Chinese nationalists are taking their anger out on anything American they can touch

Photo: STR/AFP/Getty Images.

For years the Chinese government has used its grip over the media to tell its people that the South China Sea historically and rightfully belongs to them and that United States is behind a plot to undermine that.

So earlier this month, when an international tribunal in The Hague determined that China had unequivocally been violating the sovereignty of its neighbour nations with its self-proclaimed nine-dash line in the South China Sea, Chinese people were completely outraged. They were conditioned for it.

And in their condition, they have start exercising their anger on the American things they can touch — American brands.

Smashing iPhones has become one of the more popular ways for people to display their disgust.

And then there’s this video of a guy getting attacked on the train for wearing Nikes. Shanghaiist posted the video, saying:

During the altercation, the attacker also accused the Nike-sh oed man of being a spy and selling out the Chinese people to foreign interests. A bystander carrying a Nike bag was quick to get out of the way.

Curiously, nobody on the subway attempted to stop the fight and mediate the situation.

Over at the New York Times, the word is that KFC has also become a major target for anti-American protests.

The first sign of the KFC campaign was a banner unfurled on Sunday outside an outlet in the northern province of Hebei. “Boycott the U.S., Japan, South Korea and the Philippines. Love the Chinese people,” the banner read. “What you eat is KFC. What is lost is the face of our ancestors.”

What’s more, the Chinese government has been as defiant as its people.

“Chinese President Xi Jinping said China will not accept any proposition or action based on the decision Tuesday by the South China Sea arbitrary tribunal,” the state media outlet Xinhua News reported after the ruling.

“Xi said the South China Sea Islands have been China’s territory since ancient times. China’s territorial sovereignty and maritime interests in South China Sea, in any circumstances, will not be affected by the award.”

Uncle Softee

Through state-controlled media, government has called for order, but hasn’t denounced the protestors’ sentiments by any means.

“Any action that promotes national development can rightfully be called patriotic. But so-called patriotism that wilfully sacrifices public order will only bring damage to the nation and society,” People’s Daily expressed in a op-ed.

That said:

“In the farce of the South China Sea arbitration, we take a tit-for-tat approach, but stillhold the moral high ground. We have passion and rationality in equal measure. The government and society voice the same staunch position, based on reason and evidence. Together, this provides a foundation on which China can build a new type of patriotism,” People’s Daily said.

This kind of language is important because it attacks something intangible that the United States has been working on in China since the 1970s — soft power.

Our country’s products and brands are the physical manifestation of Western ideas exported to distant places. Since Xi Jinping took power he’s been hard at work discrediting Western ideas and replacing them with this “new kind of patriotism” People’s Daily was talking about.

This goes for education and scholarship at all levels, where Western ideas are getting pushed out.

“Think tanks should stick to Marxist ideology, follow the CPC’s leadership and provide intellectual support to help rejuvenate the nation,” said a report by Chinese state-media agency Xinhua back in January of last year.

In a memo called memo is called “Cybersovereignty Symbolises National Sovereignty,” the Chinese army, The People’s Liberation Army, declared war on Western ideas on the internet.

Western hostile forces and a small number of “ideological traitors” in our country use the network, and relying on computers, mobile phones and other such information terminals, maliciously attack our Party, blacken the leaders who founded the New China, vilify our heroes, and arouse mistaken thinking trends of historical nihilism, with the ultimate goal of using “universal values” to mislead us, using “constitutional democracy” to throw us into turmoil, use “colour revolutions” to overthrow us, use negative public opinion and rumours to oppose us, and use “de-partification and depoliticization of the military” to upset us.

So go ahead people, stay angry. Just try not to break anything too valuable.

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