Chinese anime fan claims police questioned her for wearing a kimono

Chinese anime fan claims police questioned her for wearing a kimono

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Hong Kong
CNN

A Chinese anime fan says she was arrested and questioned by police after she wore traditional Japanese dress to pose for photos in the eastern city of Suzhou, sparking heated debate on China’s social media over what some see as excessive nationalism.

Wearing a white kimono decorated with images of red flowers and green leaves, the young woman said she was queuing for a bite to eat Wednesday night in Huaihai Street, a bustling food strip. popular for its Japanese bars and restaurants, when she and her photographer were suddenly surrounded by police.

The woman, who goes by the handle “Is Shadow Not Self,” posted details of the encounter on Weibo, China’s Twitter-like platform, on Sunday, where a related hashtag had been viewed more than 90 million times before it was censored on Monday. .

According to her post, police objected to her kimono, which she had paired with a long blonde wig as a cosplay of a main character in the Japanese manga series “Summer Time Rendering.”

Wearing a kimono in public in China has become increasingly controversial in recent years due to a rise in nationalism and anti-Japanese sentiment. Rooted in Japan’s brutal invasion of China during World War II, Chinese public sentiment toward Japan has waxed and waned—often tied to China’s domestic politics and the state of bilateral ties.

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But as Chinese nationalism becomes more aggressive and intolerant under the leadership of Xi Jinping, fans of Japanese culture — which had previously been popular among China’s youth — have faced growing criticism and suspicion.

In a video the anime fan posted on Weibo, which allegedly shows part of her encounter with the police, the woman can be heard explaining to an officer that she was doing a photo shoot.

“If you come here wearing Hanfu, I wouldn’t say this. But you wear a kimono, like a Chinese. You are Chinese! Are you?” the police officer shouts at her in response.

Hanfu is a collective term for the ancient clothing traditionally worn by ethnic majority Han Chinese before the Qing Dynasty. It has risen in popularity in recent years amid Xi’s promotion of traditional culture.

The woman then calmly asked on what basis she was yelled at.

– On suspicion of picking quarrels and provoking riots, the police said, referring to a charge often used against dissidents, journalists, human rights lawyers and activists.

The woman was then grabbed and escorted away by several police officers in a chaotic ending to the video, which has been viewed more than 8 million times by Monday afternoon.

The woman said in the Weibo post that she was being questioned at the police station for about five hours until 1 a.m., where she said her phone was searched, her photos deleted and her kimono confiscated. She said she was also “educated” and warned by police not to talk about her experience on the internet.

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CNN cannot independently verify the woman’s post and the video, although two storefronts seen in the video matched those on Huaihai Street. fCNN attempted to contact police at Shishan Station near Huaihai Street, but a staff member who answered the phone said he did not “knows a lot about the situation.”

The woman did not respond to CNN’s attempts to reach her via Weibo.

In an earlier post on Qzone, another Chinese social media platform, the woman said The police also asked her to write a 500-word letter of self-criticism.

“I feel like I have no dignity right now,” she said in the Qzone post on Friday. – The police said that what I did was wrong. I feel powerless… I like Japanese culture, European culture and I also like traditional Chinese culture. I like multiculturalism, I like watching anime, is it wrong that I like something?”

“I have always been very patriotic – or rather I had been very patriotic and confident in the police, until now … I can only say that I am very disappointed, it turns out that I have never had the freedom to wear or say what I want.”

A screenshot of her Qzone post was shared on Weibo and went viral over the weekend, prompting the woman to post her account of events on Weibo.

“If this is what you want to hear, I can also say it to you: I am sorry, I should not have disregarded the public feeling of walking the streets in Japanese clothes, this is wrong and dangerous behavior. I am very sorry for hurting our national sentiments,” she wrote on Weibo.

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However, some criticized her for wearing traditional Japanese clothes. “Why does a good Chinese wear a kimono? Think what your grandparents went through, one user said.

Still, many more expressed support for the anime fan, saying she did nothing wrong, especially given that she didn’t wear the kimono on sensitive days or near landmarks commemorating the Sino-Japanese War (which has previously led to other kimono- users in trouble).

“I have seen the video and your account of events. You have not hurt my feelings or feelings as a Chinese. I hope you don’t blame yourself and wish you stay safe,” said the top comment with 25,000 votes.

“I suggest the police shut down all Japanese restaurants, otherwise I’ll call the police to find out about arguments and incitement,” another supporter said in a sarcastic comment.

Some accused the police of abuse of power, while others lamented the lack of legal certainty and expressed concern about the increasingly narrow-minded nationalist sentiment.

“The cultural witch hunt is no longer limited to the online world. Sigh, this is just the first taste of the bitter pill to burn nationalism, says one comment.

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