Mamianqun-Gate: When Chinese ‘Wolf Warrior’ antics hamper defense of Han dress heritage worldwide

This post was originally published on on July 30, 2022, and is republished here for archival purposes.

“Dress > Human Rights” writes the counter-protest sign held up by a Uyghur activist to the background of Chinese protesters outside the Dior brand flagship store on Avenue des Champs-Élysées, Saturday July 23, 2022. @Byron_Won Twitter

In my 2017 Medium article, I expressed a concern commonly shared by the founders of the Hanfu movement — whom are now silenced from iterating it publicly on the Chinese internet — that under Xi’s regime that consolidates all forms of national and heritage pride into fervor and his ruling legitimacy, the civilian, grassroots movement to distinguish the Han ethnicity from “The Chinese Nation (zhonghua minzu)” is being hijacked by the pervasive state propaganda machine and at risk to a disasterous derailment in support, which has already happened once in 1913 with the rise and fall of Yuan Shikai as emperor.

That fear is now coming to actualization.

Since the establishment of Huafu Day by the Communist Youth League (CYL) in 2016, hanfu has since shifted from simply a topic in civil society and online into a recurring event endorsed by the CYL and local governments as cultural and heritage initiatives. So when the story began on July 15, 2022 with China’s official paper, The People’s Daily, ran the netizen discovery of the skirt in Dior’s 2022 Autumn-Winter collection as being uncannily similar to the traditional garb, it amplified the shock value of the news with the power of official authority, raising the stakes to a matter of national heritage and intellectual property rights.

As Chinese geo-politics deteriorated with Hong Kong’s protests in 2019 and the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in 2020, the actions of “little pink” Chinese patriots protest are increasingly taken for granted as voices anathema to universal values and sensibilities. Now, despite having full-well and legitimate reasons for protest that would have been otherwise faced squarely had it been any other group, China’s ‘little pink’ militant expatriate protesters’ violent and vitriolic tendencies towards the free world over their country’s recent expansionism and infringement of human rights brook no sympathy from the global community. Now, when the tables turn, the ‘wolf warriors’ become the boys (and more often the case here, girls) “crying wolf” instead.


‘Appropriation’ and ‘Hijacking’: China’s wrestling with its dress and fashion history

This article was originally posted on on May 23, 2018, and is republished here for archival purposes.

While Chinese youth cautiously celebrate increasing Communist Party support through “Huafu Day”, they are wary of state intervention as possible repeat of tragic history 100 years ago; meanwhile American-born Chinese confound their Asian brethren with the concept of “cultural appropriation.”

Figure 1 Leung Chun-Ying, in a yi-chang (top and skirt) with hechang “crane coat” — a semi-formal set of hanfu in today’s terms. Source: CY Leung @Facebook

For the past two months, “traditional Chinese clothing” has been in the spotlight on social media and a topic of discussion, and not without a flurry of confusion and anxiety from some deep soul-searching. While many mainland Chinese were baffled or even lashed out against their American-born brethren on the issue of a white young woman wearing Shanghai-style qipao as “cultural appropriation,” dismissing their “Democratic political correctness culture gone too far,” they had their own similar case with traditional clothing being appropriated by someone of superior social power — except this time the category isn’t racial, it’s political.



September 2022