#BBCtrending: 'There is no Empire left now'

A map showing discussion topics across the world

All over the world, the possibility of Scottish independence is being discussed on social media, throwing up some interesting insights into how the UK is perceived elsewhere.

If the debate over Scottish independence feels like a local story in the United Kingdom, think again. On the Russian social network Vkontake (VK) there have been over half a million status updates about Scotland in the last month. More than 40,000 people tweeted about Scotland in Arabic. "Escocia" - the Spanish word for Scotland - has appeared used more than 140,000 times in the last 30 days. The mandarin phrase for "Scotland referendum" has been used 210,000 times on Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging service similar to Twitter.

What do these parts of the world make of the debate, and of recent polls which show the "Yes" campaign for independence making significant gains? It's hard to discern clear patterns, and many of those posting are simply sharing the latest news. But there are common themes that emerge.

In Russia, the Arab World and India, there are several references to Scottish independence in terms of the end of the British Empire. "Great Britain, which has lived off its colonies all over the world for centuries, should get a worthy retaliation," posted a member of the Russian Vkontake (VK) network - where 8,500 posts used the word "Empire" in relation to Scotland. "This is good news for us - the break-up of Great Britain, just like the British Empire in the past," said a fellow VK user. Others in Russia felt the potential for Scottish independence was similar to the decline of Russian power when the USSR broke up after 1989. Around 9,000 VK users used the terms "USSR" and "Soviet Union" alongside "Scotland". "This has made me smile. The energy that London put into the break-up of the USSR in the 1980s has backfired on them. Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland are the next to come," said one tweeter.

The theme of Empire emerged in social media posts from India, too. "#India threw England out. Now #Scotland is doing the same. There is no Empire left now," wrote one. Similar sentiment was on display in the Arab world: "The old empire is scared of its future," one user tweeted.

A tweet reading "The British union, cemented with wealth looted from India, is past its use-by date" Many made reference to the British Empire on Twitter

Back in Russia, others posting on VK drew parallels between Ukraine's recent history and Scottish independence. Russians, who have long complained about the pro-Ukrainian slogan that "those who don't dance are from Moscow", adapted the saying with an image saying "those who don't dance are British".

Two people dancing in kilts

Of course, many of those posting used the forthcoming referendum to make a political point about their own country. "China is a control freak, it never likes seeing countries separate so it wants to control everything. I suspect that it will feel the same way with Scotland," read a message from WeChat user yiyang267.

The parallel with local politics was strongest in the Spanish language - and especially in Spain itself - where many in Catalonia want to break away from the rest of the country. "All my Catalan guts and heart goes to #Scotland #yes for the chance of deciding a better and fair future. Diada2014," said a Spanish tweeter. The hashtag is a reference to the annual Catalan National Day on Thursday, when hundreds of thousands of Catalans are expected to take to the streets to demand a referendum on their own future.

Reporting by Mukul Devichand, Gennadiy Kot (BBC Monitoring), Ravin Sampat and Sam Judah

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