søndag 19. september 2021

A Chinese student in Canada had two followers on Twitter. He still didn’t escape Beijing’s threats over online activity

Dan, whose name I’ve changed to protect his identity, hails from one of China’s picturesque and relatively laidback southwestern provinces. He studied English diligently and was elated when a top Canadian university accepted his application to study law.

About a month before the start of the September 2017 session, when Dan was still in China, the university issued his student credentials, and with them he received access to a virtual private network (VPN). The tool allowed him — for the first time in his life — to scale the “Great Firewall of China” and access an uncensored internet.

Curious, the 21-year-old thought he might check out some overseas social media sites, connect with future classmates, and read world news; that way, he wouldn’t seem so out of touch once he arrived. He would be joining a cohort of Chinese international students in Canada totalling around 140,000 that year.