Twitter locks China’s US embassy account over offensive Uyghur tweet


Twitter locked the account of the Chinese Embassy in Washington on Thursday over a tweet  defending Beijing’s policy toward Uyghur Muslims, which the US labelled this week as genocide.

The social media platform said the account had violated its policy against “dehumanisation” of a group of people based on their religion, caste, age, disability, serious disease, national origin, race, or ethnicity.

The account, @ChineseEmbinUS, twitted last January 7 that, “in the process of eradicating extremism”, women belonging to the ethnic minority “were emancipated and gender equality and reproductive health were promoted, making them no longer baby-making machines”.

The tweet was linked to an article by the state-run China Daily, which cited a study saying that eradicating extremism has given women more autonomy.

The message was removed by Twitter and replaced with a label stating that it is no longer available. Twitter is blocked in China, though it is commonly used by state media and diplomats around the world.

“We’ve taken action on the tweet for violating our policy against dehumanisation, where it states: We prohibit the dehumanisation of a group of people based on their religion, caste, age, disability, serious disease, national origin, race, or ethnicity,” a Twitter spokesperson said on Thursday.

Hua Chunying, a spokeswoman for China’s foreign ministry, responded by saying her country was a “major victim” of “fake and ugly information”.

“We hope Twitter will uphold the principles of objectivity and fairness… strengthen its screening, and screen out what is actually disinformation.”

China has been repeatedly forced to deny accusations of abuse in Xinjiang, where a United Nations panel has said at least 1m Uyghurs and other Muslims have been detained in camps.

Last year, a report by researcher Adrian Zenz published by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation think tank accused Beijing of using forced sterilisation, forced abortion and coercive family planning against minority Muslims.

The foreign ministry likewise insisted those allegations were groundless.

Most recently, the superpower was accused of abuse against the Turkic group by Donald Trump’s outgoing secretary of state Mike Pompeo.

“I have determined that the People’s Republic of China is committing genocide and crimes against humanity in Xinjiang, China, targeting Uyghur Muslims and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups,” he tweeted on Tuesday.

President Joe Biden’s chosen successor to Mr. Pompeo, Antony Blinken, has said he shares the same view but British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has so far declined to support their cause.

Twitter’s suspension of the embassy’s account follows its removal of Mr. Trump’s own in response to rioting on the US Capitol on 6 January, events that led to his historic second impeachment for “incitement to insurrection”. (Source: The Independent)