Monitored Chinese accounts tweeted 17,534 times last week, generating 98,302 retweets and 354,152 likes.
Last Wednesday, the UN Human Rights Office released a report that criticized the Chinese state’s policies in Xinjiang, going so far as to warn that those policies may amount to crimes against humanity. Before the release of the UN report, MFA spokesperson Zhao Lijian warned that it was “a pure stunt orchestrated by the US and a handful of other Western countries.” On Thursday, Zhao’s colleague Wang Wenbin called the report “completely illegal, null and void,” a position Zhao repeated on last Friday even as the UN Secretary General himself urged China to follow the report’s recommendations.
On Twitter, “Xinjiang” was by far the most frequent key phrase and hashtag in Chinese diplomats and state media’s tweets last week. In the runup to the UN report’s release, the MFA’s top spokespeople Hua Chunying and Zhao Lijian focused their attacks on the United States. The MFA went further by repeating fabricated statements supposedly uttered by US diplomats. From Thursday through the rest of the week, Chinese diplomats attacked the UN report itself. Hua Chunying portrayed the UN agency as a front for “the West” and its supposedly anti-China agenda. The Embassy in the Netherlands, the Embassy in Italy, the Consul General in Osaka, the Embassy in Venezuela, the Embassy in El Salvador, and the Embassy in Tanzania were among the many Chinese officials whose voices were used to attack the UN text. Others, like the Embassy in Austria, the Embassy in Zimbabwe, the Embassy in Kenya, and the former consul general in Beirut criticized the UN document in an oblique way by showcasing scenes portraying life in Xinjiang as idyllic.
The MFA, as well as Chinese diplomats in Beijing and in Europe, were also quick to point out that their government’s policies in Xinjiang enjoyed the support of “nearly 100 countries, including many Muslim countries.” Many Chinese accounts, such as the Mission to the EU, the Embassy in the United Kingdom, and the Embassy in Malawi highlighted a Chinese report about the “Truth and Facts” about the “Fight against Terrorism and Extremism in Xinjiang.” Lastly, the MFA, as well as employees from the Global Times and Xinhua, tried to deflect criticism aimed at China by pointing to the United States’ mistreatment of Native Americans. In the days that followed the release of the report, Xinhua itself ran two stories about difficulties still faced by Native Americans’ today.
In addition to attacks clearly meant to deflect from Beijing’s own actions in Xinjiang, Chinese accounts monitored on Hamilton 2.0 also criticized the United States for many issues unrelated to current events. Some, like the Consul in Belfast, insisted on US military interventions abroad, with the MFA quoting notorious pro-Russian commentator George Galloway who accused the United States of being “prepared to fight to the last drop of European blood [in Ukraine].”
A Pakistan-based diplomat, CGTN Arabic, and CGTN-affiliate T-House all relayed the idea that the United States is on the brink of civil war. Other accounts were even more pointed in their attacks, with Hua Chunying highlighting the recent police killing of a “black young man” and parents protesting against gun violence in schools. A Xinuha reporter used a skit about Asian-Americans feeling slighted by white Americans’ ignorant questions to comment on US “double standards,” presumably on the global stage.
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