Why was Greta Thunberg ‘fatshamed’ and accused of being an ‘environmental princess’ by Chinese state media?

·3-min read
Thunberg was mocked by Chinese state media last week (REUTERS)
Thunberg was mocked by Chinese state media last week (REUTERS)

Greta Thunberg has managed to get under the skin of the Chinese government after being targeted by the state media in an article that mocked her weight and described her as an “environmental princess.”

The 18-year-old environmentalist has previously spoken out about the communist state by posting on social media that climate change cannot be solved until the country “drastically” does more to lower its carbon emissions.

It seems Ms Thunberg’s intervention was not welcomed by the Chinese authorities, with an opinion piece appearing shortly after her criticism in the government-controlled media.

The Independent has broken down why the green campaigner has been targeted.

What did the Chinese state media report?

In the article published by the China Daily last week, writer Tan Ge said: “Although she claims to be vegetarian, judging from the results of her growth, her carbon emissions are actually not low.”

The writer added that Thunberg had “double standards” because she called out China for its high carbon emissions but refused to criticise Westernised lifestyles that “pollutes the earth the most.”

Tan Ge added: “The princess has never planted a tree or planted a piece of grass in the desert. Instead, she ran around. She held a lot of protest placards, which polluted the environment.”

How did Thunberg respond?

With typical good humour the climate change activist said on social media: “Being fat-shamed by Chinese state-owned media is a pretty weird experience even by my standards.

“But it’s definitely going on my resume.”

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The activist didn’t directly respond further to the controversy, but later in the week she posted a video on her Twitter account highlighting the environmental impact of farming.

“Our relationship with nature is broken. But relationships can change,” Ms Thunberg said in the video marking the International Day of Biological Diversity.

Why is China targeting the environmental activist?

A tweet posted by Ms Thunberg on 7 May appears to have irked the Chinese authorities.

The environmentalist was responding to a report by CNN that stated that Chinese emissions were higher than all other developed countries combined in 2019.

She tweeted: “Yes, China is still categorized as a developing nation by WTO, they manufacture a lot of our products and so on.

“But that’s of course no excuse for ruining future and present living conditions. We can’t solve the climate crisis unless China drastically changes course.”

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Her post was responded to at the time by China Daily EU bureau chief Chen Weihua who said: “ Can’t believe you’re defending developed countries which were the largest emitters for two centuries.”

The teenager has previously annoyed the communist regime by backing pro-democracy Hong Kong activist Joshua Wong and calling for his release.

Chinese authorities responded at the time by saying that the activist was “falling for Hong Kong secessionist Joshua Wong’s PR stunt.”

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