Chinese #MeToo Student Activists Resort to Blockchain to Combat Censors
Student activists seeking to kindle the #MeToo campaign in China have turned to the technology to thwart government censorship.
An extraordinary show of dissidence developed after student Yue Xin accused prestigious Peking University of attempting to quell her demands for a public airing of a sexual harassment incident more than 20 years ago.In a letter that was widely shared online, the activist, Yue Xin, said that the university had threatened her mother so much that she had threatened to kill herself.
While she wasn’t affected by that incident, college officials have allegedly tried to threaten and cage her. The school overpowered her to delete information about the case and asked her parents to restrict her to home, the undergraduate student wrote.
Yue’s open message resonated in a country that has a grim history of gender discrimination and where the #MeToo movement has been stifled. It’s also an unprecedented protest against the powers that be, especially given Peking University has for years been the alma mater of top Communist Party officials including Premier Li Keqiang. The letter went viral on platforms including Tencent Holdings Ltd.’s WeChat and Sina Corp.’s Weibo before related posts were quickly removed.
Yue Xin ‘s supporters stamped her memo on the ethereum blockchain ensuring it could never be deleted nor tampered with. “It’s symbolic but won’t be easily adopted by the public masses,” said Isaac Mao, a San Francisco-based entrepreneur who’s building a media platform that uses blockchain technology to fight censorship. “Decentralised media still has miles to go. But it gives people new hope.”
“This is the biggest incident in more than ten years that students decided to ask the authorities to do more to boost transparency,” said Du Guang, a former researcher at the Central Party School, a Beijing-based government think-tank. “This incident reminds me of the student movements in the early Communist era.”
Some students pledged to avoid the university’s 120th-anniversary celebration in May with the hashtag #NotMyAnniversary.
Image via Peking University website