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Home / World / The University of California calls on students not to use WhatsApp in China, WeChat

The University of California calls on students not to use WhatsApp in China, WeChat



Meng, who was arrested in Vancouver and is currently on bail, may face extradition to the US on suspicion of violating US sanctions against Iran.
Since their arrest, several Canadians have been imprisoned in China, and two – Michael Spavor and Michael Kovrig – are being investigated on suspicion of "activities that threaten China's national security." The prosecutors claim that the followers are politically motivated.

"Whilst the use of WhatsApp, WeChat and similar messaging apps in China is legal, we have seen in the recent espionage debt of a US citizen in Russia who cited the use of WhatsApp in his espionage charges. "Read an email CNN has seen.

"Our concern here is the possibility that China can similarly use this condition against Western travelers to charge fees or deny departure, and we do not recommend using these messaging apps in China at this time."

WeChat and WhatsApp representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

& # 39; exercise increased caution & # 39;

A spokeswoman for UC Davis confirmed that campus staff and students had received the e-mail after the South China Morning Post reported the message for the first time. UC Berkeley students also received the e-mail.

"UC Davis Global Affairs routinely publishes links to US Department of State travel recommendations and Centers for Disease Control Centers for places where our faculty, staff and students travel," the spokeswoman told CNN.

The e-mail was sent by Gary Leonard, an executive director of UC's Risk Services Division, under the presidency. Leonard, who is traveling, did not immediately respond to an emailed request for a comment. A spokeswoman for the president's office did not answer either.

Leonard's guide, which was not published on the UC website and apparently not received by all students, was sent along with a general warning issued last week by the US State Department to all citizens in China ,

This warning, which raised the threat level from 1

to 2 on a 4-point scale, advised Americans "to exercise extra caution in China due to the arbitrary enforcement of local laws and special restrictions on US citizens with increased caution to let". 19659006] "Sign Nothing"

China has always had a somewhat uncomfortable relationship with foreign students.

With around half a million international students living in the country, and many well-known Western institutions entertaining or cooperating with universities in China – including New York University, Duke University, and the University of Liverpool – foreign academics in particular have been suspected treated.
In 2016, a propaganda poster published by the National Security Education Day warned Chinese citizens that good-looking foreigners might try to steal sensitive information.

The comic-style poster featured a woman named Xiao Li who was swamped by compliments, red roses, fancy dinners, and romantic walks in the park of David, a "guest researcher who researches questions about China," who persuades her to share internally government documents.

Academics and even some students visiting China have complained that they are being watched and persecuted by the police, or questioned about their research with whom they speak in the country.

In addition to the warning "do not sign anything," the new UC manual instructs staff to "ask or interrogate long questions and answers to avoid accidentally delivering information that may be distorted," to refuse departure or facilitate arrest. "

In the past, concerns were mainly focused on public statements or public statements to authorities, but the new guidelines indicate that officials are concerned that even private statements could be used against academics and students.

& # 39; new suppression level & # 39;

UC's concerns seem to be well founded. China increasingly resorts to previously tolerated spheres, with even private commentaries being monitored.

In recent months, authorities have "detained or summoned dozens or more (Chinese) Twitter users, forcing them to delete sensitive tweets or close their accounts," said Human Rights Watch (HRW). "In some cases, authorities seem to have hacked accounts themselves."

Twitter is blocked in China, and although a small number of Chinese dissidents and activists use the platform, their influence is limited and in the past they have been largely ignored by the authorities.

Although tweets are public, the Chinese authorities have in the past also been looking for people to do things they say private, especially in Tencent's news channel app WeChat, which has been shown to be in line with state censorship and surveillance.

In a privacy report in messaging apps, Amnesty International ranked the Tencent Zero out of 100, and WeChat was accused of reading users' messages and storing data. While Tencent denies reading news, under a new Chinese cybersecurity law, technology companies must keep logs and relevant data for at least six months and provide it to the authorities upon request.

"Numerous cases have shown that Chinese authorities have access to private chats on WeChat," said Yaqiu Wang of HRW to CNN.

"The crackdown on Chinese Twitter users and the punishment of Wechat users for their private messages shows that authorities are increasingly intolerant of speeches that are either private or anonymous."

WhatsApp, which provides end-to-end encryption and backdoor servers to the Chinese authorities, is theoretically far more secure than WeChat or other Chinese messaging apps when authorities can jeopardize a target's phone in the case of malware or other methods the encryption does not protect it.

Experts warned long before using WeChat for sensitive issues, even though the app is difficult to avoid due to the dominance of the app in China.

"It's no exaggeration to say that I live in and work on WeChat," New York Times technology columnist Li Yuan wrote, adding that surveillance fears are "just the way of life."

"The reality is that ordinary Chinese people often feel powerless and fatalistic in censorship and surveillance," she said.


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