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  • Author: James Pearson
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Centre for Strategic Research and Analysis (CESRAN)
  • Abstract: In April 2008, the combination of a threat by French president Nicholas Sarkozy to boycott the Olympic Games and a disrupted Olympic torch relay in Paris caused outcry and prompted an online call by Chinese netizens to boycott French pro-ducts. In the events that followed, the French supermarket Carrefour become the target of out-bursts of nationalist and anti-French sentiment and a small campaign to promote Corsican independence to outline French hypocrisy briefly be-came a popular cause. But how did events in Paris evolve Into a mass protests against a seemingly unrelated French company in China? Do the events of the Carrefour boycott fit within the existing theories of Chinese nationalism or did they present a new direction in its evolution? This study first looks at existing academic work on Chinese nationalism in order to create the framework within which to debate the developments of the Carrefour case. In an effort to uncover its origins, the boycott itself is analysed through online posts and text messages from the time. Additionally, by using a four-step formula to address the pattern by which protests in Paris led to boycotts in China, this study suggests that such a formula could be used in the anticipation of future outbursts of nationalist sentiment. Indeed, through this formula, the author agrees with existing academic work that posits Chinese nationalism is continually used as a method for the CCP to promote its own political agenda and academic work that links the formation of Chinese national identity with Chinese historiography is also found to be relevant to the development of this movement. However, in conclusion, this study also suggests that including all mass movements in China under an umbrella of nationalism is arguably misleading as, without further scrutiny of the manner in which online networks and social media are used to propagate such causes, we run the danger of misinterpreting all popular unrest as aggressive nationalism.
  • Topic: Demographics, Nationalism
  • Political Geography: China, France