John Garnaut和Maya Li于北京
Loyal citizens take heart
John Garnaut and Maya Li Beijing
April 23, 2008
ONE of Beijing's self-described "angry youths" designed a red heart 10 days ago and placed it on a website to express his love for his country.
The heart was quickly replicated and then promoted by Microsoft MSN's instant messenger service.
Now 7 million MSN Messenger users have adopted the little red heart alongside the word "China" as their internet signature, according to the People's Daily.
The patriotic symbols and taglines are a mass reaction to the Tibetan uprisings and to perceived bias in Western media reports. The Government has fuelled the nationalistic outpouring through its own editorials and by allowing only one-sided coverage of Tibet, the Olympic torch protests and Western media reporting.
The symbols have spread quickly across the internet, including to student leaders in Melbourne and Sydney who are rallying support for Olympic torch demonstrations in Canberra tomorrow.
During the Cultural Revolution, China's angry youth were expected to prove their patriotism by waving "Little Red Books" of Chairman Mao Zedong's quotations.
These days they demonstrate their allegiance by waving red flags, boycotting French supermarkets or adopting red hearts and internet names such as "Love China" and "Patriotic".
Today's angry youth are showing none of the violence or ferocity of their counterparts during Chairman Mao's day. Nevertheless, many Chinese are alarmed that "red-hearted" internet users, and even newspaper editorials, are questioning or attacking people who dare not flow with the patriotic tide.
Intellectuals have written internet essays on what they see as misguided and dangerous patriotic fever. In return, they have been inundated with labels such as "running dog", as well as death threats.
Other conscientious objectors have used their own internet signatures to express counter-views. One prominent newspaper editor changed his MSN signature to read: "I won't boycott American goods, and won't boycott French goods, but I will boycott idiots."
The editor said people had let their brains be overcome by fury, with a little help from the government propaganda.