Following the Sitong Bridge protest in Beijing on October 17, the Chinese regime armored itself with strict security measures for the 20th National Congress. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) banned university students from using Apple’s AirDrop app and freely printing any information deemed “inappropriate.”
Shandong University recently issued an “emergency notice” asking students with iPhones to disable AirDrop and that they are prohibited from forwarding “inappropriate” information. If they do so, they must delete it.
While social networking companies monitored and censored even private messages of dissent against the CCP and Xi Jinping, university students used the AirDrop function to spread criticism and opinions of the Chinese regime.
AirDrop, which can only be used over short distances and between Apple devices, is one of the few methods relatively untraceable by censors and where all types of files can be shared. AirDrop is an app from Apple Inc. that allows file transfers between compatible computers and iOS devices via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth without needing an email or mass storage platform.
On the other hand, Tsinghua University in Beijing issued an announcement demanding that each printing store strictly control the content of what students print independently. Otherwise, they will receive fines and penalties.
From the “bridge man” event, as he was called on Chinese social media, to the protester who unfurled banners on the Sitong Bridge with the slogans:
“Say no to Covid test, yes to food. No to lockdown, yes to freedom. No to lies, yes to dignity. No to cultural revolution, yes to reform. No to great leader, yes to vote. Don’t be a slave, be a citizen.”
And “Go on strike, remove the dictator and national traitor Xi Jinping” the Chinese society tried to replicate the protest slogans in various places in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Xian, in bus stations, on the screens of the bike-sharing parking lots, in nucleic acid detection stations, in toilets, among other unexpected places.
Although the CCP went to great lengths to censor discussions about the protest, removing terms such as “bridge” and “brave” from the internet, also shutting down several social media accounts, it was unable to restrict the thoughts and feelings of the Chinese people.
Unfortunately, after his arrest, the whereabouts of the dissident who inspired the Chinese people is unknown. The “brave” man was identified as Peng Linfa, 48, a native of Heilongjiang, he worked in the technical department of Beijing Melon Network Technology Co., Ltd.
The Chinese regime failed to stop the amplified message of “the man from Sitong Bridge”
Although, the CCP censored and completely blocked the Beijing Sitong Bridge protest in China, the incident is still simmering and has spread to overseas Chinese.
For example, a young university student, using the pseudonym Wang, who is studying in the United States, said that Chinese students abroad have a tendency to prefer democracy, so they forward and share the information of the “bridge man” to promote their desire for democracy in China.
But he also explained that when students post or comment on the internet they do so anonymously, “because most of them are still Chinese citizens, and their friends and relatives are also in China, they definitely don’t want to affect their families.”
On the other hand, Chinese students also fear embassy officials, so they try to keep a low profile.
However, the goal of these students is to provoke debate in their networks, and many share the slogan of the “bridge man”, and apparently they succeeded, because, in many public places in China, posters or spray writings were seen supporting Peng’s request.
The “bravery of the man on the bridge” crossed borders and was replicated on campus bulletin boards at the Universities of Illinois, Chicago, Johns Hopkins University, the University of London, Korea, Harvard, the University of Michigan, New York, Columbia University, George Washington University, the University of Toronto in Canada, Cambridge University, Oxford University, the University of the Netherlands, the University of Amsterdam, Chinese students pasted posters, expressing their support for Peng and his call for democracy. Cambridge University, Oxford University, the University of the Netherlands, the University of Amsterdam, Chinese students pasted posters, expressing their support for Peng and his call for democracy.
For example, in Los Angeles, a group of Chinese citizens gathered to protest in solidarity with Peng Lifa, just as dozens of Chinese gathered in front of the Chinese Consulate in Toronto.
Other Chinese citizens shared on their social networks the song “Lonely Warrior” dedicated to the bridge protester, whom they call a “hero”, while others vowed never to forget him, under the hashtag: “I saw him”.
“Thank you for letting me see hope for this land,” one comment read.
Zhou Fengsuo, a survivor and leader of the 1989 Tiananmen demonstration, said that through Twitter Space he managed to gather 600 people to show solidarity with the Sitong Bridge protester.
Zhou also spoke about Peng’s bravery, “The most inspiring thing is that under China’s digital centralization and hierarchical control, in Beijing, in the most central place and in a place with great influence and great historical significance, it is really very remarkable to have such an act.”
In this regard, Bin Xu, associate professor of sociology at Emory University in Atlanta, said, ““This is a positive indication that this group of young Chinese, who come from relatively wealthier families in China and are often believed to be either politically apathetic or nationalistic, are concerned about their home country’s future and want to be part of the force of change.”
In addition, the professor explained that Chinese students living abroad are constantly monitored by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) censorship machine.
He added that punishments for sharing negative opinions or criticizing the CCP range from going to jail to not being able to see their parents for the rest of their lives.
Every time the CCP “silenced” a voice in China, it spread and was heard around the world like a deafening cry. Thus, once again, the true sentiment of the Chinese people emerged, a plea for freedom and dignity.