On Weibo, Japanophobic mobsters are far from the majority
September 16, 2012Jing Gao9 CommentsAnti-Japanese sentiment, Boxer Rebellion, Changsha, Crystal Night, Cultural Revolution, Diaoyu Islands, Japan, Mao Zedong, mobsters, nazi, Nazism, protesters, Protests, Red Guards, Senkaku Islands, Sino-Japanese relations, Sora Aoi, territorial dispute, violence, Xi'an
By Sunday, September 16, hundreds of thousands of Chinese in 85 cities had participated in the two-day anti-Japanese street protests, according to Japan’s Kyodo News, many of which ended on a hideous note, with properties that are made in Japan or sound Japanese-owned smashed, ransacked and burnt down by mobsters. Photos and footage of the monstrosity on the largest scale since the end of Cultural Revolution in 1976 were displayed and relayed in many parts of the world, including Japan.
It’s always wrong and dangerous to generalize or stereotype a race. This cannot be any truer in a country as vast and complex as China where contradictions and conflicts abound. When I first saw the horrific scenes, I was so ashamed of my own race, seeming so barbaric and outrageous through the lens, that at one point, I felt that such a lawless nation will never have any hope of becoming a peace-loving superpower that is deserving of respect, and that there is no point of staying in a country that can come to Armageddon so easily.
But after reading posts that have flooded Sina Weibo, most of which vehemently condemned such violence, I realize that while the rabble and the crimes they’ve committed in the name of love for China have irreversibly smeared the image of Chinese people, there are much more people who have utter contempt for them.
First, there are many users who witnessed and chronicled the violence, decrying it and applauding those who stood up to it.
@zjl8052 uploaded a photo of a female owner of a Japanese-brand car who was roughed up by protesters and implored mercy.
@zjl8052: They are so damn worse than beasts. The car was smashed anyway, despite the female car owner’s repeated pleading. In the chaos, her child was also missing… Is this the so-called anti-Japanese nationalism? Cry, Cry. (33,365 shares, 6,798 comments.)
@i彭三金 uploaded a screenshot of a thread discussing “How is Jusco?” referring to a Japanese-owned shopping mall in Changsha, Hunan province, in which a few users said they had made away with many iPhones and necklaces.
@i彭三金: So goddamn shameless! This is what you want? Ridiculous!” (8,598 shares, 1,044 comments.)
@徐枫华 published a photo of a young man in Xi’an who volunteered to stand in the street, warning those driving Japanese-brand cars of anti-Japanese violence ahead with his hand-written sign.
@徐枫华: Salute to this citizen of Xi’an!!! At where he was standing, he brought some light to this dark day and real dignity to citizens of Xi’an. (71,073 shares, 10,815 comments)
Many posts called September 15, the day the worst violence took place, a day of national disgrace and humiliation, and expressed unreserved contempt for and outrage over mobsters terrorizing Chinese citizens and destroying personal property.
@李开复(Entrepreneur, former president of Google China): Today, the happiest people should be Japanese, because they saw tens of thousands of Chinese took to the streets, damaged cars of their compatriots and looted property of their compatriots. (88,818 shares, 24,354 comments)
Liu Xiangnan (@记者刘向南), a reporter with Economic Observer, called on witnesses to keep photos of the crimes as evidence for future reference.
@记者刘向南: Friends on site, please do remember: it is important to take photos of those who smashed and grabbed, and it is of the uttermost importance to take photos of those who organized the smashing and grabbing. Today, Sina does not permit the publishing of your photos. Then save them. When the sensitive time is over, we can publish them again. Using the power of Weibo, we will definitely try our best to reveal its true colors, be it a conspiracy or a public plan. In what universe is this nationalism? This is clearly an organized crime that was intentionally connived at. A national disgrace! (8,601 shares, 3,026 comments.)
@零零发 drew a clear line between mobsters and the majority of people that are opposed to violence, saying that being lumped together with mobsters is very unfair.
@零零发: Foreign reporters, when you cover anti-Japanese protests in various cities, can you please give up the use of terms that may hurt many innocent people by mistake, like “residents in Beijing” and “citizens of Shanghai”? Can you be more direct and accurate? Like“hundreds of suspicious people in Beijing,” “A great batch of dumb-asses in Shanghai,” “A bunch of nutcases in Shenzhen”… (15,667 shares, 2,927 comments)
@假装在纽约: Those who smashed Japanese cars, burnt Japanese flags and called for a boycott of Japanese goods are the same type of person as Libyan mobsters who besieged the U.S. consulate. The severity (of behavior) may be different, but the nature is the same. They have been brainwashed since they were born, and have lost a free mind, an independent character and a beautiful heart. Their brains and souls are empty. They are not capable of love and yet claim to have lofty faith. They are hidden around us and wake up to the call of devils only when they are needed. They are not dumb asses. They are nationalist zombies. (16,955 shares, 6,599 comments)
(By political cartoonist Murong Aoao)
There are posts describing and reflecting on Japanese reaction to the anti-Japanese sentiment, which generally forms a sharp contrast.
@是火龙 said that the footage of the fracas in China was on display in Japan, which makes the whole thing look ridiculous.
@是火龙: A friend who has just come back from a business trip to Japan told me that the scenes of Chinese burning cars and smashing stores were also broadcast on big screens in Japan’s streets: A crazy and heinous-looking Chinese man stands on top of a car, yelling about boycotting Japanese goods while smashing the car, when a frightened Chinese woman sits in a car. Finally, a close-up shows this man is wearing a garment with the logo of a Japanese brand. Then the lens shifts to Canon and Nikon cameras held in hands of onlooking Chinese! They aired it as if it were a joke! Sigh, so sad! (154,285 shares, 26,521 comments.)
