Netizen Voices: “So a General Election Doesn’t Represent Mainstream Public Opinion?”

Saturday’s general election in Taiwan, in which the ruling Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) lost its parliamentary majority but saw its presidential candidate Lai Ching-te elected with 40% of the vote, was closely watched in many other countries around the world, including China. Intense interest from China’s citizenry did not translate, however, into the election being prominently featured on the Chinese internet and social media: CDT editors have archived a variety of content showing that hashtags related to the Taiwan election were blocked, muted, and otherwise “diluted” on Weibo. Also blocked was the slang hashtag #FrozenGarlic (#冻蒜, dòng suàn), which is a popular slogan heard at campaign rallies. (It is an approximate sound-alike for the Southern Min dialect pronunciation of the term “to get elected,” 當選, dāngxuǎn).

Despite the extensive online censorship of news related to the election, there was a rare outpouring of online commentary in response to a statement by China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO) spokesman Chen Binhua, who declared that “the results showed the Democratic Progressive Party cannot represent mainstream public opinion on the island.” Many Weibo users posted derisive comments below the news about Chen’s statement, which was issued through China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency. CDT editors have archived screenshots of the many comments (1, 2, and 3), a selection of which are translated below:

Haha, and who are you to dismiss the results of a fair election with that one word: “unrepresentative”?

He still claims it doesn’t represent “mainstream public opinion.”

Chinese-style “Ah-Q mentality” [i.e. deluding oneself into pretending defeats are victories] 

This is a gutsy comments section.

Pretty brave of them not to filter these comments.

Everyone knows what’s what, so there’s really no need to delude yourself and others like this.

Sure, go on deluding yourself!

Numb from winning! [For more on this and other popular online slang, see CDT’s new Lexicon, 20th Anniversary Edition.]

Shouldn’t you be filtering comments about the Taiwan issue???

This Weibo headline is interesting.

So what exactly were the election results?

So you’re saying that when the common people cast their individual votes, it doesn’t represent mainstream public opinion? I guess I’m too ignorant and uneducated to understand how the world works.

Enough, already—how can you criticize others’ elections when you don’t even allow elections at home?

So a general election doesn’t represent mainstream public opinion? What new sort of understanding is this?

Bury your head in the sand.

A great and impressive country is afraid of comments from its own netizens. No wonder so many foreign media outlets criticize you.

Question for China’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO): What exactly is “mainstream public opinion,” then?

[TAO is] the most shameless, useless, piece-of-trash government department. [Chinese]

On Substack, VOA’s Wenhao Ma noted responses to the TAO statement from Chinese nationalists frustrated with Beijing’s perceived lenience toward Taiwan:

“Stop lying to yourself,” one netizen commented on Weibo. “This election result is not surprising at all. It’s time to halt policies that benefit Taiwan and speed up rolling out policies aiming at trapping and retrieving Taiwan.”

“I feel like poeple from across the strait don’t want to come close to us and instead want to distance themselves,” another netizen wrote. “If we have to use violence then let’s do it.”

[…] “No more delays, the earlier we attack the better, the bigger the scale of the attack is the better,” prominent online nationalist “Ziwu Xiashi” wrote on Weibo on Saturday before Lai formally won but whose victory was clear. “I didn’t think so in the past, but I feel like we don’t have much time left.”

The post has since been deleted. [Source]

At Reuters, meanwhile, Eduardo Baptista reported on Chinese officials’ condemnations of American, British, and Japanese statements congratulating the winners, and even of a more cautious French message congratulating all participants:

The Chinese embassy in France said that a statement from the French foreign ministry on Sunday was a “provocation” against the Chinese government because it congratulated a separatist politician and political party in Lai and the DPP.

This was despite the fact that France, unlike several other countries, did not name Lai or his party in its statement, congratulating instead “all voters and candidates” who participated in the election.

“The ‘Taiwan independence’ candidate winning, and some so-called ‘congratulations’ cannot change fundamental framework and development trend of cross-Strait relations,” the embassy said.

But the Chinese embassy also took issue with the statement’s praise of Taiwanese democracy, accusing the DPP of corruption and repressing its political opponents.

“With such a stained and unsavoury track record, were it any western country, would it be championed as ‘democracy’?” [Source]

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