On October 2, the English-language state newspaper China Daily tweeted some beautiful photographs of Altay, a remote region in the northwestern part of the country.
Check out some of the autumn scenery in Altay, a remote and sparsely populated part in NW China's Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. pic.twitter.com/d3frx7h8cx
— China Daily (@ChinaDailyUSA) 2 октября 2017 г.
China Daily regularly tweets promotional photographs from various Chinese regions, but this time it caused an unexpected backlash from Russian Twitter users who thought China was claiming parts of Russia as its own.
This is Russia
— Pasik Plastikbrains (@mrplastikbrains) 2 октября 2017 г.
Most of the replies to China Daily’s tweet were expletive- and argot-laden, in both Russian and English. One particularly colorful response in Russian read:
Рамсы попутали, волки позорные? Дырку от бублика вы получите, а не Алтай. ?
— Беспокойный Пациент (@VIPpatient) 2 октября 2017 г.
You’ve got some nerve, you deplorable wolves, haven’t you? A donut hole is what you'll get instead of our Altay.
Soon, other users were trying to set the record straight. Altay is a mountain range in south-eastern Siberia that stretches between Russia, Kazakhstan, Mongolia and China. In each country there is a region whose name includes a local variation of the name Altay.
In fact, in Russia there are two separate administrative units of different federal levels: the predominantly Russian-populated Altay Krai and the Altay Republic, also known as the Mountainous Altay.
Округ Алтай – округ в Или-Казахском автономном округе Синьцзян-Уйгурского автономного района КНР
— Дебри ДВ (@debri_dv) 2 октября 2017 г.
The Altay Prefecture is a district in the Ili Kazakh Autonomous Prefecture of Xinjiang-Uygur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China.
But even after the clarification some Russian users insisted that Russia’s Altay is the best Altay of them all:
Красивые виды пейзажей китайского Алтая! Но российский Алтай многократно краше, ни монгольский, ни казахский Алтай не сравняться с ним.
— Игорь Владимирович (@nis34) 2 октября 2017 г.
Beautiful views of the Chinese Altay! But the Russian Altay is many times more beautiful, the Mongol or Kazakh Altays don’t ever come close to it.
It is possible that Russian Twitter users reacted so strongly due to popular fears that Russia is quietly ceding some of its border territories in the Far East to China. Or it was simply yet another example of social media outrage over something rather trivial. Whatever the case, at least it came with some shots of stunning scenery.