After the death of former Chinese Premier Li Keqiang, Chinese authorities have moved to prevent protests and unrest. Internet searches for Li Keqiang have been restricted to only return content from official news sources. Many universities received orders prohibiting gatherings and limiting memorial tributes. By the evening of Li’s death, some people had visited Li’s former residence to lay flowers.
The news of Li’s death was announced October 27 and quickly trended online. However, despite 2.24 billion reads on Weibo, only 609,000 comments remained on the Weibo post, showing self-censorship. Only condolences appeared in comments; other posts were deleted. Official accounts disabled comments. Foreign embassies’ condolences were also blocked. On WeChat and Baidu, only official media appeared in searches regarding Li Keqiang.
Messages showed several universities were ordered to ban student gatherings honoring Li. Notices from Shanghai Jiaotong and other schools ordered monitoring of memorial activities, banning gatherings, and reporting to authorities. The Hainan University Student Union was told student leaders could only repost the official obituary with the text “In Memory of the Former Premier.” Online or offline group memorial activities were prohibited.
When former leader Hu Yaobang died in 1989, gatherings to mourn him led to demands for democratic reforms and eventually the Tiananmen Square protests. Chinese authorities aim to prevent any similar unrest after Li Keqiang’s death through censorship and banning public memorials.
Source: Central News Agency (Taiwan), October 27, 2023