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Attempts to exploit patriotism fall flat

China Daily | Updated: 2017-12-07 09:15

KOJI YANO, a 47-year-old Japanese actor who has made a career in China, has been the subject of discussion on social media since the remarks he made on a Japanese television show years ago, criticizing Chinese dog owners for their impolite behavior, were put in the spotlight. China Youth Daily commented on Wednesday:

Yano's allegedly stinging remarks about some Chinese people's poor pet-keeping abilities, which were made years ago, have been dredged up and described as "insulting the Chinese people" by some so-called online opinion leaders, who often play up and sensationalize such remarks to tap into people's patriotism and so gain more followers.

However, this time it has not worked out that way. Not only has the hype regarding Yano's "unfriendly" attitude toward irresponsible dog owners failed to make a fuss, the flaws in its logic have also come under attack. Many argue that Yano, a longtime friend of the Chinese people, who is even married to a Chinese woman, has laid bare his repentance over Japan's crimes against China before and during World War II in many of his television series. And his complaints about Chinese dog owners' bad manners are not false claims, nor are they intrinsically insulting.

Such reasonableness from Chinese netizens was also evident when Chinese boxer Zou Shiming claimed he lost a fight with his Japanese rival Sho Kimura in July because Sho enjoyed "unfair advantages". The World Boxing Organization found there was no evidence to support the claim, and most Chinese netizens supported the WBO's decision.

It is a relief that more Chinese citizens are learning not to let their nationalism get the better of their judgment. Being patriotic does not mean one can make groundless, sensational attempts to single out people because of their nationality. Many "patriotic" online campaigns have been launched simply so the orchestrators can bask in the popularity generated by their jingoism. Keeping an open mind to constructive criticism and fighting back when facing a smear campaign are the right responses to such cynical attempts to manipulate people's love for their country.

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