On Saturday afternoon, the Weibo account posted a photo of a rocket launch in China – the launch of the Tianhe module – alongside a photo of Indian Covid victims cremated at funeral pyres. The caption read: “Light a fire in China Vs light a fire in India.” “
Social media users quickly piled up and criticized the account – which was later revealed to be that of an official Chinese law enforcement body, the Communist Party’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission – for its insensitive and inappropriate content. Many shared screenshots from the original Weibo post and berated the account. Call on China to show sympathy at a time when India is reeling from a devastating second wave of Covid.
The original post, which was accompanied by a hashtag stating that India had passed 400,000 Covid cases in a single day, was later deleted, but screenshots continued to be shared widely.
China’s Foreign Ministry, in a statement, said, “We hope everyone pays attention to the Chinese government and general public opinion supporting India’s fight against the epidemic. “
Manya Koetse, editor and chef de What’s new on Weibo, a site that tracks the micro-blogging site said, “I don’t think we can expect any clarification from the party account in question, but I think there was no consensus on this post, otherwise it wouldn’t have been removed so quickly. ”
Global Times editor Hu Xijin, meanwhile, wrote on Weibo that official social media accounts should “carry the banner of humanitarianism right now, show sympathy for India and firmly place the Chinese society on high moral ground ”. He also said it was not a way for official accounts to gain traction.
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Friday sent a message of condolence to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and offered to send aid to the country amid the world’s worst Covid outbreak. He said: “I am very concerned about the recent situation of the Covid-19 pandemic in India. On behalf of the Chinese government and people, as well as on my own behalf, I would like to express my sincere condolences to the Indian government and people.
On Sunday, the official death toll from Covid-19 was recorded at 3,689 – the highest number since the start of the pandemic. However, numerous reports suggest that the Indian government seriously underestimates the actual number of deaths from Covid.
A WeChat user said, “I apologize to the Indians on my own behalf. The post by [Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission‘s] Weibo acct does not represent me. We live on the same planet… We feel your suffering.
Previously, a separate Weibo account belonging to the Chinese Ministry of Public Security posted a photo comparing the Chinese Huoshenshan Hospital, the emergency hospital complex built within 10 days in Wuhan, to the photo of mass cremations in India. This post was also deleted after a series of criticisms calling it “morally problematic”.
Chinese Ambassador to India Sun Weidong quickly took over and assured China’s support for India. In response to Sood’s tweet, Mr. Sun replied, “I wrote down your Twitter information, Mr. Sood. China will do everything possible to support India in the fight against Covid-19. To my knowledge, the air freight routes between China and India are operating normally. In the past two weeks, 61 cargo flights between China and India have been operational. He also assured that he would ensure that “the channel for exporting materials to India works well.”