Baidu's patriotic doodle ruffles Japanese feathers
Chinese users offered chance to plant flag on disputed islands, instead of rioting
Chinese search giant Baidu is in fire-fighting mode after releasing an ill-advised doodle on its homepage on Tuesday depicting the disputed Diaoyu Islands – a move which could harm its international operations.
September 18 was the anniversary of the Mukden, or Manchurian, Incident of 1931 which led to the Japanese invasion of China.
Users visiting Baidu’s homepage on that day could click on the animated depiction of the Diaoyu Islands, which are also claimed by Japan, taking them to another page with the fairly unequivocal message: “The Diaoyu Islands belong to China!” and another image of the islands.
Users were then able to plant a virtual Chinese flag on the disputed territory to stick it to Japan and show their patriotism.
On a day when violent anti-Japan protests – the worst for several years – sprung up all over the People’s Republic, Baidu was forced to issue a statement clarifying exactly why it had allowed the provocative homepage doodle:
The vast majority of Baidu’s users, as well as our employees, are of a mind on the issue of the Diaoyu Islands. But the real purpose of the logo and the microsite was to encourage people to be rational in their expressions of patriotism, to renounce violence and other forms of extremism. The way we see it, planting a digital flag to express your feelings on the Diaoyu Islands is a far better alternative to throwing rocks or smashing cars.
Whatever the explanation, it’s unlikely that Baidu’s Japan office will be too happy with what happened. Nor will such naked patriotism go down very well in other Asian markets the firm may want to expand into in the future, especially given many of them also have territorial disputes with China.
For the record, Baidu was not the only Chinese web firm to jump on the patriotic bandwagon on Tuesday.
The country’s biggest net firm Tencent made clear its feelings with a banner on the homepage of its popular QQ service stating: “Never forget national humiliation. Enrich the people and build a powerful nation.”
According to Bloomberg, users could also click through to a second page which displayed info on the number of Chinese casualties that resulted from Japan’s invasion. ®
When the shit hits the fan at home ...
... fan the flames of nationalism over a disputed island in the middle of nowhere.
Works every time (they hope)
Just a thought for disputed territories....
Why not treat disputed lands as a sort of international resource? Either Japan or China could cede the islands to the other party, but with a treaty that provides for international access. The Svalbard islands offer a useful example of how this might work. While the islands are technically governed by Norwegian law, Norway places no restrictions on who can go there.
Wikipedia reports: "Norway grants permission for any nation to conduct research on Svalbard, resulting in the Polish Polar Station and the Chinese Arctic Yellow River Station, plus Russian facilities in Barentsburg. The University Centre in Svalbard in Longyearbyen offers undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate courses to 350 students...with Norwegian and international students equally represented." The archipelago is also home to the Svalbard Global Seed Vault,a priceless genetics resource of world significance.
Something like this sounds a whole lot more pleasant than sabre-rattling and ominous predictions of unnecessary regional wars.
China jumped the shark.
China is at least a decade away from being able to utilize the energy resources around those islands or even confront Japan militarily, given the treaty Japan has with US. They've started the whole row prematurely, so I wonder what else is at play. Could it be that their growth numbers are not as great as they pretend and the juggernaut of the Chinese economy has actually slowed down tremendously after the 2008 crisis, fake number put out by PRC notwithstanding? Now you have real estate bubble, demographic crisis, and a slowdown in investment all hitting China at once in the coming 2-3 years.
It seems that people who have written US and Europe off in favor of the rising China have also jumped the shark. I, for one, will be only too happy for them to be proven conclusively wrong.