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DIPLOMACY

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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