How should we refer to the latest episode in the recent Sino-Vietnamese political tiff, in which a Chinese vessel rammed and sunk a Vietnamese fishing boat while the latter was situated in disputed waters? #ramgate? #boatgate? #disputedwatergate? Regardless of whichever shitty hashtag you choose to attach to this story, it has undoubtedly stirred the waters (sorry) of Weibo’s tirelessly vocal netizens.
Netizen Smog in the Imperial Capitol writes that China should be free of blame in this case because, well, it’s simply doing what its belligerent neighbors have already done in the past: “South Korea detains Chinese fisherman. Japan detains Chinese fisherman. Russia attacks them with cannons. A Chinese fishing boat rams and sinks a Vietnamese fishing boat, hahahahahahaha.” [Note: Yes, that is seven ‘ha”s.] This comment received almost 13,000 thumbs up from fellow enthusiastic comrades on ifeng.com, making it the site’s top-rated comment on the story.
On the other hand, a comment that received the smack of censorship (according to FreeWeibo.com) was one that alluded to how relations between states should be conducted with greater courtesy: “Foreign Ministry spokesman Qin Gang spoke of Vietnam’s low credibility. This bothers me: Territorial disputes are issues that should be resolved through discussion, rather than insulting another country,” said netizen Duan Wanjin.
Rather than join in on Duan’s diplomatic pragmatism, however, most netizens unsurprisingly took the typical hyper-nationalist approach in their response, much like netizen Hou Ning, who posted on his Weibo account that “Chinese fisherman are mighty! There are still heroes among the people!” In the same vein, other users played with the Chinese idiom “kill the chicken to scare the monkey” — where the chicken is your weaker enemy and the monkey is the stronger one — in order to insult Vietnam: “I think the best way to frighten Vietnam is to attack Japan. Kill the monkey to scare the chicken!”
While these fearless e-defenders of China’s ego run their proverbial mouths off, the actual situation in Vietnam seems to get worse with each passing day. On the 27th was #boatgate, while on the 26th a 67-year-old Vietnamese woman burned herself alive in protest. Ten days prior, over 20 were killed at a Taiwanese steel mill factory in Vietnam, including 16 ‘described as Chinese.’
Despite all that’s occurred, one of the world’s last bastions of fair and integral journalism (not to mention our personal favorite), the Global Times, still insists that Beijing has unique advantages over the US in gaining the trust of countries in SE Asia. Right.
By Alex Stevens