Condoleezza Rice’s recent visit to east Asia concluded in Beijing, where she made clear her opposition to the new anti-secession law and her view that Japan should be a permanent member of the UN security council. With Sino-Japanese relations deteriorating and unification of Taiwan with China regarded as non-negotiable by the Chinese, it is hardly surprising that these remarks did not go down well. But what has not been reported in the western media is the reception Rice was given.
One way of taking the temperature in China is the internet, a very important indicator of public opinion in a country where more traditional media are tightly controlled. The importance of – and recent upsurge in – nationalism, for example, has found powerful expression on Chinese websites. The internet response to Rice’s visit has been revealing. The racist character of much of it has moved liberals to protest, most significantly Liu Xiaobo, a veteran critic of mass movements in China since Tiananmen, who has written a response on the New Century Net website.