BEIJING — On the internet, Chinese nationalism has a new target: Netflix’s successful Thai drama “Girl from Nowhere.”
Online feedback Wednesday protested that the flags of Taiwan, the island democracy declared by the ruling Communist Party as part of its territories, and Hong Kong, where the party is attempting to suppress pro-democracy activism, were shown on the series’ Facebook page.
Netflix has joined an increasing list of international retailers, airlines, hotels, and other businesses that have been targeted online in China over topics such as Taiwan, Xinjiang, Tibet, human rights, and other political issues.
Some people protested that the flags reflect support for “splitting China” or supporting formal independence for Taiwan, which is self-ruled. The flags, along with those of Singapore and other markets, are shown alongside the phrase “Thank You” in local languages in recognition of the series’ success. They don’t mention if they represent countries in the commercial.
On the famous Sina Weibo social media service, a comment signed by Tang Sugar Sugar Tang 123 said, “This is a (profanity) break!” “Does China need to express gratitude for this? No, no! This is an open and shut case!”
“Nanno,” says the speaker. I like you a lot, but you crossed the line for me. “Goodbye,” wrote another commenter on Sina Weibo, Huadu, referring to the lead character of the series. “Before you take advantage of us, consider what kind of country China is.”
Netflix did not respond to inquiries sent via its website. The uproar highlights China’s unique combination of nationalism and widespread censorship.
The ruling party is constantly pressuring international businesses to publicly align with Beijing’s political positions, particularly on blogs outside of China that the ruling party’s internet filters prevent most Chinese citizens from accessing.
Just users in China who use virtual private network apps to get through the filters will see Facebook.
In China, “Girl from Nowhere” is available on bilibili.com, a website that allows users to post their own videos. Other services that screen movies and TV shows authorized by Chinese censors do not have it.
It’s unclear how many viewers have seen “Girl from Nowhere,” but according to Douban.com, a website where users can leave ratings, over 60,000 people have posted on the first season and 30,000 on the second. The average ranking is 8.4 out of ten, which is a really high score.
Taiwan’s ruling party has stated that it would reconcile with the mainland and has vowed to intervene if the island attempts to declare independence. This year, Beijing has threatened Taiwan by sending fighters and bombers close to and around the island.
Following demonstrations that started in 2019, the party is attempting to crush pro-democracy sentiment in Hong Kong. Activists have been sentenced to jail, including tycoon Jimmy Lai, whose company publishes the pro-democracy Apple Daily tabloid.
In March, China’s ruling party launched a campaign against H&M, Adidas, Nike, and other international retailers and shoe brands, attempting to persuade them to dismiss allegations of slave labor and other crimes in Xinjiang, in the country’s northwest.
After the ruling party’s youth wing published H&M’s announcement from early 2020 that it would no longer use cotton from Xinjiang, state media called for a boycott.