The Communist Party's Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission on its official Sina Weibo account put up an “insensitive” social media post ridiculing India’s COVID crisis.
The post had a photo of the country's successful launch of Tianhe module and its fuel burn-off, compared with a photo of mass cremation in India, and captioned "China lighting a fire versus India lighting a fire".
The post was accompanied by a hashtag, which noted that India was recording 400,000 new COVID-19 cases a day.
The post was subsequently deleted after receiving online criticism, as many Chinese social media users expressed shock and anger at the insensitivity of the post.
China's foreign ministry said that more supplies will continue to be sent to India in the coming days, showing China's support through practical action, and added, "We hope everyone gives attention to the Chinese government and mainstream public opinion supporting India's fight against the epidemic."
A Twitter user shared the deleted post:
Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Communist Party-backed Global Times wrote that official social media accounts should “hold high the banner of humanitarianism at this time, show sympathy for India, and firmly place Chinese society on a moral high ground”.
Xijin added that such methods were not an appropriate way for official social media accounts to gain traffic.
"I don't think we can expect a clarification from the party account in question, but I do think there was no consensus on this post or else it would not have been removed so quickly," said Manya Koetse, the editor-in-chief of What's On Weibo, a site that tracks trends on the social media platform.
Ties Between China and India
Ties between China and India have remained insecure since last year, when a border dispute killed dozens and further hurt economic ties between the two nations. Despite ongoing high-level talks, tension remains as the dispute has stirred nationalistic fervor in both the countries.
However, despite the tension, President Xi Jinping sent a message of condolence to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday, 30 April, offering to provide assistance to help India deal with the COVID surge.
Another post that appeared on Friday compared China's ‘fire god mountain’, the name of the emergency hospital built in Wuhan, with a photo of a mass cremation in India, on the official Weibo account of China's Ministry of Public Security.
This post was deleted as well when social media users said that it was "morally problematic," Bloomberg reported.
The Red Cross Society of China, local governments, non-governmental organisations, and Chinese enterprises are “trying their best to collect the anti-epidemic supplies urgently needed by India and deliver them to the Indian people as soon as possible”, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin announced on Friday, Bloomberg reported.
(With inputs from Bloomberg)
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