Peking University bestowed an honorary professorship on the President of Iran, Ebrahim Raisi, during his state visit to Beijing this week. The prevailing reaction on Weibo was outrage, until censors intervened by deleting negative comments and locking comment sections. During last November’s World Cup, Chinese netizens were moved by the Iranian soccer team’s silent protest expressing solidarity with the Mahsa Ahmini protests that were then sweeping Iran. A selection of comments archived before they were censored reveals that many netizens viewed PKU’s decision to honor President Raisi as an endorsement of Iran’s severe restrictions on women’s rights:
首尔先生：An inhumane country that has obliterated women’s human rights.
该努力了你呢：The bequest of an honorary professorship to a president who has stripped women of their right to an education is an embarrassment to Peking University.
果果爹V：Birds of a feather flock together. The same applies to humans.
神挖坑 ：As fish seek fish and shrimp gravitate toward shrimp, so do S.O.B.s find common company.
ZGsbZD：The most laughable moment in Peking University’s hundred-year-history. // 李清晨：Not necessarily—there’s some stiff competition.
AG隔世修罗：Regression is lovely. [In the original Chinese, a pun on the honorific bestowed on first responders during the 2020 Wuhan COVID outbreak.]
蓉城又十年 ：The ____ of Peking University. How to best fill in the blank?
蜜柑星的哨戒班：All animals banished from the civilized world, unite!
舍尔纳Official：Wait, what’s this? Aren’t you always going on about “feudal superstition”? Have you defeated capitalism yet? [Chinese]
Perhaps surprisingly, as both Iran and China reject international human rights norms, Xi Jinping and Raisi issued a joint statement calling for the Taliban to respect women’s rights in Afghanistan. From the Associated Press:
“The two sides … called on the Afghan rulers to form an inclusive government in which all ethnic groups and political groups actually participate, and cancel all discriminatory measures against women, ethnic minorities and other religions,” the statement said, adding that the U.S. and its NATO allies “should be responsible for the current situation in Afghanistan.”
[…] The call for women’s rights is notable coming from Iran’s hardline Shiite Muslim regime, which has been challenged by months of protests sparked by the death of a young woman in police custody for allegedly violating clothing requirements.
[…] In a meeting earlier with Chinese leader Xi Jinping, Raisi expressed support for China’s crackdown on democracy in Hong Kong and claim to self-ruling democratic Taiwan. [Source]
The statement may have been little more than diplomatic trolling aimed at the United States. Chinese state media outlets were generally laudatory of the Taliban after the latter re-established political control of the country in 2021. Prominent nationalist commentator Hu Xijin was dubbed “Taliban in spirit” by sarcastic netizens after he lauded China’s “friendship” with the Taliban. The Chinese government has offered the Taliban aid and economic development programs, but has yet to bestow diplomatic recognition. Recent reports indicate that major Chinese investments in Afghanistan have been shelved due to security risks.
The visit seems to have been a diplomatic success for Iran’s Raisi. The Associated Press reported on the official Chinese reaction to Raisi’s visit:
Xi expressed support for Raisi’s government in language Beijing uses to criticize Washington’s domination of global affairs. China and Iran portray themselves, alongside Moscow, as counterweights to American power.
“China supports Iran in safeguarding national sovereignty” and “resisting unilateralism and bullying,” Xi said in a statement carried by Chinese state TV on its website.
[…] Xi said Beijing “opposes external forces interfering in Iran’s internal affairs and undermining Iran’s security and stability,” according to the government statement. It said Xi promised to “work together on issues involving each other’s core interests,” but gave no details.
Raisi’s government didn’t immediately release details of the meeting, but the president called the two governments “friends in difficult situations” in a commentary published Monday by the ruling Communist Party newspaper People’s Daily. [Source]
Xi Jinping also called for an end to sanctions on Iran and revealed that he had accepted an invitation to visit Iran at a future date.