Defending the Diaoyu Islands, Taobao Style
China has for some time been embroiled in conflict with Japan over which country owns what China calls the Diaoyu Islands (Japan calls them the Senkakus), an uninhabited string of rocks in the Pacific that no one cared about until it was discovered in the 1960s that there might be oil under them. As you might imagine, Taobao parent company Alibaba is not particularly eager to get in the middle of this highly politicized dispute, and has banned searches on Taobao for terms like “Diaoyu islands” or even “Diaoyu” (which on its own just means fishing).
But probably needless to say, that hasn’t stopped clever Taobao vendors from cashing in on the nationalist craze to “defend the Diaoyu” from the Japanese. Using terms like “patriotism” and “diaobao islands” (the “diaobao is an amalgamation of the word “diaoyu” and the Chinese word for “defend”), vendors have skirted Taobao’s keyword bans to offer a variety of patriotic items (mostly t-shirts) to those who want to show off where they stand.
Many of them are quite serious, like the one pictured at right, which admonishes readers to defend their national territory and retain the Diaoyu islands. Some, like this long-sleeve tee and this shirt, mimic propaganda posters from the 1960s and 70s. And it’s not only shirts that are available; patriotic smartphone users can coat their iPhone 4s in this custom defend-the-Diaoyus phone case.
There are also some vendors offering products that go beyond serious and into the realm of seriously offensive, like this shirt, the bottom of which reads “Fuck off, little Japan.” This tee also invites the “Japanese devils” to “piss off”, and this cute-looking striped number has a cartoon panda (pictured left) and a text slogan that begins “Die little Japan!” (and that’s the nice version of how you translate that phrase). And while these messages are mostly meant for domestic consumption, this shirt even translates the rude “fuck off” message into Japanese so the sentiment is impossible for anyone to miss.
Thankfully, not everyone on Taobao takes things so seriously. A number of vendors are selling bumper stickers and t-shirts like the one depicted below. The tongue-in-cheek message, which mentions China’s favorite Japanese porn actress Sola Aoi (safe for work), reads:
The Diaoyu Islands belong to China, Sola Aoi belongs to the whole world!
You can start your own search for defend-the-islands gear here.