Friday, August 17, 2018

China’s Dangerous ‘Bottom-Up’ Ultranationalism and the 85℃ Incident: a Warning

By allowing netizens to define its cross-Strait policy, Beijing risks losing control of the situation and could cause severe harm to an already tense relationship 

China’s punitive “strategy” on Taiwan once again escalated this week after the Taiwanese coffee chain 85℃ Bakery Cafe came under assault by Chinese ultranationalists over a visit to one of its stores in Los Angeles by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen. 

The ire was sparked by President Tsai’s visit to the coffee shop, where staff, excited to be meeting the democratically elected head of state, gave her store paraphernalia as a gift (Chinese disinformation claimed the package was stuffed with money). 

After photos of the encounter were made public, Chinese ultranationalists kicked into action and accused the chain, which operates 859 stores in China and made 64% of its Q1 revenue there, of supporting Taiwan independence. Threats of a boycott (described by the South China Morning Post as a “zealous online campaign”) were sent to the company’s Weibo account, and its Taiwan website was was knocked offline by what is believe to have been a cyber attack. The next day, Long Mingbiao, deputy director of the State Council’s Taiwan Affairs Office (TAO), said China would “never allow” a company that (purportedly) supports Taiwanese independence to operate in China. 

Continues here.

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