The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) is expanding censorship to Chinese citizens abroad who criticize the regime on social networks using family members in China as hostages. Twitter user “Horror Zoo” tells her story to the world.

The tentacles of the CCP extend far beyond the borders of China. The CCP is expanding its censorship of Chinese citizens abroad who criticize Beijing on social networks. Any dissident comments, whether inside or outside China, can be traced and the consequences can be dire.

Chinese citizens abroad who oppose the Chinese Communist Party fear for the lives of their relatives in China, who are taken hostage, to silence the voices of those who dare to tell the world what is happening in China today. 

 Horror Zoo is a courageous Chinese activist in her twenties, doing postgraduate studies in Australia. Her father has been repeatedly summoned to the police station because of his daughter’s criticism of CCP leaders on social networks.

Contrary to the CCP’s demand that she close her Twitter account @FakeNewsOfChina with over 5,000 followers, Horror Zoo was encouraged to make public some of the video calls she received from officials in her country.

In April, Horror Zoo received a video call from her father from a police station in a southern Chinese village, which she recorded and shared with VOA (Voice of America). In the conversation, her father repeatedly urged her to tell the police her Twitter account password. 

Paradoxically, Horror Zoo’s father is a professor of Marxism at a university and teaches the history of the Communist Party and the political philosophy of Xi Jinping. 

 “You are being used by foreign forces,” his father said. “President Xi is such a great leader for our country.” 

“No matter where you are, you’ve got to remember you are Chinese, you have to remember all your families are Chinese,” said the officer identified as Hu. 

Horror Zoo denied any connection to the Twitter account.

“You asked others to protest in front of the Chinese Embassy, didn’t you? With such advanced technology, you still think we can’t trace messages on Twitter?”

“You are not in the country, but remember, if China wasn’t great and strong, you would have no status,” the policeman said. “I’m telling you the truth, although you are [in Australia], you are still governed by the law of China, do you understand?”

“You can record this call but let me make it clear to you, what you are putting out on Twitter is absolutely not permitted,” he added.

Threats to Horror Zoo’s family have increased after she attended a conference on the Zoom platform on May 31, which was held to commemorate the 31st anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. The conference made headlines when Zoom, under the direction of the CCP, closed some participant accounts. 

After the conference, the police printed out my Twitter posts and sent them to my parents, and told them I was against the CCP,” Horror Zoo told VICE News last month. “After this meeting, the harassment is getting worse.”

“My dad is very angry with me,” Horror Zoo said. “He wants me to go back [to China] and turn myself in.”

But she knows she can’t go back.“I can’t go back, if I go back, I will be in prison,” Horror Zoo said.

But despite the unceasing harassment, Horror Zoo said she has no intention of backing down. “I think I should be brave and I should tell the truth to the world.”