China Bans Social Media Accounts of Coronavirus Policy Critics
China’s crackdown on critics of the government’s COVID-19 policies continues as the country reverses its anti-virus restriction measures. The popular Sina Weibo platform reported that it has banned 1,120 accounts for violating content rules including attacking scholars, medical workers, and experts. The Chinese Communist Party often cites the country’s medical experts to justify its decisions, and generally suppresses free speech.
The Chinese government has been criticized for its heavy-handed enforcement of regulations on the population, like travel restrictions and quarantine measures. People have expressed discontent over the mandatory confinement in field hospitals which was usually characterized by inadequate food and hygiene. Following public protest, China decided to lift some of its most stringent restrictions.
China’s transport ministry is urging travelers to reduce trips and attend fewer gatherings during the upcoming Lunar New Year travel period, especially if they are pregnant or elderly. Nonetheless, measures like the end of mandatory quarantines for people from abroad, no longer bringing criminal charges against quarantine violators, and dropping the negative COVID-19 test requirement for students to enter campus are still ongoing.
Despite responding to complaints, the lack of available data such as the number of deaths, infections, and severe cases has caused other countries to impose testing requirements for travelers to and from China. The World Health Organization has voiced its concern and China, while officially reporting 10,681 new domestic cases and three deaths, may be experiencing far more.
Overall, China is responding to public pressure but its lack of data on the virus has led to more testing concerns and stringent regulations from abroad.