The U.S. embassy in Beijing apologized after a social media post announcing the removal of some pandemic barriers between the two countries instead provoked a fierce reaction after it was perceived as likening Chinese students to dogs.
The embassy’s visa section invited Chinese students to resume applying for US visas on Wednesday in a post on China’s social media platform Weibo.
He noted the easing of restrictions after former President Donald Trump banned most non-US citizens in China from entering the country after the Covid-19 explosion.
“Spring has come and the flowers are blooming. You like this dog who can’t wait to go out and play? Said the Chinese-language post, according to Reuters. He was accompanied by an image of a small dog trying to escape over the top of the gate.
Weibo users reacted angrily, with many feeling the post likened Chinese students to desperate puppies.
“Dogs in American culture generally have positive meanings, but in Chinese culture and idioms they are mostly negative,” one user wrote, according to Reuters.
The Global Times, an English-language newspaper run by the Communist People’s Daily, also quoted users as saying the publication was “outright racism.”
The post was later deleted and the embassy apologized.
“” The post on social media in question had to be frivolous and humorous. We immediately removed her when we saw that she was not accepted in the spirit we envisioned, “said a spokesman for the embassy.
“We have a lot of respect for all Chinese, certainly including Chinese students,” the spokesman added. “We apologize if anyone has been offended. This was certainly not our intention. “
China is the largest source of foreign students in the United States
About 372,000 Chinese represent 35% of international students in the 2019-20 school year, according to the International Education Exchange, almost twice as many as India’s second-highest students.
But tensions between Washington and Beijing have escalated in recent years.
And Chinese Internet users, often inflamed and intensified by the Communist Party’s propaganda efforts, have repeatedly titled their angry interventions against actions they consider anti-Chinese.
“Small missteps like this tweet can quickly be read as part of a systematic disregard for China’s place in the world today,” said Florian Schneider, director of the Leiden Asia Research Organization, adding that the reaction could stem from China’s warning that The United States is ready to prevent their emergence as a great power.
The Trump administration angered Chinese authorities when it issued a travel ban on arrival from the country in January 2020 and continued to sharply criticize Beijing for the coronavirus epidemic. When the Biden administration announced it was easing the ban last month, Beijing hailed the news as a “positive step.”
Steve Tsang, director of China’s SOAS Institute at the University of London, said that while he believed the US embassy had no malicious intent to publish the publication, it was careless not to anticipate that some would be offended at first glance compared to dogs.
“Anything that seems to suggest that the Chinese people are not treated with absolute respect will be considered offensive,” he said.
Tsang added that China’s “netizens” have been more sensitive recently, partly because of tensions with the United States and partly because nationalism in China has been “put on steroids” under President Xi Jinping.
“Xi Jinping is actually urging people in China not to stand up for anything that can be considered disrespectful to China,” Tsang said.
“The Chinese government has armed everyone and everything to support the Communist Party and the party’s foreign policy. Why not arm these online platforms as well? “