Chinese feminists are being attacked online by nationalist trolls. Some refuse to be silenced
April 19, 2021. Summarized by summa-bot.
Compression ratio: 23.6%. 2 min read.
China's feminist movement is the latest target of a sweeping online crusade against voices deemed "unpatriotic." Trolls sift through years of posts on feminist social media accounts, searching for the slightest suggestion of alleged "anti-China" opinion. But now some feminists are fig
For a week, the 29-year-old Chinese feminist was subject to incessant chauvinist and misogynist attacks on Weibo, one of China's most popular social media sites.
Then, without any warning, Liang's account was removed by Weibo.
The disappearance of their accounts followed a similar pattern: Each was first accused by influential nationalist bloggers of being a "separatist" or "traitor. " Then, a barrage of vicious messages and comments descended, with trolls reporting their accounts to Weibo moderators for supposedly "illegal" or "harmful" content.
China's feminist movement -- already subject to a harsh crackdown under President Xi Jinping -- is the latest target of a sweeping online crusade against voices deemed "unpatriotic. " Trolls sift through years of posts on feminist social media accounts, searching for the slightest suggestion of alleged "anti-China" opinion.
Unable to find fault with Liang's Weibo posts, trolls descended on her account on Twitter, which is blocked in mainland China.
Weibo said in a statement that Liang's accounts and others were removed after complaints from users over posts containing "illegal and harmful information. " It stressed that Weibo users must not "incite antagonism between groups or promote boycott culture" or "organize or incite other users to attack state and Party organs and public enterprises and institutions. "
Liang was attacked for defending Xiao Meili, a leading voice in China's feminist movement and the first to face the nationalist storm.
On March 30, a prominent nationalist account on Weibo posted a photo of Xiao from 2014 and accused her of supporting Hong Kong independence.
The trolls followed her to Taobao, a Chinese online shopping site where Xiao owns a store selling clothes with feminist designs.
Back on Weibo, Xiao's attackers celebrated the disappearance of her account -- and Zheng Churan, Xiao's feminist friend who was at the hot-pot dinner last month, became the next target.
"It's a political death sentence, and misogynist and nationalist trolls can easily deploy it to attack us," said Lv Pin, a New York-based activist whose Weibo account was also removed last week.
The blogger "Ziwuxiashi," a Chinese army veteran who unleashed a series of smear campaigns against Xiao, Zheng and Liang, has more than 700,000 followers.
Ryan Fedasiuk, a researcher at Georgetown University who studies China's efforts to control online public opinion, has found that in addition to 2 million paid internet commentators, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) also "draws on a network of more than 20 million part-time volunteers to engage in internet trolling, many of whom are university students and members of the Communist Youth League. "
As the feminist accounts disappeared one after another, a user who was previously removed by Weibo revealed how she won back her account by taking the platform to court.
The user's account was removed last year after she published a viral post teaching people how to file a complaint against Weibo to the government.
Losing the account she had been using since university was painful, Liang said.