Chinese Censors Delete Account of Journalist Who Criticized Centenary Performances

Social media users report a marked increase in the deletion of posts and accounts by government censors in recent weeks.
2021-07-02
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Chinese Censors Delete Account of Journalist Who Criticized Centenary Performances Chorus members rehearse before the celebration marking the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Chinese Communist Party in Beijing, July 1, 2021.
AFP

A journalist who criticized the performance of a hand-picked youth representative at the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP)'s centenary celebrations on Tiananmen Square has had her social media account deleted, RFA has learned.

The Weibo account of Song Shiting, a reporter for Sanlian Life Weekly, disappeared on Friday after she made fun of delegates representing the CCP's  Youth League at the ceremony, who seemed to have been picked for their model-like looks.

Viewing a contribution by university student Feng Lin, whose appearance took Chinese social media by storm, Song wrote that the young women seemed to be "competing with each other to pay tribute" to the party.

"It was like a horror film, watching them lined up there competing with each other to pay tribute like that: it really made my flesh creep," Song wrote on her personal Weibo account after the ceremony was broadcast live to the nation.

Her comments sparked a deluge of pro-government abuse before her account was deleted.

Xian-based current affairs commentator Zhuang Zhi said Song's comments wouldn't have resulted in censorship in "a normal, free society."

"This is a further strengthening of ideological control, and controls are getting tighter and tighter," Zhuang said.

"This is very harmful to society."

State media named the youth representatives as Beijing primary school students Yao Muchen and Peng Youxin, representing the Chinese Young Pioneers, and university students Feng Lin and Zhao Jianming, for the Chinese Communist Youth League.

"The four students jointly delivered an affectionate ode to the party," the state-run China Daily newspaper reported.

"Today, we make a vow to the party: listen to the party's call, are grateful to the party and follow its lead," it quoted them as saying in unison, before repeating "Rest assured, CCP, we are ready to build a powerful China!" four times.

'Ticket to a brighter future'

Feng Chongyi, a professor of Chinese Studies at the Sydney University of Technology in Australia, said many young people in China see party membership as the main ticket to a brighter future.

"Now thousands of troops are trying to cross a single-plank bridge," he said of the current employment market. "They are all trying to squeeze into the civil service to find employment."

Feng said the CCP has little to do with ideology, and is more of a vehicle for economic advancement.

"The party itself has no soul ... and the privileges it gives access to come at the cost of enslavement and political risk," he said.

The closure of Song's account came as large numbers of WeChat accounts were shut down around the July 1 centenary, a Christian pastor in the eastern province of Shandong told RFA on Friday.

"A lot of public accounts belonging to our church members have been deleted, including my official account," he said. "Sometimes we can't post messages on WeChat, either."

"It has been pretty bad for some time now," he said.

A Beijing resident who gave only her surname, Wang, said posts are constantly being deleted from the WeChat groups she belongs to.

"Sometimes, posts I saw in the morning on a WeChat group will be gone by the afternoon," Wang said. "Sometimes, even by noon."

A resident of the southern province of Guangdong surnamed Chen said the deletion of WeChat posts is widespread now, and appears to be part of the government's "stability maintenance" tactics around the centenary.

"The authorities have achieved the ultimate in stability maintenance measures during this centenary," Chen said.

"After allowing the Chinese people to live relatively unfettered lives over the past 40 years or so, the authorities now seem in a hurry to take that away from them."

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin and Cantonese Services. Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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