The 20th Party Congress has begun. Which key points from Xi Jinping’s two-hour address were simplified as hashtags and propagated by Chinese official media? These are the five trending hashtags that will help you understand Xi’s opening speech.
The 20th CPC National Congress is dominating all trending topics on Chinese social media today, with videos and infographics featuring parts of Xi Jinping’s speech showing up all over Weibo and Douyin and, of course, all over Xuexi Qiangguo, the app that is all about studying the Communist Party of China (CPC) and Xi Jinping Thought.
Throughout his address at the opening ceremony of the Party Congress at the Great Hall of the People in Beijing, Xi Jinping spoke about various issues relating to the past five years and the future of China and the Party’s mission. The speech lasted nearly two hours, which is much shorter than the speech he gave at the 19th CPC National Congress (that one took nearly three and a half hours).
The address mentioned the challenges faced by the Chinese people and the CPC over the past years in an increasingly “complex international situation,” explicitly mentioning the Covid-19 pandemic, the unrest in Hong Kong, and the Taiwan independence movement, emphasizing that the Chinese state and Party have managed to stand strong in hard times and are still on the journey of China’s ‘New Era’ – building China into a modern socialist country. In this context, terms such as ‘national security’ and the ‘Chinese people’ were important recurring themes.
On Weibo, one hashtag related to the speech received a staggering 760 million views on Sunday (#二十大报告#).
Which are the parts of Xi’s speech that are highlighted on Chinese social media through hashtags? What sentences are official media channels presenting as “golden” ones?
Here are five hashtags – all quotes from Xi Jinping’s speech – that had the most views on Chinese social media platform Weibo and Douyin on the first day of the 20th CPC National Congress. All of these hashtags have been published and shared by state media accounts including People’s Daily, China Daily, and CCTV.
These hashtags are noteworthy for multiple reasons. Firstly, these are the parts of Xi’s speech that are specifically featured and disseminated by Chinese official channels, meaning these are the key points from the lengthy speech they want Chinese netizens to understand and remember.
Turning a sentence into a hashtag gives it extra attention and changes the sentence into a simple, short, and effective propaganda tool. A hashtag can be clicked, shared, widely used, and can go trending and is thus more powerful than just a sentence alone.
Although there are more sentences from Xi’s two-hour speech that have been turned into hashtags by official channels, these are the five ones receiving the most views/clicks on Weibo and Douyin.
1. Solving Taiwan Issue is Nobody’s Business but China’s
One part of Xi Jinping’s speech that became the number one trending topic on social media platform Weibo on Sunday was about Taiwan.
During his speech, Xi spoke about Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, stressing the importance of adhering to the “One country, two systems” principle and the goal to continue promoting the reunification of Taiwan with the motherland.
While stressing China’s determination to achieve “peaceful reunification,” Xi said that “solving the Taiwan issue is up to the Chinese themselves,” suggesting that Taiwan is nobody’s business but China’s business.
This sentence particularly seemed to resonate with Chinese netizens in light of deteriorating U.S.-China relations and Nancy Pelosi’s controversial Taiwan visit earlier this year.
No 1 trending topic on Weibo right now is the first sentence in this segment from Xi Jinping's speech: solving the Taiwan issue is nobody's business but our own. #解决台湾问题是中国人自己的事 #20thCPCNationalCongress pic.twitter.com/Ezz7DXGmXB
— Manya Koetse (@manyapan) October 16, 2022
The hashtag “Solving the Taiwan Issue is Up to Chinese Themselves” (#解决台湾问题是中国人自己的事#) received over 350 million views on Weibo.
Despite the many clicks on the hashtag, the comment sections of most posts about this topic remained empty as Weibo has been clamping down on open discussions since the week leading up to the Party Congress.
On Douyin, the sentence “the complete reunification with the motherland will definitely be realized” (祖国完全统一一定要实现) was the number five trending topic of the day.
