The U.S. Embassy of China said its Twitter account was compromised after users found that outgoing US President Donald Trump had retweeted a false claim. "How can a country be run like this?" how can a country be run like this? The tweet - which now contains a note that the argument was challenged - was retweeted within minutes by the official account of the embassy.
The embassy, however, denied the retweet. "The Chinese Embassy Twitter account was hacked this afternoon and we condemn such an act. For clarification, the Embassy didn't do any retweeting on Dec. 9," it stated.
But on the social media site, the tweet had already picked up momentum, with several remarks on its importance at a time of fragile ties between the US and China. This is not the first time that one of China's embassies has faced issues on Twitter: in September, Beijing's UK embassy asked the social media site to launch an investigation after a pornography clip was liked by its ambassador's official account.
The account of Liu Xiaoming also liked posts that attacked the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and revealed the incarceration of blindfolded Uighurs. After the account liked a 10-second video shared by an adult-themed website featuring clips of Chinese-language explanations, the behaviour first attracted attention. This was flagged by a London-based human rights activist to other Twitter users just after 09:00 GMT with a screenshot as evidence. Subsequently, the clip was not liked by someone who managed the account.
Chinese officials reported that the account of Ambassador Liu Xiaoming was targeted as part of a "despicable" scheme intended to deceive the public".