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China's Weibo blocks Taiwan inauguration hashtags as Lai takes office

By AFP

May 20, 2024 12:00 PM


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Chinese social media Weibo on Monday blocked hashtags referencing the inauguration of Taiwan's new President Lai Ching-te, preventing them from trending as the self-ruled island swore in a new leader.

A hashtag saying "Taiwan 520 new authorities take office", referring to Monday's date, was removed, with a notice saying that "according to relevant laws, regulations, and policies, the content of this topic has not been displayed."

Another that reported "Lai Ching-te takes office" was also taken down while hashtags featuring Lai's name and that of outgoing Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen were unavailable.

Search results for Lai's name and other topics still yielded results, however.

Lai -- denounced by Beijing as a "dangerous separatist" -- was sworn in on Monday, calling on China to "cease political and military intimidation" of the island.

China considers Taiwan as part of its territory and has long threatened to use force to bring the island under its control.

And Weibo comments on the inauguration reflected that official line.

"Retake Taiwan," one user said, while another expressed hope the island will "be returned soon".

"If Taiwan province is not retaken and unified, 520 each year will be a day of shame!" one user wrote, referring to Monday's date.

Weibo often blocks hashtags deemed politically sensitive to prevent them from trending on the platform, used by hundreds of millions in China.

During Taiwan's presidential election in January, the platform blocked a hashtag on the poll after it became one of the site's top-trending topics.

There has been scant mention of Lai's inauguration in China's state-run media, with neither state broadcaster CCTV nor ruling party organ People's Daily featuring coverage on their home pages as of 11 am Monday.


AFP


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