YouTube suspends channel of an Odessa-based Chinese programmer, citizen journalist

Wang Jixian believes his account may have been maliciously reported to the platform by pro-CCP supporters.
By Yitong Wu, Chingman and Wang Yun
2022.04.05
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YouTube suspends channel of an Odessa-based Chinese programmer, citizen journalist Odessa-based Chinese national Wang Jixian, in an undated photo.
Wang Jixian

YouTube has suspended the account of Odessa-based Chinese national Wang Jixian after he reported on atrocities committed as Russian troops withdrew from Bucha, RFA has learned.

Odessa-based programmer Wang has been uploading videos since the Russian invasion of Ukraine began last month, but hasn't published any new videos since one on March 30 in which he hits out at pro-Chinese Communist Party (CCP) critics as "human trash," and translates news reports of gang rape being committed by Russian troops in Bucha, including of a young girl.

Wang had been uploading to the site daily, with the same introduction every time: "It's Jixian. I'm in Odessa."

YouTube told Wang that his account had been suspended for posting "violent content" in his March 28 video, ignoring an appeal submitted by Wang.

"I find this inexplicable," Wang told RFA. "YouTube claims that my account was reported for violent content, which violates the rules, but where is the violence? I didn't include photos [of violence] in my video."

"This was a front-line war report ... In my appeal, I asked them to say which video or photos weren't allowed, but within five minutes of my submitting the appeal, YouTube sent its final decision, which was that my account has been suspended for a week," he said.

Wang said he didn't blame YouTube, but the "ulterior motives" of whoever reported him.

Wang's March 28 video included footage of Odessa with air-raid sirens going off, and the sounds of missiles exploding, but also footage of him cooking in h is kitchen, and compiling Ukrainian government and media dispatches about the war, including news that the Ukrainian army had intercepted a Russian missile over the city.

In the second half of the video, Wang turns his attention to the CCP-backed media in China, which is still strongly supportive of Russia, particularly the claim that Russia has the upper hand in the war, despite arms sales from Western countries.

He shows photographic evidence suggesting that large numbers of Russian tanks have been captured by the Ukrainian army, as well as Russian soldiers fighting from electric tricycles and motorbikes.

The video also included footage of Ukrainian soldiers taking Russian soldiers captive, with one handed one a coat with the words, "Welcome to Ukraine, you bastard!"

Wang also takes issue with praise by pro-CCP commentator Sima Nan's claim that Russian president Vladimir Putin is "kind-hearted," and had refrained from sabotaging the power and water supply to Ukrainian homes.

'Countering lies and panic'

Wang said his suspension came after he was targeted by multiple messages warning him "don't provoke the Chinese government," and "don't be too aggressive with your comments."

He told RFA he is trying to stem the flow of "lies and panic" by spreading accurate information.

"I'm countering lies and panic by reporting from the front line," Wang told RFA. "Panic can be very contagious and spreads like a virus, like a plague."

"If an authoritarian power tries to intimidate you, you have to give back as good as you get ... I humiliated them mercilessly," Wang said. "The more you fear them, the happier they will be and the more they will do to you."

Wang has since shifted to Twitter, where his account quickly garnered tens of thousands of followers within a day of opening.

Wang has been subject to repeated vitriol on social media sites in China, however, where he is accused of spying for the U.S., and insulting China and the CCP.

But he thinks his videos will remind the world that not all Chinese nationals follow the official line on the war without question.

"I kept going with the YouTube channel so at the very least there would be a Chinese voice in the international community," Wang said. "I've been asked by ... journalists why all Chinese people support Russia, and I ask them in return why they only give a platform to one voice in such a huge country."

"[The party line] does not represent all voices in China; it's just that any dissenting voices are being filtered out," he said.

'Weaponizing propaganda'

Japan-based Chinese national Ding Dong said Wang's YouTube suspension wasn't the result of "normal reporting," suggesting a malicious reporting campaign by pro-CCP actors.

"Wang Jixian hit CCP propaganda and lies about the Russian war in Ukraine especially hard," Ding told RFA. "The suspension of his YouTube channel was likely the result of a large number of organized, [pro-CCP] supporters."

"I am really indignant that a big company like [that] will carry major channels for foreign propaganda [like Chinese state media outlets] for economic gain," he said.

Chinese blogger Wangguo Wahaha agreed.

"Wang Jixian made his opposition to Russia's violent invasion very clear in his videos, but because his stance didn't conform to the CCP official line, he was maliciously reported, which triggered the suspension mechanism," he said. "The CCP weaponizes propaganda every day ... and there is now a tendency for the CCP ... to extend its tentacles beyond the Great Firewall, to overseas social media platforms."

"We have seen a whole string of such instances ... we really need to put pressure on platforms like YouTube to re-examine their terms of service, which are so easily abused by the CCP," he said.

Earlier this month, Twitter briefly suspended an anonymous account translating online internet comment about the Russian invasion of Ukraine from inside the Great Firewall for readers outside China, in a bid to highlight online opinion about the war, which has been heavily influenced by ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP) propaganda and a ban on criticism of Russia.

The crowd-sourced Great Translation Movement account @TGTM_Official on Twitter features online comments made on Chinese social media platforms rendered into English by volunteer translators.

The account started out in mid-February, amid growing tensions between Russia and Ukraine, with volunteers selecting and tweeting various examples of Chinese online comment using the hashtag #TheGreatTranslationMovement in various languages.

The suspension, which was reversed on April 3, came after the account was criticized by the CCP-backed Global Times newspaper in March, which accused it of "smearing China with malicious words and deeds."

Translated and edited by Luisetta Mudie.

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