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Chinese Social Media Celebrates Baltimore Bridge Collapse

The Francis Scott Key bridge, located in Baltimore, Maryland, collapsed on March 26th after being rammed by a cargo ship, the Dali, which lost control of its steering. Much of the bridge sank into the river within seconds of being rammed.

The accident immediately drew attention on Chinese social media. On Weibo, for example, a video of the accident has been viewed more than 1.2 million times. On Chinese social media platforms, where anti-American sentiment is prevalent, many netizens celebrated the incident. A Weibo blogger named “Air Sky Toner” wrote: “This is a really beautiful sight, like watching a movie; this bridge is free from now on.”

The bridge was named after Francis Scott Key, the author of the lyrics of the U.S. national anthem “The Star-Spangled Banner.” Some Chinese netizens inferred that the bridge collapse signaled the decline of the United States. “It is not a good sign that this bridge collapsed,” one blogger wrote.

Some social media users also used the bridge collapse to mock American democracy. On the Chinese video website Bilibili, a commentary video with 24,000 likes said that the “a ship of democracy” caused the collapse of “a bridge of democracy.” The video went on to criticize the U.S.’ infrastructure problem.

False information about the accident spread widely on Chinese social media. A number of bloggers with large numbers of followers have claimed that the captain of the Dali was from Ukraine and that the accident was staged by the U.S. government. Some bloggers posted photos of the alleged Ukrainian captain’s credentials. The Associated Press found that a Ukrainian captain did indeed pilot the Dali years ago, from March 19 to July 27, 2016.

Some Chinese bloggers also claimed that CNN incorrectly reported that the collision was an attack from China. They posted screenshots with captions reading “A cargo ship loaded with Chinese goods attacked our bridge!” However, unlike Chinese media that often use the term “our country” to refer to China, American media, including CNN, rarely use that term to refer to the United States. According to Agence France-Presse (AFP), the screenshot was not from CNN, but from NBC’s local channel in Baltimore. In a statement to AFP, CNN said that it had never run a story like that; the image was fake, and the caption, font, and style are not CNN’s either.

Source: VOA, March 31, 2024

“Patriotic” Leader of American Fujian Association Publicly Berates Chinese Consul-General

Radio Free Asia recently published an article on the American Fujian Association’s apparent internal division and conflict with the Chinese Consulate. The American Fujian Association is a U.S.-based organization that has long been regarded as a pro-Communist overseas Chinese organization with extensive ties to the Chinese consulate.

On the evening of March 18th, the American Fujian Association in New York held a swearing-in ceremony for its “Co-President” Liu Aihua at the Junhao Restaurant in Flushing, New York. The honorary chairman of the Fujian Association, Chen Xueduan, a “patriotic overseas leader” for the Chinese community in the U.S., openly berated the Chinese Consul-General in New York, Huang Ping. In an online video, Chen stood on stage with Liu and three other members, holding a microphone and loudly addressing the audience, “President Liu Aihua is now suppressed by someone, by whom? By the Chinese consulate!” “No matter who suppresses him, we are patriots [of China], we will always be patriots. Huang Ping, the Consul-General, is a puppet Consul-General. When he was in power, he was high and mighty; but when he gets put into prison, he can only cry!” Chen also asked the media present to spread his speech.

Chen’s words received enthusiastic response from the audience, both on and off the stage.

The American Fujian Association has a history of 82 years. Recent years have seen internal disputes within the organization, leading to internal division and multiple groups acting independently. It currently has “Co-Presidents.” The Chinese Consulate at New York supports “President” Chen Heng, and on March 16th Consul-General Huang Ping attended an 82nd anniversary celebration hosted by Chen. But Huang didn’t attend “President” Liiu Aihua’s swearing-in ceremony on March 18th.

When it comes to suppressing overseas democratic activists or attacking Falun Gong and other faith groups and ethnic minority groups, the Fujian Association members frequently act as convenient “enforcers” for the Chinese consulate. In recent years, the U.S. has intensified efforts to combat Beijing’s infiltration in the U.S. On April 18, 2023, the FBI arrested two leaders of the Fujian Overseas Chinese Association in New York, Lu Jianwang and Chen Jinping, accusing them of operating a “secret police station (for China)” in Manhattan’s Chinatown and attempting to act as agents of China. Both of these individuals are key members of the Fujian Association.

Some commentators have said that Chen Xueduan’s berating of the Chinese Consul-General is a “call to desertion,” indicating that the Communist Party is about to collapse and its days are numbered.

Source: Radio Free Asia, March 27, 2024

Xi Jinping Directly Invites American Youths to China for Exchange Programs, Circumventing U.S. Federal Government

During Xi Jinping’s visit to the United States in November 2023, he announced a plan to invite 50,000 American youths to study and exchange in China during the next five years. Since then, this five-year program has been highly-publicized in Chinese media.

