China shutters China Unicom branch account after fried rice gag about Mao’s son

China Unicom's Jiangsu branch posted a recipe for egg fried rice on the anniversary of Mao Anying's birth.
By Qiao Long and Chingman
2021.10.26
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China shutters China Unicom branch account after fried rice gag about Mao’s son A woman walks past a movie promotion poster for “The Battle at Lake Changjin” at a mall in Beijing, Oct. 11, 2021.
AFP

China's internet censors have shut down the social media account of a branch of the telecommunications giant China Unicom after it posted a recipe for egg fried rice to mark the Oct. 24 birthday of Mao Anying, son of late supreme leader Mao Zedong, who died in a U.S. bombing raid during the Korean War (1950-1953).

The official Weibo account of the Jiangsu division of China Unicom was shut down after complaints that it had "insulted the People's Volunteers" who fought on the side of the North Korean communists against the U.S.

The original post, which garnered outraged comments from "Little Pink" supporters of the CCP, was no longer accessible, with social media users calling on each other to file complaints with the ministry of industry and information technology over the matter.

The leftist Maoist site Red Culture Network hit out at the recipe in a post on Tuesday.

"China Unicom is a communications company, so why is it posting about egg fried rice on Weibo? Do they make a habit of posting on culinary matters?" the post said. "They chose to post this on Oct. 24."

"This humiliation was perpetrated by an official who works for a central government controlled company."

The furor over the recipe comes after authorities in the eastern province of Jiangxi detained a man for allegedly "impeaching the reputation of heroes and martyrs" after he made comments about the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)-backed Korean War propaganda blockbuster "The Battle at Lake Changjin."

The man, who was identified only as Zuo ***dong, was jailed for a 10-day administrative sentence by police in Nanchang city after he posted an irreverent comment on the Sina Weibo social media platform under the username @yuediyouyou.

"That fried rice was the best thing to come out of the whole Korean War," the user wrote on Oct. 8, 2021, in a joking reference to the Nov. 25, 1950 death of late supreme leader Mao Zedong's son Mao Anying in North Korea.

"Thanks for the fried rice!" the comment said, in a reference to an apocryphal story told in China that Mao Anying's location was only discovered by the U.S. military because he broke blackout rules with a cooking fire, because he wanted to make fried rice.

Police said Zuo had confessed to "impeaching the reputation of the volunteers to resist U.S. aggression and aid Korea," referring to China's People's Volunteer Army (PVA), which crossed the Yalu River and joined the war on the North Korean side on Oct. 19, 1950.

Zuo's jailing came as former Beijing News and Caijing Magazine editor Luo Changping was detained by police in the southern island province of Hainan on the same charge after commenting online about the depiction of China's role in the Korean War (1950-1953) in "The Battle at Lake Changjin."

Luo is currently being held under criminal detention by police in Hainan's Sanya city for "impeaching the reputation of heroes and martyrs," and the case has been transferred to the municipal prosecutor's office.

Critics of the movie outside China say it never mentions that the Korean War was triggered by the North's invasion of the South, and make it appear that the landing of U.S. forces at Incheon was an invasion out of the blue.

Soldiers in the film are led to believe that they are ultimately fighting to protect China from U.S. invasion.

Chengdu-based writer Tan Zuoren said local authorities aren't always sure what standards apply when it comes to what may be said online.

"It seems as if there is no actual standard, or that it's not uniformly applied," Tan told RFA. "The degree to which these laws and policies get implemented varies from place to place."

"It's kind of lacking in any kind of logic," he said.

The rumor that Mao Anying died because he made egg fried rice was listed among 12 versions of history that deviate from the official line after the CCP-backed "China Internet Integrity Conference" in the central city of Changsha.

"Online rumors involving party history seriously pollute the internet, mislead the public, and damage the image of the party," the conference said in a July 15, 2021 communique.

It lists "fabricating a story that the sacrifice of Comrade Mao Anying occurred because he was cooking egg fried rice" among the rumors, including public skepticism over the good deeds attributed to model worker Lei Feng.

Jiangsu-based current affairs commentator Zhang Jianping said the best way to defuse the row would be to make public the circumstances of Mao Anying's death.

"When we start reflecting, then we no longer deliberately promote hatred," Zhang said. "But not a lot of people are in the habit of reflection right now."

A commentator surnamed Cai said the CCP no longer allows any kind of doubts to be voiced about the official line.

"They likely think this is the best way to control public opinion, by making everyone stick to the official guidelines for public opinion or keep quiet," Cai said.

"There is no room for doubt ... or society might develop in a disorderly direction," he said.

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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