China starts another Twitter war, this time fanning the flames between Japan and American relations.

In December last year, China’s foreign ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian caused an uproar in Australia when he tweeted a doctored image of an Australian soldier holding a knife to the throat of an Afghan child, which came with the message, “Don’t be afraid, we are coming to bring you peace!”

The tweet, which came amidst an investigation into war crimes by Australian soldiers in Afghanistan, and accusations against China for the imprisonment of Uighur Muslims in concentration camps, created a rift between China and Australia relations that’s yet to be mended to this day.

Now it appears the Chinese Embassy in Japan is out to cause another diplomatic spat between nations, this time tweeting a comic criticising U.S. democracy.

“When the United States brings ‘democracy’, it ends up like this.”

The tweet, shared less than a day ago, contains a variation on the widely shared “Death Knocking on Doors” image, which dates back to August 2013. This version shows the grim reaper, shrouded in the flag of the United States, knocking on the door of Egypt after having left the bloodied doors of Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria

Back in 2013, when the image first appeared as a meme criticising America’s military involvement in other countries, Egypt was facing continued political unrest following a military coup against newly elected leader Mohamed Morsy.

The exact reason why the Chinese Embassy in Japan chose to share this image now to make a statement against the U.S. remains unclear, but the image has been used recently to make a statement against China’s own foreign policies.

▼ Kenneth Roth, the Executive Director of human rights organisation Human Rights Watch, shared this tweet in January last year.

People in Japan were shocked to see the tweet posted on the official account of the Chinese Embassy, saying:

“I thought they were trying to improve relations?”
“Is this what an embassy does?”
“They sent this out on an official embassy account??? Unbelievable.”
“Is this the official view of China, then?”

“Is it okay for diplomats in a foreign country to disseminate propaganda like this on social media?”

With the message on the tweet written in Japanese, it appears this was a message intended for the Japanese-speaking public. However, following the Twitter row between China and Australia, it was revealed that the inflammatory tweet in that situation may have been part of an orchestrated disinformation campaign, with over half of the Twitter accounts that shared and liked the tweet found to be fake.

While it’s unclear whether this latest tweet is part of a similar campaign, or if it aims to cause a diplomatic spat between Japan and the U.S., it’s certainly done nothing to improve China’s standing in the eyes of the world.

The U.S. Embassy in Japan and government officials from the U.S. and Japan are yet to comment on the tweet, and it’s unknown if they will make a statement, after the China-Australia dispute only worked to further amplify the message put out by China.

The U.S. Embassy in Japan did, however, retweet this tweet from Yokota Air Base, a United States Air Force and Japan Air Self-Defense Force base, in Western Tokyo early this morning.

“Good morning from Yokota Air Base in the sea of clouds.”

All eyes are now on Twitter to see if they will take any action against the tweet and the account that tweeted it, especially as the official account for the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. has been locked by Twitter since 9 January, after a tweet referring to Uighur women as “baby-making machines” was found to have violated the company’s policy against dehumanisation.

Twitter removed that tweet, but because account owners are required to manually delete tweets that violate its rules before the account can be unlocked, this suggests that the Chinese Embassy in the U.S. is refusing to delete the tweet. It’s yet to be seen whether the Chinese Embassy in Japan will now find themselves in a similar situation.

Sources: Twitter/@ChnEmbassy_jp via Hachima Kikou 
Featured image: Twitter/@ChnEmbassy_jp
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