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Twitter locks account of China's U.S. embassy over its defence of Xinjiang policy

Technology Jan 21, 2021 06:26AM ET
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2/2 © Reuters. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying attends a news conference in Beijing 2/2

By Brenda Goh

SHANGHAI (Reuters) - Twitter has locked the account of China's U.S. embassy for a tweet that defended China's policy towards Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang, which the U.S. social media platform said violated its stand against "dehumanizing" people.

China's Foreign Ministry said on Thursday that it was confused by the move and that it was the embassy's responsibility to call out disinformation and clarify the truth.

The Chinese Embassy account, @ChineseEmbinUS, posted a tweet this month that said that Uighur women had been emancipated and were no longer "baby-making machines", citing a study reported by state-backed newspaper China Daily.

The tweet was removed by Twitter and replaced by a label stating that it was no longer available. Although Twitter hides tweets that violate its policies, it requires account owners to manually delete such posts. The Chinese embassy's account has not posted any new tweets since Jan. 9.

Twitter's suspension of the embassy's account came a day after the Trump administration, in its final hours, accused China of committing genocide in Xinjiang, a finding endorsed by the incoming Biden administration.

The Biden administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Twitter's move.

Twitter is blocked in China but has been embraced by Chinese state media and diplomats, many of whom have taken to the platform to aggressively defend China's positions in what has come to be known as "Wolf Warrior" diplomacy.

"We've taken action on the Tweet you referenced for violating our policy against dehumanization, where it states: We prohibit the dehumanization 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.

The Chinese embassy in Washington, which joined Twitter in June 2019, did not immediately respond to a e-mailed request for comment.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a regular briefing on Thursday that it was confused by Twitter's move.

"There are numerous reports and information relating to Xinjiang that are against China. It’s a responsibility for our embassy in the U.S. to clarify the truth," she said.

"We hope they won’t apply double standards on this issue. We hope they can discern what is correct and truthful from disinformation on this matter."

China has repeatedly rejected accusations of abuse in Xinjiang, where a U.N. panel has said at least a million Uighurs and other Muslims had been detained in camps.

Last year, a report by German researcher Adrian Zenz published by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation think tank accused China of using forced sterilization, forced abortion and coercive family planning against minority Muslims. China said the allegations were groundless and false.

This is not the first time Twitter has taken action against China-linked accounts. In June last year, it removed more than 170,000 accounts it said were tied to a Beijing-backed influence operation that deceptively spread messages favourable to the Chinese government.

Twitter's move also follows the removal of the account of former U.S. president Donald Trump, which had 88 million followers, citing the risk of violence after his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol this month.

China meanwhile struck an optimistic tone towards the Biden administration on Thursday, saying "kind angels can triumph over evil forces".

Twitter locks account of China's U.S. embassy over its defence of Xinjiang policy
 

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Comments (7)
Silence Dogood
Silence Dogood Jan 21, 2021 5:13AM ET
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Waaay too little, waaay too late..
Anakin Skwk
Anakin_Skwk Jan 21, 2021 4:26AM ET
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Twitter blocked the truth, which reveals the hypocrisy of western media and politician.
Tom Westerholm
twesty Jan 21, 2021 4:26AM ET
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how so? what truth did they block?
Kristo ivanov
Kristo ivanov Jan 21, 2021 2:14AM ET
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👍
Kaveh Sun
Kaveh Sun Jan 21, 2021 2:11AM ET
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Make no mistake, the vp is half indian. Chinese n Indian dont get along.
Jeff Batts
Jeff Batts Jan 21, 2021 2:11AM ET
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Lol is it 1905?
Gamer Turtle
GamerTurtle Jan 21, 2021 12:31AM ET
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lol. tough life but twitter is slowly moving itself toward politics, intentional or not, it is happening.
SL Soon
SL Soon Jan 21, 2021 12:10AM ET
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Social media are the dictator now, not the government.
Stephen Corsaro
Stephen Corsaro Jan 21, 2021 12:10AM ET
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companies have the right to boycott users ever since the Supreme Court ruled that they are persons under the law. Your right as a person is what allows you to boycott anyone you wish as long as it is not a blanket boycott of any group because of rights protected by the 13th , 14th or 15th amendments. If you had passed a test to become a citizen or paid attention in grammer school civics courses you would know this.
Jack AAA
Jack_A Jan 20, 2021 10:11PM ET
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hypocrisy all the time
 
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