US embassy in dog house in China after student visa backfired

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© Reuters. FILE PHOTO: A general view shows the U.S. Embassy building in Beijing, China, April 21, 2021. REUTERS / Thomas Peter

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BEIJING (Reuters) – The resumption of student visa applications for U.S. missions in China started violently this week when internet users made an exception to a social media post by the American embassy that they interpreted as comparing Chinese students to dogs.

Former US President Donald Trump, whose tenure in office was marked by strained relations in Beijing, banned almost all non-US citizens in China from entering the US in January last year after the coronavirus outbreak.

On Wednesday’s Twitter-like Weibo (NASDAQ 🙂 service, the visa department at the U.S. embassy in China asked students what they were waiting for after the Biden government eased restrictions.

“Spring has come and the flowers are in bloom. Are you like that dog who can’t wait to go out and play?” said the post in Chinese, which was accompanied by a video of an excited puppy trying to climb over a security gate.

However, the post was annoyed by some Weibo users who found the comparison inappropriate and was later deleted.

“Is that American humor? I think you did it on purpose!” One user wrote.

“Dogs in American culture generally have positive meanings, but in Chinese culture and idioms they are mostly negative,” wrote another user. Others quipped that the “master” of the students was now calling them back to the United States.

The Global Times, an English-language tabloid from the People’s Daily of the Communist Party of China, also cited Internet users as “obvious racism”.

A spokesman for the US embassy in Beijing apologized Thursday morning to everyone who was offended by the comments.

“The social media post in question should be light-hearted and humorous,” he said. “We immediately took it off when we saw that it was not received in the spirit we intended.”

It’s not the first time animal-related utterances have sparked a backlash in China. In 2019, a senior economist from UBS was put on leave after comments on pigs in China were deemed racist by some. He was later reinstated. [https://tinyurl.com/pnnfj29v]

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