TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Over the weekend, Beijing's state-owned telecom giant China Unicom found itself scrambling to apologize to irate Chinese netizens who noticed that it had posted a Kuomingtang (KMT) slogan calling for the defeat of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).
On Dec. 12, China Unicom's Shandong customer service center posted a message to its subscribers exhorting them not to forget history, to remember the country's martyrs, and commemorate the 84th anniversary of the Xi'an Incident. The Xi'an Incident refers to a political crisis in which then-Republic of China leader Chiang Kai-shek (蔣介石) was detained by subordinates who tried to convince him to join forces with the CCP as a united front to fight the Imperial Japanese Army as the Second Sino-Japanese War loomed.
However, China Unicom inadvertently included the wrong slogan at the bottom of the image: "Resisting foreign aggression after stabilizing the country" (攘外必先安內). This slogan, which dates to the Song Dynasty, was first used by Chiang in 1931 to mean that KMT forces should defeat the communists before turning their attention to the Japanese.
In fact, Chiang augmented the slogan buy adding "Resisting the Japanese after suppressing the communist bandits" (抗日必先剿匪) in front. Chiang used the slogan to rally his troops prior to the Xi'an Incident but discontinued it while the two sides maintained an uneasy truce during World War II.
The Chinese Civil War-era slogan quickly drew a backlash among Chinese netizens:
"Schoolchildren all know that this is the slogan from Chairman Chiang's passive anti-Japanese and active anti-communist movement, right?"
"Uneducated. This is terrible!"
"It's a state-owned enterprise. The personnel in charge of document review in state-owned enterprises do not even have the minimum knowledge of junior high school history? What are the standards for employment in state-owned enterprises?"
"My God! Didn't learn history. Why not at least use Baidu?"
"Now anti-party people are teaching at the party school. Those who are against the system are in office, and those who are licking the United States and Japan are spreading propaganda. 'Resisting Foreign Aggression after Stabilizing the Country,' this sentence is quite appropriate."
"Is this simply stupid or made with ulterior motives?"
Later that day, China Unicom's Shandong customer service center issued an official statement which read:
"On December 12, inappropriate content appeared on our customer service Weibo page. We would like to express our sincere apologies to all walks of life and the majority of netizens! To the public, we humbly accept and rectified the issues that had been pointed out, and relevant responsible personnel shall be dealt with seriously. We will deeply ponder these lessons, strengthen content review and vetting, and resolutely put an end to such incidents. Thank you netizens and media for your supervision! ”