China Seems To Block Popular Clubhouse App | WABNEWS

After a brief honeymoon, China appears to have blocked a popular invite-only audio app called Clubhouse. The iPhone-only app saw a surge in users over the weekend who were able to discuss taboo topics such as reunification with Taiwan and the plight of the Muslim minority in Xinjiang province. But on Monday, users in China began reporting difficulties connecting, fueling speculation that the app had been blocked by the so-called Great Firewall. “Clubhouse created the space that many Chinese yearn for: the means to communicate with each other and with the world outside the Great Firewall without restrictions by censorship,” said Angeli Datt, senior research analyst at Freedom House. “The Chinese government quickly blocked Clubhouse because it knows that the most effective way to control freedom of expression is to quickly clamp down on the channels and tools used to communicate rather than monitor individual conversations.” The surge in users began last week when Elon Musk of SpaceX and Tesla unexpectedly appeared on the app and had a conversation with Vlad Tenev, CEO of Robinhood, the app that was central to the GameStop news story. The Chinese media covered the conversation. Twitter suspends the account of the Chinese embassy in Washington The company has lashed out at the Chinese embassy in the US for a post that allegedly misrepresented the situation of the Uighurs, a Muslim minority that has been repressed by Beijing, in the region from Xinjiang. According to Bloomberg, Clubhouse became a hot topic on Chinese social media, with some even selling invitations to the app at online retailer Alibaba. Some of the invitations cost up to $ 44.60, Bloomberg reported. As with many banned apps, Chinese users can still access the Clubhouse using a virtual private network (VPN), and CNN reported that many were doing so. One such user was Susan Liang, 31, from Shenzhen. “It is too rare an opportunity. Everyone has lived under the Great Firewall for so long, but on this platform, we can talk about anything,” he told CNN. “It’s like someone is drowning and can finally breathe in a big breath of air.” He said he feared a crackdown because VPNs not approved by the government are illegal. So far, Clubhouse has not responded to questions from the media, Reuters reported. While the Clubhouse was fully accessible, the VOA Mandarin Service observed several Chinese-language clubs where users engaged in discussions on far-reaching and sensitive topics, including Uighur rights, the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Taiwan independence, China’s national identity and gender issues. In a club conversation titled “Politically Incorrect Reporters,” users engaged in a heated debate about the continued influence of former US President Donald Trump. In another, people were chatting about women’s rights in different places. In the “room of silence” chat, the description read: “Today is the anniversary of Dr. Li Wenliang’s death. We remember him not because he’s a hero, but because we can all be him. ”Li was a Chinese whistleblower physician who died from the coronavirus a year ago. Graham Webster, DigiChina project editor at Stanford University’s Center for Cyber ​​Policy told the VOA Mandarin Service that Chinese netizens had seized the rare opportunity to have free and open discussions with their peers in Hong Kong and Taiwan. “[Las conversaciones] they were open and people were having a really interesting engagement in a way that maybe they couldn’t do it in writing, which is a much more intensive form of censorship and surveillance, “he said. He added that the app was helping people working across the Chinese border connect with each other when travel is difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic. One netizen said in a Chinese chat room that he valued the platform primarily because it offered people from mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan the opportunity to sit down and just talk about any topic. “I think it’s a weird ecology, it’s quite utopian,” said the user, “I want to learn more and get more information from it.”



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