WhatsApp has just been banned in mainland China once again after being blocked previously around September, the same year.
As per certain sources, this could be because of the upcoming elections to elect a new leader. In order to not allow political opponents to organise anti-government strategies, China is known to block certain or even fully popular social media forms like WhatsApp, even Google.
Yes, China can and has blocked Google, including all of its sub-products like Maps, Playstore, Gmail and more.
This is especially more of a concern due to the Canton Fair that barely started a few days ago and will last up until 4th Nov. The Canton Fair is one of the largest trade fair held in China since 1957, and this ban could affect it negatively.
The surprising part about this all is the fact that practically no news about it has gotten out, so far only 2 reports have come out regarding the latest ban on WhatsApp in China.
The only reason we have gotten wind of it is due to our blogger who is currently in China and informed us about this ban.
Interestingly, this is not the first time China has banned WhatsApp, apparently, as per news reports, WhatsApp has been banned a total of 3 times by now in this year itself.
Why Have They Banned It Now
The ban has been implemented, coincidently, just before the election of 19th National Congress of the Chinese Communist Party that will be held on Wednesday. This election comes once every 5 years and is an extremely crucial and important election for Chinese government.
According to a few sources, this could be just to dissuade any opponents from making any kind of strategies or allegations against the present government.
The disruption to services offered by WhatsApp had started from sometime around July itself, when China put a stop to sharing of video, audio and image files, only allowing users to send and receive text messages.
This ban does not really come as a surprise since China has always been extremely strict about such kind of outside social media platforms.
Facebook, the biggest one that is being used by about billions of users has long since been banned in China. WhatsApp was the only Facebook-owned property that was still allowed access by the Chinese population, however, even that has been taken away now.
Apart from WhatsApp, China has even banned Google and its products like Gmail, Drive, YouTube, Chrome, Maps etc.
They have even gotten on a crackdown to eliminate VPN services that allow people access to things that are otherwise blocked or not allowed in China.
What I Believe Is The Reason Behind This Ban
One reason behind the ban could be to not allow opponents of current government a free reign and one that the government cannot monitor to the full extent.
In order to have more control during the election time and the eventual result, such a strategy seems to be the way to go.
Speaking of not being able to monitor, another reason for the current ban on WhatsApp could be because it does not entirely comply with the data regulation it requires. WhatsApp encryption is not something that the Chinese govt. is in favour of as it limits how much activity they can monitor on the platform.
Till now though, we do not truly know the exact reason behind this ban and how long it will last.
Timeline Of Previous WhatsApp Bans
Considering this is the third time in the same year that WhatsApp has been banned and we currently do not have major news about this latest banning, let us take a look at the timeline of the previous bans:
July 19th, 2017:
WhatsApp was partially blocked as reported by The Guardian. Except for text messages, photos, videos, and audio files were all blocked.
This block lasted for a few weeks before all services were once again reinstated.
September 25th, 2017:
Once again, a similar ban like the one applied in July was seen with everything apart from text messages not being allowed to be sent or received.
October 17th, 2017:
WhatsApp has been put on a total lockdown in mainland China. Before only a few services were blocked, however this time, WhatsApp entirely has been banned.
China has various other infamous bans apart from this too. Keeping aside Facebook, China recently banned even the lovable children’s character Winney The Pooh, because apparently official believed the character to resemble President Xi Jinping.
Hopefully, this ban too will be lifted in either a few days or weeks and will not stretch on for longer than necessary.
Image Credits: Google Images