In China, social media is bursting with support for Palestine — and blame for Washington – DAVID RAUDALES

DAVID RAUDALES

Businessman, musician / former Full Stack Developer

DAVID RAUDALES UK

In China, social media is bursting with support for Palestine — and blame for Washington

A smoke rises and ball of fire over a buildings in Gaza City on October 9, 2023 during an Israeli air strike.

Sameh Rahmi/NurPhoto via Getty Images

As war rages in Israel and Gaza, Chinese social media users have come out in support of Palestine.
Their criticism of Israel on Weibo emerged in tandem with barbed comments aimed at the US.
The heavily moderated Weibo is often a sign of what’s allowed to spread in China’s thought spaces.

On Sunday evening, the Israeli consulate in Guangzhou published a social media post to its 264,000 followers, describing reports of a Chinese-Israeli woman seized by Hamas.

“A Chinese-Israeli girl born in Beijing was kidnapped by Hamas and taken to the Gaza Strip yesterday,” the consulate wrote on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter. A photo was attached to the post that appeared to show a woman being whisked away on a motorcycle.

Hundreds of cynical comments followed. “Don’t even use the word ‘China,'” one user threatened.

Some commenters compared Israel to Japan, which is heavily disliked in China due for its brutal regime in World War II. Others brazenly accused Israel of being a Nazi state.

Many raised the memory of Du Zhaoyu, a 34-year-old Chinese lieutenant colonel who was killed in a 2006 Israeli air raid while on a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon.

Officially, China has called for calm as the militant group Hamas launched its biggest attack on Israel in decades, and as Israel responded with a flurry of strikes and a siege of Gaza. 

But on Weibo, which says it has nearly 600 million users, a wave of antisemitism and anger toward Israel has emerged. The heavily moderated platform is rarely a true reflection of consensus in China, but offers a glimpse at the narratives and sentiments allowed to flourish in the country’s thought spaces.

Anti-Israel sentiments are rampant on Weibo

Amid the deluge of posts and sneering comments, an oft-reposted message hints at a deeper reason for some anti-Israel posts — blaming the United States. 

“Emotionally: sympathy for the Palestinian people. Position: understanding Israel. Politically: disliking the United States. Fundamentally: longing for peace. Conclusion: opposing war means opposing the United States,” the copy-pasted message reads.

Like in the rest of the world, discussion on the Israel-Palestine conflict has surged on Weibo. The three most popular hashtags related to the fighting have collectively been viewed over 1 billion times, per data seen by Insider.

On the biggest posts, support for Palestine is clear. “Normal people will support Palestine. It’s evident that Palestine is fighting for survival. It is almost at the end of the line,” said the top comment in a report by state media agency Xinhua.

“Israel can win the war with the support of the United States, but it will never get the support of the world’s righteous people,” another person wrote.

Antisemitic comments, not directed at Israel but at Jewish people, abounded on Weibo as well, as of Tuesday morning Beijing time. 

Notably, the Israeli Embassy in China has received positive comments and well-wishes. But its account has also locked comments on several of its recent posts about the conflict, including one that had more than 1,100 responses. On other posts, the account has enabled a function that allows it to highlight supportive comments. 

The Israeli Embassy in Beijing has locked comments on some of its posts.

Screenshot/Weibo

Undertones of animosity toward the US could be seen in almost every topic discussion about the conflict.

“America, Britain, Israel. The Earth’s three major troublemakers. Without these three nations, the world would be much more peaceful,” wrote the blogger Wenxiao Vincent on a topic of a Shanghai woman who was in Tel Aviv during the Hamas attacks.

In his commentary on the Israeli siege of Gaza, renowned columnist Hu Xijin pointed out that former US ambassador Nikki Haley — who is vying for the GOP presidential nomination — had urged Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to “finish them” in an October 7 post on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“They should have hell to pay for they have just done,” Haley wrote, posting a video of her calling for the end of Hamas.

Hu accused Haley of making a post “full of murderous intent.” He was formerly Chief Editor of the staunchly pro-government outlet, The Global Times.

Blaming the US for war is a common theme on Weibo, where users see Washington as a cabal of Imperialist warmongers that has a hand in all world conflicts — in line with propaganda from the Chinese Communist Party.

Meanwhile, China’s Foreign Ministry has urged Israel and Palestine to work toward a two-state solution, which would see an independent state of Palestine formed to co-exist with Israel. Beijing declined to condemn Hamas, but said it was against all forms of attacks against civilians. 

Read the original article on Business Insider