Chinese Police Clamp Down on Banned Apps Being Used To Organise Protests
Authorities in China have started clamping down on protests against the country's strict COVID-19 restrictions that erupted over the weekend.
According to reports from The Wall Street Journal and CNBC, police in major cities like Shanghai, Beijing and Hangzhou are now stopping people to check their phones for the presence of banned social media apps and messaging services. These include Instagram, Twitter and Telegram, which were said to have been used by protesters to communicate and organise demonstrations. The protesters managed to access the banned services by using virtual private networks (VPNs) to bypass the country's so-called Great Firewall.
William Yang, a correspondent for German news outlet DW News, reports that people were being checked randomly. He said anyone can be stopped by the police anywhere, whether it's on the street or at the entrance of a shopping mall.
In Beijing, the police are said to be writing down the personal information of anyone they catch with banned apps before sending them off with a warning. Threats of arrest are also being levelled at those who refuse to delete photos from the protest.
These efforts are likely part of China's plan to discourage more protests from breaking out and to stop information related to them from reaching foreign media. Yesterday, Twitter was supposedly spammed with tweets about escort services, porn and gambling to bury legitimate reports coming out of cities where the protests took place. The tweets supposedly came from accounts with ties to the Chinese government. News about the protests was also censored on Chinese social media sites.
The protests were sparked by a deadly fire in an apartment building in Urumqi, which killed 10 people and injured nine. Much of the people's anger stems from how videos that circulated online appeared to show how the strict quarantine measures delayed the firefighters from reaching the victims in time. Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang, had been under lockdown for more than a hundred days at this point, with people in the city being unable to leave their homes.
Police in major cities in China are now stopping people to check their phones for the presence of banned social media apps and messaging services as the country tries to discourage further protests from breaking out.
These include Instagram, Twitter and Telegram, which were said to have been used by protesters to communicate and organise demonstrations against the strict COVID-19 restrictions.
These random stops can happen anywhere, whether it's on the street or at the entrance of a shopping mall.