As tensions escalate between the United States and China amid the ongoing trade war, Beijing has stepped up efforts to instigate Chinese people’s nationalistic feelings and influence public attitudes in favor of Beijing’s policies.
However, the people don’t seem to buy it.
On Aug. 13, a military news account on the NetEase news portal’s video section, published a video discussing this premise: if a war breaks out between China and another nation, how much savings will Chinese people be willing to donate to the country?
The video accuses the United States of “seeking trouble everywhere” by starting wars and “plundering money and treasures” to provide benefits for the American people.
“Once aircraft carriers are used, it’s not just tens of billions of dollars [in defense spending]. At that time, if the government is short of fiscal revenue, will Chinese citizens contribute with money and assets like the American people do?” the video asks.
While it concluded that the Chinese people “are willing to sacrifice everything they have” for their country, netizen comments underneath the video post reflect a different reality.
Instead of showing support, more complained about China’s many social problems. Many even expressed the wish to support the American government.
“Why would the regime need my donation, given that it’s already so rich? Those greedy government officials embezzle hundreds of millions of dollars at once, while I can’t even afford the down payment for my house,” commented a netizen from Fuzhou City, Jiangxi Province.
“If you donate…you are helping a tyrant to victimize his subjects. You all decide yourselves!” commented a netizen with the screen name “jealous_self.”
The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) often uses media to stir up nationalist sentiment, the most prominent example being the state-run Global Times’ chauvinist commentary on every hot-button issue China is involved in. With the recent U.S.-China trade war, state media have described the dispute as “a war concerning the country’s fate.” Many state media editorials have rallied Chinese citizens to “unite together to overcome temporary hardships.”
Widespread government corruption; a series of shocking scandals such as the recent spread of substandard vaccines and peer-to-peer lending platform scams; and soaring living costs in China have all made citizens lose confidence in the Chinese regime.
Earlier last month, following the revelation that faulty vaccines manufactured by a major Chinese drug company were inoculated on scores of children, numerous Chinese netizens rushed to the Sina Weibo—a platform similar to Twitter—account of the U.S. Embassy in China.
Because comments on an account belonging to an American entity were less likely to be censored, netizens complained about the Chinese regime and expressed their hopes for the United States to intervene and help the Chinese people.