Zoom caves to Beijing

Zoom China Tiananmen

Earlier this month, Coda Story’s Antony Dapiran reported on the ban of an annual vigil in Hong Kong that honors the victims of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989. After our piece was published, activists looked to online spaces to mark the anniversary. 

Recently, three prominent human rights activists accused the video conferencing platform Zoom of disrupting or shutting down their accounts because they were linked to events marking the anniversary of the massacre, or were to discuss China’s control over Hong Kong.

In a statement posted on its website, Zoom admitted that it had suspended the accounts of the activists at the behest of the Chinese government. The company also suggested and it will block any further meetings deemed illegal by Beijing.

Unlike several other western platforms, Zoom, which has surged in popularity during the Covid-19 pandemic, is not blocked in China.

One of the activists who had his account suspended has since spoken out about his experience.

Zhou Fengsuo, one of the student leaders during Tiananmen Square in 1989, was interviewed by China Unscripted. He accused Zoom of policing the internet. “They are basically working as a police, they are policing the internet. They shut down our accounts without [having] any communication with us,” Zhou said in a video.

“I’m really concerned what Zoom has done to the Chinese users,” he continued. “They’ve never said anything about that. If they do it according to the order of Beijing, that’s really worrying.”

Photo by Vernon Yuen/NurPhoto via Getty Images

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Chaewon Chung

Chaewon is a multimedia journalist with Coda Story. She graduated with a Master’s in journalism from Columbia Journalism School and has also reported with SCMP, BUST, Korea Exposé, and others.