Deconstructing China’s Little Pinkies: Elephant Digest Vol.4

 


Welcome to the Elephant Digest vol.4, a curated newsletter from Elephant Room to bring you interesting and important stories about China.

Today’s Story-
South Korea, Little Pinkies, and the Bunny



First, let’s talk about politics and get it out of our way.

China and South Korea’s tension over THAAD has escalated to a new height.

 

Lotte Group, a South Korean retail giant with various stores, restaurants, hotels and cinema chains in China, (it’s the fifth biggest firm in South Korea and gets an estimated 30% of its sales from China) has been pressured by Beijing since end of Feb after it agreed to provide a self-owned golf course land for THAAD.

Things heated up quickly from top down. In the past week, several of Lotte’s China operations were disrupted by protests from local consumers and business partners; its duty-free online store was hacked, and “anti-Lotte/anti-Korea” posts have been circulating around on WeChat and Weibo, China’s two biggest social networks.

If you want more details about the political situation, check out QuartzBBC, or Reuters.

Now let’s move on.

The Little-Pinkies: China’s Young Nationalists have Their Way to Discuss Politics

 

What/who the heck are Little Pinkies?

if you have absolutely no idea, here’s a brief recap from the Economists:

“...it is a disparaging term for young nationalists who use the internet as a battleground for patriotism, often focusing on pop culture to whip up support.  

The term first started to emerge a few years ago in Jinjiang Forum, whose website has a pink background. Its users called it “little pink” out of affection. It was not primarily a political forum, but from time to time political topics surfaced. A small group of contributors came to be known for their nationalism. Outsiders called them “little pink” as an insult, and the phrase soon caught on as a label for nationalistic youth.”

More specifically, Little-Pinkies are often associated with these 3 characteristics:

1) Aged 25 or under, either still in school or just got out

2) Have internet in their blood 

3) Grew up with China’s skyrocketing economic growth 

Some Chinese definitions also point out that Little Pinkies are dominantly female, but with no direct evidence to support I’m reserving doubts on this.

(However, it is worth mentioning that, leveraging the conventional association between color and gender stereotypes, the Communist Youth League praised the Little Pinkies on its official Weibo as “our daughters, sisters, girls we had crushes on” blah blah. HA.HA.HA.)


An excerpt of the later deleted Weibo by the Communist Youth League.

So as stereotypical as it sounds, Little-Pinkies are young, materially rich Chinese netizens who are busy soul-searching with soaring hormones, unstoppable puberty hairs and exuberant emotions.

And just like every one of us in our teens, we all desperately needed something/someone to be obsessed with at this stage of our lives.

And the Little-Pinkies have chosen to be obsessed with, well, China.

Or as they prefer to call, the “Tutu“, or “My Tu“,”We the Rabbit“.

Yes,  for the Little-Pinkies,
China
is their cute little bunny.

 

Bunny v.s. Eagle: the Little-Pinkies’ Way of Making Sense of Global Affairs

The whole bunny analogy started with a Chinese webcomic series named Year Hare Affair, first published in 2014 by Chinese cartoonist Lin Chao.

According to Wiki, this series-

“…instead of describing the People’s Republic of China always as a victim of conspiracy, military threatening, economic coercion and other malice of the Western World, it tries to make the readers believe that PRC has always been one of the most resourceful and wise governments ever since its creation, and has always been prevailing over foreign entities. ”


By using animals as an allegory of nations and sovereign states to represent political and historical military events, we have-

-PRC=Hare(or Bunny/rabbit)
-Taiwan=Baldhead
-U.S=Bald Eagle
-Japan=Crane/Chicken
-“Multiple countries in Southeast Asia, such as Vietnam, Indonesia, Philippines”=Monkey 
-U.K=Bull
…….

(Check out the list of characters if you are interested.)

 



Eagle v.s. Bunny = the all-time cult theme 


After the webcomic series went viral, an animated adaptation of the series started airing online in March 2015. Later in July, a free mobile game was also released.

So you get the idea now? hare/tutu /bunny, or whatever to call it in English,

 

China is this cute little thing in Little-Pinkies’ heart, it is pure, innocent, and vegetarian;

It had nothing to start with yet managed to build everything from scratch,

It climbed to the top single-handedly against all odds,

with sweat and blood.

It is the manifested destiny of a bunny, of the beloved Tutu.


“We are destined for the ocean and sky.”


“Every bunny has a big-country dream.”

Almost all of the bunny fans are constantly talking about the same word, country. The country is not easy, the country is developing, making progress, the country is strong …”
(Source: People )

“…(many critics) see the little-pink as an ugly trend, a Chinese manifestation of the coarsening of online discourse. They worry that beneath the giggles lies a more disturbing undercurrent—that, at some point, the little pink might blaze into a harsher shade of red.”
(Source: the Economists)

*Warning: this might get you uncomfortable*

Some of the emojis Little Pinkies created for their “Marching-Over-the-Wall” online movement, targeting Australian swimmer Mack Horton and pro-independent Taiwanese medias on Facebook.

China-US relations, the Little Pinkie Way:

 


We pulse here for now.

Tons of other things could be discussed  but for the sake of this newsletter’s length, let’s hang on here.Elephant Room, the media project me and Yan are currently working hard on, is not a space designated for politics. But when thoughts get fuzzy and situations are messed up, we believe politics might be a good, or the only place to crack into a deeper mutual-understanding of things.

So instead of judging, How about starting with questions and conversations?

Ask gentle,
listen careful,
response meaningful.

 

Please let me know if you have any questions about things in the newsletter, or just things in general. I’d love to help you dig deeper, further into small nuances of big issues.

 

Let’s walk through the contradictions together.

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Just one last thing before you go
We translated a fascinating Chinese article on our website today about the curious adventure of a Korean pop fan, (see, I didn’t forget about Korea in the end!) it’s a Chinese girl’s way to hurdle through national boundaries, in between reality and fantasies.
It’s not short, but worth the time to read.
Have a lovely week folks!xxxx,
Biyi&Yan

Elephant Digest: An Elephant-Room Project
Twitter: @elephantroomCN
Wechat: 大象屋ElephantRoom


 

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