@AndriyORZ posted a snapshot of a Twitter dialogue between Sora Aoi, who, as an ex-porn-star, is the single most popular Japanese in China, and a Japanese follower of hers, which reveals Sora Aoi’s effort to prevent Japanese misunderstanding of Chinese. (The Weibo user referred to Sora Aoi as ‘God Sora’ in his tweet.)
@AndriyORZ: God Sora’s Twitter: Her Japanese fan asked, “Are there people in China who don’t hate Japan?” God Sora: “There are, there are. There are many. Many people think that type of behavior is shameful. Please don’t think all Chinese are like that because of the conduct of a part of people.” (32,763 shares, 2,010 comments)
A Chinese student studying in Japan wrote that in contrast to the pandemonium in China, people in Japan are dispassionate and behaved reasonably. He also posted an illustrated work depicting a dialogue between him and one Japanese friend of his.
@黎黎要娶呆天使: Since there already have been many kind friends who have reminded me to watch out for my safety in Japan, I would like to thank everyone again here. Besides, please have no worry. Japan is truly a safe and orderly country. No one has taken this opportunity to smash and rob Chinese-owned stores. No one bullied me. Everything is fine. In fact, when there were brawls in China, everything is normal in Japan. And Japanese ordinary people really don’t care about this. Below is a conversation between me and my Japanese friend. (29,026 shares, 414 comments)
Many Weibo users also noted the eerie historical parallel between the anti-Japanese street protests and Boxer Rebellion, the Cultural Revolution, and Nazism.
@WeMarketing: I now have a new perception of China after this anti-Japanese smashing and grabbing. Even though it is 2012, the history can easily repeat itself. Today, it is in the name of fighting Japanese; in the future, it may be in the name of fighting capitalists or foreign nationals. As long as the group you are in is the target of the attack, your personal property may be destroyed by people who will not be held accountable. Your personal safety will not be guaranteed. Boxers, red guards and patriotic mobsters, generation after generation. (42,719 shares, 5,096 comments)
A Weibo user timely posted historical facts about Germans being manipulated by the Nazi government into anti-Semitic violence on the Night of the Broken Glass after the protests Saturday to remind netizens how similar they are.
@Frederick: From November 9 to the early morning of November 10, 1938, manipulated by the Nazi government behind the scenes, German people took to the streets and unleashed a smashing and grabbing offensive. Over 7,000 Jewish-owned shops and 29 department stores were destroyed or burned down. At least 91 Jews died. The shattered glasses glittered in the moonlight like crystals, and hence “Crystal Night.” That was less then a year away from the war that plunged German into Armageddon. (36,212 shares and 2,966 comments)
Author Chen Lan (@作家陈岚) draws the lessons of the history.
@作家陈岚: Some history common sense: The cause of the Boxer Rebellion: four princes of the Qing dynasty wanted to find a new heir, so they harnessed the power of the anti-foreigner sentiment and invited Boxers into Beijing and Tianjin. The cause of the Cultural Revolution: Mao wanted to purge Liu Shaoqi and retake the absolute control. The strategy remains unchanged forever: stoke up nationalist sentiment, organize violence, let terror and violence sweep and reign the society, then make the people pull the hot potato out of the fire and divvy it up for these foxes. (13,042 shares and 2,080 comments)
@吕明合: China has always seen a certain type of smart rabble. They are usually self-conscious and timid from being bullied and terrorized, and are afraid of even the slightest bit of resistance. But once they get official acquiescence from the imperial court, they will point knives and swords at innocent people who are more vulnerable and use all types of violence and abuses in the name of a made-up excuse. From Boxers to Red Guards to today’s “anti-Japanese mobsters,” they are all the same. We should all condemn them. (1,841 shares and 272 comments)
There are also many Weibo users who noticed the official acquiescence and were even convinced that they were carefully planned by the Chinese government.
@梦晨伤: Can anyone please tell me where they have gone? (531 shares, 114 comments)
@十年砍柴: This is really creepy. Given the stability maintenance capabilities that the Party State has developed over the years, how can the smashing and grabbing of this ugly scale possibly happen in major cities? (1,267 shares, 429 comments)
@路内: The more I look at this, the more suspicious it seems. Honestly, so far, nationalists are only capable of mischief in China. They usually have no nerve to smash and grab without people inside the system taking the lead. Nationalism in a physical form comes at a great cost. Right now, if anyone of them changes the direction and charges towards the city council, I guess half of the rest of the crowd will take out their handcuffs. (10,957 shares, 2,195 comments)
(The red banner reads “Diaoyu Islands belong to China.”)
Last but not least, signs of a shift of focus of protesters and a possible backfire on the Chinese authorities are looming large amid the angry crowds as well as on Sina Weibo.
@袁伟东: “Battle Corruption; Fight Japan”! What a great slogan! Thumb up! (3,569 shares, 676 comments)
@徐昕: In Guangzhou, a blue banner says: “Turn Fury into Power. Want Political Reform. Want Self-improvement.” (2,774 shares, 625 comments)
@记者刘向南: “Give Me Three Thousand Chengguan Troopers, Diaoyu Islands Will Definitely Be Seized. Give Me Five Hundred Corrupt Officials, Little Japan’s Collapse from Their Gluttony Is A Sure Thing.”
@记录者陈宝成: Only cowards boycott Japan. Real warriors are boycotting tyranny. (7,579 shares, 1,661 comments)
@施祈缘5: Chinese got even the opportunities of taking to the streets from Japanese. How sad is that! (2,906 shares, 392 comments.)
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