A university student from the eastern Chinese province of Shandong has disappeared after posting a video on his social media account asking President Xi Jinping to step down, sparking concerns that he has been detained by authorities.
Social media post criticising Xi Jinping
The student, identified as Zhang Wenbin, shared a video clip on his Twitter account on Monday, March 30. The social media platform is blocked in China but Zhang accessed it using a VPN - a tool used by Chinese citizens to access overseas websites censored by the regime's internet firewall.
In the video, Zhang Wenbin says he was once a supporter of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC), but changed his mind after the Hong Kong protests and Taiwan presidential elections. "Since I scaled the Great Firewall, I gradually came to the realisation that the Chinese Communist Party has extended its dragon claws into every corner of the world," he is quoted as saying in the video.
"And yet everyone continues to turn a blind eye, singing the party's praises. I just can't bear it," he adds. "When I look at the courage with which Hong Kong and Taiwan stand up to the Communist Party, I want my own voice to be heard. I call on you all to look upon the true colours of the Communist Party, and stand together to bring down this wall."
"Xi Jinping, you can leave now. So can the Communist Party," he says, before ending the video, which quickly went viral on the web, garnering more than 1,88,000 views.
Police summon Zhang for questioning
Days before Zhang's video, he had posted the same message in text on WeChat, another social media platform popular in China. According to The Epoch Times, Zhang was summoned by the police over his WeChat post, and his WeChat account had been permanently blocked for "spreading malicious rumours," which he tweeted about in a separate post on March 30. That was Zhang's last tweet before his disappearance.
Those who defy the government go missing
Zhang's disappearance comes at a time when the government has escalated its clampdown on dissenting voices in a bid to silence domestic critics of its mishandling of the coronavirus outbreak. Recently, Chinese billionaire Ren Zhiqiang went missing after he spoke out against the regime's pathetic response to the pandemic and called for freedom of speech, as previously reported.
Earlier this month, a Chinese primary school teacher was detained for 10 days and lost his teaching license for questioning the official COVID-19 death numbers released by authorities.