Social media users spoke out against anti-Chinese rhetoric amid concerns over the uncontrolled rocket launched by China’s space program on April 29.
It came as a relief to those following the story when the 20-ton booster crashed safely into the Indian Ocean near the Maldives last Sunday. Most of it had burned upon re-entry, the Chinese space agency announced.
The Long March 5B rocket stole global headlines last week when it was revealed that it would be plummeting back to Earth, reported CNN.
Experts were unable to confirm exactly when, where or whether human lives were at risk. While many reports suggested the debris was unlikely to cause harm, the news created a cause for alarm
on social media.
A TikToker who goes by Hailey (@Haileyych) pointed out that comment sections in response to the news were filled with users saying they were “sick and tired of the Chinese” and asking “why is it always them?”
Some of the remarks found on TikTok include:
Users on Twitter have also called out comments attacking Chinese people.
Hailey called out the “sinophobia and yellow peril” in the way that Hank Green, a prominent figure on the social media platform, discussed the issue in a now-deleted video. Green has since addressed the matter, noting his disappointment that what was intended as “good faith criticism of the Chinese government” only furthered racist attacks against “all Chinese” and “all Asian people.” He also acknowledged that his video was an “oversimplification” that pushed forth “anti-Asian and anti-Chinese narrative.”
More social media users also addressed these issues by comparing the crash to a similar incident involving an American company. SpaceX’s “out-of-control” rocket had re-entered the atmosphere back in March, with debris landing on a farmer’s property in Seattle, The New York Times reported.
Social media users pointed out that the incident was painted by the media in a more positive light.
Conversations surrounding the recent incident have also been compared to reactions to the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the use of phrases such as “Chinese virus” and “kung flu,” which have received criticism for blaming Chinese people for the international crisis and fueling anti-Asian hate.