Major State media oppose ‘irrational patriotism’ online

2016-07-19 00:14:19 GMT2016-07-19 08:14:19(Beijing Time) Global Times

China's mainstream media such as State-owned Xinhua News Agency and the Party's flagship newspaper People's Daily have begun to criticize a recent outpouring of "irrational patriotism" on social media.

Since the ruling in the South China Sea arbitration was announced, China's Internet has been flooded with patriotic posts, and numerous public figures have declared their wholehearted support for the country on social media platforms Sina Weibo and WeChat.

But meanwhile, other Net users have leveled false accusations against public figures and have started to mislead people into blindly boycotting foreign products and brands such as Philippine bananas, iPhones and KFC.

For instance, many netizens launched a protest against Zhao Wei, a mainland actress and film director who recruited actor and alleged Taiwan separatist Leon Dai to star in her new movie. In a viral post, one Weibo blogger accused Zhao of having deep connections to powerful figures who were trying to manipulate public opinion by deleting posts against her. However, the blogger later admitted the accusations were groundless.

Xia Ke Dao, a WeChat account related to People's Daily, commented Monday that Net users should not "use the name of patriotism falsely against our own people" and cautioned Chinese citizens not to be fooled by conspiracy theories.

Xinhua also published an article on Monday calling on citizens to "be patriotic, but don't be blinded," after many people pledged to boycott iPhones based on misleading information.

He Lingnan, deputy chief of the big data and communications lab at Sun Yat-sen University in South China's Guangdong Province, said that irrational patriotism reflects the explosive development of the Internet in China.

"Many undereducated and elderly people have gotten involved in online discussions. However, these people are really susceptible to rumors or conspiracy theories, and their love for the country is often manipulated," said He.

Zhang Weiwei, dean of the China Institute at Shanghai's Fudan University, said that mainstream Chinese patriotism is healthy and rational, and we should not take outlying individual cases too seriously.

Zhang added that although both China and the US have irrational patriotism, China's policymakers are not pushed by irrational voices into making aggressive decisions, unlike when irrational American patriotism led the US into unnecessary war after the 9/11 attacks.

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