Many Provinces Disconnect Receipt of Mobile Calls and SMS From Outside China

While China’s lengthy and difficult lockdown shows no sign of abating, telecom authorities in many provinces recently stopped cellphone calls and text messages from outside the mainland, including from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, saying it is necessary to prevent fraudulent calls.The move adds to concerns over the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) expanding its lockdown and quickly closing the country’s doors, Sheng Xue, a Canada-based Chinese writer, told The Epoch Times’ sister media NTD on May 15. “Obviously, the CCP is deliberately secluding the country and cutting off contact between Chinese people and the outside world,” said Sheng. According to Chinese official media Xinhua on May 15, customers in Zhejiang Province have already received a message from China Mobile saying Zhejiang Mobile will, by default, halt receipt of international, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan calls “in order to combat foreign fraudulent calls.” Anyone needing to receive a call from outside China, must request a confirmed registration before May 20, otherwise, the relevant functions will cease, said the message. China Mobile’s Zhejiang Province office confirmed that the message was true and the company was notifying users in batches via SMS. The regimes in Henan, Jiangxi, Liaoning, and Zhejiang Provinces shut down mobile’s SMS-receiving functions starting last August, as reported by several Chinese official media. State-owned China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile network operator with 966.638 million subscribers as of March 2022, covering all of China and Hong Kong. An office worker talks on a mobile phone in front of a China Unicom logo, California-based Apple’s partner in China, in Beijing on January 5, 2012. (Liu Jin/AFP via Getty Images) China Mobile is not alone in its move, the other two largest telecom giants, China Unicom and China Telecom, have also disconnected some international call services in some areas of China. These three carriers control the majority of China’s cell phone dynamics. A November 2021 guidance, released to local citizens by the Public Security Bureau of Shantou city, Guangdong Province, said, “By subscribing to the three major carriers, China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom, you can effectively and intelligently intercept the overseas fraudulent calls.” As of May 15, the topics “China Mobile’s response to the default shutdown of international, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan calls” and “Default shut down in some areas” on Sina’s Microblogging pages sparked comments or concerns from nearly 2 million netizens. Some satirized the opinion that the authorities are so considerate of the people, yet customers have never received a single overseas scam call. Now, they will possibly be unable to receive calls from friends and relatives abroad. A number of comments accused the authorities of blatant and unconstitutional blocking of communication freedom, akin to “a regression to a second Korea.” Such posts were immediately censored. The U.S-based Chinese media Vision Times managed to take a screenshot of some of them. The above-mentioned provinces that dropped the international call service are only trial points and the new regulations will soon be extended to all of China, Guo Tao, a media worker from central China’s Jiangxi Province, told Radio Free Asia on May 16. According to Gao, the CCP’s limited cut-off of communications between China and the rest of the world is part of its lockdown policy. “This is to prepare for future actions, such as monitoring, sealing off the country, and blocking the network. Those SMS and telephone controls are only a preliminary measure. They are step by step tightening [their] grip from weak to strong, and the most important thing is that they [the CCP] want a total lockdown,” Gao said. “This would bring forward a North Korea-style atmosphere, a people-and-information highly barricaded environment,” said Tang Jingyuan, current affairs commentator in an interview with NTD on May 18, citing, that only in such a situation can those in power complete the cult of the individual and consolidate absolute power. Tang pointed out, that in previous years, whenever the CCP begins to close China’s doors, there must be a pressing crisis within the Communist Party, that is, when the Chinese regime is faltering and feeling extremely fragile in its ability to resist impacts from outside, so it instinctively beefs up its power within the country. Follow Julia Ye is an Australian-based reporter who joined The Epoch Times in 2021. She mainly covers China-related issues and has been a reporter since 2003.

Many Provinces Disconnect Receipt of Mobile Calls and SMS From Outside China

While China’s lengthy and difficult lockdown shows no sign of abating, telecom authorities in many provinces recently stopped cellphone calls and text messages from outside the mainland, including from Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan, saying it is necessary to prevent fraudulent calls.

The move adds to concerns over the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) expanding its lockdown and quickly closing the country’s doors, Sheng Xue, a Canada-based Chinese writer, told The Epoch Times’ sister media NTD on May 15.

“Obviously, the CCP is deliberately secluding the country and cutting off contact between Chinese people and the outside world,” said Sheng.

According to Chinese official media Xinhua on May 15, customers in Zhejiang Province have already received a message from China Mobile saying Zhejiang Mobile will, by default, halt receipt of international, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan calls “in order to combat foreign fraudulent calls.”

Anyone needing to receive a call from outside China, must request a confirmed registration before May 20, otherwise, the relevant functions will cease, said the message.

China Mobile’s Zhejiang Province office confirmed that the message was true and the company was notifying users in batches via SMS.

The regimes in Henan, Jiangxi, Liaoning, and Zhejiang Provinces shut down mobile’s SMS-receiving functions starting last August, as reported by several Chinese official media.

State-owned China Mobile is the world’s largest mobile network operator with 966.638 million subscribers as of March 2022, covering all of China and Hong Kong.

Epoch Times Photo
An office worker talks on a mobile phone in front of a China Unicom logo, California-based Apple’s partner in China, in Beijing on January 5, 2012. (Liu Jin/AFP via Getty Images)

China Mobile is not alone in its move, the other two largest telecom giants, China Unicom and China Telecom, have also disconnected some international call services in some areas of China.

These three carriers control the majority of China’s cell phone dynamics.

A November 2021 guidance, released to local citizens by the Public Security Bureau of Shantou city, Guangdong Province, said, “By subscribing to the three major carriers, China Mobile, China Unicom, and China Telecom, you can effectively and intelligently intercept the overseas fraudulent calls.”

As of May 15, the topics “China Mobile’s response to the default shutdown of international, Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan calls” and “Default shut down in some areas” on Sina’s Microblogging pages sparked comments or concerns from nearly 2 million netizens.

Some satirized the opinion that the authorities are so considerate of the people, yet customers have never received a single overseas scam call. Now, they will possibly be unable to receive calls from friends and relatives abroad.

A number of comments accused the authorities of blatant and unconstitutional blocking of communication freedom, akin to “a regression to a second Korea.” Such posts were immediately censored. The U.S-based Chinese media Vision Times managed to take a screenshot of some of them.

The above-mentioned provinces that dropped the international call service are only trial points and the new regulations will soon be extended to all of China, Guo Tao, a media worker from central China’s Jiangxi Province, told Radio Free Asia on May 16.

According to Gao, the CCP’s limited cut-off of communications between China and the rest of the world is part of its lockdown policy.

“This is to prepare for future actions, such as monitoring, sealing off the country, and blocking the network. Those SMS and telephone controls are only a preliminary measure. They are step by step tightening [their] grip from weak to strong, and the most important thing is that they [the CCP] want a total lockdown,” Gao said.

“This would bring forward a North Korea-style atmosphere, a people-and-information highly barricaded environment,” said Tang Jingyuan, current affairs commentator in an interview with NTD on May 18, citing, that only in such a situation can those in power complete the cult of the individual and consolidate absolute power.

Tang pointed out, that in previous years, whenever the CCP begins to close China’s doors, there must be a pressing crisis within the Communist Party, that is, when the Chinese regime is faltering and feeling extremely fragile in its ability to resist impacts from outside, so it instinctively beefs up its power within the country.


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Julia Ye is an Australian-based reporter who joined The Epoch Times in 2021. She mainly covers China-related issues and has been a reporter since 2003.