Chinese nationalism goes viral

Discussion in 'Foreign Relations' started by Flint, Jan 21, 2011.

  1. Flint

    Flint Senior Member Senior Member

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    Chinese nationalism goes viral

    One of the more intriguing facets of the India-China relationship is the Chinese leadership's pathological allergy to the Indian media. On the face of it, you can see why. The barrage of reportage and opinion pouring out every time China staples visas for Kashmiris or their troops "cross" over an unmarked boundary line can be disconcerting.

    In official discussions, the Indian government is repeatedly asked by the Chinese side to rein in the media. During Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao's December visit to Delhi, they were clear - no media events, no questions or press conferences - and only consented to sit in the same room with them. Indian officials half-joked, "They're afraid of you guys."

    The reason is closer home than the Chinese let on. Indian media reports, they say, prompt a viral backlash from China's own online denizens that might be just what the Chinese leadership wants to avoid.

    With 500 million voluble internet users in China, there are signs that the leadership is showing itself to be more "responsive" to these online vigilantes, making "Net nationalists" a new factor in Chinese policy making. India needs to focus on this untried aspect of Chinese foreign policy, because unchecked, it could have an altogether unexpected, even disturbing, effect on ties.

    In India, media is accepted as part of the national cacophony. In China, however, the lack of free private media means that Chinese popular sentiment gets channelled into the mushrooming online forums. Jingoistic nationalism is often the order of the day.

    On good days, online nationalism is used quite effectively by the Chinese authorities. In 2005, new Japanese textbooks resulted in a viral backlash from China's netizens, prompting protests outside the Japanese embassy in Beijing. The government let the crowds speak for themselves until they appeared to gather momentum, then crushed them ruthlessly. Similar protests accompanied the cancellation of the EU-China summit in 2008 and most recently, Japan's arrest of a Chinese fisherman who rammed a Japanese coast guard vessel. But while Japan and the US occupy top slots in Chinese popular opinion, India does not figure much on their radar. Most scholars will tell you that the Chinese don't spend their time thinking about India the way Indians obsess about China.

    However, a new and comprehensive study on Chinese online nationalism vis-a-vis India is disturbingly revealing. The study, by Simon Shen (to be published in the forthcoming issue of China Quarterly), author of Online Chinese Nationalism and China's Bilateral Relations and professor in social sciences at the Hong Kong Institute of Education, concludes, "India is perhaps the only major nation which is perceived as both culturally and socially inferior to China on the one hand but is capable of offering a legitimate challenge to China - with proven realist intention - on the other. Because of this, any economic, material or territorial defeat by India would be seen as unacceptable face-loss for Chinese online nationalists and could have fatal consequences for the party-state."

    Shen trawled through major Chinese online forums like Tianya Community Forum, Strong Nation Forum (two million users), Community for Iron and Blood, Phoenix Net Forum and Resuscitation Forum between 2006 and 2009, tracking online representations by Chinese citizens on hot-button issues concerning India.

    The essence of Chinese online opinion on India and Indians is rather simplistic, dominated by racial stereotypes. Indians as dark, dirty, smelly, poor - these impressions stand out in their majority. Significantly, even if India's economic performance or technological achievements are underrated, India is seen as a sovereignty-spoiler for Chinese. Primarily because the Dalai Lama lives in India as well as the growing impression that India is only a "tool" for the US and Japan.

    China's "all-weather" friendship with Pakistan is amply reflected and approved of by the online nationalists. It's considered China's best card against a presumptive India. Shen says, "In order to fight back against India diplomatically...netizens call for India's return to Pakistan of its occupied lands in Kashmir."

    Why should we take Chinese online nationalism seriously? Because, as more and more studies show, it's becoming a factor in Chinese policy. The leadership may use media to control information and shape opinion, but the Net allows Chinese to channel opinions and frustrations online. Certainly in the past few years, it has become a potent way to spur the leadership on. Chinese netizens are typically very critical of the government on domestic issues but these are subject to authorities' tolerance threshold. On foreign policy, they have a freer hand - more and more retired diplomats and military officers as well as party leaders are now taking recourse to online discourse.

