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Twitter suspended professor’s account after mocking Chinese Communist leader Xi Jinping

Twitter logo. (Dreamstime/TNS)
July 06, 2021

A China expert and professor in New Zealand said she was temporarily restricted on Twitter after she mocked Chinese Communist Party leader President Xi Jinping.

Anne-Marie Brady, a professor at the University of Canterbury, taunted Xi in multiple tweets during the Communist Party’s 100th anniversary celebrations.

An expert on China’s global political influence, Brady later said one of the tweets that got her banned stated, “Alternative headline: “Xi: its my Party and I’ll cry if I want to” #CPC100Years,” poking fun at a news article headline regarding the anniversary.

Two other tweets aimed at Jinping were also temporarily marked “unavailable” and reportedly led to the professor’s suspension before being restored on Monday.

The Times newspaper in Britain columnist Edward Lucas wrote he suspected the suspension was the result of Communist Party agents sending numerous complaints in order to trigger an automatic suspension response from the platform.

“After I had stoked a furor on Twitter and sent umpteen complaints, her account was restored,” Lucas wrote. “Less prominent victims of Chinese censorship would have scantier chances of redress.”

According to Brady, she was unable to get a response from Twitter herself and thanked Lucas for helping to get her account reinstated.

“After those tweets were made “unavailable”, my account was then restricted. Thanks @edwardlucas for raising this with @Twitter, as I got no reply to my messages to them,” Brady tweeted.

“Some of the biggest names in social media, from @Twitter to @LinkedIn @Zoom & @Facebook, appear to be getting into a habit of silencing CCP critics,” she added in a separate tweet. “Yesterday it was my turn to be censored. Thanks for your support in getting it overturned @edwardlucas.”

Twitter did not say what cause Brady’s tweets to be restricted or her suspension, The Associated Press reported. The platform later wrote in a statement that it sometimes adds temporary notices to accounts that exhibit unusual activity.

“To set the record straight, the assertion that Twitter is in coordination with any government to suppress speech has no basis in fact whatsoever,” Twitter said. “We advocate for a free, global and open internet and remain a staunch defender of freedom of expression.”

On Sunday, Brady tweeted that her account had been restored. “Opening my work laptop this morning I was greeted by a ‘Welcome back’ message on my screen from @Twitter, as if I was the one who left them,” she wrote.

The AP reported that the Chinese government has not commented on the situation with Brady, but has previously vehemently denied allegations that it interferes with foreign media.