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A video has surfaced on Twitter apparently showing members of the Chinese police at an apartment door, warning a citizen against posting unofficial information about coronavirus on social media.
New York-based Jennifer Zeng, the author of “Witnessing History: one woman’s fight for freedom and Falun Gong,” posted the video in a tweet along with what a transcript of the conversation in Chinese between the police and a woman, and a translation of the text into English.
The face mask-wearing officers first tell the woman, who is not seen, that she overstepped the bounds by posting about the current outbreak of the virus and informing her that “nobody” is allowed to release such information.
This is especially true, the police continued, if this information did not come from official sources – and added that there had been no confirmed cases so far.
In a follow-up tweet, Zeng explained that judging by the markings on their uniforms, this exchange was taking place in Shenzhen – about a thousand kilometers away from Wuhan, the epicenter of the virus – which probably explains the remark about there being “no confirmed cases.”
It is revealed during the conversation that the woman had posted on China’s social giant WeChat, and was now required to take down the post, issue an apology, and “correct” the original post, or face legal consequences.
When she asks how she might go about this “correction,” the officer suggests she could say she had been spreading unauthorized information about coronavirus that was “inaccurate and confusing.”
The police further advised her that they have instructions to investigate her legal responsibility in case she refuses to “undo the damage” – i.e., delete the original post and “correct” it with a new one – and apologize.
“This is how we deal with it across the country now,” an officer is heard saying in the video, according to the translation.
Most Twitter users who commented on the video expressed their dismay at the way the police act in China, describing it as an attempt of the country’s authoritarian government to keep tight control over social media and information about the outbreak.
Some commenters said it was a good idea to stop the spread of rumors, given the circumstances – while another asked if the woman posting the video will also be “admonished” – like the one in the video.