Some users say WeChat is blocking China Evergrande mail groups

  • At least eight WeChat groups blocked, according to group members
  • Two users say they have been visited by law enforcement
  • Tencent, owner of WeChat, declines to comment
  • Law enforcement, cyber offenders not immediately available

ZHUHAI, China, September 29 (Reuters) – Certain instant messaging groups used by people owed by real estate giant China Evergrande Group (3333.HK) to stage protests and discuss claims have been blocked on Tencent Holdings’ WeChat platform (0700.HK), the group members said on Wednesday.

Eight users from at least eight different groups, each with around 200 to 500 people, said they were not allowed to post new messages to the groups as of Tuesday morning. Tencent declined to comment, and the Chinese Cyberspace Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Evergrande crisis, under the weight of 305 billion dollars in debt and in the midst of a liquidity crisis, poses a challenge for the government. He wants to impose financial discipline, but analysts say he is wary of a messy collapse that could fuel unrest among local investors, suppliers and homebuyers.

Angry homebuyers and retail investors have launched protests in several cities in recent weeks, and many have taken to social media platforms like WeChat, the country’s most popular messaging app, to voice their concerns. grievances.

Earlier this month, Reuters saw protesters being taken outside Evergrande’s headquarters in Shenzhen, and similar scenes were shared in WeChat groups. Read more

On Wednesday, two WeChat users reported seeing the error message “limits have been imposed on this group because it violates the rules and regulations in force.” A screenshot seen separately by Reuters confirmed this formulation.

Three other users said the groups were removed from their WeChat app. Two other users also said they could not access their groups.

Two people who had been members of some of the groups separately said they were visited by Chinese law enforcement officials on Sunday and asked them to sign papers pledging not to participate in any rallies or do anything about it. ‘illegal. They refused to be identified given the sensitivity of the subject.

China’s Ministry of Public Security did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The Evergrande woes, which include the non-payment of a global bond coupon last week, rocked global markets but received little coverage in China’s official media, and Beijing has said little publicly about the situation. Read more

On Wednesday, an Evergrande swap brief said it would sell a 9.99 billion yuan ($ 1.5 billion) stake it owns in Shengjing Bank Co Ltd 2066.HK to a management company state-owned assets. Read more

Chinese social media companies are subject to strict laws requiring them to censor content that “undermines social stability” or criticizes the central government, controls that were tightened under President Xi Jinping.

It was not clear if other Chinese social media platforms were also blocking Evergrande’s posts. On Twitter-like Weibo, videos of disgruntled creditors confronting Evergrande staff as well as complaints against the real estate developer could be seen on Wednesday.

Some WeChat users have complained on Weibo that their WeChat groups linked to Evergrande have been blocked.

Reporting by David Kirton; written by Brenda Goh; edited by Tony Munroe and Philippa Fletcher

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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