YouTube restored the account of a Chinese citizen in Odessa who covered the atrocities in Ukraine a week after the lockdown when it received a report that it contained “alleged violence”.
Wang Jixian, whose daily Mandarin vlogs detailing his life in the Ukrainian city made him an internet sensation, was temporarily suspended last Thursday. In his video immediately before the suspension, his video showed Chinese translations of a voice recording of Ukrainians speaking about atrocities committed by Russian soldiers.
A YouTube spokesperson said: “With the sheer volume of videos on our platform, we sometimes make the wrong call to content flagged by our community. When brought to our attention, we review the content and quickly take appropriate action, including restoring videos that were inadvertently removed.”
Beijing-based Wang began posting daily vlogs on his YouTube channel shortly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on February 24. “Today is … I’m still in Odessa. I’m still alive,” his videos begin. Its daily updates quickly drew more than 100,000 followers, but also the wrath of China’s legions of nationalist netizens. His channel suddenly went silent last week.
The programmer continued to tell his followers Twitter that his appeal against the suspension last week was rejected. YouTube temporarily suspends reported accounts for potential violations for one week, which may be extended to 90 days for persistent violations.
Wang told Radio Free Asia he doesn’t blame YouTube but the “ulterior motives” of those who reported him, saying, “Where’s the violence? I did not attach photos [of violence] in my video.”
Undeterred, Wang created a new YouTube channel to continue his daily updates. His new account, created last Thursday, hosts a six-day streak of videos and has already garnered 34,000 followers. Followers posted relieved messages on his new channel. “I admire your courage,” wrote one.
Despite his loyal following, Wang’s support for Ukraine clashes with the narrative China is forcing on its citizens at home. Chinese state media earlier this week reported atrocities in the city of Bucha as a “show” by the Ukrainian side for the West, largely portraying Russia as a victim of the conflict.
The suspension followed weeks of harassment of his family members in China and the deletion of his WeChat account in mid-March. “What are you afraid of? Is my voice really that scary?” Wang said in a video about WeChat deleting his account.