Twitter has removed a controversial post from the Chinese Embassy in the US, calling Uighur women "baby-making machines" that drew widespread condemnation. While Twitter did not remove the tweet that was posted on January 7 at first, by Friday evening, it had banned the post saying it had violated the platform's policy.
The post was shared with a link to a China Daily article saying the authorities didn't conduct forceful sterilization in Xinjiang. The Chinese Embassy in the US quoted a sentence from the China Daily report saying as extremism was eradicated, Uighur women became confident, healthy and independent. The state-run media's story was based on a report by the Xinjiang Development Research Center, denying alleged forced sterilization by authorities.
The government-backed study was conducted after a German scholar named Adrian Zenz, an expert in Xinjiang and Tibet, published a research in 2018 saying Chinese authorities were trying to control Uighur population size by forceful sterilization, irking the Chinese government and state-run media.
The tweet by China's US Embassy drew criticism for the phrase "baby-making machine" that was derogatory and an attempt to malign the Uighur Muslims. China's ethnic minorities including Uighur Muslims have been a target of an oppressive campaign by the Chinese government as per reports.
A user criticized Twitter for not labeling the tweet as disputed or any warning. Many others called out the tweet for misogyny and dehumanization of ethnic minorities in China. For others, they drew a comparison with US President Donald Trump's suspension from the platform.
One said, "Twitter has no problem with Iranian dictators who threaten war or Chinese communist propaganda about concentration camps. Their problem is with someone their masters politically despise. They are now a publisher, and the law should treat them as such."
"The Chinese Communist Party tweeted that their ethnic cleansing campaign in Xinjiang - including, especially, and specifically forced abortions and sterilization - is A+. Twitter published the tweet yesterday without so much as a factcheck or content warning. It's sociopathic," another wrote.
Oppression in Xinjiang
In the last few years, China's attempt to "re-educate" the Uighur population has been met with intense criticism. According to Zenz's research, the authorities set up mass detention camps forcing them to learn about Chinese culture. However, it was women who had to suffer the most. Many women were detained and forced to abort, sterilize and use intrauterine contraceptive devices (IUDs) to control the population of Uighur Muslims. China although denied the accusations.
"They keep trying to get out of the accusations of genocide. We first thought that internment and strict enforcement of family planning were greatly depressing population growth rates in Uighur regions," Zenz told ABC News, adding that there was substantial evidence for the "forced mass sterilization" campaign in Xinjiang.
His research showed a decline in the Uighur population and birth rate. Zenz said he found plans in Chinese government documents to "reduce natural birth or natural population growth to near zero by 2020". While the recent Chinese government study acknowledged that the birth-rate in Xinjiang dropped from 1.6 percent to 0.6 percent, it said it was due to a crackdown on terrorism and fundamentalism.
As for Twitter, which was forced to remove the tweet, the tech giant said that it dehumanized a group of people based on their religion. "After further review, we have taken action on this Tweet for violating our rules against dehumanization. We prohibit the dehumanization of a group of people based on" their religion, race, or ethnicity, among other categories," a Twitter spokesperson told Ars Technica. After the backlash, the Chinese Embassy in the US posted a revised tweet.