The dispute over Diaoyu Islands between China and Japan has make patriotism, or nationalism, a buzzword for news on China. A recent patriotic declaration by popular novelist, Guo Jingming, has made discussions about patriotism in China reach a new high point.
Guo Jingming, a controversial writer of teen novels, is famous for his height (less than 150 cm/5 feet), his feminine looks, his plagiarism in writings and his constant showing-off of extravagant lifestyle. Yet, he is a pop idol among youth and his books sell by the millions. Last Sunday, he vowed his love for his country to his 150 million+ followers on Sina Weibo, China’s No. 1 microblogging service. So far, the post has been shared over 221 thousand times and attacked over 111 thousand comments.
“You guys feel free to call me a blind fan of China. I’m the kind of person who burst into tears when watching the national flag rise at Tianmen Square. I’m the kind of person who would choke every time when the national anthem was played at the Olympics. I’m the kind of person who cried out loud after watching online videos of Chinese protecting the torch during Beijing Olympic Torch Relay at night. You must not doubt that such kind of person does exist. My country indeed has many problems, but nothing influences my outspoken love and pride of it.”
The most interesting theme emerged from comments to the post is the distinction between two kinds of patriotism. To love China as motherland or to love the China lead by the Communist Party, that is an easy distinction for most netizens to make. Like netizen 索牛妹 commented: “Love for my country has nothing to do with love for the Communist Party.” 边雨在成都 agreed: “To love the country and to love the party are two totally different things. I wholeheartedly love my country.” 美少女壮士59 commented: “To love my country doesn’t mean I love the party or the government.”
屌丝儿日记 went further: “Our country has no problems at all. It’s very good. What has problems is the government that currently rules this country.” 独上望江楼 even saw government as opposite to the country: “Patriotism is to prevent our own motherland from being harmed by the government because only the government has the power to harm the lands, culture and people of this country.”
But there are others who questioned the practicality of such a distinction. As 許弘奇ChrisHsu asked: “Can the party represent China? If not, how can we distinguish in reality?” 天一定会再蓝 commented: “How can anyone completely take out the ruling party when talking about love for their country? The party rules the country.” 苏南Saeran concluded: “The reality is that the country and the party have so much influence over each other in the past few decades. At the very moment of ecstasy or fury, one cannot really tell whom exactly they are happy for or angry at.”
And of course, discussion of patriotism in China never goes without personal attacks. Two most shared comments to the original posts were “When I was at your height, I loved this country, too” and “Everyone loved the country when they were about 140 cm tall.”
Such debate on patriotism highlighted Chinese people’s mixed feelings towards their country during a time when many feel ashamed to declare love for their country and when a patriot equals to a 5 mao (a term first used to describe internet commentators hired by the Chinese government to shape public discourse and now evolves in to a general term to label people who are pro-China). In recent years, traitors and patriots become equally insulting words that have been way overused on the Chinese Internet to label whoever with different opinions.