Whether Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg's enthusiasm and positive attitude towards China is genuine or just a kowtow to the world's biggest Internet market, a growing number of netizens are losing patience with his uncritical attitude regarding Beijing's human rights abuses.
Increasingly, these netizens are voicing their discontent on Zuckerberg's Facebook page.
On March 18, Zuckerberg uploaded a photo taken in front of Beijing's Forbidden City on his Facebook page and said:
It's great to be back in Beijing! I kicked off my visit with a run through Tiananmen Square, past the Forbidden City and over to the Temple of Heaven.
Immediately, sarcastic comments piled up.
One of the most popular comments came from Joshua Wong, a well-known student activist in Hong Kong, who raised the question:
How do you update your Facebook in China?
Facebook has been blocked in China since 2009 and during the two-week session of the parliament in Beijing from March 5 to 16 this year, major virtual private networks that help provide access to uncensored content beyond China's ‘Great Firewall’, were disrupted.
Moreover, in politically tense regions like Xinjiang, individuals using WhatsApp and VPNs can have their phone service suspended. The freedom Mark Zuckerberg seems to have enjoyed in China is extraordinary.
The Hong Kong political group Civic Passion's leader Wong Yeung-tat raised another question to remind Zuckerberg of the bloody crackdown on the Tiananmen square student democracy movement in 1989:
Did u see the tank?
Cao Yuzhou added more details on that historic incident:
The floor you stepped on has been covered by blood from students who fought for democracy. But, enjoy your running in China, Mark.
As Tiananmen Square has become a very politically sensitive location, abrupt body movements or major group activities without prior government approval are prohibited.
Qingye Jiang reminded Zuckerberg of this:
Mark, you have a total number of 6 people in the running team. Did you apply for the authorization to run on the street? If not, this is illegal in China. Please respect the local law when you are in a foreign country.
Less politically-oriented folk worried about his health as the air quality on Friday reached hazardous levels.
Michael Wester from The Beijinger, a lifestyle blog, mocked Zuckerberg's love for China:
How far would you go to curry favor with China?
How about running through Tiananmen Square without a mask in this morning's thick-as-pea-soup AQI 337 air? […]
If this doesn't get Facebook unbanned in China, nothing will.
Memes of Zuckerberg's run spread rapidly through Facebook circles in Hong Kong, where the social media platform is not blocked.
This one is about the smog:
This is not the first time Zuckerberg has been mocked by Chinese netizens.
When China's Internet Czar Lu Wei visited Facebook's Silicon Valley offices in December 2014, Zuckerberg was photographed with Chinese President Xi Jinping's book ‘The Governance of China’ on his table.
Chinese news websites reported he had bought up copies of the book for his colleagues so that they could understand socialism with Chinese characteristics. Zuckerberg was later depicted in Internet memes as a Red Guard — ideological warriors from China's infamous Cultural Revolution — holding Xi Jinping's book.
And last October, he was mercilessly ridiculed for asking Xi Jinping to name his unborn baby daughter, an offer Xi promptly rejected.
— clara (@clara111) October 4, 2015
Zuckerberg will attend the China Development Forum this year, where his very public wooing of Xi will no doubt continue to catch the world's attention.