A social media account in China linked to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) triggered a strong backlash for mocking India’s CCP virus tragedy.
On the micro-blogging platform Weibo, the account posted a photo of the Chinese Long March-5B carrier rocket blasting off, alongside a picture of cremation pyres burning at night in India under the watch of people in hazmat suits.
“China lighting a fire versus India lighting a fire,” the caption read, accompanied by a hashtag declaring that India’s virus cases had surged past 400,000 a day.
The account that posted the photos is linked to the Central Commission for Political and Legal Affairs, a powerful organ of the CCP, overseeing the country’s courts and law enforcement bodies. Several other accounts run by the police and local courts shared the pictures.
Though nationalist sentiment against India has been running high in recent months due to border disputes, many Chinese social media users were shocked. “I can’t believe this was posted by a government account. Why do you need to use the suffering of others to highlight national pride?” read one top comment underneath the post.
“How can this be approved (by censors)? It’s a complete disrespect of human life,” read another.
Even Hu Xijin, the Editor in Chief of the Global Times, a state-run newspaper known for its nationalist stance, criticized the post: “I don’t think it’s proper for social media accounts of certain Chinese official institutions or other influential forces to mock India at present.”
Amid the backlash online, the post comparing China’s launch to India’s virus deaths was removed from Weibo. A hashtag relating to the post was also deleted.
The incident is the latest example of how a clumsy attempt to stoke nationalism can strike an insensitive note.
On Twitter, China’s “wolf warrior” diplomats frequently post controversial comments. Last week, Zhao Lijian, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry, posted a modified version of Japan’s famous Great Wave woodblock print, to condemn releasing treated water from the Fukushima nuclear plant into the ocean. It was criticized as insulting Japanese culture and prompted a swift protest from the Japanese Foreign Ministry.
Last year, Zhao tweeted a digitally altered image that appeared to show an Australian soldier threatening to slit the throat of an Afghan child, which drew stern condemnation from Australia as “repugnant.”
And in January, when denying allegations of forced sterilization in Xinjiang, the Chinese embassy in the United States said on Twitter that Uyghur women had been “emancipated” from extremism and were no longer “baby-making machines.” The post was later removed by Twitter.
The CNN Wire contributed to this report