2. China Will Never Seek Hegemony or Engage in Expansion
“China Will Never Seek Hegemony or Engage in Expansion” (#中国永远不称霸永远不搞扩张#) is a hashtag that was also top trending on Weibo on October 16, receiving 270 million views.
During the part of the speech where Xi Jinping said this phrase, he was talking about China’s role in the world, its foreign policy, and how China will always oppose any type of ‘Cold War thinking’ or hypocritical power politics.
This topic of hypocrisy and double standards in world politics has often come up in Chinese foreign policy over the past few years. One example is the official Chinese response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine in February of 2022, when emphasis was placed on the role of the United States, its Western allies, and Chinese resistance against the “Cold War mentality” that had allegedly fueled the Russia-Ukraine war.
At the time, Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Hua Chunying answered questions relating to the situation in Ukraine during a press conference. When commenting on how US State Department spokesperson Ned Price suggested that China needed to de-escalate the situation by warning Russia to “back down,” Hua responded that the US was “in no position to tell China off.” She emphasized an apparent double standard in international politics, also bringing up the 1999 bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Yugoslavia which killed three Chinese journalists, stating: “NATO still owes the Chinese people a debt of blood.”
The phrase about China not seeking hegemony nor engaging in expansion was already a part of the 18th National Congress in 2012, sending out a clear message to the world that China will “unswervingly follow the path of peaceful development,” and that “there is no need to worry about China’s rise.”
3. We’ve Experienced Three Major Events in the Past Decade
The Weibo hashtag “We’ve Experienced Three Major Things over the Past Ten Years” (#十年来我们经历了三件大事#) initiated by People’s Daily, received 250 million views on October 16.
This sentence came up at the beginning of Xi Jinping’s address. Upon first hearing it, Covid-19 and the pandemic might come to mind immediately. But it is not one of the “three major events” raised in the speech.
The three things that are of great historical significance for the Party and the people, according to Xi’s speech, are the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Communist Party of China that was celebrated in 2021; the start of a New Era for socialism with Chinese characteristics which was a major part of the 19th Party Congress; and the achievement of China’s goal of eradicating extreme poverty as part of its poverty reduction policy.
These three major events in particular were mentioned because they are all major victories for the Party.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, all comments relating to this hashtag that were not from official accounts were taken offline.
4. We Must Prepare Our Military Troops for War
With ‘national security’ being one of the recurring themes in Xi Jinping’s address, China’s military development also came up and Xi’s words about this topic went trending on social media.
On Douyin, another sentence related to this topic – about advancing the modernization of China’s national defense and military – was top trending on Douyin (“大力度推进国防和军队现代化建设”). On Weibo, the sentence about “thoroughly strengthening China’s army troops’ training to be prepared for war” received over 170 million views.
The sentence appeared in the context of China building a “world-class army,” with a modern top-notch army being part of the overall modernization of China in its ‘New Era.’
Commpared to the other hashtags in this list, this hashtag allowed for just a bit more social media discussions, with many people agreeing that military advancement is necessary since a nation’s military strength is part of its overall power.
5. Always Continue the Battle Against Corruption (##反腐必须永远吹冲锋号##)
Another hashtag that went trending on Chinese social media in light of Xi’s speech were related to his comments made on the Party’s necessary ongoing fight against corruption. On Weibo this hashtag received over 21 million views and Douyin, this was trending at no 7 on October 16 (反腐必须永远吹冲锋号).
With corruption being a major threat, the biggest “tumor” endangering the vitality and effectiveness of the Party, Xi warned that the fight against corruption must be kept up at all times.
Xi Jinping’s rule marks the launch of the largest anti-corruption campaign over the past decade in China. As long as there still is an environment where corruption can potentially grow, the fight against corruption can not be halted and must continuously go on.
Please check in with us again this week as we will keep an eye on social media trends surrounding the CPC National Congress. Don’t forget to subscribe. For previous posts on the Party Congress, check here.
By Manya Koetse
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