How did the Chinese internet respond to the Paris attacks?

In a word: boringly, or I would have covered this sooner.Fluctuat nec Mergitur

“Pray for Paris”*, “Eiffel Tower closed indefinitely” and “Paris bombings and shootings” are trending on Weibo:

Weibo Pray for Paris

The other topics are 一年级·大学季  (a reality tv show), Xiong Dun (a cartoonist), Yang Mi (actress), Cecilia Boey (K-pop singer), Zhang Yuxi (actress/model), 明家三兄弟 (tv drama), and “France train derailment” – another story that came up on the same day but which has no connection to the terrorist attacks. (A lot of the comments are on the theme of misfortunes seldom arriving singly.)

The #PrayforParis and “Paris bombings and shootings” posts are mostly the same sort of sentiments as you can see on your own Facebook news feed, so there’s little point in translating them. Oh. And product placement. Always with the product placement.

What is moderately interesting is that Chinese netizens have tended to mention #PrayforParis within the wider context of everything else grim that’s currently going on (Middle East, earthquakes, refugees etc.), rather than devoting a single post to it, although it’s still worth noting that even in China it’s #PrayforParis that’s trending, not #PrayforBeirut.

Oh, and netizens are particularly interested in this guy:

guy saved by a bullet hitting his phone

… who claims he was saved when a bullet ricocheted off his phone rather than his head.

Incidentally, the Eiffel Tower thing is doing well because a great number of Chinese netizens have a trip there on their bucket list, and have been dismayed to learn that Europe’s incipient religious wars may screw up their travel plans.

But that’s enough of Weibo. Things get a bit more interesting when you move to the rather more insane world of online bulletin boards

On Tianya the threads appear to be being monopolised by people with a pre-existing interest in the oppression of Muslims – largely, it appears, because they apparently are Muslims and are mad as hell and not going to take it any more:

Chinese Muslim

Chinese Muslims

Those two posts both basically suggest that the French had it comng for oppressing segments of their society.

In fact, the Chinese government has a history of censoring news items about Muslims misbehaving. Not, as the English language experts like to tell us, because the Arab Spring may inspire the entire Chinese population to rise up en masse and kick out their evil communist rulers, but because China has a fractious Muslim population of its own and it doesn’t want them getting any ideas. (Yet another incidence of well-intentioned Westerners assuming that anyone fighting against an autocratic leader must – ex officio – be a lovely person.)

There are also a certain number of conspiracy theories involving Russia, all more or less incomprehensible:

blaming russia

That guy thinks the Russians knew this was going to happen in advance, possibly that they orchestrated it, but also – I think – that the US is controlling ISIS. As the reply states: “Wtf kind of logic is that?”

And so we turn finally to Tiexue.

Stuffed to the Plimsoll line with loons though it may be, Tiexue is actually an excellent resource for anyone interested in Chinese politics because most of its members are armchair generals of long standing, and are happy to give detailed opinions. Certainly, it skews right, but there are always enough counter-opinions to construct a semi-balanced viewpoint.

Unsurprisingly for a forum with a strong nationalist component, there is much less Muslim outrage here, and America largely replaces Russia in the conspiracy theorising. Indeed, the second most upvoted comment dismisses the whole thing as American imperialism without any further explanation:

Tiexue American imperialism

And another guy feels that the French deserve no sympathy because Charlie Hebdo ran a cartoon about the Russian plane crash:

angry on Tiexue

Though he is swiftly rebuked by a chap who reminds him that radical Islam is a threat in China too, and not to be taken lightly:

East Turkistan

*Incidentally, was there ever a wussier slogan coined than “Pray for Paris”? It’s essentially an admission of defeat. Why not skip straight to “thank you for not shooting our citizens”?


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