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Twitter locks account of Chinese Embassy in U.S. over 'dehumanization' of Uighurs in tweet

Twitter has locked the account of the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. for a tweet that defended China's policies in the Xinjiang region, which the U.S. social media platform said violated the firm's policy against "dehumanization" of a group of people.

Embassy did not immediately respond to request for comment

A Twitter logo is seen outside the company headquarters on Jan. 11. The social media platform on Wednesday confirmed it had blocked the account of the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. because of a violation of its policy against the dehumanization of a group of people. (Stephen Lam/Reuters/File photo)

Twitter has locked the account of the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. for a tweet that defended China's policies in the Xinjiang region, which the U.S. social media platform said violated the firm's policy against "dehumanization."

The Chinese Embassy account, @ChineseEmbinUS, tweeted this month that Uighur women were no longer "baby making machines," citing a study reported by state-backed newspaper China Daily.

The tweet was removed by Twitter and replaced with a label stating that it was no longer available. Although Twitter hides tweets that violate its policies, it requires account owners to manually delete such posts. The Chinese embassy's account has not posted any new tweets since Jan. 9.

"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," a Twitter spokesperson said on Thursday.

The Chinese embassy in Washington did not immediately reply to an e-mailed request for comment. Twitter is blocked in China.

The Biden administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Twitter's move. 

Allegations of genocide

In one of his final acts in office, now-former secretary of state Mike Pompeo declared Tuesday that China's policies against Muslims in its Xinjiang region constitute "crimes against humanity" and "genocide."  President Joe Biden's chosen successor to Pompeo, Antony Blinken, said he shared the same view.

Xinjiang, a far western region that borders Central Asia, is home to the predominantly Muslim Uighur ethnic group. China denies human rights violations and says its actions in Xinjiang are necessary to counter a separatist and terrorist threat.

In a striking repudiation of its relationship with Washington under Trump, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced sanctions against "lying and cheating" Pompeo and 27 other top Trump administration officials in a statement that appeared on its website around the time that Biden was taking the presidential oath.

Pompeo and the others had "planned, promoted and executed a series of crazy moves, gravely interfered in China's internal affairs, undermined China's interests, offended the Chinese people, and seriously disrupted China-U.S. relations," it said.

The 28 individuals and immediate family members would be banned from entering mainland China, Hong Kong or Macao, and companies and institutions associated with them restricted from doing business with China.

WATCH | Aspects of Chinese treatment of Uighurs fits genocide definition: Bob Rae

Aspects of Chinese treatment of Uighurs fits genocide definition: Bob Rae

Rosemary Barton Live

5 months ago
10:03
Canada's ambassador to the United Nations says he's asked the international organization to gather evidence and investigate whether China's persecution of Uighurs in Xinjiang province constitutes a genocide. 10:03

China has repeatedly rejected accusations of abuse in its Xinjiang region, where a United Nations panel has said at least one million Uighurs and other Muslims had been detained in camps.

Last year, a report by German researcher Adrian Zenz published by the Washington-based Jamestown Foundation think-tank accused China of using forced sterilization, forced abortion and coercive family planning against minority Muslims. The Chinese foreign ministry said the allegations were groundless and false.

China's foreign ministry is lashing out at Canada after a House of Commons subcommittee concluded that the state's mistreatment of Uighurs living in Xinjiang province amounts to a policy of genocide.

Zhao Lijian, a spokesperson for the Chinese foreign ministry, said in November that this "so-called genocide" is "a rumour and a farce fabricated by some anti-Chinese forces to slander China."

Suspension of embassy's account follows removal of Trump's 

The embassy's account suspension comes shortly after Twitter removed the account of former U.S. president Donald Trump, which had 88 million followers, citing the risk of violence after some of his supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol this month.

Twitter had locked Trump's account, asking for deletion of some tweets, before restoring it and then removing it altogether after the former president violated the platform's policies again.

WATCH | Twitter permanently suspends Trump's account:

Twitter permanently suspends Trump

CBC News

3 months ago
3:58
Twitter has permanently suspended U.S. President Donald Trump's account over concerns his tweets could incite violence. Twitter's decision followed two tweets posted by Trump on Friday afternoon. It says the tweets violated the company's policy against glorifying violence. 3:58

With files from The Associated Press and CBC News

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