A rare uncensored app attracted Chinese Internet users to freely discuss taboo topics, including the mass detention of Uyghurs, the democratic protests in Hong Kong and the concept of Taiwan’s independence, which appeared to be blocked on Monday night.
Authoritarian China deployed a large and sophisticated surveillance state to clean up dissidents’ Internet and prevent citizens from accessing international social networking sites commonly referred to as the “Great Firewall”, such as Facebook and Twitter.
But the Clubhouse app avoided censors in a short time and attracted a crowd of Chinese Internet users-but it seemed to be infringed by censors soon.
The United States invites only audio applications to allow users to listen to and participate in loosely hosted real-time conversations in digital “rooms.”
In recent days, online users in China have been everywhere in conference rooms, discussing topics that are subject to strict scrutiny, such as Beijing’s total imprisonment of the Uyghur Muslim community in Xinjiang’s westernmost part.
However, by Monday night, the app displayed an error message to users who do not have a VPN to establish a secure connection, and the Chinese room quickly discussed the app’s ban.
The trending group turned to the topic of the ban, and some Chinese users began to discuss the security risks of using the application and whether they would face official surveillance.
“I have seen many rooms talking about cross-strait issues and sensitive issues… and think this application will not last too long.” After the application was blocked, a Chinese user lamented, referring to Taiwan’s thorny issues.
Another worry is: “After the blockade is a list of people on the compiled platform.”
“The Real Internet”
Clubhouse was launched in May last year and is currently only available on Apple devices, which only wealthy Chinese consumers can afford.
After billionaire Elon Musk participated in a conversation about the app earlier this month, its popularity quickly increased.
Last weekend, many Chinese discussions attracted widespread attention, including the social media platform Twitter.
“A young woman from mainland China just said at the club: This is my first time on the real Internet,” a reporter who listened to the conversation, Isabelle Niu, tweeted on Sunday.
Taobao, a popular online marketplace used by millions of users every day, and other e-commerce sites are selling membership invitations at prices ranging from RMB 10 (approximately Rs 110) to RMB 100 (approximately Rs 1,130). Put it on the invitation letter.
Kaiser Kuo, the host of the Sinica podcast focused on China, posted some conversations about the Uyghur ethnicity he heard in a room on the live broadcast on Sunday.
He pointed out how the Han (main ethnic group in China) and the persecuted Uyghur people interact in space.
An Agence France-Presse reporter listened to a spokesperson. He admitted that mainland China opposed the term “concentration camps,” even though he admitted that there were facilities.
Many listeners are fascinated by the frankness of online discussions.
Berlin reporter Melissa Chan said on Twitter: “I am in a Taiwan-run room in the clubhouse. There are 4,000 Mandarin-speaking people-including Uyghurs and Han Chinese, as well as the outside world. Talk about… everything.”
“From surveillance to friends leaving the re-education camp, to ordinary things.”
But analysts warned that Beijing is likely to block access to the application soon.
Before the ban, Fergus Ryan of the International Cyber Policy Center of the Australian Institute of Strategic Policy said: “The window to listen to frank conversations about Chinese politics within the club has been closed.”
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