A claim has been repeatedly shared among Chinese-language social media users that the German Embassy in Beijing has “insulted” Chinese citizens by “banning” the use of the Buddhist religious symbol, also known as a swastika, on one of its social media posts.
However, the claim is false. Germany’s foreign ministry told AFCL that its post was to condemn some online users who inappropriately used the symbol to glorify the Nazi regime – which used the symbol – or combined it with the Israeli flag.
The swastika is an ancient symbol that has been used in many different cultures, not just as a symbol for Buddhism.
The claim was shared here on Weibo, China’s popular social media platform, on Oct. 25.
“Germany insulted Chinese online users with its official Weibo post. It banned the manja [the swastika]. The German Embassy must apologize!” reads the claim in part.
A number of Chinese internet personalities and legal bloggers later derided the embassy’s announcement as inappropriate for using foul language and mistaken in its use of the upright version of the swastika, insisting that Buddhist uses of the symbol were always upright, while Nazi was always tilted.
German expressions of support for Israel following the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war has caused Chinese netizens to leave disparaging comments on the German Embassy official social media accounts, including pictures of an Israeli flag combined with a swastika.
In response, the German Embassy in China urged Chinese online users on Oct. 24 to avoid glorifying Nazism, posting an image of the Swastika with a red cross mark on it.
The identical claim was shared in other Chinese social media posts that also claimed that the photo released by the German Embassy shows an upright swastika, which solely symbolizes Buddhism, unlike the tilted swastika used by the Nazis.
However, the claim is false.
The swastika is an ancient symbol that has been used in many different cultures going back at least 5,000 years. To this day, it is a sacred symbol in Hinduism, Buddhism, Jainism and Odinism.
The symbol took on a variety of meanings throughout history before being chosen by Adolf Hitler as a symbol of National Socialism.
While this was the most infamous appropriation of the symbol, the swastika was also used on the flags of many other radical far-right political parties from the early 20th century.
It is true that most Nazi flags feature tilted swastikas, but historical photos of others such as the personal standard of Hitler and the flag used by his personal bodyguards clearly show the symbol in an upright position.
‘Not a ban for Chinese online users’
Keyword searches found no official statements or credible reports to show that the German Embassy banned Chinese online users from using the swastika.
Use of the swastika in Germany, regardless of its position, is prohibited by law due to its use by the Nazis and its clear anti-Semitic connotations, according to a spokesperson for Germany’s Federal Foreign Office.
The spokesperson told AFCL that its Weibo post was designed to “condemn posts by some users who inappropriately used this symbol to glorify the Nazi regime or combined it with the Israeli flag.”
Translated by Shen Ke. Edited by Taejun Kang and Malcolm Foster.
Asia Fact Check Lab (AFCL) is a branch of RFA established to counter disinformation in today’s complex media environment. Our journalists publish both daily and special reports that aim to sharpen and deepen our readers’ understanding of public issues.
Read the rest of this article here >>> Did the German Embassy in China ban a Buddhist religious symbol?
The Latest Updates on China’s Visa-Free Policies
China has fully reopened its borders, allowing international tourism to recover. Visa-free travel policies are reinstated, and visa fees for foreign travelers will be reduced by 25% from December 11, 2023, to December 31, 2024. China and Singapore are also pursuing a 30-day visa-free travel arrangement.
China has fully reopened its borders, promising recovery of international tourism and travel. Many of the visa-free travel policies that were in place prior to the pandemic have therefore come back into effect, enabling people from a wide range of countries to visit
UPDATE (December 8, 2023): On December 8, 2023, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs released the Notice on Temporary Reduction of Fees for Applying Visa to China. According to this notice, during the period from December 11, 2023, to December 31, 2024, China shall cut visa fees by 25 percent across the board for foreign travelers. For more details, please consult with your local Chinese embassy or consulate.
