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Official Chinese Patriotism: Without Motherland, You Are Nothing!

Written by Jack Hu On 17 December 2013 @ 9:55 am | 1 Comment

In China, Chinese, East Asia, English, Media & Journalism, Politics, Weblog

A popular icon used by Chinese netizens as profile pictures to express their patriot feelings. [1]

A popular icon used by Chinese netizens as profile pictures to express their patriot feelings.


A ‘grass-roots’ Internet forum post titled ‘Without the motherland, you are nothing’ has been circulating on the Chinese Internet since November 2013, sparking heated discussions over the old but influential topic of patriotism.

China’s state media Xinhua published [zh] an article on December 2 praising and summarizing the post and it has since been reposted by numerous Chinese media such as the Beijing Daily and the Global Times.

The post used the “fallen-apart” Arabic Spring countries as examples to call for the Chinese people to stay alert for conspiracies by Western countries. It argued that China cannot afford to descend into chaos, and that the people who suffer most in times of unrest are the common people. The conclusion was that the Chinese people must firmly stand behind the Communist Party and President Xi. “Every Chinese should have a patriotic heart.”

This post has aroused a lot of criticism, from scholars to common netizens, on China’s Twitter-like Weibo, mainly for deliberately distorting the meaning of patriotism.

China’s popular sociologist Yu Jianrong marked the difference between the nation and a power bloc:

的确,祖国对我们来说,很重要,是我们的根。正因为如此,我们才希望她有更多的公平公正,真正走向民主和法治。请不要将我的祖国等同于某一利益集团。正是他们,以我的祖国之名,掠夺着人民的财富,限制着人民的自由,而自己早将儿孩送到了外国!

The motherland is indeed very important to us ordinary people. It’s our roots. That’s the reason why we hope it can grow into a place with more equality, more democracy and more rule of law. Please don’t equate my motherland with a certain interest group, who, in the name of the motherland, have been robbing the people and limiting the people’s freedom while already sending their children aboard!

Yu Jianrong's comment resonated with an article in the New York Times by China’s famous author Yu Hua, which accused the Chinese Communist Party of “the hijacking of Chinese patriotism” [2]. Yu Hua said “over the last 64 years [the CCP] has managed to equate ‘love of country’ with love of the party and the government[...] But when the distinction between country and ruler is erased, patriotism ends up being hijacked, and easily manipulated by a narrow-minded nationalism.”

You thought it is motherland, in fact it is otherland; this country belongs to foreigners and those whose offspring are living overseas. You are the stranger of motherland. @weicombo from Sina Weibo explained the meaning behind his web-poster. [3]

You thought it is motherland, in fact it is otherland; this country belongs to foreigners and those whose offspring are living overseas. You are the stranger of motherland. @weicombo from Sina Weibo explained the meaning behind his web-poster.

The Chinese government has stepped up control of the internet to maintain its propaganda grip. Critical comments from opinion leaders such as Yu Jianrong's micro-blog have been forcefully removed, but it is not difficult to find criticism from less influential Weibo users and more subtle comments. For example, the property tycoon and social activist Ren Zhiqiang posed a question on the meaning of nation:

没有了幸福与自由要国家干嘛?

Without happiness and freedom, what is left of a nation?

Weibo user, “Empty thought” criticized the disguised political propaganda:

当执政者绑架了国家,爱国主义就是口号。没有谁,地球都照转。苏联解体了,俄罗斯变强大了,请不要忽悠百姓,权贵集团已经绑架了祖国。闭嘴吧北京日报

Patriotism degenerates into a slogan when the rulers hijack a nation. Russia has become stronger since Soviet Union fell apart. Don’t fool people. The privileged and the powerful have hijacked the motherland. Shut up Beijing Daily.

“Alley Uncle”, an other Weibo user believed such propaganda would not be able to fool people anymore:

没有了民心你们什么都不是。现在不是愚民时代,民智已开,祖国永远不会没,没的只是皇帝和政府。首先我们是地球人,哪里有自由人就向往哪里,请垂死者再也不要绑架百姓了,谁对百姓好,百姓心里清楚的很。

You’ll be nothing without winning people's hearts. Now is not the ra of obscurantist, enlightenment has started. The motherland will never disappear, instead what could disappear are emperor and government. First we are human living in this earth. As human being we aspire for freedom and choose to stay where there is freedom. Those who are dying [refers to authoritarian rulers] should not hijack people anymore, and deep down in people's hearts, they know who are good to them.

“Hearsay in cold water” pointed out that many great thinkers were exiles:

马克思一直流亡国外,依然是马克思;爱因斯坦逃出德国,依然是爱因斯坦;索尔尼仁琴离开苏联,依然是索尔尼仁琴;孙中山到处乱窜,依然是孙中山。李政道、丁肇中、杨振宁、高锟离开了中国,都获得了诺贝尔奖——失去了人民,你才什么都不是!

Karl Marx was still himself as an exile; Einstein was still himself after fleeing Germany; Solzhenitsyn was still himself after leaving Soviet Union; Sun Yat-sen was still himself when he travelled around the world [to advocate for revolution]. Tsung-Dao Lee, Samuel Chao Chung Ting, Chen Ning Yang and Charles Kuen Kao won Nobel Prizes after they left China. Without people, you [the rulers] will be nothing!


Article printed from Global Voices: http://globalvoicesonline.org

URL to article: http://globalvoicesonline.org/2013/12/17/official-chinese-patriotism-without-motherland-you-are-nothing/

URLs in this post:

[1] Image: http://blog.people.com.cn/article/2/1318686868779.html

[2] “the hijacking of Chinese patriotism”: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/12/03/opinion/yu-hua-the-hijacking-of-chinese-patriotism.html?_r=0

[3] Image: http://weibo.com/2836149552/zy4TqaDiR

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