Chinese social media see an increase of Anti-Semitic, Islamophobic content amid Israeli wartext_fields
In the wake of the recent Israel-Gaza conflict, social media platforms in China have become a breeding ground for hate speech targeting both Muslims and Jews. The conflict, triggered by Hamas's surprise assault on Israel, has led to a disturbing wave of online comments in China that include anti-Semitic and Islamophobic sentiments, according to a report published in Al Jazeera.
Jen Tao, a 38-year-old surgeon in Shanghai, expressed her condolences for the victims on Weibo but was shocked to find a barrage of hateful comments. Even a video featuring a Chinese Israeli woman drew disturbing remarks, with some labelling her a "Nazi monster" due to her service in the Israeli military.
The prevalence of hate speech has prompted concerns about the enforcement of China's laws against disseminating extremist and discriminatory information on the internet. Despite official statements from the Chinese foreign ministry emphasizing these prohibitions, individuals like Tao argue that the laws are not being effectively enforced.
Critics argue that the rise in hate speech domestically contradicts China's international diplomatic stance, where the leadership has called for an immediate ceasefire and peaceful coexistence between Palestine and Israel. Tao questions how China can advocate for peace globally when hatred is allowed to flourish at home.
Experts, such as Hongda Fan, a professor at the Middle East Studies Institute of Shanghai International Studies University, note that the majority of Chinese people lack awareness of the complex political divisions within Palestine. This lack of understanding may contribute to the racist comments circulating online.
Al Jazeera quoted Hsia Liang Hou, a cybersecurity specialist, saying that the general lack of insight into the conflict's history may explain some of the discriminatory remarks. He emphasizes that not all Chinese people hold racist views towards Arabs and Jews.
The Chinese government's strict censorship, especially during sensitive events, has been evident in recent cases, such as the sudden death of former Chinese premier Li Keqiang.
While anti-Semitic and Islamophobic content is not perceived as a threat to the Chinese government, some argue that it aligns with certain aspects of the government's messaging. Instances of false claims about Jews controlling a disproportionate amount of American wealth have surfaced on government-controlled platforms, raising concerns about the alignment of state-controlled media with racist narratives.
Despite the government's call for peace, influential figures within China have adopted conspiratorial and antagonistic rhetoric towards Israel and the Jewish people. This discord between official statements and media sentiment has prompted discussions about the priorities of the Chinese state in censoring offensive speech.
Lin Pu, a scholar of digital authoritarianism and Chinese influence, suggests that the Chinese government refrains from censoring certain anti-Semitic comments to maintain its diplomatic stance of showing sympathy and support for Palestine.