Why is China afraid of Fidel Castro? Beijing closes online groups praising Cuban leader

The closure of accounts followed online praise for Castro that had likely made the authorities "unhappy."

Fidel castro

Fidel Castro's Cuba maintained warm ties with Asian Communist giant China, with Beijing offering political fraternity on the one hand and economic tutelage on the other. Beijing showered profuse praise on the Cuban leader when he died. However, reports suggest China is uneasy about the fulsome praise and adulation the dead Cuban leader is receiving on Chinese social media sites.

Internet censors in the country have shut down discussion groups on WeChat after users showered accolades on Castro, RFA said citing sources. "At 3.30 p.m. today, Beijing time, the chat groups Ideology Salon, Constitutional Road, The Wind And The Rain, The East is Dawning, Consensus, and Towards a Republic, were all closed down," a WeChat user said, Radio Free Asia reported.

Another source told RFA that closure of accounts followed online praise for Castro that had likely made the authorities "unhappy."

Meanwhile, Xinhua said Chinese Vice President Li Yuanchao will attend funeral of Fidel Castro. President Xi Jinping, who said Comrade Castro was "a great man of our time," is not attending the memorial service in Cuba.

Ties between fellow communist regimes Cuba and China were complicated in earlier years as the Soviet influence over Havana weighed in. However, things changed after the Mao Zedong era passed in the mid 70s.

China observers say the crackdown on internet users is not founded so much on any anti-Castro sentiment as on a latent instinct to control all internet activity.

"This is a challenge to a political system that tries to completely regulate the internet, Beijing scholar Wang Jiangsong said, according to RFA. "Such methods are clearly not going to work, unless they pull the plug on the whole network," he added.