WeChat blocks China Evergrande messaging groups, some users say

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* Users in eight WeChat groups say they have been blocked

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*Two users say law enforcement officers visited

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* WeChat owner Tencent declined to comment.

*Law Enforcement, Cyber ​​Officer not immediately available

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ZHUHAI, China, Sep 29 (Businesshala) – Tencent Holdings’ WeChat platform has blocked at least eight instant messaging groups used by people in China to fund cash-strapped property giant China Evergrande Group , group members said on Wednesday.

Groups of around 200 to 500 people discussed the members’ claims and organized protests. Members said they were barred from sending new messages to groups starting Tuesday morning.

Evergrande’s crisis, amid less than $305 billion in debt and a cash crunch, poses a challenge to the government. It wants to enforce financial discipline, but analysts say it is wary of a messy collapse that could fuel unrest by local investors, suppliers and home buyers.

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

Earlier this month, Businesshala saw protesters being taken outside Evergrande headquarters in Shenzhen, and similar scenes have been shared in WeChat groups.

On Wednesday, two WeChat users reported seeing the error message “Limits have been placed on this group because it violates relevant rules and regulations”. A screenshot seen separately by Businesshala confirmed that wording.

Three other users said the groups had been removed from their WeChat app. The other two users also said that they could not access their groups. Tencent declined to comment. China’s Cyberspace Administration did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The two men, who were members of certain groups, said separately that on Sunday Chinese law enforcement met them and asked them to sign papers pledging not to attend any gatherings or to do anything illegal. He declined to be identified due to the sensitivity of the matter.

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

Evergrande’s crisis, which last week involved a non-payment on a global bond coupon, rocked global markets but received little coverage in official Chinese media, and Beijing said little publicly about the situation. Is.

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

It was unclear whether other Chinese social media platforms were also blocking Evergrande posts. On Weibo, like Twitter, videos of complaints targeting Evergrande employees to grieving creditors as well as the property developer can be seen on Wednesday.

Some WeChat users complained on Weibo that their Evergrande-related WeChat groups have been blocked.

Reporting by David Kirton; Written by Brenda Goh; Editing by Tony Munro and Philip Fletcher

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