After the heart-rending tragedy in Christchurch, New Zealand, I found the incident to be a trending topic on the Chinese internet, where kind citizens sent sympathies and prayers to the victims as well as their fellow Kiwis.

But as I scrolled through the microblogging platform Sina Weibo, another thread of responses swamped my timeline—this time, malicious, hurtful, and Islamophobic words were burning my eyes. Extremist views condemning Muslim victims and lauding the gunman, which one would only expect to find in the darkest corners of the internet, were among the most popular comments on China’s biggest social media platform.

This was hardly a surprise. As a longtime observer of the Chinese internet, I am used to seeing conservative-leaning views when it comes to discussions on Western politics. During the 2016 US election campaign, many Chinese conservatives, like their American and European counterparts, supported the rise of Trumpian nationalism.

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Tianyu Fang

A Boston-based freelance writer on Chinese tech and culture, and an independent researcher on US-China relations. Previously, he lived in Beijing, where he worked closely with China’s tech startup community.