Twitter Locks Account of Chinese Embassy in US Over Tweet About Uyghur Women

Twitter Locks Account of Chinese Embassy in US Over Tweet About Uyghur Women
The logo of U.S. social network Twitter displayed on the screen of a smartphone and a tablet in Toulouse, southern France, on Oct. 26, 2020. (Lionel Bonaventure/AFP via Getty Images)
Frank Fang

Twitter has locked the official account of the Chinese embassy in the United States over a tweet that activists say dehumanizes Uyghur women and promotes the Beijing regime’s propaganda to justify its persecution of Uyghur Muslims.

The tweet, which cited an article published by Chinese state-run media China Daily, said that Uyghur women had been “emancipated” by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) as part of its “process of eradicating extremism.” The tweet, posted on Jan. 7, further claimed that these women were no longer “baby-making machines.”

The Chinese regime has heavily suppressed Uyghurs and other Muslim minority groups in China’s far-western Xinjiang region. An estimated one million Uyghurs are currently detained inside internment camps.

Twitter removed the tweet about a day later.

A Twitter spokesperson confirmed with Reuters on Jan. 21 that the embassy’s account has been locked. Users that are locked out can still access their accounts but face restrictions such as not being allowed to tweet, retweet, or like posts.

“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,” the spokesperson stated.

The embassy’s account, which last tweeted on Jan. 9, must delete the offending post to unlock its account.

Twitter’s action was welcomed by the Washington-based nonprofit Campaign for Uyghurs.

“Locking the Chinese Embassy’s Twitter account is a good first step- but they [CCP officials] should be banned,” the nonprofit tweeted.

It added: “#CCP propagandists should not be given a free platform to disseminate misinformation while actively conducting a genocide against the #Uyghurs.”

Many of China’s foreign ministry officials and state-run media outlets have Twitter accounts. The platform is banned inside China.

The CCP’s mass sterilization program for Uyghur women, as well as other rights abuses against the Uyghur population, have been well-documented. Former U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared on Jan. 19 that Beijing’s persecution constituted genocide and crimes against humanity. The announcement marks one of the Trump administration’s most severe criticisms of the CCP’s human rights record.
German researcher Adrian Zenz, in a report (pdf) published by the Washington-based think tank Jamestown Foundation in June last year, found that natural population growth in Xinjiang’s two largest Uyghur prefectures fell dramatically between 2015 and 2019. Women living in the two areas were subjected to local authorities’ campaign of mass sterilization.
Also in June 2020, The Associated Press published an investigative report showing that Chinese authorities were using forced abortions, sterilization, and insertion of intrauterine devices to reduce the birth rate among Uyghurs and other minorities.
The Chinese embassy’s tweet triggered international condemnation. On Jan. 11, Pompeo responded via Twitter: “Uyghur women are not ‘emancipated’ by forced abortions and sterilizations.”
Nury Turkel, a member of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), called the Chinese embassy’s tweet “utterly appalling & shameful” via Twitter.

“I call on the international community to join USCIRF in condemning #CCP in the strongest terms,” Turkel said.

British MP (member of Parliament) Iain Duncan Smith wrote on Twitter that it was “disgusting” that the Chinese embassy attempted to “justify the progressive eradication of the #Uyghur people.”
Engin Eroglu, a German politician and member of the European Parliament, wrote in a tweet: “Cannot believe what I am actually reading there...this is one of the best examples of Chinese #propaganda and #fakenews!”
Frank Fang is a Taiwan-based journalist. He covers U.S., China, and Taiwan news. He holds a master's degree in materials science from Tsinghua University in Taiwan.
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