Chinese Vent Anti-Western Fury Online

As a storm of anger quickly spreads through China via the Internet, people emotionally react to the actions of overseas students, western media, and the protesters and even call for boycotts of foreign brands. From The Christian Science Monitor:

A violent storm of nationalist indignation is roiling the Chinese internet, as bloggers vent their anger at perceived Western insults in the wake of the Tibetan uprising last month.

Simmering resentment at the way the Olympic torch relay was treated by pro-Tibet demonstrators in London and Paris has boiled over this week into invective against a CNN commentator, a French supermarket chain, and Nancy Pelosi, speaker of the US House of Representatives.

The government, which keeps a close eye on Internet debate through censors who delete unapproved comment, has given the campaign free rein. Indeed it has added its voice to the angry chorus, which some observers say echoes ancient resentments.

The Washington Post has a story on a student from Duke University who was harassed after patriotism online became overheated. New Freedom, and Peril, in Online Criticism of China from Washington Post:

Wang Qianyuan did not realize she would cause such a frenzy last week when she ran into a group of American students, Tibetan flags tied over their shoulders, getting ready for a vigil at Duke University to support human rights. She used blue body paint to write “Save Tibet” slogans on the bare back of one of the organizers but did not join their demonstration.

Wang, a Chinese national, knew she was treading on sensitive territory. “But human rights are above everything,” she said later in a telephone interview. Even national pride. Before long, a video of the 20-year-old freshman, seen standing between pro-Tibet activists and Chinese counterprotesters, was posted on the Internet. Within hours, an angry mob gathered online, calling her a “traitor” who should be punished.

The Chinese government has not accepted an apology from CNN over disparaging statements made by commentator Jack Cafferty, and has demanded that the network take further action to “take back the vile remarks,” the Washington Post reports.

Meanwhile, Jin Jing, the wheelchair-bound torch bearer who became a national symbol after being attacked by protesters during the Paris leg of the Olympics torch relay, has spoken to the media about the experience:

Why were the protesters so angry? she was asked. “I hope you in the media can answer that for me,” she said.

She repeated the Chinese government’s line on the issue — “Tibet has always been a part of China” — and when asked if she had considered the Tibetans’ point of view, the minder sitting next to her whispered sharply.

“Everyone has their own point of view,” Jin said. But she said, addressing the protesters, “Your actions are wrong.”

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