Former national security adviser Susan Rice condemned a Chinese diplomat as “a racist disgrace” following incendiary tweets by the envoy.
In an apparent attempt to deflect international criticism of China’s mass detention of Muslims and other religious minorities in the Xinjiang province, Lijian Zhao wrote a series of tweets this weekend that were seemingly meant to highlight flaws in the United States, including racism, gun violence and income inequality. Zhao referenced a joint statement signed by 22 countries last week in condemnation of China’s moves in Xinjiang, where up to two million people have reportedly been detained in the camps and subjected to torture and forced re-education. He also mentioned a separate joint statement from 37 countries – many of which with their own shaky human rights records – which commended China for its “remarkable achievements in the field of human rights.” He called this letter a “big slap on the face of US &its western cohorts.”
In two of those tweets – which have since been deleted – the deputy chief of mission in Islamabad wrote that if “you’re in Washington, D.C., you know the white never go” to the southeastern part of the city “because it’s an area for the black & Latin.”
Rice fired back at the message on Twitter, not only calling Zhao “a racist disgrace” but saying that he was “shockingly ignorant too.” The former national security adviser seemed to incorrectly identify Zhao as posted in the United States. She noted that ‘in normal times,” the Chinese diplomat would be declared a persona non grata – the top form of rebuke for a diplomat – over the tweeted comments about the nation’s capital. Rice addressed the Chinese Ambassador to the US, Cui Tiankai, writing, “I expect better of you and your team. Please do the right thing and send him home.”
Zhao posted a retort, which has also been deleted, saying that Rice was “such a disgrace, too. And shockingly ignorant, too.”
“To label someone who speak the truth that you don’t want to hear a racist, is disgraceful & disgusting,” he wrote.
CNN has reached out to the Chinese Foreign Ministry for further comment.
CNN’s Joshua Berlinger, Ben Westcott and Jo Shelley contributed to this report.