• Fri
  • Dec 26, 2014
  • Updated: 9:27pm

Chinese nationalism flares up ahead of Xi's visit to Russia

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 March, 2013, 11:48am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 March, 2013, 3:18pm

Angry Chinese nationalist comments demanding the return of territories flooded the official microblogs of Russia's embassy to China on Tuesday, ahead of President Xi Jinping’s visit to Moscow.

A majority of more than 1,300 comments on Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo fanned the flames of nationalism. “We want our land back, take away your Marxism-Leninism ideology,” some said.

The appeals refer to a large chunk of territories China had relinquished to the Russian Empire in the 19th century in a series of treaties deemed unfair by the Chinese government. The comments also underscore discontent against China's ruling Communist Party, whose doctrine originates from Marxism-Leninism ideology from the Soviet Union.

Many Chinese people said the ceded lands, which lie northeast and northwest of China, would add up to more than 1.5 million sq km in total.

Some weibo users also blamed Russia for masterminding the independence of Mongolia in 1921, a territory once under China’s rule.

The nationalist comments reflect high sensitivity among the Chinese about territorial disputes. Last year massive anti-Japan protests broke out across the mainland over contested sovereignty over the Diaoyu Islands in the East China Sea.

Still, not all users agreed with the angry outbursts. One blogger wrote: “Too many insane comments. A strategic partnership between China and Russia is important for the Asia-Pacific region’s stability.”

Xi is scheduled to visit Russia this week, his first official trip as president of China. The move, critics say, retraces the footsteps of his predecessor, Hu Jintao, who made Moscow his first overseas destination as president a decade ago.

Xi pledged the visit would be a “testimony to the great importance China places on its relations with Russia. China and Russia are each other's major and most important strategic partners … and both countries accord priority to their bilateral relationship in their overall diplomatic agenda and foreign policy."

Peng Liyuan, Xi’s wife who is a former singer, is also expected to join him on the visit, signalling her debut as China’s first lady. 


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I've purposely tried to stay out of the 'island row' between China and Japan though I have commented extensively on the "nine dashed line" claim as it is the issue that directly conflicts an American cornerstone principal which is freedom on the high seas, including the South China Sea. My fear is that we are turning the clock back to an era of dueling nationalism. In the 19th century, the American version was the policy of "Manifest Destiny". I regard this period as a low point in American history. We are still patching wounds in Latin America that were inflicted during this period. My question is why repeat the mistakes of the past with the emergence of variations on that theme in other parts of the world? Yes, the island rows, from the Kuril Islands to the DiaoYu cannot and should not be resolved by 19th century style gunboat diplomacy. Nor should the South China Sea issue be settled in the same fashion with the inevitable arms race to see who can field the most powerful navy in the area. I know enough Chinese history to be aware of the warships that moored off the Chinese coast and terrorized Chinese coastal cities until they were forced to agree to their one sided terms. I will, however remind you that American warships were absent except when they came to the rescue of American nationals in peril (Boxer Revolution). As I've said before, this whole issue of navigation rights on the high seas has been hashed out in other areas during the cold war. Where was China?


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