Following a late-night tweet in which she utilized restaurant listings to emphasize Beijing's claim over Taiwan, a senior Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman has drawn widespread online mockery.
According to Baidu Maps, there are 67 Shanxi noodle restaurants and 38 Shandong dumpling restaurants in Taipei, said spokesperson Hua Chunying late on Sunday (Aug 7).
"Palates don't cheat. #Taiwan has always been a part of China. The long lost child will eventually return home," she added.
Hua's tweet was sent at the conclusion of a week marked by tensions in the Taiwan Strait. During that time, Beijing erupted over Nancy Pelosi's visit to the island, which it views as a part of its sovereignty.
In response to Pelosi's visit, the Chinese government canceled several meetings and agreements with the United States and stationed fighter jets, warships, and ballistic missiles near the democratic, autonomous island of Taiwan.
Hua's Sunday tweet seemed to backfire as a large number of people on Twitter - a site that is blocked in China and only accessible through specialized VPN software - piled on to challenge the top official's reasoning.
In response to Hua's questions, a Twitter user going by the name "Marco Chu" said, "There are over 100 ramen restaurants in Taipei, so Taiwan is definitely a part of Japan."
Twitter user "@plasticreceiver" responded to Hua's tweet with a spoof, writing, "Google Maps show that there are 17 McDonalds, 18 KFCs, 19 Burger Kings, and 19 Starbucks in Beijing. Palates don't cheat. #China has always been a part of America. The long lost child will eventually return home."
Others playfully questioned whether Hua's reasoning implied Beijing could assert rights on areas far outside the Asia Pacific region.
"There are 29 dumpling houses in the Greater Los Angeles area not to mention 89 noodle restaurants," a person tweeting under the name "Terry Adams" wrote. "Using Hua's logic, LA has always been a part of China."
Hua Chunying is a Chinese official and former diplomat who has been the spokesperson for the People's Republic of China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs since 2012 and the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs since 2021. Hua was the fifth and 27th spokesperson since the position was established in the ministry in 1983.
Hua stated in February 2021 that many Western officials use Weibo and Wechat, and asked, "Why can't Chinese people use Twitter or Facebook when foreigners can use Chinese social media platforms?".
Since 2009, the mainland Chinese government has prohibited the use of Twitter and Facebook.