Twitter blocks US Chinese embassy account over Uighur tweet

Twitter blocks US Chinese embassy account over Uighur tweet
Twitter has blocked the account of the Chinese embassy in the US after its post about Uighur women.
3 min read
21 January, 2021
Twitter blocked the embassy's Twitter account [Getty]
Twitter has locked the official Twitter account of the Chinese Embassy in the US following a tweet that defended Beijing’s discriminatory practices against its Uighur Muslim population in Xinjiang.

Critics of the regime, as well as reported first-hand accounts by doctors who have worked in Xinjiang have spoken of China engaging in the forced sterilisation of Uighur women, among other atrocities.

The tweet in question said Uighur women were no longer "baby-making machines", according to Bloomberg.

It had originally been shared on 7 January and was removed by Twitter 24 hours later with a label saying, "This tweet is no longer available".

The account is still locked, which means the embassy has not yet deleted the offending tweet, though the account, @ChineseEmbinUS has not posted since 8 January when its post was removed.

"We have taken action on this Tweet for violating our policy against dehumanization," a Twitter spokesman said in a statement to Bloomberg.

Twitter prohibits the "dehumanization of a group of people based on their religion, caste, age, disability, serious disease, national origin, race, or ethnicity."

In response, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying on Thursday said authorities were "puzzled" about why Twitter restricted the account, and said it was the embassy’s responsibility to correct "fake reports and information related to Xinjiang".

"We hope Twitter can adhere to objective and fair principles and not display double standards on this issue," she added.

Criticism of China's practises against its Uighur population has intensified as of late, and led by the US.

China on Wednesday was forced to respond to Washington's allegation that Beijing was committing genocide against Uighurs and other minorities, calling it "outrageous lies" and "poison" in a rancourous epilogue to a combative period in relations between the superpowers.

Under the administration of outgoing President Donald Trump, the US has butted heads with China over trade, security, technology, the origins of the Covid-19 pandemic and rights from Hong Kong to Xinjiang, home to the Uighur minority.

In the dying days of Trump's administration, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo launched his final broadsides against China.

America's top diplomat said Beijing's sweeping incarceration of mostly Muslim minorities in the far western Xinjiang region amounted to genocide and crimes against humanity.

"We are witnessing the systematic attempt to destroy Uighurs by the Chinese party-state," Pompeo said on Tuesday.

In a rebuttal typifying the strained language between the rivals, a foreign ministry spokeswoman in Beijing hit back on Wednesday, accusing Pompeo of fabricating "sensational false propositions" throughout his term in office.

Genocide had "never happened in the past, is not happening now and will never happen in China," spokeswoman Hua Chunying said in her last public joust with Pompeo, a regular target of the ministry's anger throughout the Trump administration.

Rights groups say at least one million Uighurs and other Turkic-speaking Muslims have been incarcerated in camps in Xinjiang.

Independent access to the sensitive area is highly restricted, making reporting and verification of the allegations near impossible.

But witnesses and activists say that China is seeking to forcibly integrate the Uighurs into the majority Han culture by eradicating Islamic customs, including by forcing Muslims to eat pork and drink alcohol - both forbidden by their faith - whilst imposing a regime of effective forced labour.

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