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Perspectives to the State in Modern China: Case Study of Fandom Patriotism and ‘A4 Revolution’

  • Journal of Asia-Pacific Studies
  • Abbr : JAPS
  • 2023, 30(3), pp.63-93
  • DOI : 10.18107/japs.2023.30.3.003
  • Publisher : Institute of Global Affairs
  • Research Area : Social Science > Social Science in general
  • Received : August 16, 2023
  • Accepted : September 14, 2023
  • Published : September 30, 2023

LEE Eungchel 1

1덕성여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

This article aims to analyze attitudes towards the state in contemporary China, focusing on patriotic activities and ‘white paper protest’ (so-called ‘A4 revolution’) that occurred in various cities in 2022. Since the mid-2020s, China has witnessed a significant increase in patriotic activities based on a strong confidence in the country’s recent development. Particularly young women well-versed in popular culture fandom organized “fandom patriotism”, wherein they appropriated popular culture fandom techniques to idolize PRC and to visualize the state as an attractive male figure. However, accumulated dissatisfaction with the state after COVID-19 and criticism from patriarchal authoritarianism led to a decline in fandom patriotism. Meanwhile, dissatisfaction with the state grew and exploded as COVID-19 pandemic spread and lockdowns were imposed on many Chinese cities. Following the fire accident in Urumqi, commemorative gatherings were held in major cities such as Nanjing, Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou leading to protests expressing discontent with the government and the state. The protesters strongly voiced their desire for freedom and even shouted “CCP Step Down!” and “Chairman Xi Resign!” Patriotism, which considers the state as an object of affection, serves as a credential that distinguish us from ‘the other.’ On the other hand, the ‘white paper protest’ questions whether the state deserves affection and whether the ideology of “Benefit the motherland above All” is right. Both are shaped by expectations of a ‘good nation’, but they differ in their orientation to what constitutes a good nation. While patriotism is driven by the vision of a strong state, the ‘white paper protest’ is fueled by disappointment and frustration with the state. There are various ideas and attitudes towards the state, and the dynamics they create in interaction, however unbalanced, will be the force that drives change. We need to pay attention how the different attitudes towards the state in contemporary China will change and what a phase they bring.

Citation status

* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.