In a bid to increase surveillance ahead of a Communist Party meeting next month, Chinese govt has widely blocked WhatsApp messaging app in the country. Now, it would be interesting to see how long it remains suspended as previous blocks were lifted within a few days.
According to a report in The New York Times, WhatsApp had been “broadly disrupted in China.” However, some other reports suggest people in mainland China can still access the messaging app. WhatsApp is yet to comment on the matter.
Communist Party’s Congress will be held in Beijing next month. WhatsApp has been possibly targeted because of its strong encryption features that could be used by political dissidents organising against the government.
“The run-up period to a gathering is a normally a time of greater restrictions of all kinds to assure that the critical Party Congress is held under ideal social conditions and is not disrupted”, Robert Lawrence Kuhn, long-time advisor to China’s leaders and multinational corporations was quoted as saying by BBC.
WhatsApp is Facebook’s only product allowed to operate in mainland China. Facebook and other foreign social media broadcasting services have long been banned in China. However, company’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg is making an effort to re-enter the market and has also been studying the Chinese language.
China has targeted WhatsApp in the past as well. The application’s ability to send videos, photos and files was blocked in the country in July as well, but lifted within a few weeks.
China has not only stepped up censorship over the past few years. It has also closed numerous churches and jailed large numbers of human rights activists, lawyers and advocates.