UPDATE (December 7, 2023): China and Singapore are seeking to establish a mutual 30-day visa-free travel arrangement to boost people exchanges between the two countries, according to Reuters. At the time of writing, no further details have been released regarding the timeline or the eligibility, requirement, and application procedures of this new arrangement. Click here for more information regarding this mutual 30-day visa-free travel between China and Singapore.
China Briefing is written and produced by Dezan Shira & Associates. The practice assists foreign investors into China and has done since 1992 through offices in Beijing, Tianjin, Dalian, Qingdao, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Ningbo, Suzhou, Guangzhou, Dongguan, Zhongshan, Shenzhen, and Hong Kong. Please contact the firm for assistance in China at email@example.com.
Analysis of UK Investments in China for 2023: Evaluating Deals, Values, M&A, and Investments
British Government underwent reshuffle with pro-China David Cameron as Foreign Minister. Possible mild rapprochement with Beijing. Analysis of UK investments in China this year reveals potential trends. Report includes unique Q1-Q3 data and predicts outlook for 2024.
By Chris Devonshire-Ellis & Henry Tillman
With a reshuffle in the British Government and ex-Prime Minister – and generally pro-China politician David Cameron now as the UK’s Foreign Minister, there have been early signs of a potential mild rapprochement in the British governments overall attitude towards Beijing.
But before people get carried away, we can look at what investments the UK has made into China this year – as investments made while anti-China politics have tended to be the norm are typically indicative of stronger trends. In this report I include unique data that has not previously been made public, and examine the Q1-Q3 investment trends to see what may lie ahead for 2024.
Ratings agency cuts China’s credit outlook
Financially strapped local governments and state-owned enterprises pose a risk to China’s future economic growth, the ratings agency Moody’s said today in a report downgrading the country’s credit outlook from stable to negative.
Growing evidence suggests that the central government will be required to shore up the debt-laden entities, creating “broad downside risks to China’s fiscal, economic and institutional strength,” Moody’s said.
Local governments are thought to have accumulated trillions of dollars of debt due to spending during the COVID pandemic and a loss of income due to a troubled real estate market.
Despite the challenges, Moody’s maintained China’s overall credit rating of A1, which it describes as low-risk though not the safest category of investment. Moody’s said the rating reflects its belief in the country’s “financial and institutional resources to manage the transition in an orderly fashion.”
“Its economy’s vast size and robust, albeit slowing, potential growth rate, support its high shock absorption capacity,” Moody’s said.
Even so, the outlook downgrade signals some concern about China’s future creditworthiness.
In a statement, China’s Foreign Ministry said it was disappointed in the ratings change and that Moody’s concerns about its growth and financial stability were “unnecessary.”
“In recent years, through the continuous efforts of relevant departments and local governments, China has established a system to prevent and resolve the risks of local government debt,” the ministry said. “The trend of disorderly and illegal borrowing by local governments has been initially curbed, and positive results have been achieved in the disposal of local government debt.”
Moody’s projects China’s annual growth rate will be 4% in 2024 and 2025 but average 3.8% from 2026 to 2030, at which time it might drop again to 3.5%.
Derek Scissors, the chief economist at China Beige Book, a firm that analyzes China’s economy for investors, said in an email that the downgrade was to be expected.
“It’s a recognition of long-standing conditions, not a new development,” said Scissors, who is also a senior fellow at the free-market think tank American Enterprise Institute in Washington. “I think growth will be faster than Moody’s thinks in 2024 and decelerate more than they think after that.”
Fees from local land sales account for nearly 40% of the revenue to local and regional governments. But China’s real-estate sector has been hit hard by overbuilding. One giant, Evergrande, defaulted under massive debt last year, triggering a broader real estate crisis.
Moody’s report said that “the downsizing of the property sector is a major structural shift in China’s growth drivers which is ongoing and could represent a more significant drag to China’s overall economic growth rate than currently assessed.”
Edited by Tara McKelvey
Read the rest of this article here >>> Ratings agency cuts China’s credit outlook
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