After a video of four women being brutally attacked in a restaurant in Tangshan, China last week went viral and sparked public outrage online, the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) Cyberspace Administration issued a new regulations to increase control of comments about videos on social media threads. This measure has attracted wide criticism.
The security footage shows that on June 10, when a woman, who was dining with three female friends in a barbecue restaurant in Tangshan, rejected a male customer’s advances, he and several companions started beating the women first inside and then outside the restaurant. The incident resulted in all of the women being seriously injured and taken to the hospital, and triggered public outcry both within China and internationally.
Under public pressure, the regime arrested nine men involved in the attack, and the authorities announced that two of the women were in ICU while the other two, who suffered lesser injuries, had been discharged from hospital.
However, due to the level of brutality and violence that the women suffered in the graphic video and many questions about the incident remaining unanswered, the public has continued to use social media to express doubts about the official statements.
The Tangshan incident has remained one of the most talked about topics on Chinese platform Weibo, with netizens posting hundreds of thousands of comments asking for confirmation of the whereabouts of the four women, the extent of their injuries, and whether they are still alive. Many posts and comments also revealed and talked about the connection between the attacking gang and the local officials who appeared to cover up for them.
In order to quell the public outrage, Tangshan authorities launched an anti-gang campaign on June 12. However, since then at least three public security chiefs have been reported for collusion with the local gangs by citizens who used their real names.
Besides deleting a large number of posts about the incident every day, on June 17, the Cyberspace Administration of the regime issued the “Management of Internet Thread Commenting Services (Revised Draft),” which requires online commenting and posting service providers to authenticate the identity of registered users, and not allow users who have not authenticated their identities to comment under a post. It will also “establish a user classification management system”, and conduct “credit assessment” on users’ online comments. Those who are classified as “seriously dishonest” will be blacklisted and prohibited from re-registering accounts to post comments.
The regulation also requires service providers to set up real-time inspections, and implement “inspection before posting” to control the content of online comments and posts.
News of this change has drawn wide criticism. One netizen posted: “I’m against the ‘inspection before posting,’ [because] the impact of online discussions will be greatly reduced.”
Another post read, “They are using the real-name requirement to control netizens across the country. Nobody will dare to mention things like the Tangshan incident in the future!”
A netizen said in a post, “Not only are the media the Party’s mouthpiece, in the future, the internet and social media will become its mouthpiece as well!”
Another one said, “In the future, China’s online environment will be the same as that of North Korea!”
Regarding the regime’s new control measure, current affairs commentator Wang He told The Epoch Times, “In China’s cyberspace where there’s limited freedom, ordinary people could still occasionally put public pressure on the authorities regarding some major social incidents, such as the ‘chained woman‘ incident and the Tangshan attack. Now the regime wants to eliminate this last limited space as well.”
Wang pointed out that under the CCP’s control using violence and lies, ordinary people have no place to voice their grievances. “The CCP ignores the truth, instead, it goes all out to suppress the people and to silence them. The final result of this can only be for the common people to stand up and collapse the CCP’s rule,” he said.
Li Yun contributed to the report.