Video account faces uproar after ex-staffers make anti-China posts on social media
Published: Jun 20, 2021 08:29 PM
Paperclip's YouTube account: Screenshot

Paperclip's YouTube account: Screenshot

A popular science video account has become mired in controversy after Chinese netizens revealed that two of its former employees had made anti-China comments on their overseas social media, and one of them now works for the US Army Research Laboratory.

Paperclip apologized on Saturday for failing to oversee its former employees' online comments. It said that although the two former employees no longer work there, they published comments that "trampled on national sentiments and trespassed the ethical bottom line" when working at Paperclip. 

"It is a severe dereliction of ours that we oversaw their comments," said the account. 

Paperclip said that it will invite a senior expert from mainstream media to act as gatekeeper of their content, and will give all its employees lessons on media and ideology. It will suspend updates until "remodeling and training" of its team is completed.

The apology was issued after Sailei Sanfenzhong, another famous science account that has 420,000 followers on Sina Weibo, published a video on this platform. The video accused a group of science accounts' recent comments urging Chinese people to consume less seafood of being backed by anti-China foreign forces.

Sailei said itself also received an invitation from "China Dialogue," a London-headquartered organization, to publish a similar video criticizing Chinese people for consuming too much seafood. He later found the organization had connections with several prominent China-bashing figures, including former governor of Hong Kong Chris Patten, who has been constantly issuing baseless comments about Hong Kong's affairs. 

Sailei said those science accounts, along with the foreign forces behind them, have an evil agenda of convincing Chinese people, who already consume less protein than people from developed countries, to stay away from seafood. 

Sailei also referred in this video that two of Paperclip's former employees, surnamed Ji and Nie, who were in charge of the account's video content, had issued anti-China comments on Twitter, and Nie is now working for the US Army Research Laboratory. 

Nie's LinkedIn Page shows that he now works for the US military lab, but his Twitter account was protected, and Ji's Twitter account no longer exists. 

The revelation soon sparked controversy among netizens, with the hashtag "Paperclip" receiving 430 million clicks on Weibo, and "Paperclip responds to its former employee working for US military organization" read by 17.3 million. Some netizens suspected Paperclip "is using its videos to gradually influence our minds and shift our values."

Some other netizens called for Paperclip's platforms to be shut down permanently, as the account may be backed by foreign forces. 

The video account has become mired in controversy after the revelation. The account, a popular science media platform, has been silenced by China's Quora-like platform Zhihu, on which it has more than 317,000 followers. Bilibili, one of China's biggest video-sharing sites on which the account has 313,000 followers, tagged it as a "controversial account" and warned users to cautiously examine its contents. 

The Communist Youth League of China, and Jun Zhengping, an account affiliated with Chinese People's Liberation Army, also criticized the account. 

In a post titled "caution is needed for conspiracy and malevolence covered by the name of environment and science," Jun Zhengping said to criticize those accounts urging Chinese to eat less seafood, and also noted that it is terrifying to think that some famous science accounts once hired employees who had the tendency of hating the country and now work for the US army. 

"Every Chinese netizen, every Chinese internet company should keep their eyes wide open and shoulder their responsibility to firmly safeguard our country's cybersecurity," it said.

This is not the first time that Paperclip has been in hot water. In March 2020, some netizens said one of the team's programs, published in 2018, failed to include the island of Taiwan in the Chinese map in one of its programs on YouTube, while the island was shown as part of China on the same program that was broadcast on the domestic channel. 

At the same time, netizens also unearthed a Paperclip video about deforestation in South America, which pointed out that China is Brazil's main consumer of beans, and cultivation of beans leads to deforestation. Many netizens swarmed online to criticize the program, saying that the team is "colluding with foreigners to insult China."

Global Times