Chinese Ambassador’s Twitter Account Likes Porn Video, China Calls for Investigation

Photo: Tolga Akmen, Getty Images
Photo: Tolga Akmen, Getty Images

Two days from now, we’ll celebrate the second anniversary of that time Ted Cruz’s Twitter account liked porn and all he could say in his defence is that it was a “staffing issue.” But China’s leaders operate a little differently than our homegrown hucksters. On Tuesday, the Twitter account of China’s UK Ambassador liked a porn clip and a couple of politically volatile posts. Now, authorities are demanding Twitter conduct an investigation into what China is calling an “attack” on the Ambassador’s account.

Earlier this morning, Twitter users noticed that the ambassador’s account had liked the porn video clip which subsequently promoted it to his followers. (Here’s the NSFW clip. If you’re just curious but don’t want to look, it involves feet, sweetie.)

But the account also liked two tweets highlighting China’s horrific treatment of the Uighurs. The country’s largest Muslim ethnic group, Uighurs have been forced into massive concentration camps where families are torn apart and individuals are reportedly forced to undergo abortion and sterilization procedures, among other atrocities.

One post that was liked showed drone footage of a Uighur camp in Xinjiang. Crowds of prisoners can be seen kneeling and blindfolded and many are being herded onto trains. When the BBC showed this footage to Liu earlier this year, he pleaded ignorance of any wrongdoing going on in China. The other liked post said:

China has always adhered to the principle of making lip service to non-interference in internal affairs so they can murder their own people without condemnation by the world. Free Hong Kong, Free Manchuria, Free Mongolia, Free the Uighurs, Free the Shan, overthrow the Thai junta.

The ambassador, Liu Xiaoming, has removed the offending likes from his account and retweeted a statement credited to a spokesperson at the Chinese Embassy in the UK. The statement reads:

Recently, some anti-China elements viciously attacked Ambassador Liu Xiamong’s Twitter account and employed despicable methods to deceive the public. The Chinese Embassy strongly condemns such abominable behaviour.

The Embassy has reported this to Twitter company and urged the latter to make thorough investigations and handle this matter seriously. The Embassy reserves the right to take further actions and hope that the public will not believe or spread such rumour.

While it sounds like the spokesperson is implying that the ambassador was hacked, it doesn’t explicitly say as much. And in an email to Gizmodo, Twitter declined to comment on the situation. If this was the work of an attacker, the porn clip would appear to be intended to draw attention to the more politically urgent posts.

Twitter is banned in China, but citizens still use VPNs to get around the Great Firewall, and many political leaders from the Chinese Communist Party use the platform to speak to foreign audiences. Twitter came under fire in July when someone managed to access the accounts of numerous powerful figures including Joe Biden and Jeff Bezos. The incident caused a bit of handwringing over the possibility of world-shaking events occurring over a high-profile Twitter account falling into the wrong hands. It’s unclear if there will be any political fallout for the social media company in the case of the Chinese ambassador.

So far, Xiaoming’s only public comment on the matter appears to be a cryptic proverb that reads: “A good anvil does not fear the hammer.” At the time of reporting, it’s unclear what that means or how it’s relevant to the situation.