By Oiwan Lam
Christine Fan, an American-born Taiwanese singer, received over 40,000 bullying messages on popular social media site Weibo after uploading a photo of her twin babies on September 3 during China’s military parade to commemorate the end of World War II.
The trolls accused her of not being patriotic enough, even though Fan’s nationality is American and China is not her homeland.
Apart from Fan, a number of other artists who did not share military parade photos were attacked online in a similar manner.
Below is an example of a typical comment from the “patriotic trolls”:
How can you not be touched? Are you Chinese?
You don’t love the country, leave China.
Fan lost more than 200,000 fans within 5 days, from 47.93 millions before the parade to 47.73 millions on September 8 on her official Weibo account. Following the outpouring of hate, Fan deleted the photo and expressed regret:
According to an online poll on Sina Weibo, by 10 p.m. on September 5, more than 80% of responses said it was OK for Fan to share the photo of her children during the military parade, while only 5.8% said she shouldn’t. Despite the vocal outcry, the majority of Chinese netizens likely share the feeling of Weibo user “Hi, Liming”:
When they are not happy, they forbid others to laugh; when they feel they should be happy, they force others to laugh.
The September 3 parade was the first time that the Chinese Communist Party had organized such an event to commemorate the end of WWII. As anti-Japanese war efforts were led by the Kuomintang political party of the then newly established Republic of China (Taiwan), the communist party’s claims that it was central to fending off the Japanese invasion has raised more than few eyebrows.
Another blogger, Shen Shi, believed that the bullying was a well-organized and coordinated censorship push executed by China’s so-called 50 Cent Party or online civilization army against artists. The author pointed out that a number of Hong Kong artists who had expressed support for Occupy Central movement, the massive pro-democracy protest in 2014, were prevented from appearing in movies, TV programs and concerts by mainland propaganda authorities. Given the large entertainment market that China represents, the sanction can ruin an artist’s career, so the online “patriotic” bullying can create fear among artists:
The scare tactic seems to be working, as at least a dozen Hong Kong artists saluted China in words or in photos posted online on the military parade’s occasion. A Hong Kong comedian, Ng Man Tat, even claimed to be a member of the communist party during the parade:
His statement won tens of thousands of likes, but later he retracted the statement and explained that he forgot using quotation marks in his tweet. Meanwhile, popular Hong Kong singer Hacken Lee’s salute to anti-Japanese soldiers and China earned 170,000 likes on Weibo (see image on top: right bottom).