Bars app that often hosted dissenting conversations • The Register

China has banned a slew of apps again, but this time it has taken action against a service – Douban – that hosts views Beijing finds unpleasant.

Douban is a social network that shares users’ thoughts on movies, books and music. It has often been controversial, as its users are not afraid to give negative reviews, even on iconic Chinese productions with patriotic themes. The service has been embroiled in a lot of censorship controversy and has recently been the subject of Beijing’s ire for hosting fan communities that are turning toxic as factions battle over which pop star is more exciting.

The service was fined last week for illegally sharing user information. Yesterday it was kicked out of Chinese app stores, along with a handful of apps believed to be collecting too much personal data. Over 100 other apps and services have also been banned for various reasons.

All were informed that they had not succeeded in rectifying their problems with sufficient speed.

Douban’s colorful past means his banishment leaves Xi Jinping’s government exposed to accusations of acting to harm a dissenting opinion source.

China, however, has spent the past week trying to define its system of government as more democratic than those practiced in the West. This effort was carried out ahead of the 2021 Democracy Summit, an event hosted by the Biden administration with the aim of renewing democracy around the world.

One of China’s preemptive responses to the event is a document [PDF] titled “Pursuit of Common Values ​​of Mankind – The Chinese Approach to Democracy, Freedom and Human Rights”.

The document offers an example of the Internet enriching Chinese politics, after the online consultation on the country’s 14th five-year plan was authorized in 2020. The document reveals that at least one suggestion – proposed by Li Dianbo, an official with the university graduate village in Inner Dalad Banner region in Mongolia – has been adopted by central authorities. Well, that’s something.

With democratic participation achieving such transparency, privacy protections having seen hundreds of apps banned in 2020, constant surveillance that has a chilling effect on dissent and the great firewall ensuring that any inconvenience does not reach not to local eyes, subjects of the Middle Empire clearly appreciate freedoms the rest of us can only dream of. ®

About Sandra A. Powell

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