In a slip of the tongue, Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian said China has shared its "anti-communist" experience with other countries, but quickly corrected himself after.
Blunder that he quickly rectified
In a regular press conference on Wednesday, June 23, Zhao, known for his Twitter outbursts and heated confrontations with China's critics, was answering a question from a reporter from China News Service (CNS).
CNS is the second largest state-owned news agency in the country after Xinhua.
The reporter had asked if China has anything to comment on U.S. Republican Congressman Mike Gallagher's allegation that China hasn't been "transparent" on information from the Wuhan Institute of Virology.
Zhao then started his response by saying:
"From the start of the pandemic, China has always maintained an open and transparent attitude, unreservedly sharing with other countries its experience on anti-communist (反共)-- pandemic prevention and control (防控).
China has received experts from the WHO twice, and released joint reports together, actively contributing to the global effort to investigate the roots of the virus. Such efforts have been recognised worldwide."
赵战狼的口误也许透露了他天天口出狂言破坏中国国际形象的动机。 pic.twitter.com/KWE2VApju3— 方舟子 (@fangshimin) June 24, 2021
An edited version of the video, which skipped the part where he made the blunder, was subsequently posted on popular video sharing platform Bilibili (B Site).
A snippet of the video when he slipped up was subsequently circulated on Twitter, out of reach of China's vast censorship apparatus.
Twitter users mocked Zhao
Twitter users critical of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) were tickled by Zhao's slip of the tongue, mostly because of the context, as well as the fact that foreign ministry spokespersons rarely make blunders like this in public.
They jumped at the chance to take the mickey out of Zhao, such as this Twitter user who mocked Zhao by saying he's actually the "traitor" that the country's Ministry of State Security is looking for and abhors.
太让人痛心了！赵立坚也要反共了！国家安全部既要抓间谍，又要抓“内奸”和“幕后金主”。谁是间谍？谁是内奸？谁是金主？想了半天才想明白 …… 肯定不是苦逼的工人、农民 …… 不是起早贪黑的小商小贩 …… 只有高居庙堂之上，言必爱党爱国这帮杂碎才有资格当“内奸”，其实它们一直都是“内奸”…… pic.twitter.com/aLGhpLBJhl— 李 庆 (@LQ0068) June 23, 2021
Many also formed their own conclusions as to why he made the mistake.
While it's unlikely for anyone to be certain about the reason, this hasn't stopped others from speculating about it.
Some joked by saying Zhao slipped up as he was too deeply entrenched in vocabulary used in "wolf-warrior" diplomacy, such as "anti-communist" and "anti-Chinese" forces.
Others conjectured that Zhao had made a Freudian slip, and that in reality, he was subconsciously thinking of going against the CCP too.
Twitter user Fang Shimin, better known as "Fang Zhouzi", a controversial U.S.-based biochemist known for his outspoken views on anti-fraud issues, joked by saying: "Perhaps Zhao's gaffe has revealed his real motive for ruining China's international image every day."
However, perhaps the most straightforward reason is that Zhao was simply thinking along the lines of Western countries are attempting to "smear and attack" China without any proof.
This is a reply that he had repeated many times before when addressing criticisms against China's human rights practices in Xinjiang, as well as allegations from the U.S. that the Covid-19 virus originated from the Wuhan lab.
Top image via China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs