Nationalist Netizens in China: Online Historical Memory

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    Abstract

    The Chinese government is currently performing a delicate act of balance: attempting to foster a “healthy” nationalism among the young generation in China while at the same time having to deal with the at times rather loud and uncompromising expression of this nationalism online. By examining examples of online debates on issues of national interest, the Spratly Islands and the animosity between a Chinese and a Japanese child, this article discusses the use of historical imagery in online historical debates and demonstrates a linkage between the version of Chinese history promulgated in the so-called patriotic education campaign and the rhetoric used online. Even though the viewpoints expressed in the two debates vary widely, the central theme of how to deal with China’s past is plays a strong role in both debates. I argue that though the Chinese government has been rather successful in promoting this reliance on a certain historical perspective to understand present day China’s place in the world, the online nationalist expressions take on a life of their own partly due to China’s very special Internet culture.
    Original languageEnglish
    JournalJournal of China and International Relations
    Volume2
    Issue number1
    Pages (from-to)117-136
    ISSN2245-8921
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2014

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