“If faith has colour, it must be China Red,” said 49-year-old Meng Wenzhou, after returning to China after almost three years. Triumph in her speech and nationalism in the air around her couldn’t have been more evident.
Meng Wanzhou, Chief Finance Officer (CFO) of Huawei, returned to China on 25 September after she was arrested in December 2018 in Canada following an extradition request from the US, on charges of with fraud and misleading HSBC over Huawei’s business dealings in Iran in violations of American sanctions on Iran. She pleaded “not guilty” to charges but accepted that some information in her presentation to HSBC was false. She returned after the United States (US) agreed to drop the extradition request. The nationalist rhetoric of China’s triumph in securing Meng’s release was overflowing everywhere from state media to social media. Social media was abuzz with news of Meng coming back to the “motherland” to the extent that on 25th Sept, 26 of the top 30 hot searches on Weibo were related to Meng.
While netizens admired China’s diplomatic efforts for securing her release, others were swooning over the very public display of affection by Meng’s husband, Liu Xiaozong. The nationalistic fervour among netizens is perhaps best exemplified by a cartoon by Chinese cartoonist Wu Heqiling. It depicts a woman dressed in yellow being rescued from a huge shark-like creature, with its skin coloured as the US flag, by officers in a red helicopter. The cartoon went viral in China and even the Embassy of People’s Republic of China in Sri Lanka shared it on Twitter. State media in China left no stone unturned in covering Meng’s return. The hours-ling live broadcast of her landing at Bao’an airport in Shenzhen also featured a live flight tracker. Over 400 million people reportedly watched the live broadcast.
The celebration is part of State media’s carefully manufactured nationalistic narrative.
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