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US-born Eileen Gu representing Beijing at Olympics. (Photo Credit - Reuters)
US-born Eileen Gu representing Beijing at Olympics. (Photo Credit - Reuters)

US-born Eileen Gu representing Beijing at Olympics courts controversy for being ignorant about China's internet freedom

ANI | Updated: Feb 27, 2022 20:28 IST

Hong Kong, February 27 (ANI): Eileen Gu has been at the thick end of controversy since the news of her competing as an Olympian for China and not the US surfaced.
Eileen Gu, a California-born skier has become a sporting celebrity in China in the ongoing Beijing Winter Olympics 2022, she has dominated the freestyle skiing at Olympics by winning three medals - two golds and a silver, reported The HK Post.
Amidst growing internet interest in her life, a comment made by her defending China's censorship laws has boomeranged.
Eileen had been regularly posting on her Instagram account during the present games in Beijing. Some Chinese users asked her in comments how is she allowed to use Instagram in China when millions of Chinese mainlanders cannot, reported The HK Post.
Almost all major Social Media apps are banned in China including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and WhatsApp as part of the Great Firewall.
Eileen seeing it as a simple unharming question responded that it is easy to circumvent internet restrictions by using a Virtual Private Network (VPN) which can be downloaded from any App store for free.

The screenshot of this comment section exchange soon went viral on Chinese-twitter counterpart Weibo where a lot of Chinese citizens pointed out how naive Eileen's comment has been and expressed displeasure at her privileged obliviousness, reported The HK Post.
Calling on the ignorance of star skier's comment, many people pointed out how difficult it is to use VPNs in China as they are banned beyond those officially approved and the government clamps down harder on VPN through hefty fines.
In recent years, Chinese authorities have shut off many VPNs, penalized citizens caught skirting the Great Firewall and banned people from making any negative speech against China on the internet.
Ironically, Weibo later censored Eileen's screenshot where she was speaking for China's Internet freedom. Her Instagram post where she was advising how to dodge internet restriction has been bowdlerized, reported The HK Post.
The VPN controversy is not the only negative news surrounding Eileen. Beijing is painting a picture of Eileen Gu as a national hero which has sparked conversations about her being used as a propaganda tool.
Eileen is everywhere in China, TV, Newspapers, Billboards and Media platforms. China is politicizing Eilee's success to garner a positive image during the biggest sporting event.
While the Communist Party of China is trying so hard to represent Eilee as a mascot for Chinese citizens, the depth of a civilized society is not judged by how the famous and privileged people live but how the disadvantaged and marginalized do, reported The HK Post. (ANI)