‘Leeks, assemble!’: Chinese retail investors show solidarity with GameStop stock buyers

Society & Culture

Chinese social media users and the small-time stock traders who call themselves ‘leeks’ have reacted with enthusiasm to the GameStop affair, in which small-time American investors are swarming the stock market and creating big losses for hedge funds.

Illustration by Derek Zheng

If individual Chinese traders have learned anything over the years, it’s that there’s no such thing as “fair” in the stock market game. From time to time, a bunch of small-timers may luck out and hit the jackpot, but at the end of the day, when the core interests of the business elite and other powerful establishments are challenged, the Chinese government will resort to heavy-handed intervention, exhausting every means possible to protect the rich at the expense of the poor. 

That’s why the ongoing GameStop saga in the U.S. has struck a special chord with the small fry in China.

In the past few days, as amateur traders on Reddit went head-to-head with America’s top hedge funds over GameStop, AMC, and other ailing companies’ stocks, retail investors in China couldn’t help but express solidarity with their fellow “leeks” (韭菜 jiǔcài, more properly translated as Chinese chives), the self-deprecating term they use to describe their feeling of being played for suckers, because just like the green vegetable, they can be harvested repeatedly, and are grown, cut, and tied into bunches by forces beyond their control.  

On social media platform Weibo, the GameStop affair has spurred lots of reactions, with many Chinese people sharing their support for the “Reddit Rally” taking place on Wall Street and encouraging them to keep the momentum going despite trading restrictions and other forms of market intervention. Some of them have joked “Leeks, assemble!” (韭菜集合) to show their solidarity with American day traders. 

Below, we have compiled some of the most expressive comments about the GameStop chaos, arranged by theme:

The GameStop story is class warfare 

“Where there is oppression, there is resistance. As an individual trader in China, I am paying close attention to this matter and standing firmly with my American counterparts!”

“This feels like the proletariats around the world are coming together and rebelling.”

“They are no longer leeks. This is the first fight of slaves who have not yet been stripped of power. Everyone should pay attention to this and show support!”

“The only path left for American people is putting up an armed struggle and starting a violent revolution.”

“This is a victory of the working class. The united power of ordinary people is the only key force that can prompt society to move in a good direction.”

America’s capitalist economy is a rotten system structured to do what’s best for the elite

“This story has made common people in America realize how insidious the capitalist economy is. This is incredibly meaningful!”

“Wall Street is not a charitable organization. It’s a blood-sucking place.”

“When they win, it’s all about freedom and democracy. When they lose, they implement a trading freeze. Those people are pirates dressed in fancy suits.”

“If this were a plot in a Chinese movie, the director would be mocked for not having basic knowledge about how finance works. But apparently, some things in real life can be more dramatic than what’s depicted in movies.”

But Chinese stock markets are corrupt, and small investors can’t speak out

“Frankly speaking, I am jealous that those redditors could do as they pleased just for a few days. If something similar happened in China, the rebels would immediately be slapped with accusations like illegal fundraising and market manipulation. And I don’t know if they would have the chance to speak out. I am truly envious that they had the opportunity.”

“Who would be able to come forward and speak out if this happened in China?”

“The stock market eats you alive and leaves no bones left! Small-time investors in China’s A-share markets are like leeks being harvested. We are all losers being played by the system.”

“America is just like China.”

“I hope all small investors around the world, including those in mainland China, will consider this a serious wake-up call.” 

The GameStop fiasco exposes the fraudulence of America’s moral hypocrisy

“The so-called democracy and freedom in America is all nonsense and crap.”

“America has really revealed its true face in the past two years.”

“I’ve never seen American people this united before.”

“Wall Street stole tricks from the Chinese government. Shameless!”

“Although harvesting leeks is common in China, the tactic that those Americans used was definitely the first of its kind.”

“China’s success in fighting the pandemic has brought socialism to the U.S.”

“In recent years, institutions of capitalist democracy have taught us many valuable lessons. Dreams are shattered…”