Twitter removed a post by the Chinese Embassy in the US over the weekend citing a violation of its rules. The embassy’s tweet had asserted that Muslim minority Uighur women were “emancipated” by Beijing’s efforts to “eradicate extremism” in its northwestern Xinjiang province.

The post shared an article by state media China Daily last Thursday denying reports of forced sterilisation of Uighur women by Chinese authorities. Instead, the article claimed the decrease in the Uighur population in Xinjiang was a result of the “eradication of religious extremism” which gave women more “autonomy.”

twitter china embassy
Photo: Screenshots via Twitter.

“They are more confident and independent,” the removed tweet had read, saying authorities’ population control measures promoted “gender equality and reproductive health,” meaning Uighur women were “no longer baby-making machines.”

The Chinese Embassy also tweeted another article relating to the same report from state media outlet Xinhua. It claimed the population decrease in Xinjiang “involves the overall improvement in population quality,” adding that an increasing number of youths were choosing to “spend more time and energy on personal development.”

Reports of forced abortions, IUDs, and sterilisations of Uighur women by Chinese authorities emerged last June. Commentators and rights groups have decried the report findings as genocide orchestrated by Beijing against Uighurs.

The original post was removed after an outcry of criticism from online commentators who accused Twitter of a “double standard” in enforcement after the platform blocked US President Trump’s Twitter account for 12 hours after mobs of his supporters stormed the Capitol in a bid to overturn the results of the US presidential race.

Trump was later banned entirely from the platform.

Twitter’s policy allows for the removal of tweets deemed to be abusive, harmful or hateful as well as content from “synthetic or manipulated media.”

The controversial tweet from China came amid increasing concern among international rights groups over reports of systemic state oppression against the Uighur population by Beijing.

Researchers at a Washington-based think tank last month found at least 570,000 Uighur Muslims in 2018 were forced to pick cotton as part of a state-run labour scheme. Beijing has repeatedly asserted that its policies in Xinjiang are necessary to “re-educate” the Uighur Muslims to quash religious extremism.

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Rhoda Kwan is HKFP's Assistant Editor. She has previously written for TimeOut Hong Kong and worked at Meanjin, a literary journal. She holds a double bachelor’s degree in Law and Literature from the University of Hong Kong.