Why China’s Netizens Are Comparing Taiwan to a Frog

A meme has been circulating amongst Chinese netizens on social media platforms which compares to Taiwan and its leadership to a frog. Its usage and application have become increasingly widespread under the administration of Tsai ing wen whom has sought to place greater emphasis on formal separation from Beijing. But what does this mean? And what is it all about? The idea derives from an old Chinese fable which is known as “井底之蛙” (Jǐngdǐzhīwā) or “Frog at the bottom of the well”.

The story goes that a Frog lived at the bottom of a well with a view only of the sky. This was all he knew about the world. One day, a Turtle came along and told the Frog about life in sea, which was bigger, vaster and not subject to the droughts experienced on the land. The Frog however insisted that nothing could be better than life in the well, and insisted that the Turtle instead come and join him. The moral of the story is that some people are happy to sit in their ignorance.

How does this then become an allegory of Taiwan’s relationship with mainland China? Netizens compare Taipei to the frog in order to make fun of what they see as exaggerated claims of greatness and prestige by the island’s leadership to insist upon differentiation and superiority to China. This has also led to a spin off meme whereby Netizens Mock: “Taiwan Number One!” As an example of all this, yesterday when Taipei was not invited to attend the World Health Assembly, Foreign Minister Joseph Wu wrote a statement on twitter bemoaning “Overwhelming international support, ignored” by the world.

For Chinese citizens, this statement provoked ridicule and a surge of “frog in the well” comparisons as an example as to how the island had blatantly overestimated its own standing in the world and support from others. Although Taiwan will continue to cite its Democracy, for mainlanders they see the island sitting in the bottom of the well and very content, when it could be part of something much bigger and grander…