A globally renowned China scholar said Twitter temporarily restricted her account after she mocked Chinese President Xi Jinping. The New Zealand academic added Facebook, LinkedIn, Zoom and other major social media players appeared just as eager to silence critics of the Communist Party dictatorship.
University of Canterbury Professor Anne-Marie Brady is an expert on China’s attempts to exert political influence around the world and has been an outspoken critic of its ruling single-party elite.
Last week, she sent tweets poking fun at the party’s 100th anniversary celebrations and querying why hardly anyone else turned up for the event.
In one tweet, Brady suggested an alternative headline for a news article about the celebrations: “Xi: its my Party and I’ll cry if I want to,” she wrote.
Two tweets were temporarily marked “unavailable” by Twitter and her account was temporarily restricted over the weekend, before it was restored on Monday.
Twitter did not say what prompted its actions, AP reports, although China has long sought to crack down on any and all hints of criticism of its Communist regime.
With China Joe now in the White House, Xi Jinping delivered a violent hour-long speech on Thursday to celebrate the 100th anniversary of China's Communist Party. https://t.co/bCJWQbZQ8e
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) July 1, 2021
Edward Lucas, a columnist for the Times newspaper in Britain, wrote pressure by Communist Party agents likely triggered an automatic response from Twitter while it investigated.
“After I had stoked a furor on Twitter and sent umpteen complaints, her account was restored,” Lucas wrote. “Less prominent victims of Chinese censorship would have scantier chances of redress.”
Brady, acclaimed as one of the world’s top China-watchers, tweeted her thanks to Lucas, saying she’d been unable to get a reply from the social media giant herself.
“Seems like @Twitter may have briefly forgotten they don’t work for Xi Jinping,” Brady wrote.
In a statement, Twitter said when it detects unusual activity from an account, it can sometimes add temporary notices until it gets confirmation from the account owner.
Listen up, China Joe. pic.twitter.com/dF5Cbhs0yN
— Breitbart News (@BreitbartNews) June 29, 2021
“To set the record straight, the assertion that Twitter is in coordination with any government to suppress speech has no basis in fact whatsoever,” Twitter said. “We advocate for a free, global and open internet and remain a staunch defender of freedom of expression.”
In 2017, Brady wrote a groundbreaking paper “Magic Weapons” which detailed what she said were the Communist Party’s efforts to exert political influence in New Zealand. Subsequent burglaries and break-ins at her home and office remain unsolved.
Brady also co-authored a paper in 2020 that discussed how Chinese companies and universities may be exploiting relationships with New Zealand counterparts to transfer technology useful to the Chinese military.
AP contributed to this story