Young Chinese show their love for their motherland on a popular video-sharing platform that shoots comments across the screen
Sunny, a 25-year-old graduate student, is an active user on bilibili.com, a Chinese video-sharing platform. However, do not assume that her favorite account is some “fresh meat” or a trendy show. The account she loves the most is the Central Committee of the China Communist Youth League (CCYL).
“I love their style, which promotes patriotism and the
socialist core values in a lively and light-hearted way, as well as people and their actions that deliver positive energy,” Sunny, who majors in politics studies in Lanzhou, Gansu Province, told the Blog Weekly magazine.
Sunny is among the new generation of patriots, whom people can find on websites like bilibili.com.
In addition to films, TV dramas, recordings of people playing games and other entertainment, people can also find many videos with topics including patriotism, military development and other China-related issues, all of which have become very popular. For instance, there are TV dramas that are about the War of Resistance against Japanese Aggression (1931-45), documentaries about Chinese manufacturing and Chinese animation. All of these videos have been the frontier for young Chinese to express their patriotic sentiment and resonate with each other.
Patriots and danmu comments
Among them, Sunny particularly remembers a remix video of Chinese military parades and demonstrations, which made her feel “extremely excited” and she sent a danmu comment to express herself.
On websites like bilibili.com or acfun.com, people can send out danmu, or literally “bullet screen,” which refers to comments shot across the screen. The danmu comments, which stay on the screen and shoot across when people watch the show later, have become a method for people to share their point of view and emotions, among which is patriotic sentiment.
Via danmu comments, people share how they are proud to be a Chinese or how they are moved by China becoming more powerful.
One of Sunny’s favorite is The Chronicle of the Rabbit, an animation about China’s international relations, with the rabbit representing China.
“I cried a river over the episode about China during the Korean War (1950-53). Although it was only eight minutes long, it was so moving,” she said.
The animation, played more than 300 million times on the site, has inspired many young people and also inspired Sunny to become a firm patriot.
“I cried over every single episode,” somebody commented via danmu.
Sunny thinks the most meaningful part about the animation is that it helps her learn history. “There’s a lot in our history that is worth exploring, but many people, including myself, know little about it.”
Sunny attributes her patriotic worldview to multiple factors, such as majoring in politics, other documentaries including one about former premier Zhou Enlai and the posts from the Sina Weibo of the Global Times as well as CCYL.
“My major allows me to understand our country’s policies, and the animation and documentaries make me better understand and identify with my country,” she said.
The ‘wumao party’?
Zhang Ying (pseudonym), a post-1990s viewer on the website, who was in Japan preparing for graduate school entrance exams in November 2016, watched the newly released third season of The Chronicle of the Rabbit and watched the last two seasons again because he was missing home.
According to him, the reason the animation has been a huge success is that young people see it as a channel to express their patriotic sentiment.
One of the episodes that Zhang likes the most is about the rabbit participating in a military exhibition where the rabbit’s weapons are well made, sold at a low price and versatile, which sell better than the weapons made by the eagle (the US).
Zhang notes that whether or not young people are being patriotic is relevant to the country’s military strength. He has friends who used to be pro-America because of its strong military power that have now become “wumao” (government “stooges”).
“I don’t care if I’m called a wumao or a ziganwu (self-motivated Internet commenter who defends the government). I just love this country so much,” said Lin Chao, the author of The Chronicle of the Rabbit.
The last time Lin shed tears rs in public was at the 11th China International national Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, Guangdong gdong Province in November 2016. It was the fifirst first time that the domestic-built J-20 stealth fifighter fighter made its publicublic debut.
Lin teared up when a J-2020 flflew flew over his head.d. In the moment, he forgotrgot about the fact that hee was on live stream. The sentimental ntimental moment was captured ured on his phone camera andnd simultaneously sent to the audience’s phones or computer r screens. People also sent in millions of danmu comments.
Among them, m, Zhang said the exhibition wasas “a slap in the face” for those who ho used to say that China was incapable capable of making their own J-20s. .
A new generation
In September, Chenn Rui, CEO of the bilibili website, made a public speech about the culturalal background of China’s young generation. ion.
“When managing the website, one of the biggest impressions that the young generation has given me is that those post-1990s and post-2000s 00s young Chinese are very patriotic,” he said.
Comparatively speaking, youngng people e active on the website are emotional. nal. One sentimental line, or one frame of the pic- ture, might hit them in the soft spot. ot.
Gao Hanning, a PhD student in Chinese language and literature at Peking eking University, said the young generation of patriots is different from the older one. The young people are largely into ACG (animation, comic and games) works, and treat the country like their “idol.”
It is a result of the culture of the community, he said. “Their social life is not built on kinship, geographical relationship or between classmates anymore. Instead, it’s on their hobbies.”
Gao considers 2008 the turning point when many young people become firm patriots and nationalists.
It was in 2008 that winter storms hit many parts of Southern China in January, riots broke out in Lhasa in March, advocates of Tibetan independence overseas in April disrupted the Beijing Olympic torch relay, and an earthquake devastated Wenchuan in Sichuan Province in May.
What happened that year strengthened some young people’s awareness of patriotism, Gao said, and a large number of post-1980s and post-1990s Chinese joined the tide of patriotism and nationalism that year.
According to Chen, this new generation of patriotic Chinese has many things in common.
“They lived a good life, they are well educated and sincerely think they live in a good country and love our country dearly,” he said.
However, Chen added, even within the community, how they comprehend and express their patriotism varies from one person to another.
Some are more conservative and restrained than others. Among them is Atang, a 23-year-old teacher. She loves watching documentaries that “promote national prestige,” such as those about China’s manufacturing industry, and the major construction projects such as bridges and the railway system.
“I don’t think being patriotic means saying slogans, or writing articles admiring the country. Instead, it’s about the tears that well up when seeing the national flag, the unity of the people in face of disasters, and a simple ‘it’s so great to be Chinese’ after experiencing everything,” she said.
During the military parade on September 3, 2015,
Atang “criedried the entire re tim time she was br browsering the Sina Weibo posts of that day.”
I In addition,ddi i lik like many other young people in China, Atang is a fan of South Korean idol bands such as Girls’ Generation and EXO, but she said, “National interests come before idols.”
However, her participation only involves posting comments online. She refuses to participate in any patriotic activities in real life, because she says they could easily turn nasty.
She still remembers the protests and boycotting
againstagai foreign products and brands, including KFC and Philippine bananas, after an arbitration tribunal ruled against China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea in a case filed by the Philippines. She considers waiving banners on the street against KFC to be “irrational“irrational patriotism.” “Although they boycotted foreign brands, [they hurt] those Chinese working there,” she said. Sunny also sees herself as a rational patriot, never overdoingd i thingshi or goingi extreme, andd thinkshi k thath she should “do her own job, and never meddle with things and cause trouble for the country and the society.” She has not participated in any specific activity other than writing comments and being an onlooker online, but it does not mean she lacks the enthusiasm. “I am happy to do anything if the country needs it,” she said.
The Chronicle of the Rabbit, an animation about China’s international relations with the rabbit representing China, has inspired many young Chinese to expresse their love for the country.country
The patriots born in the 1980s and 1990s closely follow films, documentaries and animation online that are related to China’s growing strength.