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Tiananmen activists locked out of Zoom

June 11, 2020

US and Hong Kong-based activists have reportedly had their Zoom account temporarily suspended following Tiananmen commemorations. Zoom said participants are required to comply with their respective local laws.

Police officers check people at the Tiananmen Square in Beijing
Image: picture-alliance/AP Images/K. Kataoka

Zoom video communications temporarily suspended the account belonging to a group of US-based Chinese activists after they held an event to commemorate the 31st anniversary of China's Tiananmen Square protests, Humanitarian China said on Thursday.

According to the group, their paid video-conferencing Zoom account was shut on June 7.

Prior to their account's shut down, the activists hosted an event on May 31 which was joined by over 250 people worldwide, while more than 4,000 streamed it on social media, many of whom were from China.

Humanitarian China founder Zhou Fengsuo said that Zoom was vital for reaching Chinese audiences and "remembering and commemorating Tiananmen Massacre during the coronavirus pandemic."

Zoom confirmed the US-based account had been suspended but had now been reactivated.

Read more: Opinion: Tiananmen has always served as a moral to learn from

"When a meeting is held across different countries, the participants within those countries are required to comply with their respective local laws," it said in an e-mailed statement. "We aim to limit the actions we take to those necessary to comply with local law and continuously review and improve our process on these matters."

Hong Kong activist blocked

The organiser of Hong Kong's annual vigil for the victims of China's Tiananmen crackdown told French news agency AFP that he has been locked out of Zoom since May 22 when his group, Alliance, tried to host an online talk about Beijing's global influence.

"The account was suspended before the talk started. I've asked Zoom many times whether this is political censorship but it has never replied to me," Lee Cheuk-yan said.

The news has generated concerns that the California-based company is looking to appease Beijing.

Meanwhile, Zoom has said it is working to fix security glitches as user numbers skyrocketed following worldwide coronavirus restrictions. Some schools and businesses have stopped using the video-conferencing platform citing privacy concerns.

In May, Zoom said it was suspending free user registrations in China, which analysts said was aimed at decreasing the company's exposure to China.

mvb/rt (AFP, Reuters, dpa)

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