In 2016, Little Pink has emerged as the label for a new wave of female-led cyber-nationalism in China. While increasingly popularized in media and online discourses, little is known about the evolution of this label and its significance for our understanding of China’s digital activism. This article takes the first step at unraveling the Little Pink mystery by examining its origins and contestation in China’s online community during the cross-strait memes war of 2016 when mainland nationalists mobilized to challenge Taiwan’s election results. Drawing on multifaceted digital data, this study shows that Little Pink was an invented label and that gender was used by conflicting cyber groups in their attempts at reframing the imagery of nationalism. More broadly, this article demonstrates that cyber-nationalism is a phenomenon contested across different digital groups in China, and it should be analyzed more as a case of ambivalence in digital activism than as a manifestation of state propaganda or growing radical nationalism in contemporary China.
First published online on October 9, 2017