Nancy Pelosi’s Beijing Arrest for 'Hooliganism' Is Trending on Weibo

Weibo users are using this newly unearthed fact to highlight their perception of Pelosi’s visit of Taiwan as part of a long held anti-China sentiment.
​Screenshot from Weibo
Screenshot from Weibo

Nancy Pelosi’s controversial visit to Taiwan on Tuesday has been all the buzz on Chinese social media Weibo. The latest trending topic is titled “U.S. House Speaker Nancy Pelosi detained by Beijing police station,” which has nearly two million views and over a thousand discussion posts. 

The trending topic has little to do with Pelosi’s recent and controversial visit to Taiwan. Chinese users are posting about the fact that Pelosi was detained in Beijing in 1991. One post is captioned, “Pelosi was detained by Beijing police for several days on suspicion of hooliganism in Beijing more than 30 years ago. Since then, she has held a grudge against China and is keen on its anti-China cause.”


Weibo users are using this newly unearthed fact to highlight their perception of Pelosi’s visit of Taiwan as part of a long held anti-China sentiment, after the Chinese government gave direct warnings to the American government for her not to visit Taiwan, so as not to send a “wrong signal to the separatist forces for ‘Taiwan independence.’” 

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Screenshot of the trending topic on Weibo.

In 1991, Pelosi, still a congressional representative for California, was detained alongside two other former house representatives, Democratic Rep. Ben Jones of Georgia and Republican Rep. John Miller of Washington for placing a white flower and unfurling a small black banner in both English and Chinese that read, “To Those Who Died for Democracy in China.” on a monument near Tiananmen Square. 

This banner referred to those who died in the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, which were student-led demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, Beijing, that resulted in an estimate of several hundred to thousand deaths. The student protesters were demanding greater political freedom under the ruling Communist party. On June 3 to 4, Chinese troops were sent to the square, where they opened fire, crushed, and arrested protestors to regain control. 

Pelosi was in China two years later on a self-described “human rights” mission to publicize the fact that more than a thousand Chinese dissidents were still imprisoned for participating in the Tiananmen demonstrations, according to The Baltimore Sun

Weibo users are describing it differently, however. They are coining Pelosi’s behavior as “hooliganism” and calling her a “criminal” with a “grudge.” They are attributing this detainment as the root of her “anti-China” beliefs. 

Chinese social media users are also disappointed by their government for not taking any real action against Pelosi following her visit to Taiwan, despite initial threats. People are complaining that they feel let down by the government. One Weibo user said “Don’t put on a show of power if you don’t have the power. What a loss of face!”

When responding to a press question on Wednesday regarding the disappointment people expressed over China’s lack of concrete action, a spokesperson for China’s foreign ministry said, “The Chinese people are rational patriots. We have full confidence in the ability of our country and our government to firmly defend our sovereignty and territorial integrity.”

Since Pelosi visited Taiwan on Tuesday, Weibo has heated up over the issue, where users are all piling in to express their visit on what Pelosi’s visit means for the future of their country and the possibility of China’s takeover of Taiwan. Another trending topic on Weibo encouraged Chinese readers to join the army and buy a cheap house in Taiwan if it succeeds in taking control of the region.