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Explosion Near US Embassy in Beijing

Some Beijing residents say they could hear the explosion a kilometer away.

Manya Koetse

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On Thursday afternoon shortly after 13.30 (local time), news of an explosion near the US embassy in Beijing made its rounds on Chinese social media.

“It was an explosion- the sound was really loud,” some people on Weibo write: “This is big.”

“My work unit is about a kilometer from the US embassy, and we could hear it very loud,” one person says.

Various sources on Weibo say the sound of the explosion was very loud.

Chinese journalist Michael Anti wrote on Twitter: “Many sources have confirmed explosion just happened in American Beijing Embassy. Road blocked.”

The entire area around the embassy is currently cordoned off, with police and security present at the scene.

A video making its rounds on Weibo showed people running and big clouds of smoke, with the person filming it saying: “There’s been an explosion at the US embassy” (see below).

After 14:00 local time, various Chinese news sources, such as Phoenix News, but also TV news channels such as United Express (美联社), confirmed the explosion.

While it is still unclear what has caused the explosion and the smoke, some people on Weibo joke that it was just people having an outside BBQ.

At 15:00 local time, local police confirmed on Weibo that one man caused the explosion at one o’clock at the corner of Anjialou and Tianze Road (which is where the entrance of the US embassy is located). A suspected “firecracker installation” caused the explosion.

The man, a 26 year old male from Inner Mongolia, has injuries on his hand, but reportedly has suffered no serious injuries. He has first been taken to the hospital.

Police report on Weibo: one man caused the explosion.

Police also report that no other people were harmed in the explosion and that the situation is now under control. They do not make any statements about alleged motivations behind the explosion and whether or not it was intentional.

“He surely didn’t think it was Spring Festival,” some commenters say – Spring Festival is the usual time for setting off firecrackers.

“Firecrackers are supposed to be a happy sound,” others say.

At time of writing, various threads on Weibo relating to the US embassy explosion have been screened off, but sharing of photos and commenting still continues across Weibo, Wechat, and other platforms.

The BBC states that there were earlier reports today that police had taken away a woman who had tried to set herself on fire near the US embassy just two hours before the blast, although it has not been confirmed if the two incidents are linked in any way.

Update: Chinese authorities have come forward stating the explosion is an “isolated public security incident.”

By Manya Koetse, with contributions from Miranda Barnes

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us.

©2018 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

Manya Koetse is the editor-in-chief of www.whatsonweibo.com. She is a writer and consultant (Sinologist, MPhil) on social trends in China, with a focus on social media and digital developments, popular culture, and gender issues. Contact at manya@whatsonweibo.com, or follow on Twitter.

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China World

News of US Sanctions Against Hong Kong Top Officials is “America Penalizes Chinese Officials” on Weibo

US imposing sanctions on Hong Kong officials is hashtag ” America Penalizes Chinese Officials” on Weibo.

Manya Koetse

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As ensions between the United States and China have been increasing on a daily basis, the US government has announced sanctions against the Hong Kong government senior leadership for carrying out Chinese “policies of suppression,” right after signing executive orders to ban Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat from operating in the US.

The targets of the Hong Kong sanctions are eleven individuals, including Hong Kong leader Carrie Lam, and come three weeks after the implementation of the Hong Kong National Security Law.

On Friday, August 7th, the US Department of the Treasury issued the names and personal details (home addresses, ID numbers) of the Hong Kong individuals added to the Office of Foreign Assents Control list of Specially Designated Nationals.

A Washington press release on Friday declared the situation in Hong Kong “a national emergency,” stating that the recent actions taken by the People’s Republic of China “fundamentally undermine Hong Kong’s autonomy and democratic processes,” and that these developments provide for “the imposition of sanctions on actors engaged in these malign activities.”

The sanctions freeze any property or financial assets the eleven individuals have in the United States, though, as reported by the BBC, Lam has said she does not have assets in the country.

On Chinese social media, where Trump’s sanctions on WeChat and Tiktok are still trending at time of writing, news of the second US official move of the day received less attention.

Not only did the news come when it was already night time in Beijing, but some hashtag pages relating to the issue were also taken offline.

The hashtag “America penalizes Chinese officials” (#美国制裁多名中国官员#) is currently online with some 2.7 million views, while the hashtag page for the hashtag “United States Sanctions Hong Kong SAR Chief Executive Carrie Lam” (#美国制裁香港特区行政长官林郑月娥#) was taken offline. This also means that all of these hashtags on Weibo are no longer linked to any page or overview.

