Invented borders : tension between grassroots patriotism and state-led patriotic campaigns in China
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Patriotic campaigns and mass mobilization draw on existing xenophobic attitudes of the public, reinforcing the ‘us vs. them’ dualism between China and ‘the West’. However, patriotic campaigns are not always top-down, state-led, nor are they always primarily driven by political ideology. Patriotic content appeals to a growing nationalist audience who consumes a mixed feeling of perceived victimization at the hand of foreign aggression and the pride arising from being a Chinese citizen. This paper argues that the profitability of patriotic content circulating on social media exacerbated the tension between market-driven grassroots patriotism and state-led patriotic campaigns. The tension grows out of, and is manifested in, the online popular debate around economically driven, grassroots ‘patriotic’ content that can challenge the state state-led patriotic rhetoric. While the state sometimes strategically co-opts some patriotic contents into its own patriotic narratives, it also delegitimises other undesired ones through labels such as ‘high-level black’ (gaoji hei) or ‘low-level red’ (diji hong). These labels were initially used to differentiate meticulously crafted political satire and parody from incompetent, illogical and vulgar propaganda pieces that unintendedly blemish the state’s patriotic campaigns, but later evolved into an exercise of power to distance the CCP from undesired patriotic content.
Zhang , C & Ma , Y 2023 , ' Invented borders : tension between grassroots patriotism and state-led patriotic campaigns in China ' , Journal of Contemporary China , vol. Latest Articles . https://doi.org/10.1080/10670564.2023.2167054
Journal of Contemporary China
Copyright © 2023 The Author(s). Published by Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4. 0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
DescriptionFunding: Chi Zhang is funded by the British Academy Postdoctoral Fellowship (PF20/100052).
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