Beijing: In a shocking turn of events, the Chinese police are now searching for a number of apps like Twitter, Instagram and Telegram in people’s phones in Beijing, Shanghai and Hangzhou amid protests across the country against the nation’s zero COVID lockdown policy.
Videos are going viral where Chinese police are seen checking mobile phones of commuters travelling in subway in Shanghai.
Also, in Shanghai, police conducted phone inspections in People’s Square Station, looking for messages posted in a chat room used by protestors.
For the unversed, people in China who could not post protesting content on the Chinese internet due to censorship, turned to platforms like Twitter to share news of public defiance.
As per reports, Chinese authorities are arbitrarily stopping passers-by and noting down their personal information if they find apps such as Twitter or Telegram on their devices.
While foreign social media apps are banned in China, they can be accessed through virtual private networks, or VPNs.
Videos circulating on Twitter also show an alleged plain-clothes officer hitting a person who refused to hand over his phone.
As per report by BBC, Chinese police are also threatening to arrest people for not deleting photos of the protests.
🇨🇳 Reports from Beijing and Shanghai – police are randomly checking citizen phones. If there are tweets or telegrams, the police will warn and register their personal information. #china pic.twitter.com/U2E0rH2Brz
— Captain Merika (@Captain_Merika) November 28, 2022
William Yang, the East Asia Correspondent for DW News tweeted updates regarding the development, writing, “Sources in #Shanghai are now telling me that police are now stopping people and checking their phones to see if there are any apps like Telegram, Instagram, and Twitter that have been used a lot to share updates of the protests with the outside world. #China”
He further added, “The move to forcefully check people’s phones is determined randomly. Anyone can be stopped and have their phones checked by police, and it can happen anywhere from on the street or at entrances to shopping malls.”
China has witnessing massive protests against COVID curbs and the Chinese government has resorted to several measures to stop spreading of information regarding the protests.
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