China's provocative three-word tweet over US's 'deep-seated illness'

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·Associate News Editor
·3-min read
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As more fatalities were reported across the US as a result of gun crime, China once again used the tragic loss of life to take a cold-hearted swipe at the country.

Aggrieved by the US's repeated accusations of grave human rights abuses in China, Beijing has retaliated by suggesting Washington is in no position to lecture anybody on human rights.

Beijing's foreign ministry has used recent mass shootings to politicise America's gun violence problems, with spokesperson Zhao Lijian saying recent shootings indicated the US had a "deep-seated illness" which was its "greatest human rights trauma".

One of the fatal shootings in the state of New York was "racially motivated", authorities, said, with Chinese state media stating Americans continued to face harm simply because of the colour of their skin.

Late on Sunday, after a further six lives were lost in two shootings, Mr Zhao took aim again, revisiting one of the US's most pivotal moments in the nation's struggle for racial equality.

Zhao Lijian in a navy suit.
Zhao Lijian took aim at the US with a provocative tweet on Sunday night. Source: FMPRC

"I can't breathe," Mr Zhao tweeted, picturing police officer Derek Chauvin kneeling on the neck of George Floyd.

It comes just over two years to the date his colleague Hua Chunying famously tweeted the exact same phrase uttered by Floyd as he was murdered by Chauvin on a Minneapolis street in May 2020.

Ms Hua's tweet, which was intended to highlight Beijng's belief the US were acting with hypocrisy, quickly went viral, with nationalistic Chinese users online using it to hone in on America.

Mr Zhao, who infamously riled former Australian prime minister Scott Morrison by tweeting a mock image of an Australian soldier slitting the throat of an Afghan child, is central to a new wave of aggressive diplomacy.

A cropped version of Zhao's tweet. Source: Twitter
A cropped version of Zhao's tweet. Source: Twitter

A raft of Beijing officials' unrelenting defence of China and criticism of its political foes has earned them the nickname 'Wolf Warriors' in reference to a nationalistic Chinese movie franchise.

China's 'propaganda' campaign against the US

Conservative-leaning publication The Washington Examiner said Beijing was using the words of US media and its leaders to create propaganda.

Taking US President Joe Biden's criticism of his nation's lax gun laws, Chinese state media has taken multiple swipes at Washington.

It's no surprise state-run tabloid the Global Times went straight for the jugular after the Uvalde mass shooting.

“In addition to the weak gun control, the shootings also reflect the intensification of various social contradictions in the US, such as the wealth gap, racial discrimination, drug abuse, and public security,” it wrote.

“The US system is equally incapable, or lacks interest, motivation, and courage, to address these problems thoroughly.”

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