German Embassy in China sparks backlash by calling some netizens 'idiots,' 'bastards'
Published: Oct 25, 2023 11:47 PM
Photo: Screenshot of Weibo account of the German Embassy in China

Photo: Screenshot of Weibo account of the German Embassy in China

The fallout from the intensifying Israeli-Palestinian conflict is becoming increasingly evident on the internet. The latest controversy surrounds a post on social media by the German Embassy in China, which has sparked heated discussion over the boundaries of freedom of speech and the appropriate attitude for diplomatic institutions.

Like anywhere else in the world, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is a hot topic on social media in China. Among Chinese netizens, supporters for both Palestine and supporters for Israel exist, leading to intense arguments. Emotions are being expressed on the official Weibo accounts of foreign embassies in China, including the German Embassy, and some of these emotions may be quite intense.

The German Embassy in China publicly posted a statement in Sina Weibo on Tuesday afternoon. However, its harsh tone and inappropriate language sparked a stronger backlash.

"Those who deliberately combine the Israeli flag with Nazi symbols in their profile pictures are either ignorant idiots or shameless bastards!" the German Embassy used what it is believed to be very strong language and insults in its post on Tuesday afternoon.

This is believed to be the first time a foreign embassy has used abusive responses to critics on Chinese social media platforms, some netizens pointed out.

The debate between the two sides intensified after the German Embassy posted a Sina Weibo post a few days ago, in which the embassy emphasized the importance of freedom of speech using an award-winning book as an example.

After the German Embassy's harsh statement on Tuesday, some online opinion leaders pointed out that while the German Embassy has the right to respond to negative comments from netizens, using words like "idiot" and "bastard" to insult Chinese netizens proves that they themselves lack education.

Previously, the Chinese public generally had a good impression of the German people, considering them to be well-mannered. However, the statement of the German Embassy has left many netizens shocked.

Senior Chinese media professional Hu Xijin called the German Embassy's response an outburst.

"The German Embassy in China's social media is throwing a tantrum, insulting some Chinese netizens, showing the collective lack of civility and education of the embassy," Hu wrote on his Weibo account. "They are lowering Germany's national dignity by doing this."

Some netizens have noted that on international social media platforms, there are also many people making comments that criticize certain actions of Israel in Gaza, drawing comparisons to Nazism. In addition, it is common for netizens to create memes to mock an organization or country on the internet, but such practices are not representative in China. On the contrary, the response from the German Embassy was quite inappropriate, some netizens said.

Global Times