Chinese e-commerce platforms are selling “T-shirts, umbrellas, handbags, lighters, and mobile phone cases” emblazoned with phrases used by Chinese Politburo member Yang Jiechi during a fiery exchange with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Alaska last week.
Chinese Foreign Affairs Director Yang Jiechi delivered a scathing rebuke of Blinken’s opening remarks at a U.S.-China summit on March 18 in Anchorage, Alaska, after Blinken alluded to “deep concerns with actions by China, including in Xinjiang, Hong Kong, Taiwan, cyberattacks on the United States and economic coercion toward our allies.” Yang’s riposte included a handful of remarkable quotes that Chinese entrepreneurs have since plastered onto merchandise for quick sale on Chinese e-commerce platforms including Alibaba’s Taobao, JD.com, and Pinduoduo.
“Chinese people won’t swallow this,” “The U.S. has no qualification to talk down to China,” and “Stop interfering in China’s internal affairs,” are some of Yang’s Alaska summit zingers that sellers have repurposed to adorn various wares.
“I love my country, so I must support patriotism,” a Chinese seller of t-shirts printed with Yang’s quotes told Reuters on March 22.
“According to data on Taobao.com, hundreds of people have bought t-shirts printed with Yang’s messages for Blinken at prices ranging from 30 yuan ($4.61) to 60 yuan ($9.22),” the news agency reported.
Smartphone cases decorated with Yang’s one-liners are currently listed for sale on Taobao for 12 to 40 yuan ($1.84 to $6.15).
“Most netizens on China’s Twitter-like microblog Weibo said they are keen to buy [the items], with one calling it a ‘real patriotic business,'” according to Reuters. The Chinese Communist Party heavily censors Weibo, ensuring the opinions posted there reflect only positive sentiments about the ruling dictatorship.
Yang and Foreign Minister Wang Yi met with Blinken and National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan on Friday. He used his opening statement to attack the United States as racist and lacking in moral standing on human rights issues.
Comparing the democratically-elected U.S. government to China’s ruling Communist Party, Yang said, “The United States has its style — United States-style democracy — and China has the Chinese-style democracy. It is not just up to the American people, but also the people of the world, to evaluate how the United States has done in advancing its own democracy. It is not the U.S. alone that has the final say. Any attempt to slander China’s social system is futile.”
Human rights groups estimate that Chinese Communist Party (CCP) officials in China’s westernmost region of Xinjiang have detained 1-3 million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslim minorities in state-run camps since at least 2017 as part of a targeted crackdown on the groups. Beijing officially denies that detention camps exist in Xinjiang, instead referring to the facilities as vocational training centers or political education centers. Critics of the detention program, including the U.S. and other western states such as Canada, have described the alleged conditions in the camps — including “systematic rape,” forced labor, forced abortions, and sterilizations — as amounting to genocide.