Zhao Shengye became a household name overnight in China and among overseas Chinese communities after he suggested in a recent social media post that Beijing should deploy nuclear weapons to counter the United States’ recent actions.
His verified profile on Sina Weibo, a platform similar to Twitter, shows that he is a professor at the Shenyang Institute of Technology, and has more than three million followers.
The Trump administration in recent months has taken tougher action against Beijing on multiple fronts, including Chinese tech companies posing security threats and firms involved in Beijing’s militarization of the South China Sea.
On Sept. 12, Zhao posted: “if [U.S. President Donald] Trump is bent on fighting against China…even intervening in a future war to liberate Taiwan, the ultimate result of Trump’s actions will be the destruction of all mankind.” Zhao’s rhetoric on Taiwan—a self-ruled island that Beijing claims as part of its territory, despite Taiwan having all the features of a nation-state—matches Beijing’s recent aggression, such as intruding on the island’s airspace. The United States has consistently condemned Beijing’s threats on Taiwan and is the island’s main arms supplier.
Significantly, Zhao’s controversial post included an English translation as well, suggesting that it was meant for a broader audience.
Zhao described several strategies by which the Chinese regime could attempt nuclear destruction:
1. When a nuclear submarine loaded with nuclear warheads is detonated in the Pacific Ocean, the shock waves could exceed 2,000 meters. The water would submerge surrounding areas.
2. Detonating thousands of nuclear bombs in the Himalayas at the same time could change the orbit of the earth.
3. Drilling 10,000 meters deep in the Sichuan basin and implanting thousands of nuclear bombs at the same time would trigger the collapse of the earth’s core and the extinction of human beings all over the world.
Zhao’s jaw-dropping post drew immediate reaction among netizens.
Kantie, an online Chinese-language media outlet, argued that Zhao represented the Chinese regime’s authoritarian mentality of, “if I cannot survive, no one else shall be allowed to survive.”
China analysts also described Zhao as a radical nationalist.
His extremist ideas became a hotly debated topic online. But about ten hours later, the post was deleted from the platform.
Some netizens questioned whether authorities initially allowed the post because they wanted to threaten nuclear war with the United States.
As early as in 1957, then-Party chief Mao Zedong openly expressed that they were willing to engage in a nuclear conflict. He himself admitted: “I’m not afraid of nuclear war. There are 2.7 billion people in the world; it doesn’t matter if some are killed. China has a population of 600 million. Even if half of them are killed, there are still 300 million people left.”