Beijing demands Twitter – banned in China – uphold “freedom of speech” after platform bans Chinese embassy official account

Beijing is demanding that Twitter uphold “freedom of speech” after the platform, which is banned by censors in China, temporarily banned a Chinese embassy official account.

Twitter yanked @ChinaEmbSL account belonging to the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka on April 13 after numerous users reported the account for propaganda falsely claiming that COVID-19 originated in the United States.

The embassy has since put out a press release claiming that Twitter blocked the account due to a “systematic mistake” and had reinstated the account and issued an apology.

“On 13th April, Twitter suspended the official account of the Chinese Embassy in Sri Lanka (@ChinaEmbSL), without informing any specific reason,” the press release read. “The Embassy made solemn representation to Twitter twice, requesting the latter to clarify and correct their decision, to avoid any misunderstanding and random association in the public. In the early morning of 14th April, Twitter officially replied the Embassy for a ‘systematic mistake’, apologized and unsuspended the Embassy’s account.”

“The Embassy feels regretful to this ‘systematic mistake’, and would like to reiterate that the ‘Freedom of Speech’ must be honored, while not be misused to spread groundless, racial or hatred speech, nor be treated with “Double Standards”,” the release concludes.

Twitter has not commented about the reasons for temporarily blocking the embassy account, nor has the company confirmed whether or not an apology was offered to the embassy.

China’s demand that Twitter uphold “freedom of speech,” was met with mockery online.

“So now Twitter has unbanned you.” Tweeted Sri Lankan-Canadian writer and entrepreneur Indi Samarajiva. “Can you now unban Twitter in China?”

“We follow the rules of Twitter, so they apologized for the mistake and reopen,” responded the embassy. “We believe if Twitter could follow the laws and rules of China, the market will also be opened to them. Billions users on WeChat & Weibo.”
“It’s too little, too late but what happened to the #FreedomOfSpeech of Dr. Li Wenliang?” asked IT professional Chathura Kudahetti.

Dr. Li Wenliang tried to issue the first warning about the deadly coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, Hubei province, China on December 30, 2019.

China’s notorious Public Security Bureau – which routinely tortures and “disappears” suspects[1]https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/05/13/tiger-chairs-and-cell-bosses/police-torture-criminal-suspects-china – detained Dr. Li Wenliang and made the opthalmologist sign under duress a statement admitting making false statements that disturbed the public order.[2]https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30382-2/fulltext.

Dr. Li Wenliang later died at Wuhan Central Hospital and the authorities cited COVID-19 as the cause of his death.

References   [ + ]

1. https://www.hrw.org/report/2015/05/13/tiger-chairs-and-cell-bosses/police-torture-criminal-suspects-china
2. https://www.thelancet.com/journals/lancet/article/PIIS0140-6736(20)30382-2/fulltext

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