or “We must unify again, once the Old Witch is gone, we can do so.”

Passed midnight the hashtag “There Is But One China” (#只有一个中国#), initiated by CCTV, picked up on Weibo and received over 320 million views. The post by CCTV that only said “there is but one China” was forwarded on Weibo over 1,3 million times.

“Taiwan is China’s Taiwan,” many people commented.

“I don’t think I can sleep tonight,” some wrote.

Meanwhile, on FreeWeibo, a website monitoring censored posts on Chinese social media platform Weibo, there are some posts casting another light on the Taiwan issue.

“Regarding ‘Taiwan is China’s Taiwan.’ Every person can vote, there’s multi-party rule, and there can be democratic elections. Only then can we talk about a reunification,” one comment said. It was censored shortly after.

For our other articles relating to Pelosi and her Taiwan visit, click here.

By Manya Koetse
With contributions by Miranda Barnes

 

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

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.

©2022 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

Chinese Internet Company Sina Abruptly Shuts Down ‘Sina Taiwan’ Platform

Sina Taiwan is longer available and has suddenly suspended its operations in Taiwan.

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WEIBO SHORT | Weibo Shorts are concise articles on topics that are trending. This article was first published

On August 2nd, Taiwanese media sources reported that the online Sina Taiwan platform was longer available and had suddenly suspended its operations in Taiwan without prior notification.

Sina (新浪) is the company that also owns (Sina) Weibo. Founded in 1998, it is a leading Chinese Internet company and media platform that operates various localized websites, including Sina Taiwan (sina.com.tw) which was established in November 1998.

Multiple sources, including Taiwanese news site ETToday , reported news of the closure of Sina Taiwan today. According to ETToday, Sina Taiwan’s parent company confirmed the company has suspended its services in the Taiwan market and ceased operations on August 1st due to the company’s “operational strategy.”

Weibo also set up a localized version in traditional characters for the Taiwan market. Earlier today, the Weibo Taiwan site (tw.weibo.com) also seemed to be inaccessible for a while but was accessible again at the time of writing.

On Weibo, the official ‘Sina Taiwan’ Weibo account (@新浪台湾爆头条) posted its last update on July 14.

News of Sina Taiwan’s abrupt closure comes at a time of heightened tensions over Taiwan between China and the U.S. in light of reports of a potential Taiwan visit by U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (more here).

However, although the timing is noteworthy and Weibo users wonder what it means, it is unsure if Sina’s decision is related to this issue. The English-language Sina portal (english.sina.com) stopped updating its homepage earlier this year.

By Manya Koetse and Miranda Barnes

 

Get the story behind the hashtag. Subscribe to What’s on Weibo here to receive our weekly newsletter and get access to our latest articles:

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.

©2022 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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