China’s Biggest Tech Company Sparks Outrage After Making Memes of WWII Sex Slaves

A social media platform owned by Tencent, China’s largest social network and online entertainment firm, has drawn public outrage after creating memes based on World War II sex slaves.

The platform, Qzone, made stills from “Twenty Two,” a popular documentary film that featured 22 surviving Chinese “comfort women” who had been forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese army during the Second World War.

One still that featured a woman wiping her tears was captioned, “speechless and choking with sobs.”

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Another that showed a different woman resting her head on her hand was captioned, “I was really wronged.”

About 200,000 Chinese women were forced into sexual slavery during the war. Today, 14 remain alive in mainland China.

Netizens easily found the memes distasteful and criticized Qzone for circulating them. One wrote on Weibo (via Sixth Tone):

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“You take everything for the purpose of entertainment and don’t realize the pain of the old women at all, let alone the pain of the entire people at that time.”

In response to the backlash, Qzone apologized in a statement on Monday afternoon, pulling the memes and explaining that they were provided by a third party supplier.

“The incident has exposed flaws in our content supervision and reviewing system. We will conduct self-investigation and improve the related systems,” the platform said (via the Global Times).

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Qzone serves at least 606 million active users per month. While the stills were no longer available, netizens were able to save screenshots.

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