The dangers of embracing Chinese nationalism: Money and power at stake | Political News

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In Nanjing, a Chinese ultranationalist vlogger caused a stir in January when he spotted red circular stickers at a shopping mall with the words “Happy 2024” and claimed they resembled the rising sun in Japan’s flag, sparking accusations of nationalistic Japanese motifs. The vlogger confronted mall staff, leading to police intervention and an order to remove the decorations. This incident highlighted the absurdity of banning all red circular objects, including logos of major Chinese brands like Huawei and imagery of Mao Zedong.

China’s state-run CCTV criticized the vlogger’s actions, emphasizing the need to maintain control over nationalist narratives. Under President Xi Jinping, patriotism has been strongly encouraged, with a recent “patriotic education law” aiming to instill loyalty to the country and the ruling CCP. However, the government also moderates nationalist rhetoric when necessary to prevent extremism that could harm international relations or social harmony.

The promotion of intense patriotic feelings in China has sometimes led to a toxic anti-Japanese environment, fueled by historical conflicts such as the Second Sino-Japanese War. Instances like the 2012 anti-Japanese riots demonstrate how nationalistic fervor can turn violent, prompting the Chinese government to balance patriotism to prevent escalation. While patriotism can be monetized on social media, creators risk facing consequences if they cross red lines set by the government, illustrating the delicate balance of nationalism in China.

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