Dozens of Chinese internet users desperately requested access to their WeChat app accounts after hundreds were banned for postings about Beijing’s rare street protests against Chinese President Xi Jinping.
The app is vital to China’s daily life by allowing hundreds of millions of people to communicate, pay, participate in Covid contact tracing and access entertainment, but it is also under strict surveillance by the state.
Hundreds of WeChat users have some of their accounts permanently blocked after citing small protests calling for Xi’s ouster on Thursday.
It comes at a sensitive time when the ruling Communist Party holds a national convention held every five years to nominate Xi Jinping to a historic third term.
“I take my mistake really seriously, and I promise… I will strictly follow the guidelines,” a Beijing resident wrote in a post on another Chinese social network service (SNS) on Friday.
“I sincerely hope that your company will unblock my account. I will never post inappropriate videos or images again in the future.”
Another user who said that their WeChat account was permanently blocked said, “I feel extremely anxious and regret my actions since this happened.”
“I’ve been using this account for 10 years and it has a lot of precious photos and messages from my friends.”
A southern Guangzhou-based WeChat user told AFP on Sunday that some features of his account were temporarily restricted for 24 hours after sharing photos in a poster chat group expressing support for protests in Beijing.
“I feel isolated from being unable to like/reply/reply to group chat messages,” she said.
Beijing is highly vigilant about what could interfere with the week-long Communist Party meeting that began on Sunday.
Videos and photos shared on social media on Thursday showed a protester waving two hand-drawn placards from a bridge with slogans demanding voting rights and criticizing government policies against Covid-19.
“No corona test, I want a livelihood. No cultural revolution, I want reform. No lockdown, I want freedom. No leader, I want to vote. No lies, I want dignity. No slavery. , I will become a citizen.” A banner was read.
Another article read, “Go on strike and get rid of the dictator and national traitor, Xi Jinping.”
Police and security personnel quickly swarmed the bridge after the protests, deploying volunteers to protect other pedestrian bridges across Beijing, and online searches for the incident were heavily censored.