China’s LGBTQ community goes from rainbow to gray

During this year’s Pride Month, soccer star Li Ying made history as the first Chinese female athlete to declare herself gay, in a candid series of celebratory photos posted to social media, the showing posing happily alongside her partner.

It is more and more common in the world for celebrities and top sports stars to come out, often with wide public support. But in China, Li’s announcement received a very different reaction.

His post, posted on June 22 on Weibo, the heavily censored Chinese version of Twitter, immediately went viral, becoming one of the hottest topics on the platform. And while much of the reaction has been positive, with people sending their congratulations, Li’s account has also been inundated with a wave of homophobic abuse. The message was then deleted without explanation.

Li hasn’t posted on Weibo since. Chinese state media, meanwhile, did not report Li’s announcement or the reaction to it.

Li’s experience is just the tip of what was for many a dark pride month in China. Over the past years, June has been filled with LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer) events in big cities like Shanghai and Beijing, during which Chinese sexual minorities were able to celebrate semi-openly. their identity.

But in August 2020, China’s largest and longest-running LGBTQ festival, Shanghai Pride, was canceled due to growing pressure from local authorities. When Pride Month 2021 arrived, few events took place and those that had remained largely underground.

“Every year it gets more and more difficult,” a Chinese LGBTQ artist told CNN, who asked not to be named for fear of reprisals from the government. “Events are fewer and defenders are finding it harder and harder to gain acceptance.”

Over the past decades, sexual minorities in China seemed to have been gradually accepted, albeit uncomfortable, by the authorities.

China decriminalized homosexuality in 1997 and removed it from its official list of mental disorders in 2001.

But with same-sex marriage still illegal and Chinese authorities banning “abnormal sexual behavior” from the media in 2016, the impression among many is that LGBTQ people are free to explore their identities – as long as they do so in private.

The ongoing crackdown on LGBTQ spaces appeared to accelerate on July 6, when China’s most popular messaging app, WeChat, suddenly shut down dozens of LGBTQ accounts run by college students, one of the acts. most widespread and coordinated censorship programs targeting sexual minorities in the country for decades. .

When multiple users attempted to access the groups, they received a notice that said, “After receiving relevant complaints, all content has been blocked and the account has been taken out of service.”

Speaking to CNN under a pseudonym, Cathy, the head of one of the suppressed groups, said spaces for the LGBTQ community to speak out openly were shrinking rapidly in China.

“Our goal is just to survive, to continue to be able to serve LGBT students and provide warmth for them. Basically we don’t engage in radical advocacy anymore,” she said.

After the shutdown of LGBT WeChat groups on Tuesday, Hu Xijin, editor of the state tabloid Global Times, claimed on his blog that there were “no restrictions” on the part of the Chinese government on the “life choices” of sexual minorities, or “discrimination and repression” on the part of public opinion.

Hu said that if LGBTQ people in China could just accept that their country would never be at the forefront of sexual minority rights, they might be happier.

“LGBT people in China at this point should not seek to become a high-level ideology,” he said.

Some LGBTQ people blamed the crackdown on the mistaken impression that homosexuality is a Western import to China, and groups supporting gay rights are susceptible to infiltration by foreign forces.

Chinese President Xi Jinping has increasingly emphasized the ruling Communist Party’s absolute control over all aspects of society. Some also suspect a more direct link between the crackdown on LGBTQ rights and the worldviews of senior officials, which for many were shaped during the Cultural Revolution in the 1960s and 1970s, when authorities attempted to purge any element. non-socialist ”- including homosexuality – of Chinese society.

“Nationalist trolls stigmatize LGBT activists as being supported by foreign forces. Just like they have done to feminist activists,” said the LGBTQ artist.

Around asia

  • Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi abandoned 12 members of his cabinet, including the federal ministers of health and law, in a major reshuffle on Wednesday, following strong criticism over his government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
  • The Tokyo Olympics will take place without spectators when it begins later this month, after the Japanese government announced that the state of emergency would continue in the capital until August 22 due to the increase in Covid-19 cases.
  • Faced with vaccine shortages at home, Taiwanese citizens continue Vacation “Visit and Vaccination” to U.S. Territory of Guam, where tourists aged 12 and over can get their first photo on the day of arrival.
  • Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he was “think seriously” on running for the vice-presidency in the 2022 presidential election. The strongman leader is prohibited from running for a second term for president under the country’s constitution.

Outrage over Didi’s botched IPO grows in America

The storm around Didi’s disastrous IPO becomes even more fierce.

A member of the US Senate Banking Committee on Thursday called on US financial regulators to investigate the public offering of the Chinese rideshare company.

“The [US Securities and Exchange Commission] should thoroughly investigate this incident to see if investors have been intentionally misled by Didi’s public disclosures, ”Democratic Senator Chris Van Hollen told CNN Business in a statement.

Didi raised $ 4.4 billion by listing his shares on the New York Stock Exchange on June 30, marking the largest initial public offering in the United States by a Chinese company since 2014.
But the share price collapsed within days, costing American investors dearly. The sale was sparked by a crackdown on China, which announced on July 4 that it was ban Didi from app stores in the country because it poses cybersecurity risks and violates privacy laws.

“US investors need to be sure that companies listed on US stock exchanges do not engage in fraud and should have access to information about the risks posed by investing in foreign companies – especially those influenced by foreign governments, “Van Hollen, a Democrat from Maryland, said in the statement.

The SEC did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

There is growing outrage in the United States over the IPO. Republican Senator Marco Rubio told the Financial Times this week it was “reckless and irresponsible” for Didi to be allowed to sell shares. He argued that US investors had “no idea” of Didi’s financial strength “because the Chinese Communist Party is preventing US regulators from examining the books.”

Former President Donald Trump signed a law late last year that requires companies listed in the United States to comply with American auditing standards and to establish that they are not owned or controlled by a foreign government. By law, companies that fail to comply with U.S. auditing standards for three consecutive years will be kicked out of U.S. stock exchanges.

– By Matt Egan

Photo of the day

Aging with elegance: While dancing in public squares has become a popular exercise among the elderly in China, some elderly people practice dancing as a more serious hobby. In Henan Province, a group of women in their sixties formed an amateur ballet group, pushing their physical limits to perform difficult routines.

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