China has censored a top health information platform – MIT Technology Review

The far east has censored DXY, the country’s leading information about health system. On August 9, DXY fell silent across social media, where it boasts over 80 million followers. Five of its Weibo accounts were suddenly suspended with a vague explanation that they had violated “relevant laws and regulations, ” while its accounts on WeChat and Douyin (the domestic version of TikTok) stopped publishing.  

Neither these social media platforms nor DXY have released any public statement on what caused the suspension, but Nikkei Asia reported that the particular order came from regulators and won’t end without official approval.

The suspension has met having a gleeful social reaction among nationalist bloggers, who accuse DXY associated with receiving foreign funding, bashing traditional Chinese medicine, and criticizing China’s health-care system.  

DXY is one of the front-runners in China’s digital health startup scene. It hosts the largest online community Chinese doctors use to discuss professional topics and socialize. It also provides a medical news service for a general audience, and it is widely seen as the most influential popular science publication within health care.  

“I think no one, as long as they are somewhat related to the particular medical profession, doesn’t follow these balances [of DXY], ” says Zhao Yingxi, a global health researcher and PhD candidate at Oxford University, who says he followed DXY’s accounts on WeChat too.  

But in the increasingly polarized social networking environment in Tiongkok, health care is becoming a target for controversy. The swift conclusion that DXY’s demise was triggered by its foreign ties and critical work illustrates how politicized health topics have become.  

Since the launch in 2000, DXY has raised five rounds of funding from prominent companies like Tencent plus venture capital firms. But even that commercial success offers caused it trouble this week. One of its major investors, Trustbridge Partners, raises funds from sources like Columbia University’s endowments and Singapore’s state holding company Temasek. After DXY’s accounts were suspended, blog owners used that fact to try to back up their claim that DXY has been under international influence all along.  

Part of the reason the suspension is so shocking is that DXY is broadly seen as one of the most trusted online sources for health education in China. During the early days of the particular covid-19 pandemic, it compiled case numbers and published a case map that was updated every day, getting the go-to source for Chinese people seeking to adhere to covid trends in the country. DXY also made its name by taking down several high-profile fraudulent health products in Cina .

This also hasn’t shied away from sensitive issues. For example, on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia in 2019, it published the balances of a number of victims associated with conversion therapy and argued that the practice is not backed by medical consensus.  

“The article put survivors’ voices front and center and didn’t tiptoe around the disturbing reality that will conversion therapy is still prevalent and even pushed by highly ranked public hospitals and academics, ” states Darius Longarino, a senior fellow in Yale Law School’s Paul Tsai China and taiwan Center.  

The sudden suspension of DXY’s interpersonal media accounts caught its followers simply by surprise. “I don’t think they have done anything improper, ” says Zhao.  

But opponents of DXY were quick to find a political explanation. On social media marketing, some defended the suspension on the basis that DXY has questioned the efficacy of traditional Chinese medicine (TCM. ) 

In April 2022, DXY published an article about Lianhua Qingwen, a modern TCM product that has been distributed by the particular Chinese government as the treatment with regard to covid-19. In the now-deleted article, the DXY authors cautioned that this medicine has never been properly tested in a clinical trial, and pointed out that some of the ingredients are banned in other countries.

The particular article, widely read and circulated, triggered the value of the particular pharmaceutical company behind Lianhua Qingwen, Shijiazhuang Yiling Pharmaceutical, to fall by $1. 05 billion on the stock market. To most health-care professionals, the article was reasonable plus uncontroversial. But it made DXY the target regarding TCM supporters. Since then, DXY has been accused of colluding with Western pharmaceutical companies like Pfizer, which manufactures the covid-19 treatment Paxlovid, to defame TCM. TCM supporters celebrated the suspension system of DXY’s accounts as proof associated with the platform’s wrongdoings.  

Just as within the US, certain general public health topics have grown to be heavily politicized in China , including covid-19. Choosing a side in scientific debates within China is oftentimes equated to choosing a side in the ideological divide between China and the West.

Although DXY is the particular most notable example, it’s not the first popular technology publication in order to fall victim to social media campaigns in China. Several popular digital science publications plus video channels, like Elephant Magazine and Paperclip , have been trolled plus targeted by nationalist influencers for receiving funding from foreign NGOs and publishing content that will paints The far east in a bad light. These publications either dissolved or disappeared through social media after they had been censored .

DXY’s followers fear it could go the same way.  

“This is the best domestic wellness education platform. It has contributed greatly to the popularization of evidence-based medicine, ” Wang Zhian, a Chinese journalist whose social networking balances were censored in 2019 before he emigrated to Japan, wrote on Twitter . “I hope this can survive. ” 


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