Chinese embassy’s Twitter account locked after post defending treatment of Uighurs

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Twitter on Thursday locked the account of the Chinese Embassy in Washington over a tweet defending Beijing’s policy toward Uighur Muslims, which the U.S. this week labeled a genocide.

The move stemmed from a tweet from the embassy claiming that Uighur women in the Xinjiang province “were emancipated” and “no longer baby-making machines.” Twitter said the post violated its stand against “dehumanizing” people. The tweet was removed, though screenshots of it remain online.

Twitter hides tweets that breach its policies and mandates that accounts take down such posts. The Chinese embassy has not tweeted since Jan. 8.

“We’ve taken action on the Tweet … 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 told The Hill on Thursday. 

Twitter is blocked in China, though it is commonly used by state media and diplomats around the world. 

The locking of the embassy’s account comes after former Secretary of State Mike Pompeo declared that China is committing genocide against its minority-Muslim Uighur population and other groups in Xinjiang. The declaration was made after what Pompeo said were crimes against humanity, including arbitrary detention, torture, forced labor, sterilization and restrictions on freedom of movement, against Uighurs and other groups like ethnic Kazakhs and ethnic Kyrgyz.

“While the [Chinese Communist Party] has always exhibited a profound hostility to all people of faith, we have watched with growing alarm the Party’s increasingly repressive treatment of the Uyghurs and other ethnic and religious minority groups,” Pompeo said.

The embassy did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Hill, but China’s foreign ministry rebuked Twitter over the suspension. 

“We noted the restriction Twitter has placed on the account of the Chinese embassy in the US. Its regulatory rules has come under much public attention. We also have concerns over this,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said during a briefing.

“We find Twitter’s restriction on the embassy account baffling and hope it will uphold the principle of objectivity and impartiality instead of applying double standard. Greater efforts should be made to distinguish between disinformation, rumors and lies from facts and truth.” 

China has repeatedly dismissed international criticism of its abuses in Xinjiang despite virtually global conclusions that human rights abuses are taking place. The United Nations has estimated that at least a million Uighurs and other Muslims are currently being detained in camps.

Tags Human rights abuses in Xinjiang province Mike Pompeo Twitter Uighur Muslims

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