Over the weekend, the US Embassy in Beijing posted a video on Weibo in which Ambassador Nicholas Burns and members of his embassy staff extended wishes to China for a happy Mid-Autumn Festival by reciting lines from “Water Melody” (水调歌头), a poem by the 11th-century intellectual Su Shi (苏轼). The post met with a torrent of criticism in the comment section, as well as messages of support.
“The greatest joy would be for the US not to come and cause hostile destruction,” wrote one user, alluding to the phrase “hostile forces” (敌对势力), often used by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to suggest that foreign elements and those sympathetic to them are working to undermine political stability in China.
“The US dog politicians are madly barking again,” said another poster. “First wash your dog brains clean, and replace your dirty dog hearts.”
Others attacked the United States for its criticism of China on human rights grounds. “China has cared about human feeling since ancient times, so much loftier than the human rights you promote,” said one user.
But other users jumped to the defense of the embassy, or expressed well wishes for the Mid-Autumn Festival.
“Others wish you prosperity and you return it with insults,” said one user, apparently addressing other recent comments. “Only people with twisted hearts would say such things.”
“I came especially today to see the comments here,” said another user on Sunday, after the embassy post had gone viral. “Friendship between China and the US is the mainstream, and I thank Mr. Ambassador for his efforts.”
Early on Sunday, a post syndicated across several major internet portal sites, including Sina, Sohu and Netease, reported on the US Embassy video and the resulting furor in the comment section. By afternoon the post had been expunged from the internet, though it lingered on at the question-and-answer site Zhihu.