Online spat won’t hinder cross-Straits ties

Source:Global Times Published: 2016-1-22 0:53:01

Members of Di Ba, an online community on Baidu Tieba, a message board run by Chinese Internet giant Baidu, launched a Facebook "crusade" against Taiwan's "president-elect" Tsai Ing-wen and some pro-independence media outlets on Wednesday night.

They flooded their Facebook pages with tens of thousands of comments and stickers. Participants issued online etiquette advice, such as no abusing, to avoid being reported or demonized. The campaign forced Tsai and SET News to shut off the comment function on their accounts.

It is believed that most participants in the Di Ba crusade are members of the mainland's post-1990s generation. After Tsai was elected, mainland Web users constantly clashed with their Taiwanese counterparts on Facebook. Most of those involved are also believed to be from that same generation. 

These young netizens' patriotic campaign is rather eye-catching and has sparked widely divided opinions.

Critics, primarily Taiwanese media outlets and netizens, mocked their mainland counterparts who have to bypass the Great Firewall to attack "more free" Taiwan.

Some liberal intellectuals in the mainland also share a similar attitude, claiming the Facebook campaign tarnished the mainland's image and added to the estrangement across the Straits.

The crusade was spontaneous, more like an online carnival, but it is based on patriotism. It reveals the awareness of national identity of young mainlanders, including the post-1990s generation, their potential political enthusiasm and their self-mobilizing capabilities, which are not in line with the expectations of some forces both at home and abroad. Criticism of the campaign is mainly driven by different values.

The Di Ba campaign is an interesting and fresh anecdote on the Internet. It demonstrates the Great Firewall is not insurmountable. The online bickering between the mainland and Taiwanese young people is not a big deal.

For quite a long time, the mainland has been acting quite prudently when dealing with Taiwan. Not only have officials been suggested to be careful about their remarks, but the mainland public is also required to restrain their words and deeds, in order to avoid dampening the cross-Straits atmosphere. But doing so does not necessarily have a positive effect since it may stifle the normal expression of patriotism by the mainland public.

With the Democratic Progressive Party assuming power, online collisions between the young generations of both the mainland and Taiwan are inevitable.

There is no need for the mainland authorities to be overly concerned about it.

The mainland's post-1990s generation appears to be more confident than older generations. They are more capable of directly participating in the heated discussions of global issues. We should remind them to watch their manners, but they should be allowed to keep their vivacity.

Posted in: Editorial

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