China’s most influential feminist Weibo account silenced on International Women’s Day

The account spent yesterday spreading posts against sexual harassment and sexist advertising, before being blocked

China marked International Women’s Day this year by once again taking down the most influential feminist account on Weibo.

Feminist Voices (女权之声) was “disappeared” yesterday evening for specific reasons unknown. Before it was censored, the account had more than 180,000 followers. It spent International Women’s Day spreading posts and pictures that spoke out against sexual harassment and sexist advertising.

A statement shared on Chinese social media about the suspension of Feminist Voices.

The account’s founding editor Lü Pin‏ (吕频) wrote on Twitter that the group had been told earlier today by a Sina representative that Feminist Voices would not be reactivated because it had posted “sensitive and illegal information.”

Yesterday, the group’s anti-sexual harassment campaign, which asked users to make a declaration to fight against sexual harassment, was heavily censored on Weibo.

Feminist activist Zhang Leilei told Inkstone, a new China news outlet under the South China Morning Post, that she was disappointed the campaign had been censored, but it was something she had expected. “It’s not the first time that we were censored,” she said.

Indeed, Feminist Voices was also silenced last February, a few weeks ahead of International Women’s Day, with the ban believed to have come in response to the group posting a Chinese translation of a Guardian article in which US-based feminists urged activists to launch an international strike on March 8th, calling for a new “militant feminist struggle.”

The account’s censorship sparked a wave of outrage from Chinese women, who voiced their discontent on Facebook and Twitter.

The account was later reactivated, however, it’s not clear if they will be so lucky a second time around.

On Twitter, researcher and author Leta Hong Fincher has preserved some of the posts that the group shared on Weibo yesterday:

While the #MeToo movement has seen some successes in China, it appears that Chinese authorities remain intent on cracking down on the country’s feminist movement, deleting a large number of social media posts carrying the hashtag.

Back in 2015, five young Chinese women’s activists were detained for more than a month after planning to distribute anti-sexual harassment stickers to public transportation passengers on International Women’s Day. The Feminist Five quickly became a symbol for China’s vocal women’s movement, and the government’s opposition towards it.