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China punishes, shuts down chat groups in a Tibetan county for discussing Covid-19 infections

Chinese authorities in a Tibetan county in what is now called Qinghai Province have shut down more than 75 chat groups.

(TibetanReview.net, Mar06’20) – Chinese authorities in a Tibetan county in what is now called Qinghai Province have shut down more than 75 chat groups on the popular social media platform WeChat on allegation that they were disrupting social order by spreading allegedly false information on the spread of China’s coronavirus, reported the Tibetan Service of rfa.org Mar 5.

Citing the official Guinan News Mar 4, the report said that another 223 chat groups had been placed under supervision following a sweep of 16 villages and five monasteries in Mangra (Chinese: Guinan) County of Tsolho (Hainan) Prefecture.

The notice closing down or placing under supervision the chat groups was not stated to have explained how the faulted groups had disrupted social order by spreading allegedly false information.

Rather, the Guinan News report was quoted as saying, “The police will not tolerate and will investigate and punish illegal acts that fabricate and spread rumours and disrupt social order.”

Citing a Guinan Public Security Bureau announcement Feb 28, the report said that earlier, on Feb 20, three county residents, identified by the surnames Suo, Leng, and Gong, were detained for spreading allegedly “false information” online on the spread of the novel coronavirus which had originated in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in Dec 2019.

The bureau was cited as saying that Suo and Leng had been sentenced to 10 days of detention and fined 500 yuan (US $72) each while Gong, the manager of their group, had been detained for five days.

The report cited a formerly Mangra resident now living in Paris as saying Chinese authorities were investigating the members of eight of the groups that were closed down.

“The authorities are asking about the founders and users of the groups, and for what purpose those groups were created and where the group members currently live,” the report cited the source, named as Lophel, as saying, adding he himself was ousted from two of those groups.

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