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Citizens in China delete chat history after people are contacted by police over protest support

Citizens are paranoid they're being watched. And they're probably right to be.

Chinese residents who attended the anti-lockdown/anti-government protests over the weekend claim that they have been called by the police.

During the weekend, thousands of Chinese residents took to the streets to demand an end to the strict zero-Covid policies, with some even calling for the end of President Xi Jinping’s rule.

In an effort to crack down on the protests, the police have been contacting those who attended the protests. It is unclear how the police discovered the identities of protesters.

A woman who attended a protest in Beijing told AFP that she and five of her friends had been called by the police. The police went to a friend’s house after they failed to answer the call.

Another protester told Reuters that they were told to visit a police station to record a statement about their Sunday night’s activities.

“We are all desperately deleting our chat history,” one Beijing protester told Reuters. “Police came to check the ID of one of my friends and then took her away. A few hours later they released her.”

Police have also detained journalists covering the protests, including BBC’s Ed Lawrence. There were also reports that the police were stopping people to search their phones for VPNs and banned foreign apps, like and , which are being used to organize the protests.

Censorship on Chinese social media has also increased, with most discussions of the protests being removed. Tens of millions of posts about the protests have been removed from search results.

Police have also begun cracking down on the protests offline. On Monday, a protest that was planned in Beijing did not happen after police surrounded the point of assembly. In Shanghai, authorities erected large barriers along the main street where the protests were planned to happen and police arrested several protesters.

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