Social media

People wearing face masks walk out of a subway station during morning rush hour in Beijing, China, 26 April 2022. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Patriotism has become a commodity on Chinese social media

Chinese internet celebrities have landed in hot water since social media platforms began displaying the IP addresses of posts by verified accounts. Netizens are crying foul as the locations of these individuals have potentially exposed the deception and falsehoods in their content and “patriotic” personae. Is this the end for the “patriotic Big Vs”?
Protesters carrying a large Ukrainian flag and heading to a protest against Russia's war in Ukraine, walk by a mesh depicting an artistic view of Vladimir Putin's portrait, featured in an anti-war exhibition near the Russian Embassy, in Bucharest, Romania, 30 April 2022. (Octav Ganea via Reuters)

Why some Malaysian netizens are pro-Russia and support Putin

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, Malaysia’s social media has been abuzz with discussions on the conflict, with different groups expressing both condemnation and support for Russia. Academics Benjamin Y.H. Low and Munira Mustaffa examine pro-Russian sentiments and unpack them for possible explanations for why such views prevail amongst Malaysians, including factors such as religious affiliation, impressions of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, and an anti-Western mindset.
A worker in personal protective equipment facilitates a round of Covid-19 testing during a lockdown in Shanghai, China, on 7 April 2022. (Qilai Shen/Bloomberg)

A Singaporean in China: Contact tracing lays bare the lives of ordinary Chinese

Through contact tracing records of Covid-19 positive patients, people are getting a glimpse of how their fellow Chinese live their lives. While the detailed records bring up the question of privacy, they have helped to highlight the issue of inequality in big cities and the lives of those who are toiling away and struggling to make ends meet. Beijing-based Singaporean Jessie Tan shares the stories that have gripped the attention of Chinese netizens.
Based on the photo in this marriage certificate, the appearance and age of the woman the authorities initially identified as 'surnamed Yang' did not match the footage of the chained woman circulated online. (Weibo)

‘The world has abandoned me’: Chinese women married into slavery?

Chinese academic Lorna Wei says that the authorities’ determination to root out human trafficking may waver, but netizens’ voices speaking up for the victims — often women married off into other counties — will not be silenced. This may be the only comfort that countless women suffering alone can take solace in.
The keywords used by Chinese officials in social media with regards to Southeast Asia are different from those used towards the West. (ISEAS)

Polite 'wolves': China’s soft Twitter diplomacy in Southeast Asia

China's diplomats have gained fame on Western social media platforms for their strident "wolf warrior" discourse. But the strategy is not applied uniformly across all countries. In fact, they have taken a more polite tone towards Southeast Asian countries. This is seen most obviously on Twitter, where key officials and spokespersons in China have shown contrasting styles and choice of words depending on the target audience.
After making some comparisons, netizens believe that the chained woman (left) resembles Li Ying, a missing woman from Sichuan. (Internet)

Chained mother of eight brings attention to abduction and sale of women in rural China

The viral posts of a woman chained by the neck in Feng county, Jiangsu province, have ignited public outcry. It is not just the plight of the mother of eight that has enraged netizens, but also the abhorrent handling of the case by local authorities and communities. Zaobao correspondent Chen Jing uncovers the hidden layers of injustice, gender imbalance and messy governance the incident has brought to light.
SpaceX founder and Tesla CEO Elon Musk speaks on a screen during the Mobile World Congress (MWC) in Barcelona, Spain, 29 June 2021. (Nacho Doce/File Photo/Reuters)

Elon Musk and the new China-US space race

A Chinese space station’s near-collision with Tesla and SpaceX CEO Elon Musk’s Starlink satellites has Chinese internet pundits wondering if this is another ploy by the US to contain China’s space progress and steal China’s space technologies. Is a new China-US space race in the offing? Zaobao’s China Desk examines the issue.
Chinese brand Three Squirrels came under fire for featuring "slit eyes" in a series of advertisements. (Internet)

Are ‘slit eyes’ an insult to China?

Recent advertisements in China featuring slit-eyed models have been criticised by netizens for “insulting” or “uglifying” the Chinese. But are Chinese people “unworthy” to be Chinese because they fit into so-called Western stereotypes of what Chinese people look like? Are detractors not buying into the very ideas that they want to reject, that Chinese people who look a certain way are “ugly”? Zaobao's China Desk examines the issue.
People walk past a Canada Goose store in Beijing, China, 2 December 2021. (Tingshu Wang/Reuters)

Canada Goose: Why Western brands are not open to returns in China

Commentator Chip Tsao notes that even as Chinese consumers are unhappy about perceived differential treatment by Western high-end brands in terms of returns and refunds, this is due in some part to their penchant for buying items and then easily changing their minds, or returning them after only using them once, perhaps just for selfies for social media. Not to mention the possibility of consumers’ irrational nationalism kicking in and the high costs of processing returns, it’s no wonder that brands are thinking twice before offering returns.