I'm in a Taiwanese-run room in Clubhouse where 4,000 Mandarin speakers — including Uyghurs and Han Chinese IN CHINA, and outside are talking about... everything. From surveillance, to friends who've left re-educations camps, to normal stuff.
One unexpected theme from speakers have been the measurable impact international news media coverage has had in terms of improving certain aspects of life in Xinjiang, i.e., less oppressive.
As @fryan noted — how long will it be before @joinClubhouse is banned in China? Because this kind of mass, cross-border conferencing of Uyghurs, Tibetans, Han Chinese, Taiwanese, Hong Kongers as they take to the stage to swap information cannot last within the borders of the PRC.
Even more sinister — how many loyal Party members or surveillance types are in this Clubhouse room now, taking notes on the Uyghurs currently in Xinjiang who are talking, and finding ways to track down their identity?
Had to step away in order to anchor a news show. #multitasking But content-wise, there was talk about life after re-education, language eradication, a queer Uyghur overseas spoke, someone said they stick to emojis — no text — to comms with family back in Xinjiang.
Now Chinese people are discussing democracy, and the future of China. Both rooms I’ve popped into appear to be moderated by Taiwanese. Paranoid Beijing will undoubtedly see this as much more pernicious than some Taiwanese acting like normal people in an open society.
I can’t explain what it feels like to be in these Clubhouse rooms. They partly feel like confessionals, and there’s a great sense of yearning from people — for sympathy, for expression, for ambivalent feelings about the Party or about democracy.
I love how this Taiwanese Clubhouse moderator has this rule that speakers take turns, guy/girl for gender parity. It says so much about Taiwan. I’ve not seen this anywhere in English-speaking Clubhouse rooms.
Now @aiww is in the Clubhouse room — he’s listening, too. Speakers still debating democracy, and what defines it most. They’ve also talked about independence and free will. I might as well be in an Enlightenment salon — but Mandarin-speaking.
I have a lot feelz listening to mainland Chinese in China and also overseas, Hong Kongers, Taiwanese, exchange ideas on Clubhouse but one of them is deep anger that the Communist Party has done this to us. That what should be a normal conversation is like tasting forbidden fruit.
Reflecting further: Clubhouse has been around since spring of 2020. Most ethnic Chinese on it were tech types who, as I sarcastically tweeted just 24 hours ago, were the kind who talked up Luckin Coffee. In the last week, new users, many from TW and HK, have come online.
I believe these new users, from places in conflict with the Chinese state and partial to free expression and rights, have contributed to acting as a counterpoint to the previous Clubhouse narrative that was mostly about doing business with or investing in China.
I feel like I'm binging free expression on Clubhouse — anyone else in the Mandarin rooms listening to mainland Chinese, Hong Kongers, Taiwanese, Uyghurs, and others speak — feel that way? In fact, the room @zuola moderates hopes for exactly that: running it continuously for days.