BEIJING (Reuters) – The resumption of student visa applications in US missions in China began this week when non-residents took an exception to a post on the US embassy on social media, which they interpreted as likening Chinese students to dogs.
Former US President Donald Trump, whose term was marked by tense relations in Beijing, had banned almost all non-US citizens who had been to China in January last year from entering the United States after the coronavirus outbreak.
In a Twitter-like service Weibo on Wednesday, the visa section of the US embassy in China asked students what they were waiting for after the Biden administration eased the restrictions.
“Spring has come and the flowers are blooming. You like this dog who can̵
The post provoked an angry reaction from some Weibo users, who thought the comparison was inappropriate and was later deleted.
“Is this American humor? I believe they did it on purpose!” one user wrote.
“Dogs in American culture generally have positive meanings, but in Chinese culture and idioms they are mostly negative,” wrote another user. Others teased that the “master” of the students was calling them back to the United States.
The Global Times, an English-language tabloid run by the Chinese Communist Party, the People’s Daily, also quoted online users as saying the post was “outright racism”.
A spokesman for the US Embassy in Beijing apologized on Thursday morning to anyone who was offended by the comments.
“The post on social media in question had to be frivolous and humorous,” he said. “We took him down as soon as we saw that he was not accepted in the spirit we had in mind.”
This is not the first time that animal remarks have provoked a reaction in China. In 2019, a senior economist at UBS was released on leave after comments about pigs in China were perceived by some as racial slander. He was later reinstated. [https://tinyurl.com/pnnfj29v]
(Report from the Beijing editorial office; Additional reports by David Stanway in Shanghai; Editing by Michael Perry and Stephen Coates)