- China’s Quora-like Q&A app, Zhihu, has been temporarily removed from local app stores.
- Zhihu was accused by China’s cyber watchdog for spreading “illegal information.”
- It’s unknown what information this was, but the order came days after countless posts on China’s plan to scrap presidential term limits were censored on other apps.
- The order was also given just days before China’s national legislature meets to vote on that plan.
Local China Q&A app Zhihu has been temporarily banned from app stores following intense censorship in China over the country’s plan to scrap presidential term limits.
The Quora-like app ran afoul of the Beijing Cyberspace Administration for “lax supervision and the spread of illegal information” and was ordered to be removed from app stores for seven days.
The administration did not clarify what the illegal information was. However, last week censorship flared up across popular platforms Weibo and WeChat as netizens criticised Xi Jinping’s plan to rule the country indefinitely. Dozens of words were censored, including, at times, Xi’s name and even the letter ‘N.’
Editors at China Digital Times did find one example of a censored post on Zhihu that asked, “If the driver keeps going in spite of fatigue, without changing shifts, what should the passengers do?”
It appears the order against Zhihu, which is expected to last until 3pm on March 9, could have long-term consequences.
The China-focused website Sixth Tone reported that a Zhihu spokesperson was not authorised to speak on the record said the company will soon “make adjustments.” It is not clear what those changes are set to be.
The decision also comes as China begins its two week-long National People’s Congress (NPC), a legislative meeting that will vote on a proposal to eliminate presidential term limits.
Censorship around the NPC is not unusual. In 2016, China’s propaganda department released a set of rules for covering the NPC that include: “do not report on security,” “do not report on smog,” and “do not report on delegates’ personal wealth.”