China clamps down on pro-democracy ‘Joshua Wong’ discussion on social media

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Joshua Wong, 19-year-old pro-democracy activist.

China has blocked searches for the term "Joshua Wong" (or his Chinese name 黃之鋒) on its version of Twitter, while shirking the blame for Wong’s detention at the Bangkok airport last week.

Wong is a prominent 19-year-old student activist from Hong Kong, whose pro-democracy activist group, Demosisto, was one of the main rallying forces behind the 2014 protests that paralysed downtown Hong Kong.

Last Wednesday, Wong was refused entry into Thailand. He had flown in to speak at a pro-democracy student event, when he was held and subsequently deported hours later back to Hong Kong.

Image: vincent yu/AP

Protesters in Hong Kong raise placards at the Thai consulate on the day Wong was held.

On Monday, China’s vice foreign minister Li Baodong was quoted by Reuters saying that it was "the Thai government’s decision" to deport Wong.

His statement appears to contradict both Demosisto and the airport immigration police, which had said that China sent a letter "to seek cooperation to deny" Wong entry, ahead of his arrival.

And on the Weibo microblogging service, searches for Wong’s name are blocked. Instead, you get an error message explaining that "according to relevant laws, regulation and policies," search results won’t be displayed.

Searching for Demosisto shows just a handful of posts, none of which reiterate or support the group’s messages.

While China has formerly pledged to run Hong Kong separately and allow it to enjoy some of its greater freedoms as a "special administrative region," it’s clear that the Communist government is pressing down on some of Hong Kong’s louder voices.

In August this year, China released a video on a Communist party’s official account, warning of Wong’s involvement in further uprisings, and painted him as a pawn of "American-led Western power."

The video shows foreign struggles such as the refugee crisis in the Middle East, and pointed to "dissidents (and) agents of Western powers…damaging China’s domestic stability and harmony."

It also noted in the video that people get affected by material they read online, and added that everyone should focus on their jobs or schoolwork (and presumably not politics) so as to keep revolution at bay.

Wong as described in the Communist party’s video.