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July 16, 2019 --A Chinese diplomat said whites never go into Washington, DC's black areas. The comment posted on Twitter was aimed at Susan Rice, former U.S. National Security Advisor under President Barack Obama. 

Lijian Zhao was responding to Rice's criticism of China's detention of Muslims. 

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As Beijing faced international criticism for its continued crackdown on Uighurs and other minorities in the Xinjiang region over recent days, a Chinese diplomat based in Pakistan responded by highlighting what he called racial segregation in Washington.

In tweets that began on Saturday, the deputy chief of mission at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad issued condemnations of the United States' legacy of racism, religious intolerance, gun violence, Internet surveillance, income inequality, the problem of sexual harassment and more.

Lijian Zhao took specific aim at the U.S. capital, suggesting that white residents of Washington would never go to the Southwest part of the city - an area that includes luxury property developments as well as the city's soccer stadiums - due to racial segregation.

After criticism, Zhao said he meant Southeast Washington and shared a 2015 article by The Washington Post that used census data to show the racial divide in the city.

He subsequently deleted this tweet, and others, after this article was originally published.

The remarks drew widespread mockery from those who argued that Zhao was simply trying to deflect criticism of his own country. "Is this a parody account?" wrote Frank Jannuzi, a former Senate Foreign Relations Committee staffer and East Asian human rights advocate.

However, Zhao's comments also coincided with the tweets of President Donald Trump that suggested minority congresswomen should "go back" to foreign countries they came from. Three of the four lawmakers believed to be the subject of Trump's tweets were born in the United States.

The Chinese diplomat's condemnation of the United States appeared to have been sparked by a statement by 22 Western countries at the United Nations, released last week, that urged Beijing to stop holding members of its Muslim population in detention centers.

In Beijing, Foreign ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said that the letter "attacked China with unwarranted accusations, flagrantly politicized human rights issues and grossly interfered in China's internal affairs."

However, the United States did not sign the statement. It is also unclear why a diplomat in Islamabad would be publicly commenting on segregation in Washington.

In a tweet on Monday, Zhao said he had stayed in Washington a decade ago. He did not respond to a request asking for more information.

On Sunday, Susan Rice, formerly President Barack Obama's national security adviser, responded to Zhao, dubbing him a "racist disgrace" and suggested that he should be made persona non grata by the U.S. government. The Chinese diplomat returned the insult in kind, arguing she too was a "disgrace" and that the "truth hurts."

Zhao later deleted this tweet.



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