For Chinese security forces, the effort is a daring extension of an assignment that previously focused on Chinese platforms and the most prominent foreign dissidents. Now, violations can have quick effects as simply as posting a critical article on Twitter – or, in the case of 23-year-old Ms. Chen, quoting “I stand by Hong Kong”.

According to an online database that summarizes them, since 2019 there has been an increase in measures in China against people who have spoken out on Twitter and Facebook. The database, compiled by an anonymous activist, records cases based on publicly available judgments, police communications and news reports, although information is limited in China.

“The web has definitely broadened overseas in the last year or so,” said Yaxue Cao, editor of, a civil society and human rights website. The goal is to promote the already widespread self-censorship of the Chinese on global social media, she said, comparing the purge of critics to …

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