Chinese Diplomat Deletes Tweet That Angered Susan Rice

Iain Marlow and Dandan Li

(Bloomberg) -- A senior Chinese diplomat deleted a tweet that prompted former U.S. National Security Adviser Susan Rice to call him a “racist disgrace” as China’s diplomats become increasingly vocal on the social media platform.

In a string of messages aimed at highlighting U.S. hypocrisy in criticizing China’s human rights record, Lijian Zhao, deputy chief of mission at China’s embassy to Pakistan in Islamabad, had launched a tirade against social issues in the U.S.

Zhao mentioned everything from school shootings and income inequality to racial segregation, adding that if “you’re in Washington, D.C., you know the white never go” to the Southeast part of the U.S. capital, home to historically African-American areas.

That tweet, which he later deleted, caught Rice’s eye, leading to an unusual and heated online dispute.

“You are a racist disgrace. And shockingly ignorant too,” she tweeted at Zhao on Sunday. Likely assuming that Zhao was posted in China’s mission in Washington, she also addressed the Chinese ambassador to the U.S., Cui Tiankai, who recently joined Twitter: “Ambassador Cui, I expect better of you and your team. Please do the right thing and send him home.”

Zhao is often vocal on Twitter against critics of China. He sent his controversial messages in the middle of China’s broader push to counter condemnation of its mass detention of Muslims in its far western region of Xinjiang.

‘Shockingly Ignorant’

Zhao deleted his most combative tweets, but left up others criticizing the U.S. He also retweeted several news outlets that had reported his exchange with Rice.

“You are such a disgrace, too. And shockingly ignorant, too. I am based in Islamabad. Truth hurts. I am simply telling the truth,” Zhao fired back at Rice on Monday, in one of the missives he later deleted. “To label someone who speak the truth that you don’t want to hear a racist, is disgraceful & disgusting.”

He did not respond to phone calls, an email and a direct message on Twitter seeking comment on Monday, and declined to comment on Tuesday.

Read More: How China Is Defending Its Detention of Muslims to the World

His comments come as Chinese diplomats become increasingly vocal and outspoken, including some who have criticized Canada for “white supremacy” and U.S. President Donald Trump for making the U.S. “the enemy of the whole world.”

Asked about the online dispute Monday, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said he was unaware of the situation, but added that China opposes “the interference of the U.S. and individual Western countries in interfering in China’s internal affairs with the Xinjiang issue.”

--With assistance from Chris Kay and Gregory Turk.

To contact the reporters on this story: Iain Marlow in New Delhi at imarlow1@bloomberg.net;Dandan Li in Beijing at dli395@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Brendan Scott at bscott66@bloomberg.net, Karen Leigh

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