    The danger is that there could come a point when this online nationalism directed against India could direct itself against the party. As Shen says, "The most important of all consequences of our findings is the fact that Chinese netizens have made India the bete noire for their government." Chinese online opinion of India is markedly different from the official propaganda. Given that the Chinese leadership likes to shape its people's opinions, that's clearly not happening here. What gives?

    Indian policy needs to be more aware of this new dynamic driver of Chinese policy and find ways to influence this opinion. The last thing we want complicating this already complex relationship is a bunch of Net nuts.

    Blurb: With 500 million voluble internet users in China, the leadership is showing itself to be more "responsive" to these online vigilantes, making "Net nationalists" a new factor in policy making
     
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  3. Ray

    Ray The Chairman Defence Professionals Moderator

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    That is interesting an observation!

    The Chinese onliners must have been dipping their fingers in the family cached stock from the Opium Wars.
     
  4. JayATL

    JayATL Senior Member Senior Member

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    excellent article and my limited experience on forums are the same. I can't disagree with anything in the article really...
     
  5. Phenom

    Phenom Regular Member

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    History tells us its a danger sign when a society starts to believe in racial supremacy. Combination of aggressive militarism and racial supremacy usually leads to terrible outcome as we saw with Japan in the early 20th century.

    It ironic how the Chinese nationalist hate imperial Japan, but in the 21st century they are probably the mirror image of Japan in the 20th century.
     
  6. kickok1975

    kickok1975 Stars and Ambassadors Stars and Ambassadors

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    I don't know what this article talking about. Chinese Medias pays more attention to US, Japan, Korea than anyone else and never seriously consider India a threat, hence very few people would discuss about Indo-Sino policy online for that regard. Traditionally India is never a threat to China nor is she an adversary. I always interested in reading anything about India and I find most topics about India is travel, economic development, domestic riots and conflicts. Rarely did I see any article about “Teaching India a lession”. Maybe a few nationalist young people would post some provocative comments on line.
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2011
  7. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

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    And they say, India is not even a concern for CCP and Chi-com slave citizenry, perhaps, we should learn from the past, further keep our eyes and ears open when dealing with Chinese......I don't wanna go into racial slurs, however, I can give lods of them in return for what the CCP has been implanting in its brainwashed slave population!!
     
  8. Flint

    Flint Senior Member Senior Member

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    Haven't you read the article? The CCP is not promoting any hatred against India. This is something beyond their reach which they are trying to control. Chinese are becoming more nationalistic day by day as their confidence increases, and at some point the Party will have to take notice of it so that it doesn't result in a backlash against the establishment.
     
  9. maomao

    maomao Veteran Hunter of Maleecha Senior Member

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    I have read the whole article!!

    Probably, I need to give a disclaimer every time I post suggesting that my post could be generic or of greater concern (in nature) and not necessarily revolve around the main theme of the article. I believe only that will stop you asking such questions!
     
  10. JayATL

    JayATL Senior Member Senior Member

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    The way I read it- There is credence to both that India is obsessed with china and that Chinese citizenry, not everyone of them,as seen by some of you nice folks on these forums, but their net citizenry is hostile towards India and if we are being honest vice versa. The important take away from the article is the potential influence of such impression on either govt. policies.
     
  11. amoy

    amoy Senior Member Senior Member

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    IMO the report is partly true about "online nationalism" but not true about being directed "against India".

    relatively speaking India is a country far far away for ordinary Chinese. take me for example I personally read a few books on Indian arts or history, but I found my peers share little interest in India.

    Revival of nationalism is just natural - when people get more conscious of the outside world and develop a 'self concept'.
     
  12. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

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    100% Agree regarding the Image of India in Chinese regular community..
    More interestingly most know only that India is a place of peaceful people and Buddhism came from India..

    But, Their are things happened during past centuries when Brits were in both countries, the problem created yesterday are yet to be solved, may be tomorrow, 1962 happened and still today both Armies are on stand by alerts..

    But i don't see this much in Europeans but Asians..

    Main reason is population and resources to survive..
     
    Last edited: Jan 21, 2011
  13. Tshering22

    Tshering22 Sikkimese Saber Senior Member

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    This is simply a research done by this Shen dude who's talking about how frustrations can be channeled through online nationalism.
     

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