As Central News Agency reported on May 16, the international, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan voice answering functions by Zhejiang Mobile will be deactivated by default. If users want to use it, they must apply by May 20.

Since August last year, Jiangxi, Hebei, Henan, Liaoning, Guizhou, and Zhejiang have all converted the international, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan SMS receiving functionalities to the default closed state.

These provinces are only pilot schemes. SMS receiving functions from abroad will be blocked and expanded nationwide in the future.

The operators all claimed that their service shutdown is based on the requirements of the higher authorities to prevent overseas telephone fraud and protect the safety of people’s property.

These move has caught the attention of legal professionals and netizens.

Zhang, a doctor of law in Beijing, said that the authorities ordered the unilateral shutdown of the international calling function to prevent fraud from overseas. Although it is the name of protecting people’s property, it is illegal. When buying mobile phone cards, users have signed contracts with operators. The function of international calls has always been included in the contract.

He added that all communist camps are like this, starting with the Soviet Union, which is highly centralized, highly authoritarian, unconcerned, and excessively interferes with the private life of people.

An unnamed lawyer from Henan said the blockage of internet access and phone calls manifests the nation’s isolation. Furthermore, it violates the freedom of communication of citizens.

Wu, a Beijing resident, said authorities consider it abnormal for families to have relatives abroad and children studying overseas. The government might think that people don’t need to know more about the outside world now or fear that the outside world will know what they are doing. After all, authorities can control people’s thoughts and speech with these blockages.

Mainland netizens said that it is equivalent to self-locking. It is inappropriate to disable receiving international calls and text messages without users’ permission. The operators should take steps to restore it for users.

Current affairs commentator Yue Shan stated this practice might spread to the whole country. However, he added that this move is a political stability method used by Beijing for fear of political instability before the 20th National Congress of the Communist Party of China. Therefore, he believes that this looks like a disguised lockdown.

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