China's new app to report online comments against the "Communist Party" further restricts freedom of expression
Stockholm - Skyline condemns the Chinese government's newly launched mobile application for citizens to report online comments against the ruling “Communist Party’’. It stresses that that this application further restricts freedom of opinion and expression in the country.
In its statement issued today, Tuesday, Skyline commented on the statement made by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on the new app. The CAC stated the new app allows internet users to report those who disseminate "mistaken opinions" online in order to create a "good public opinion atmosphere".
Skyline indicated that the CAC’s statement had launched a hotline to report online comments that defame the ruling Communist Party and its history, attack its leadership and policies, defame national heroes and "deny the excellence of advanced socialist culture" online. The statement stated, "The authorities were able to monitor dozens of people with" hidden" motives who spread false statements online degrading the national and military history of the party and its leadership.”
Accordingly, skyline said that the new application reflects the authorities' intention to expand their control over the public opinion. It further expressed concern that the undeclared goal of this application is to prosecute opponents of the ruling regime in China since the Chinese human rights’ record is full of violations, especially against the freedom of opinion and expression and the use of the Internet.
Skyline indicated that this application was preceded by continuous attempts to restrict the online published content. For example, the ruling Chinese Communist Party’s comprehensive censorship system known as the "Great Firewall", which blocks websites or hides articles or comments on sensitive topics. In addition, the "Cyber Security" law that was issued in 2016 by the Standing Committee of the National Assembly, which prohibits Internet users from publishing any information that offends “national honor and interests” or aims to “bring down the social order.” The law also requires Internet service providers to verify the identity of any user.
According to the 2019 Freedom House report, the Chinese Communist Party has employed thousands of people to browse citizens' data and reveal "problematic content" that harms the communist party and its leaders’ interest. The report also mentioned statements made by the Chinese company, Symptian, confirming that its Aegis system helps it monitoring more than 200 million people in China.
At the end of its statement, Skyline called on the Chinese government to stop its violations of freedom of opinion and expression and to enable individuals exercising their rights without restriction or prosecution. Additionally, its stressed that the authorities' continued restrictive policies against the online posted information clearly and seriously violates international conventions, including the International Declaration of Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights.