A social media post by an account linked with the Chinese Communist Party mocked India’s COVID-19 outbreak. The post, which was uploaded on Chinese social media website Weibo, juxtaposed two photographs—the country’s successful launch of a space module with the grim picture of cremation pyres in India.
The Communist Party’s Central Political and Legal Affairs Commission on its official Sina Weibo account posted photos of the Tianhe module launch and its fuel burn-off with what appeared to be a picture of a mass outdoor cremation in India, and captioned “China lighting a fire versus India lighting a fire”. The post also included a hashtag denoting the new COVID-19 cases in India which touched the 4 lakh mark on Saturday last week.
However, the callous post by the CCP Commission sparked a massive online furore following which it was removed from the social media website. A number of Chinese citizens responded to the post, criticising the Commission for uploading an insensitive post amid the rising number of COVID-19 cases in India.
Hu Xijin, the firebrand editor of the nationalist Global Times, who is otherwise critical of India, also questioned the Commission for ridiculing the COVID-19 outbreak in India. “Hold high the banner of humanitarianism at this time, show sympathy for India, and firmly place Chinese society on a moral high ground,” Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of Communist Party-backed Global Times newspaper, wrote on Weibo commenting on the deleted post.
The Commission for Political and Legal Affairs is a powerful wing of the CPC. It is entrusted with the responsibility of supervising police officers, prosecutors and courts. It is currently headed by Guo Shengkun, a member of the political bureau of the CCP’s central committee.
After the backlash from online users, China’s foreign ministry swung into a damage control mode. It said the post could not be found on Weibo. “Regarding the relevant picture mentioned in your question, we currently cannot find it on the relevant Weibo account,” it said.
“We hope everyone gives attention to the Chinese government and mainstream public opinion supporting India’s fight against the epidemic,” China’s foreign ministry said. The official added that more supplies will be sent to India in the upcoming days underscoring China’s support through practical action.
The Weibo post came on the heels of Chinese Premier Xi Jinping’s message to the Indian PM Modi, expressing his condolences on the resurgent second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in India. Xi also expressed his willingness to provide assistance and expand anti-pandemic cooperation with India to defeat the second wave of the COVID-19 outbreak.
It is pertinent to note that while Chinese Xi Jinping expressed his condolences to India and asserted to help her in its fight against the pandemic, the People’s Liberation Army(PLA) who was involved in a longstanding standoff with the Indian Army, moved to strengthen its positions in the friction areas along the Line of Actual Control in Eastern Ladakh.