Beijing’s Spokesman Uses Syrian Photos to Attack US Policy in Afghanistan

By Alex Wu
Alex Wu
Alex Wu
Alex Wu is a U.S.-based writer for The Epoch Times focusing on Chinese society, Chinese culture, human rights, and international relations.
January 30, 2022Updated: January 31, 2022

Zhao Lijian, spokesman for China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recently tweeted images of a child in war-torn Syria while falsely claiming they were taken in Afghanistan in a swipe against U.S. foreign policy.

Zhao, posted four photos on his Twitter account on Jan. 24, with the caption of “After 20 years’ war, this is what the #US has brought to the children in #Afghanistan”.

The images show children collecting scrap metal among heaps of disused ammunition.

However, Zhao’s claims were refuted by Ali Haj Suleiman, the photographer who took the images, who said they were taken in Idlib, Syria.

Suleiman blamed the situation that the children faced in the images on President Bashar al-Assad’s regime and Russian forces. Idlib is the last province in Syria not yet recaptured by al-Assad’s military.

Suleiman’s collection of images won an honorable mention in the UNICEF Photo Of The Year 2021 competition.

‘Wolf Warrior Diplomacy’

Zhao’s Twitter post was later removed but it’s not the first time he has posted misleading images on social media to attack the west.

On Nov. 30, 2020, Zhao posted on Twitter a doctored violent image of an Australian soldier threatening a young child with a knife. Zhao used the image to accuse Australian soldiers of “murdering Afghan civilians.”

The fake image was created by a Chinese graphic artist named Fu Yu, who published the image via Chinese social media Weibo on Nov. 23, 2020.

Zhao’s use of the image drew outcry from Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison while U.S. senator Rubio criticized Twitter for refusing to remove the image.

In March 2020, Zhao tweeted a video from state-run People’s Daily which falsely reported that Italians were singing China’s national anthem “March of the Volunteers” to “thank China” for providing aid to the country during the pandemic.

Italian media Linkiesta pointed out this was fake news spread by Chinese officials and that no such thing occurred.