12/19/2020, 11.02
USA-CHINA-HONG KONG
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US prosecutor charges Zoom executive for shutting down Tiananmen conferences

Xinjiang Jin is accused of blocking at least four online seminars at the request of the Chinese government. The US company distances itself and fires its employee. Artist Ai Weiwei talks about the repression of democratic protesters in Hong Kong. Democracy tycoon Jimmy Lai moved to a maximum security prison.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews) - A US district attorney yesterday indicted an executive of the web communications company Zoom for deleting some people's accounts, and for stopping some online meetings related to the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre.

Seth DuCharme said Xinjiang Jin is accused of blocking at least four video meetings in May and June. Dissidents and activists from the Tiananmen movement also attended the online meetings - one run by Hong Kong and three by the United States. On June 4, 1989, thousands of Chinese students were massacred for asking for freedom and democracy.

According to the Brooklyn District Attorney, Xinjiang Jin acted on behalf of the Chinese government, preventing US users of the online platform from exercising their right to freedom of expression. He also allegedly sabotaged other web meetings of religious and political groups that Beijing boycotted, and allegedly provided his country's authorities with the personal data of a number of Zoom users.

Zoom's management said it had fired its China operations manager for violating company policies, and had put other employees involved in the deal on leave pending the completion of an internal investigation. In a statement released on June 11, it admitted that it had carried out acts of censorship at the request of the Chinese government. The company has drawn a lot of criticism for revealing that it is studying a technology that can delete or block specific users based on geography, without censoring an event with users from all over the world.

Zoom is very popular in China, but to stay in the country, it has to submit to the censorship imposed by the political power. Other social networks that - at least for now - do not submit to Chinese rules are banned. These include Facebook, but also Twitter, Whatsapp and Skype.

Democracy protests - and their suppression - are taboo in China. This is recounted in Ai Weiwei's latest documentary. "Cockroach" is the term used by the Hong Kong police for protesters who for over a year have been demanding respect for the democratic freedoms guaranteed to them after the transfer of sovereignty from Great Britain to Beijing in 1997. The film of the dissident artist and director Chinese gives a voice to the citizens of the former British colony who fear repression and intimidation by the authorities.

The protests of the democratic front in Hong Kong took a serious blow with the June roll out of a new security law wanted by Beijing. Jimmy Lai is its most famous victim to date. The publishing magnate and democracy activist will be tried for "collusion" with foreign forces: he faces life imprisonment. Apple Daily, his daily newspaper, revealed that this morning he was moved to a maximum security prison, where gangsters and leaders of the local underworld are being held.

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