The U.S. embassy in China's efforts to promote the resumption of student visa applications got off to a very rough start.
The embassy in Beijing was heavily criticized by online users for its post that seemed like it was comparing Chinese students to dogs.
In an effort to promote the resumption of student visa applications, which was halted by Former U.S. President Donald Trump in January last year, the embassy published a seeminly light-hearted post on its official Weibo account Thursday. In the post, the embassy included a video of an excited puppy trying to climb over a gate, a decision that massively backfired.
"Spring has come and the flowers are in bloom. Are you like this dog who can't wait to go out and play?" the post said in Chinese.
The post immediately drew an immediate backlash from Weibo users, most of which were offended by the embassy's wording that likened Chinese students to dogs. Some users expressed their disgust in replies on the Twitter-like Chinese social media platform, describing the comparison as inappropriate. The U.S. embassy eventually deleted the post.
"Is this American humor? I believe they did it on purpose!" one user wrote.
Another Weibo user defending the embassy's post said dogs in American culture may be positive but in Chinese culture, any comparisons to dogs are mostly negative. Other users said the embassy's post was insensitive and they made it seem like the student's "masters" were calling them back to the U.S.
In more extreme criticisms over the post, an article published by a tabloid owned by the Chinese Communist Party's People's Daily claimed that the post was blatantly racist.
In response to the backlash, the U.S. embassy issued an apology Friday to everyone who had been offended by the post.
"The social media post in question was meant to be light-hearted and humorous. We took it down immediately when we saw it was not received in the spirit we intended," the U.S. embassy said.