The Chinese Foreign Ministry said it was “shocked” by the assassination of former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

“We are following the developments and hope former Prime Minister Abe is out of danger and recovers soon. We would certainly like to send our regards to his family,” ministry spokesman Zhao Lijian told a conference. press Friday afternoon.

Zhao declined to comment on Chinese social media reactions to the shooting, saying, “I have just fully expressed the Chinese government’s position that this unexpected incident should not be associated with China-Japan relations.”

A bit of context: Chinese social media was flooded with happy comments after the shooting, with ultra-nationalist users gloating over the attack.

Relations between China and Japan soured during Abe’s tenure, worsened by a slow-running dispute over the sovereignty of the disputed Japanese-administered islands known as the Senkaku Islands in Japan and the Diaoyus Islands in China.

Many Chinese users also criticized Abe for visiting the controversial Yasukuni Shrine, seen in China as a symbol of Japan’s imperial military past.

The online schadenfreude was so unseemly that even some of the country’s most prominent nationalist influencers felt compelled to speak out.

Hu Xijin, former editor of the state-run nationalist tabloid Global Times, expressed sympathy for Abe.

“I think right now we have to put aside our political differences with him,” he wrote on China’s Weibo Twitter.
“Some people may say that I ‘pretend to be compassionate’, but as a seasoned Chinese journalist, this is my firm public attitude in the field of public opinion. And I hope more people will understand and will join me in maintaining this attitude.”

Jin Canrong, an international relations scholar known for his hawkish views, also weighed in. “I advise everyone to have a little respect for life, be patriotic and express themselves rationally,” he wrote on Weibo.

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