The hashtag “America penalizes Chinese officials” (#美国制裁多名中国官员#) was initiated by Chinese media outlet Sina News, which is the current host of the hashtag page.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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China World

“What’s Next?” – Trump’s Executive Orders to Ban TikTok and WeChat from Operating in the US

The announced US sanctions on WeChat cause concern on Weibo, where the question “Apple or Wechat?” is trending.

Manya Koetse

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At a time of escalating tensions between the US and China, President Trump has signed executive orders to ban Chinese apps TikTok and WeChat from operating in the US in 45 days, if they are not sold by their parent companies Bytedance and Tencent.

The latest Wechat and TikTok sanctions are trending on Twitter, and also on Chinese social media.

On Weibo, the hashtag “Trump Declares that Bytedance and WeChat Will Be Banned from Operating after 45 Days” (#特朗普宣布45天后禁止与字节跳动及微信交易#) attracted a total of 250 million views on Weibo by Friday afternoon, Beijing time.

“WeChat” also became the number one search term on Weibo’s hot search lists.

The executive orders issued on August 6 address the “threat posed by WeChat” and the “threat posed by TikTok,” and “the national emergency with respect to the information and communications technology and service supply chain.” The orders prohibit American companies and individuals from conducting transactions with TikTok and WeChat.

The order on TikTok, which is practically the same as that on WeChat, states that “the spread in the United States of mobile applications developed and owned by companies in the People’s Republic of China (China) continues to threaten the national security, foreign policy, and economy of the United States.”

It states that “the United States must take aggressive action against the owners of TikTok to protect our national security” and that..

..TikTok has been downloaded over 175 million times in the US.
– ..TikTok collects large amounts of data from its users, including location data and browsing history.
– ..TikTok use in the USA potentially gives the Chinese Communist Party access to Americans’ personal and proprietary information.
– ..Tiktok use heightens the risk of potential espionage and blackmailing practices.
– ..TikTok engages in disinformation campaigns and censors content deemed politically sensitive to the Chinese Communist Party.

The order prohibits any transaction by any person subject to the US jurisdiction with Bytedance. The WeChat order, similarly, also prohibits, from September 20 on, “any transaction that is related to WeChat by any person, or with respect to any property, subject to the jurisdiction of the United States, with Tencent Holdings Ltd. (a.k.a. Téngxùn Kònggǔ Yǒuxiàn Gōngsī), Shenzhen, China, or any subsidiary of that entity.”

Tencent stocks plummeted on Friday following the release of the executive orders.

On Weibo, there are mixed reactions to the executive orders, with many questioning what a ban on Tencent and Bytedance operations in the US would actually mean. The position of Apple in China frequently pops up in online discussions, with some claiming the order also means that Apple will ban WeChat from iOS, and suggesting that Apple should then also be boycotted in mainland China.

One online poll asked netizens: “What would you choose if iPhones were to ban WeChat, Apple or WeChat?” A great majority indicated they would choose Tencent’s WeChat over Apple products.

The question “Apple or WeChat” received so much attention that it soon also went trending.

“For me personally, WeChat is indispensable. There’s nothing that could replace it,” one commenter wrote.

More than a messaging app, WeChat is China’s superapp that functions as a messaging tool, a social media platform, a payment platform, an e-commerce app, a news source, and more. The app is also the main communication tool for many overseas Chinese to stay in touch with their families in the PRC.

“What are we gonna do now, write letters to each other?” one comment in a popular thread said.

China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs responded to the recent developments, saying that America will ultimately “suffer the consequences of its own actions” (“最终将自食其果”).

There are also people on WeChat and Weibo commenting on the fact that China has already banned so many American products, from Google to Facebook and Twitter, that “there is nothing left to ban.”

“We have few countermeasures left to take,” multiple web users write about the recent developments, also noting that the US targeting TikTok and WeChat is not much different from China blocking American sites and apps.

“World War III takes place in cyberspace,” according to one Weibo commenter.

Some Weibo users are just concerned about their new iPhone: “I just wanna know how this will affect the use of WeChat on my iPhone,” one person writes. “I just bought a new Apple phone, and suddenly it doesn’t seem so appealing to me anymore.”

“I’ll just wait 45 days to see what happens next,” another Weibo user says.

By Manya Koetse

Spotted a mistake or want to add something? Please let us know in comments below or email us. First-time commenters, please be patient – we will have to manually approve your comment before it appears.

©2020 Whatsonweibo. All rights reserved. Do not reproduce our content without permission – you can contact us at info@whatsonweibo.com.

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