Xinhua News Agency reported on March 17 that a group of 24 middle school students from Washington state, organized by the U.S.-China Youth and Student Exchange Association, left San Francisco on March 16 for an 11-day visit to China. Other Chinese media have published subsequent reports about their trip. A Yibao article titled “Xi Jinping’s recruitment of America’s youngsters,” published on Feb. 16, 2024, stated that at least five groups of U.S. students completed trips to China as of January 2024. These groups include graduate students from Columbia University; table tennis players from Virginia; undergraduates from California State University, Long Beach; high school students from Muscatine, Iowa; and even elementary school students from Utah.

Political observers have remarked that Beijing likely wants to get something out of this exchange program. Since the legislative and executive branches of the U.S. federal government have taken a bipartisan stance against the CCP, Beijing is trying to gain influence through civil exchange as well as through local governments (e.g. winning over agricultural U.S. states by buying agricultural products from them), circumventing the federal government.

Source: Epoch Times, March 25, 2024

Lu Shaye: China Should Play Bigger Role on Global Stage; It Has Become an Elephant and Can No Longer Hide

Lu Shaye, China’s Ambassador to France, returned to China to attend the National Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. During an interview on March 6th with China Youth Daily, Lu Shaye said, “If a country (China) wants to expand its position and influence internationally, it must actively participate in global governance and multilateral affairs.” He said that in the past, during the period when China was relatively poor, Western countries would “look down” while dealing with China, but now they are basically “looking straight ahead,” and in some cases they may in fact be “looking up” at China.

Again referring to China, Lu Shaye stated that a big country should act like a big country, and it cannot simply “hide its light (capabilities) and bide its time” as it did in the past. “This light cannot be hidden, and time cannot be bidden. You have become an elephant; you are no longer able hide behind a tree.”

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), March 8, 2024

Miles Yu Refutes Wang Yi’s “Four Questions” Blasting the US

On March 7, 2024, at the press conference of the Second Plenary Session of China’s 14th National People’s Congress, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi raised four questions challenging the United States. On March 9, 2024, Miles Yu, former Chief China Adviser to the U.S. State Department, refuted Wang Yi’s questions point by point.

  • Wang’s Question #1: “If the United States always says one thing and does another, where is the credibility of [its being] a great power?”

Yu: There is credibility because the U.S. follows international norms, while the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is self-absorbed and delusional. The CCP’s credibility has long been lost. It has become isolated internationally, turning into a source of risk and conflict. Domestically, everyone is thinking of escaping out of China or lying flat (not doing work anymore). There is no credibility for the CCP.

  • Wang’s Question #2: “If the United States becomes nervous and anxious at the mention of ‘China,’ where is the confidence of [its being] a great power?”

Yu: The American people, the Chinese people, and the whole world are pleased to hear the word “China,” but they become nervous and anxious when they hear “CCP,” because the CCP is an enemy of freedom. “Why does the CCP become nervous and anxious at the mention of the ‘United States,’ which represents freedom and democracy? Where is the confidence of your glorious party?” Yu countered.

  • Wang’s Question #3: “If the United States only seeks its own prosperity and does not allow other countries to develop legitimately, then where is international justice?”

Yu: The development of the CCP is not legitimate and goes against international justice.

  • Wang’s Question #4: “If the United States insists on monopolizing the high-end of the value chain and only allows China to remain at the low end, then what of fair competition?”

Yu: The CCP uses the mechanism of international fair competition to undermine the principle of fair competition, endangering the global free trade system. Not only is the United States vigilant, but the entire global market economy system is also actively working to prevent the CCP’s anti-market behavior and policies.

Source: Epoch Times, March 9, 2024

CNA: Chinese Overseas Democracy Activists Hold Conference on Blueprints for Democratic China

Taiwan’s Centra News Agency report that Chinese overseas democracy activists Wei Jingsheng, Wang Dan, Wang Juntao, and others convened the “First Overseas Chinese National Consensus Conference” in Washington, D.C. to discuss blueprints for a democratic China following a future collapse of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). The two-day conference on March 2 and 3, and on March 4 the group released a “Declaration of the First National Consensus Conference on China’s Democratic Movement.” The declaration enumerated a 10-point consensus on future democratic processes.

The declaration stated: “At this critical moment, people concerned about China’s democratization should seriously study the Chinese situation and the experiences and lessons of various countries in the world and propose plans and approaches for rebuilding a constitutional political system in China.” The declaration emphasized that “overthrowing the tyranny of the CCP” and “establishing a free, equal, just, and harmonious civil society” must be the first step towards democratic nation-building in China.

Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), March 5, 2024