The Chinese Communist Party is again demonstrating why it is not a good idea to cross the limits they have imposed on the nation. The victim, this time, was Mei Duo, a resident of Tibet, who was using “special software” (we predict that it was likely a VPN) and managed to circumvent the so-called Chinese “Great Firewall” to use Facebook and share information from international media about Tibet.
The Great Firewall is nothing more than a system that blocks websites that the Chinese government considers harmful. Among them are platforms such as YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter, and even news outlets such as the BBC. For this reason, there are national alternatives to all of these websites, such as Weibo, which is very similar to Facebook.
Bypassing the firewall is possible, but this can have consequences with the country’s authorities, especially if the intention is to publish information against the government. This was Ms. Duo’s case who, in 2016, managed to access Facebook to share reports from Voice of Tibet (based in Norway) and Radio Free Asia (based in the USA).
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Ms. Duo hoped that her posts would help the people of China learn about the current situation in Tibet. However, these posts ended up being reported to the authorities, who began to search for her for allegedly leaking classified information.
The most shocking thing about Mei Duo’s arrest is that it was only known four years after being arrested (with a sentence that suspectedly lasts seven years). Additionally, Chinese human rights activists indicated that she would be the first known Tibetan citizen to be secretly arrested by the government.
The news became known shortly after a journalist was arrested for similar reasons. Zhang Zhan, a reporter from Shanghai, shared on YouTube and Twitter a couple of news stories about COVID-19 in Wuhan.
China is a country that has implemented much more severe restrictive measures since the coronavirus appeared, considerably increasing censorship against free journalism. Zhan would be the fourth citizen to disappear after reporting something related to the virus, but there is no way to verify it and it’s thought that there are likely countless others.