One of China’s largest Twitter-like platforms, Sina Weibo, suffered widespread problems on Thursday afternoon leaving users unable to post or comment on the site just as the high profile murder trial of Gu Kailai, wife of ousted Politburo member Bo Xilai, kicked off.
Users across the platform complained that they couldn’t post, comment or even re-post messages for about an hour. Sina managed to post a message to its official account on the platform at the time, however, apologising and claiming the site was undergoing emergency repair.
Some took to Twitter to explain what was going on. User @MissXQ posted the following: “Comment and repost function suspended for abt an hour on Sina Weibo.”
Meanwhile, @GreatFireChina, which tests blocked URLs within the Great Firewall tweeted: “No one can post anything on weibo now as the input space just disappeared FYI:Gu Kailai murder trial begins.”
Although other platforms appear to have been unaffected by any problems, the timing of Sina’s outage has led to speculation that it may have been part of a wider attempt to silence discussion of the murder trial taking place at the time.
The event is seen as highly sensitive to the Communist Party elite, given that Gu’s husband Bo until recently occupied one of the most senior positions in the Party until he was forced out after allegations of corruption and even rumours of an attempted coup.