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The rumor of the "bombing of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington" was a case of masturbation by some Chinese netizens. But we should be wary about whether this kind of masturbation helps to advance the talk of the "Chinese threat."|
Recently there was a popular Internet forum post entitled <The world in shock! Aircraft carrier USS George Washington hit by cruise missile>. This post claimed: "According to the latest news from CNN at local American time 21:19 (Beijing time 16:18), an incident took place to the shock of the world. The American nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Washington was cruising in open waters when it was hit by an unidentified cruise missile. The fuel on board caught fire. One lieutenant and 23 sailors were dead. Nine F18 jets were destroyed. Other damages are still being estimated." Apart from the text, the post included 8 photos on "the USS George Washington being hit" and "the American military base in Japan recording the launching of the cruise missile on radar." The logo on the photo says "club.china.com" but that website did not contain this post.
Although many netizens were contemptuous towards this post ("Please study PhotoShop seriously before making up rumors!"), some netizens were shocked and wanted to know more. The relevant Sina.com microblog post was deleted shortly afterwards. As someone noted, "At the Sina.com microblog, there are usually 4,000 to 5,000 re-posts of rumors but fewer than 200 re-posts that rebut rumors."
Any netizen with commonsense should be able to tell that this was a piece of false news. No regular channels (such as the mainstream media) had the relevant information. There was no attempt to even dispel this rumor, which showed that is was not credible.
However, the emotions of the netizens who responded deserves some attention.
The USS George Washington is undoubtedly the world's most advanced aircraft carrier. It is 333 meters long and 77 meters wide. It has a crew of 5,550 persons. It carries more than 90 airplanes including FA-18 jet fighters and E-2C early warning airplanes. It is part of a battle group with 9 Aegis destroyers and 3 nuclear submarines. In September 2008, the USS George Washington went to Japan to take place of the conventionally powered USS Kitty Hawk, now retired.
The rumor about the "bombing of the USS George Washington" is really masturbation by the Chinese netizens. According to news reports, South Korean and the United States plan to hold joint naval exercises in the Yellow Sea in July. The South Korean media claimed that the Japan-based USS George Washington will participate in this military exercise. But other reports say that the United States has not yet decided whether the aircraft carrier will participate. Analysts say that the USS George Washington battle group has a coverage radius of 600 kilometers. Since the Yellow Sea is the gateway into northern China (including Beijing), the USS George Washington's entry into the Yellow Sea will put Beijing within its attack radius.
The general opinion is that the purpose of the joint South Korea-United States naval exercise is to warn North Korea. In March this year, the South Korean naval ship Cheonan was sunk in the Yellow Sea with 46 casualties. The South Korean investigation concluded that the Cheonan had been sunk by a North Korean torpedo.
Although the goal was aimed at North Korea, China had to be wary due to the proximity of the Yellow Sea.
Recently the Chinese military took two actions. On June 24, the People's Liberation Army announced that they will be doing live ammunition artillery practice from midnight to 18:00 from June 30 to July 5 between Zhoushan and Taozhou into the ocean. The Foreign Ministry claimed that this was just routine military training and unrelated to the situation in the Korean peninsula. But why issue a denial for a non-event? Isn't that too obvious? Xinhua's <World Military Affairs> magazine chief editor Chen Fu said that "China wants to use the entry of this large aircraft carrier battle group as the ideal practice target." There is no doubt that "the large aircraft carrier battle group" refers to the USS George Washington.
The other Chinese response is even more obvious. The People's Liberation Army deputy chief of the general staff said on July 1: "We very much oppose this military exercise because the Yellow Sea is very close to the Chinese territorial waters." "We have clearly indicated our objections to their military exercise."
When there is such a vigorous official opposition, it is no surprise that some Chinese netizen would make up the story that "an American aircraft carrier has been bombed." In a certain sense, this can be regarded as the interplay between the official and civilian sectors in response to the South Korea-American military exercise in the Yellow Sea.
"The bombing of the USS George Washington" does have an original model. In May this year, American commander James Kraskas wrote <China Set For Naval Hegemony>. In that essay, he fictionalized the Sino-American sea battle of 2015: China launched a devastating attack on the USS George Washington at the Yokosuka naval base. Fires were blazing, explosions everywhere ...
The fictional account by the American commander about China attacking an American aircraft carrier carries a strong flavor of "the China threat" meme. In the false news report about the bombing of the American aircraft carrier, the repeated official Chinese rebuttals of the "Chinese threat" talk and certain "patriotic" Chinese netizens joined hands. Could the masturbation of the Chinese netizens end up advancing the "Chinese threat" talk instead?