Enraged Chinese web users are venting their anger at the United States after the Obama administration proposed its first arms sale to Taiwan, with some calling for a boycott of U.S. goods or even military action. But Taiwan, the self-ruled island China claims as its own, has largely escaped their wrath, the two sides having embarked upon a new round of detente since Taiwan President Ma Ying-jeou took office in 2008.
The United States switched diplomatic recognition from Taipei to Beijing in 1979, recognising Beijing's “one China” policy, but it remains Taiwan's biggest ally and is obliged by the 1979 Taiwan Relations Act to help in the island's defence. Many online users called for a general boycott of U.S. products, including aircraft manufacturer Boeing Co. “Let us web users all join together to boycott any kind of American goods,” a man from the central province of Henan wrote on the popular web portal www.sina.com.cn. “No KFC, no McDonald's, and no sightseeing trips to the U.S.!” “Let's start a war without smoke first, then a real war can begin,” another added. Others suggested the Chinese government sell more arms to Iran and North Korea to rebalance U.S power. “As revenge, China should sell advanced weapons to the enemies of the United States,” wrote “Jjyang03so” on another web portal, www.sohu.com. “The Chinese government can strike back with a vengeance at all threats to the country's core interests! Including you old Americans. We will be resolute,” wrote a reader of the online edition of the Global Times, a tabloid with a nationalist bent. Some called for more severe action. “If they want a war, it's time for our army to have a go,” a web user named Lucky Lion said on www.sina.com.cn.
But others urged restraint. “How can you say a war will start? The actions taken so far have been small, and cautiously taken,” Lookformm wrote on the bulletin board system of Beijing's elite Tsinghua University. Only a few appeared to point the finger at Taiwan. Since 1949, when Nationalist forces fled to the island after losing the mainland to Communist rebels, Beijing has demanded Taiwan accept unification, threatening to use force if necessary. “Taiwan cannot escape its share of evil. It is using the money earned from the mainland to buy arms from the U.S. Its vicious intentions are obvious,” one web user named Ziqingan said on www.sohu.com . “We should give Taiwan a slap as well.” A Global Times reader slammed Taiwan as “traitors to the Chinese nation”. “They are selling out their soul and their people,” the reader wrote. “This generation will be witness to the extermination of Taiwan's political chaos and the rise of China.”