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Superstar, Social Media and Disputes Over Taiwan’s Sovereignty

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It has turn into widespread for Hollywood stars, sports activities stars, and big-name manufacturers to apologize to China for stepping over its political crimson strains. Of all of these, any point out or recognition that Taiwan is an unbiased nation has turn into maybe probably the most reactive. On Might 25, 2021, John Cena posted a video on his Weibo account, apologetically, saying that he loves China and Chinese language folks. This adopted a earlier interview the place he referred to Taiwan as one of many first ‘international locations’ to look at his newest movie.

Since Cena is understood for his masculine and constructive picture, his apology in keeping with China’s One China Precept was met with criticism. For instance, one meme making enjoyable of Cena on Reddit shortly amassed 129k upvotes (help), whereas one other booing John racked up 25k. A well known Youtuber, Philip DeFranco known as Cena a ‘coward’, and his video received 1 million views in three days.

In the meantime, to counter Cena’s message, the #TaiwanIsACountry motion started on Twitter. Many politicians, celebrities, and activists, together with U.S. Congressmen Steve King (IA-R), entrepreneur Jason Calacanis, software program engineer-activist Tracy Chou, hedge fund CEO Kyle Bass, and Chinese language-American Republican politician Solomon Yue, endorsed this motion. This motion shortly unfold past the America and trended worldwide. For instance, Filipino politician Kim Atienza, Estonia congressman Toomas Hendrik Ilves, and Paraguayan actress Milva Gauto, all of whom have greater than 100,000 followers, tweeted #TaiwanIsACountry.

To discover this motion, we crawled all public tweets with the hashtag #TaiwanIsACountry from Might 25 to Might 29. Total, we discovered 14,898 tweets with this hashtag. Determine 1 (see under) reveals a timeline of those tweets being posted. The variety of #TaiwanIsACountry tweets soared on Might 25 and 26 in response to Cena’s apology. Extra evaluation reveals that the content material of those tweets additionally included key phrases reminiscent of Taiwan and China.

Regardless that we have no idea what number of Twitter customers have seen these tweets, we are able to estimate potential readership by the variety of followers of every Twitter account. Total, the whole variety of followers of people who tweeted #TaiwanIsACoutnry is 34,716,326. If simply 10% of their followers noticed these tweets, about 3 million Twitter customers have been uncovered to this motion.

Using their self-reported geo-location, we efficiently gathered 5251 of the 14898 tweets. Amongst them, 57% of those tweets are from the U.S., 17% are from Taiwan, 4% are from India, Canada, and Hong Kong, and three% are from the UK, Australia, and the Philippines, respectively. There are additionally posts from Thailand, Indonesia, and Brazil.

The consequence reveals that this #TaiwanIsACountry motion is just not solely supported by the American and Taiwanese residents but in addition members of the #MilkTeaAlliance, a pro-democracy on-line solidarity motion throughout East Asia since Might 2020. The motion took maintain in locations like Thailand, Hong Kong, and Taiwan owing to their ideological battle with China within the #nnevvy episode. The motion later discovered allies from India, Brazil, and Australia as these international locations with China grew to become strained in late 2020 as properly.

The Cena incident has quite a few similarities with prior actions like this one. For instance, during the #TweetForTaiwan movement in July 2020, when the U.S. authorities initiated an internet motion to help Taiwan becoming a member of the World Well being Group, the motion obtained help worldwide, particularly these from the #MilkTeaAlliance. The power of this new #TaiwanIsACountry motion means that the impact of the #MilkTeaAlliance motion persists. Such a long-term cross-country collaboration might clarify why Twitter offered a special emoji for the #MilkTeaAlliance motion in April 2021.

Judging from these actions, we are able to observe that many international locations worldwide resent China for his or her belligerent behaviors, usually asking others for an apology to keep away from punishment from the nation (such because the banning/withdrawal of a film or product from the Chinese language market). The gesture of giving in to Chinese language stress is equal to self-censorship and harms freedom of speech in different international locations. It’s of little marvel that the White Home reacts to China’s calls for harshly, calling China’s conduct ‘Orwellian nonsense’. Nevertheless, as Cena reveals, stress from China nonetheless has some successes.

The event of this incident presents overseas coverage implications. The truth that many netizens in democracies help #TaiwanIsACountry and dislike what China is doing aligns properly with present overseas insurance policies of the U.S. towards China. Since Biden got here into workplace, the administration has taken a more durable stance on China and tried to weaken the nation’s affect by multilateral diplomacy. Inside this scheme, the U.S. has doubled-down on its efforts to internationalize the problem of Taiwan. For instance, the U.S. has embedded the Taiwan difficulty into the agendas of conferences with key companions reminiscent of Japan, South Korea, and throughout the G7. These conferences have resulted in substantial modifications reminiscent of when Japan and the European Union each issued joint statements that particularly alluded to Taiwan.

Though way more stays to be stated on this heated difficulty, such momentum means that social actions on Twitter dovetail with developments in worldwide politics and have leverage in shaping them.


Figures

Determine 1. Timeline evaluation of #TaiwanIsACountry tweets (n=14898, Might 25–29, 2021)

Determine 2. Content material evaluation of #TaiwanIsACountry tweets (n=14898, Might 25–29, 2021)

Determine 3. Origins of #TaiwanIsACountry tweets (n=14898, Might 25–29, 2021)

Additional Studying on E-Worldwide Relations