Hu Xijin, an influential commentator and a former editor in chief of Global Times, a Communist Party newspaper, responded to hawkish statements from an Israeli minister directed at Hezbollah, the powerful militia in Lebanon, writing on Chinese social media: “Oh, calm down, Israel. I’m worried you’ll wipe the Earth out of the solar system.”
At times, the anti-Israel comments took on a nationalist tone. In a widely viewed post, an influencer with 2.9 million followers on the Chinese social media platform Weibo said that he would opt to call Hamas a “resistance organization” instead of a “terrorist organization,” in keeping with China’s own labeling of the group. He went on to accuse Israel of being a terror organization because its airstrikes on Gaza had caused civilian casualties.
A Chinese state broadcaster recently hosted a discussion page on Weibo stating that Jews controlled a disproportionate amount of U.S. wealth. Many of the responses were replete with antisemitic stereotypes and comments downplaying the horrors of the Holocaust.
Shen Yi, a prominent professor of international relations at Fudan University, likened Israel’s attacks to acts of aggression perpetrated by Nazis. Among the comments on recent posts from the official social media account of Israel’s embassy in China were similar comparisons of Israelis to Nazis.
It is hard to say whether the anti-Israeli positions in state media and antisemitism on the Chinese internet are part of a coordinated campaign. But China’s state media rarely veers from the official position of the country’s Communist Party, and its hair-trigger internet censors are keenly attuned to the wishes of its leaders, quick to remove any content that sways public sentiment in an unwanted direction, especially on matters of such geopolitical importance.
After the family member of an Israeli diplomat was stabbed in Beijing this month, Chinese censors limited the spread of the news by restricting hashtags from search results on social media. Chinese police said the victim was stabbed by a foreign man. It was not clear why the restrictions were put in place.
“If China felt that it was dangerous and problematic to allow antisemitic comments to flourish, the censors would stop it. Clearly, the government is conveying the message that it’s tolerated,” said Carice Witte, the executive director of SIGNAL Group, an Israeli think tank focusing on China.