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It was only a matter of time. Unusually open and emotional, users in China shared their views on topics such as the one-party system, democracy and women’s rights in chat rooms on Clubhouse over the weekend. The live podcasts created free spaces that had never existed before. By Monday, that was already over. The app was blocked by Chinese authorities. Finn Mayer-Kuckuk looked behind the ban and found out what it means for Chinese social audio providers.
Josep Borrell has criticized conditions in Xinjiang and Hong Kong in a video call with China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi. While Wang dismisses human rights abuses as “lies”, the BBC reports on torture and rape in China’s re-education camps for the Uyghur Muslim minority in Xinjiang. Nico Beckert, Marcel Grzanna and Amelie Richter have spoken to Uyghurs abroad about this, including politicians in the Bundestag and the EU, who now call for independent United Nations observers to travel to Xinjiang.
Chafrica – today’s Opinion author Amaka Anku calls for a new EU trade agreement with Africa to counter China’s expansion in Africa. The fact that Nigerian Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala may soon become Africa’s first woman to hold the post of director-general at the World Trade Organization (WTO) is also supported by China.
China blocks Clubhouse
In Germany, it was Bodo Ramelow who pushed the Clubhouse app into the spotlight. The prime minister of Thuringia casually admitted to passing the time with mobile games during summit talks with the chancellor. In China, it was the participation of US entrepreneur Elon Musk in the talks on the app that attracted widespread attention.
After a few weeks of allowing uncensored chatter on the platform, China pulled the metaphorical plug. The app is now only accessible with VPN in many regions, as tests show. The AFP news agency confirms corresponding observations through reports from various parts of the country. The blocking is also a topic on social media.
Clubhouse not in mainland Apple store
Even when it was working, however, Clubhouse was hard to come by in China. As an uncensored source of information, Apple does not offer the app in its mainland Chinese app store. Nor is there an Android version from which installation files could spread via file-sharing. Only with a trick does the app also runs on iPhones of Chinese users: Apple user accounts from other regions can be bought on the black market. Whoever dials in with this account will no longer find many typical Chinese programs in the store but can download all international apps. Those who take all this on themselves often have a VPN on their mobile phone anyway – for these users, the blocking doesn’t make much of a difference at first.
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