A wave of nationalist fervor sweeps through China during Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan | China


OWhen news of Nancy Pelosi’s potential visit to Taiwan crept into Chinese state media late last month, there was a sense of shock and panic. The media condemned the United States, suggesting it was a violation of the “one China principle” and that Joe Biden was “hypocritical” in saying he was unable to control the president of the Bedroom. For a few days, this message echoed in the country’s media.

The furor echoed online through the writings of military pundits and bloggers. “The Old Witch”, some called her Pelosi. “The old American woman”, others called her. Hu Xijin, a nationalist arsonist and former editor of the Global Times, even advised Chinese planes to obstruct Pelosi’s plane. And “if these are still ineffective, I think it’s fine to shoot down Pelosi’s plane as well,” he wrote with great fanfare.

In Chinese society today, such nationalist rhetoric often creates an echo chamber, especially on issues related to China’s sovereignty. Beijing considers Taiwan to be part of Chinese territory. Generations of Chinese leaders have wanted to “take it back,” and they have not given up on the option of a military coup as a last resort.

For a few days, Weibo hashtags criticizing Pelosi and reiterating China’s determination to deter her remained among the top trending topics. In the days that followed, a multitude of provocative statements appeared in almost all the official media. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokespersons, known for their “wolf warrior” style in recent years, continued to speak tough, and many commentators reacted well to their harsh anti-US rhetoric.

“The will of the people cannot be defied, and those who play with fire will perish,” Zhao Lijian said, echoing his chairman, Xi Jinping’s warning to Biden last week. “It is believed that the US side is fully aware of China’s strong and clear message.” Its boss, Hua Chunying, also invoked the memories of Mao Zedong, who in 1946 called America a “paper tiger”: “Reactionaries appear to be terrifying, but in reality they are not so powerful.

The mood intensified following the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) warning. When news of Pelosi’s visit first broke, the PLA was preparing to celebrate its 95th founding anniversary. Unsurprisingly, as Pelosi kicked off his Asia tour, the military again vowed they “wouldn’t sit idly by” if the US politician finally landed in Taiwan.

Then on Tuesday night, Pelosi appeared in Taipei. At that time, Hu’s belligerent post suggesting shooting down his flight was taken down by Twitter for breaking the rules. “Taiwan is close to mainland China and Beijing has enough cards in hand,” Hu said shortly after the 82-year-old California Democrat arrived. “We will play them one by one with confidence. The PLA announces a series of actions.

It was also a huge event for Chinese media operators, despite their hostility towards Pelosi. A state-owned website has even set up a live stream on its official Weibo channel. At one time, 70 million viewers tuned in at once to watch Pelosi arrive in Taiwan, and many viewers commented on “national unification!”.

“Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan also created a sense of unity on social media, which was inundated with comments expressing support for the Chinese military and calling for unification with Taiwan,” said Manya Koetse, who leads the WhatsOnWeibo website. “Several netizens also said, ‘I hope when I wake up tomorrow, we will be united with Taiwan.’ I had never seen such strong feelings of unification on Weibo before this week.

Koetse added that the Pelosi saga reminded him of the return last year of Meng Wanzhou, chief financial officer of Huawei in Canada. “Before Meng came to China, there were days of rhetorical accumulation – just like this time with Pelosi. But of course, Meng was a symbol of national pride, but Pelosi was a humiliation for the China.

A promotion for the People’s Liberation Army on a building in Beijing. Photography: Noel Celis/AFP/Getty Images

Promising to respond, the PLA said it would conduct large-scale drills and missile tests around the island of Taiwan starting Thursday. State media said it was to show how reckless Pelosi had been. The military drills finally put Asia on edge and urged Asian and European leaders to exercise restraint.

However, this was not enough for some. “I am still angry! The four-day drill is too short. If a standardized cruise around the island is formed, I’ll admit it’s not a loss! wrote a Weibo user. Another said. “If there is no follow-up action after the drill, then this time it is a complete failure of diplomacy and public opinion, and there is no point in saying too much .”

They are not alone. A Beijing resident, Ou, who goes by his last name, said when he saw Taipei 101 lit up for Pelosi as a warm welcome, it was a “huge humiliation for China”. “As a great nation with 1.4 billion people, we shouldn’t swallow our words when it comes to uniting Taiwan,” he said. “We have the ability.”

But Jin Lihang*, a Taiwanese who lives in Beijing, said he was worried. “It seemed Pelosi’s visit was exactly the kind of excuse the PLA was looking for to show what it would be like when the ‘military option’ was rolled out in earnest one day. It looks like the whole country could soon be on a war footing. It’s frightening.”

A day before the exercises began on Thursday, the Global Times quoted Herman Shuai, a retired lieutenant general from Taiwan, as saying the exercise areas were a “model” for “locking down Taiwan”. “This blockage [of Taiwan] could be part of the action plans for future reunification operations by force,” he said.

Hu, who just failed to dissuade Pelosi, is now under fire. “Hu Xijin’s longstanding rhetoric has made it clear that he loves war, desires it and promotes it relentlessly, even at the cost of taking away our country’s credibility,” said Ren Yi, another blogger. influential pro-government who has millions of followers and goes by the nickname Chairman Rabbit.

He asked, “Hu Xijin harms the country and hurts the people. What is he really looking for?

*Name changed to protect the identity of the person




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