China diplomat in Pakistan changes Twitter name after 'Muhammad ban'


A senior Chinese diplomat in Pakistan who adopted the name 'Muhammad' on his Twitter profile has appeared to drop the name days after authorities in China issued an order banning several Islamic names.

Zhao Lijian, the Deputy Chief of Mission at the Chinese Embassy in Islamabad, was widely known on social media for adopting the name "Muhammad" on his Twitter profile, which until recently showed his name as 'Muhammad Lijian Zhao'. On Friday, his profile merely read 'Lijian Zhao'.

Zhao's account was this week verified by Twitter, which may have prompted the diplomat to use his legal name to acquire verification.

Yet the timing of the move caught the attention of Pakistani social media users, who noticed the changed name just as Beijing outlined a new policy in its western Xinjiang region, banning 29 Islamic names that officials said was aimed at stopping the spread of extremism.

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