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China bans nationalist blogger who railed against Lenovo

China blocked the social media accounts of a nationalist blogger who led a campaign against a major Chinese tech company, in the latest censorship in an outspoken patriotic voice.

Sima Nan’s Twitter-like Weibo account, where he has more than 3.1 million followers and regularly posts anti-American comments, was marked restricted for “violation of relevant laws and regulations” over the weekend. , which means that he temporarily cannot post to the site.

His accounts on video-sharing platforms Bilibili and Douyin as well as digital platform Toutiao were also frozen, reported Chinese media, including the Jinan Daily, although his accounts on these sites were not subject to of public notices on Wednesday.

The restrictions come after Sima, real name Yu Li, shared a video on Weibo on Friday accusing Lenovo Group of manipulating public discourse against him. He made the claims after reports that he bought a house in California in 2010 generated a hashtag on Weibo last week that has been viewed 4.9 million times, with users accusing him of hypocrisy.

Last year, the blogger known for his staunch support of the ruling Communist Party ran an online campaign alleging that Lenovo had sold state-owned assets too cheaply. The company’s largest shareholder at the time defended the asset sale in Chinese media, saying it was legal.

Lenovo has not publicly responded to Sima’s new allegations, and a representative declined to comment on Wednesday.

President Xi Jinping’s government has tightened controls over the country’s cyberspace, not only censoring views contrary to official political views but, more recently, sometimes cracking down on bellicose nationalist voices that cross the line. party.

A closer look

After pro-Russian voices offered to ‘deal’ with pretty Ukrainian refugees earlier this year, for example, China’s state media warned citizens to discuss the war ‘rationally’ and offending social media accounts have been deleted.

Nationalist calls online for China to shoot down US President Nancy Pelosi’s plane as it approaches Taiwan earlier this month have left some disappointed at Beijing’s potential reaction to unprecedented military drills. .

Another nationalist blogger, Kong Qingdong, was also temporarily banned from Weibo this week, according to a notice on his account. It was not immediately clear what prompted the ban.

Read: Apple considers shifting production to India amid China concerns

Chinese social media is under even greater scrutiny ahead of a major leadership convention later this year, said Maria Repnikova, assistant professor of global communications at Georgia State University. At this congress, Xi is expected to win a third term defying previous ones.

“Given the sensitivity of this particular congress, I am not surprised that voices deemed extreme or potentially destabilizing are being silenced, including those from the nationalist spectrum,” she said. — Sarah Zheng and Colum Murphy, (c) 2022 Bloomberg LP

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