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A gay student poses with a rainbow flag in Beijing in 2019. Photo: Greg Baker/AFP via Getty Images

LGBT Rights Advocacy China, an influential Chinese advocacy group, abruptly announced Thursday it was disbanding but did not disclose why, AP reports.

Why it matters: The group, which advocated for same-sex marriage and the protection of gay rights and provided legal support for the LGBT community in China, is shutting down amid a governmental clampdown on social activism.

What they're saying: “We are grateful for all your companionship and support over the years. Please accept our sincere apologies for any inconvenience caused," the group said in its final posts on WeChat, according to the South China Morning Post.

  • “There may still be many uncertainties in the future, but we look forward to the day when the clouds have dispersed and we can see the blue sky again," the post continued.

Thought bubble, via Axios' Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian: The LBGTQ community was one area that the Chinese state didn't seem to feel threatened by, so there was social (if not legal) progress and relative openness for a while. But now even that is being targeted.

The big picture: Homosexuality in China was decriminalized in 1997. Same-sex marriage is still illegal, but couples have found ways to gain statuses that are similar to civil unions, according to SCMP.

  • China's Ministry of Civil Affairs said it has disbanded 3,300 social organizations that it has deemed illegal and shut down some 200 illegal websites and social media accounts, according to AP.
  • There are other LGBT organizations still operating in the country, but LGBT Rights Advocacy China was one of the few that prioritized passing legislation that would secure more gay rights.
  • The country's National Radio and TV Administration in September banned effeminate men from appearing on TV and warned broadcasters to avoid promoting “vulgar internet celebrities," AP reports.

Go deeper: Yahoo shuts down services in China

Go deeper

Dec 2, 2021 - Sports

IOC defends "quiet diplomacy" after 2nd Peng Shuai call

Peng Shuai during the Connecticut Open in August 2014. Photo: David Hahn/Icon SMI/Corbis/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The International Olympic Committee said Thursday it held a second video call with Peng Shuai, a Chinese tennis star who disappeared for weeks after accusing a former top government official of sexual assault.

Why it matters: During the call, the IOC and Peng agreed to an in-person meeting in January, though the committee did not disclose exactly when or where the meeting would take place, as it is unclear if the tennis star is currently allowed to travel outside of China.

Mitt Romney calls Ray Dalio's China investments a "sad moral lapse"

Sen. Mitt Romney walks to a Senate Republican caucus meeting at the Capitol on Oct. 7. Photo: Stefani Reynolds/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) on Thursday criticized billionaire Ray Dalio's investments in China, writing in a tweet that "his feigned ignorance of China's horrific abuses and rationalization of complicit investments there is a sad moral lapse."

Driving the news: Romney's comments come after Dalio's firm, Bridgewater Associates, the largest hedge fund in the world, raised $1.3 billion in November for a new private fund in China, Bloomberg reports.

Dec 2, 2021 - World

U.S. defense chief denounces China hypersonic missile pursuit

U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and South Korean Defense Minister Suh Wook during a ceremony with in Seoul, South Korea, on Thursday. Photo: Ahn Young-Joon - Pool/Getty Images

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said Thursday the U.S. would "maintain the capabilities to defend and deter" threats from China's government and warned the country's hypersonic weapons program was increasing regional tensions.

Driving the news: Austin made the comments in Seoul after meeting with his South Korean counterpart to discuss regional security matters, including threats posed by China's government and the North Korean regime, which he also expressed concern about.

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