Chinese netizens turn Facebook into ‘battlefield’ to oppose Taiwan independence

A group of Chinese netizens, some from Chinese mainland and some abroad, turned the Facebook into a “battlefield” to “attack” Taiwanese pro-independence forces on Wednesday night (Beijing time).
 
The group was organized by Di Ba (D8), the most populous post bar owned by Baidu, China’s equivalent of Google. As Facebook is banned in Chinese mainland, users have to use VPN to get round the Great Fire Wall of China to access the site.  
 
The goal of the group is to tell pro-independence groups in Taiwan that the island is part of China. The members of Di Ba named the action as a “Great War” with a war chant of “Di Ba goes to battle. Nothing will grow.”

The “attack” which started at 7 pm Wednesday and lasted until Thursday night targeted the Facebook pages of Tsai Ing-wen, Taiwan’s newly elected leader, and independence-minded media like Apple Daily and Sanlih News. Within three hours, one post on Tsai Ing-wen’s Facebook page had been bombarded with more than 20,000 comments, mostly in simplified Chinese characters used in Chinese mainland.
 
Other ways the Di Ba warriors used to spread their anti-independence messages included posting cartoons with declarations that “Taiwan belongs to China,” photos of food and natural scenery native to the mainland, and ironic images.

In response, the spokesperson of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP), Yang Jialiang, said early on Thursday that the DPP “welcomes them to the free and democratic Taiwan Island,” and that the Party “will not delete the posts”.

It was the second time that Tsai Ing-wen’s Facebook account was flooded with posts from mainland netizens since November 2015. She said she would “positively treat” the issue, and also welcomed mainland netizens to visit other Facebook accounts of Taiwan people.
 
This issue has also become a hot topic on China’s largest social media, Sina Weibo, under the hashtag of “Di Ba marches into fb”, with more than 610 million reads within 24 hours.
 
However, not all Weibo users think such a “post bomb” action on the Facebook will actually make a difference.
 
“This is kind of radical. There must be something else we can do,” said one Weibo user named  @围脖求别闹.
 
“I think it’s time to stop. It’s immature behavior. We are not network mobs, and it seems that the scale is becoming bigger and bigger. It doesn’t mean if you attack the Taiwanese pro-independence forces on the Facebook and they will disappear,” said @啊咧咧咧咧-.
 
The Di Ba, with over 20 million registered members which is close to the 23 million population of Taiwan, has great influence on public opinion on many social and political affairs on Baidu Tieba which is similar to America’s 4chan.
 
Di Ba, previously known as Li Yi Ba, named after former Chinese footballer Li Yi who became known to the public in 2003 and 2004, had led several “post attacks” on other post bars in the past few years, but never launched one outside the Great Fire Wall.
 
The action was well organized with different teams playing different roles including collecting information, posting, creating images, translation, and some Facebook tasks such as liking posts.
 
It also has a principle of only using civilized languages. Any insulting images and pictures of the leaders are banned.
 
“We target Taiwanese independence advocates, not Taiwanese people,” said @赵日天233号, the organizer of the Di Ba action, on his Weibo account, “We don’t represent any political stance, only ourselves.”

“There is no winning or losing in the Facebook battle. If there is, it must be the Chinese nationality and Mark Zuckerberg,” one of the participants told PingWest, “the purpose of the fb battle is not to convince any one side, but to let the two sides know we are all living beings instead of enemies.”


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