BEIJING — The trade dispute between the United States and China is escalating — and so is the war of words between the two countries.
Nationalism has surged in China in recent days as the government seeks to portray China as a victim of American bullying. With trade talks stalled, Chinese commentators have taken aim at President Trump and vowed to resist American demands. Here’s a look at what is being said on social media and state news outlets.
Taking on Trump
While the state-run news media in China have largely avoided attacking Mr. Trump by name, internet users have been less generous. They have circulated cartoons like the above, entitled “Giant Baby Trump,” to highlight what they describe as the president’s mercurial tendencies. (We’re not sure what the tattoo on his back is supposed to mean.)
“Trump’s behavior will only hurt the innocent, damaging the global economy and causing destruction to both sides,” a user wrote on Weibo, a Chinese social media site similar to Twitter.
Since the start of the trade dispute last year, Chinese leaders have tried to keep nationalism in check to avoid upsetting the trade talks. But this week, the government seemed to give it free rein.
The internet was awash in propaganda slogans, like the one above, which declares in part, “Don’t even think about bullying!” Commentators have drawn comparisons between the current trade dispute and China’s humiliation at the hands of foreign powers during the colonial era.
One of the most widely watched videos in China on Tuesday was a commentary by an anchor for China Central Television, the state broadcaster. The anchor, Kang Hui, above, dismissed the trade dispute as a blip in China’s 5,000-year history and said the country would “fight until the world is made new.”
Victor Shih, an associate professor at the University of California, San Diego, said the video was a warning to the United States as well as an attempt to caution the Chinese public about tumultuous times ahead.
“China is being very upfront about some of the potential turmoil and telling its public to get ready for it,” he said.
The sign hangs outside a restaurant in China, informing the public that Americans must pay an extra 25 percent fee to dine. “If there is any inconvenience,” the sign says, “please consult the U.S. Embassy!”
A photo of the sign was one of many anti-American memes circulating on Chinese sites this week. The government has allowed the outpouring of criticism in part because it directs attention away from China’s handling of the trade talks, experts said.
“They realize they have to let the anger be unleashed, otherwise this could be a social disruption for the regime,” said Yu Jie, a fellow at Chatham House, a research institution in London.
President Xi Jinping now faces pressure to deliver a deal.
China on Monday announced plans to raise tariffs on nearly $60 billion worth of American goods, including beer and wine. Some have urged Mr. Xi and the ruling Communist Party to take more severe actions, such as imposing boycotts on American goods or selling United States Treasuries. Analysts said the economic tensions are likely to last for years.
“There seems to be a wide consensus within the party that this trade war is going to be long,” Dr. Yu said. “Now it’s just a question of how to manage public opinion.”
Albee Zhang, Zoe Mou and Xiuzhong Wang contributed research.
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