I can pretty much gaurantee that this post will be blocked by the Chinese authorities.
In this post I talk about the Chinese internet and censorship in China and the reason why I am writing this post is due to my newly acquired knowledge on censorship in China, a topic that I was curious and clueless about.
I started this blog as part of my school’s global blog challenge. (Visit: A Blogger’s Journey and Source of Inspiration and Kegsblogs to find out more about that). One of the aims of the global blog challenge is to try to get traffic from as many countries as you can, so every now and again I check which countries I have got views from. Every time one thing stands out to me on the choropleth map. That thing that stands out is a large mass of land dominating Asia. I have got hits from various nations, all the big nations, but I have never clocked a single hit from China and neither have my friends! I was curious and was suspicious that this was due to censorship, so I asked another blogger who attracts a lot of traffic (Frizztext) whether he gets traffic from China. He replied that he had a few loyal followers in China. This led me to conclude that WordPress must not be blocked from the Chinese, however certain posts like this are. (If anyone has any better knowledge or would like to correct me then please leave a comment.) Last Friday I was curious about China and the Internet, however on Saturday I read the Economist, in which there was a 14 page special report on the internet in China, which answered all my questions. I then did a little further research and I am now here producing this post. Now I think it’s time to stop talking about me and start talking about China.
China has used the internet for its benefit with online sales rocketing, however it has also managed to keep the internet tied down. The internet is censored in China to ensure that “hostile foreign forces” that are online do not corrupt the mind of the Chinese. That is the Chinese way of putting it, but in short, the government wants to stay in control and the Communist Party needs to filter out content from the internet to stop foreign ideas uprooting the communist ideology and to stop there being local unrest through usage of social media. 13 years ago Bill Clinton said that trying to control the internet in China would be like trying to “nail Jell-O to the wall,” yet Chinese authorities have managed to effectively control the web through the Giant Firewall and cyber-hacking.
China’s party state has deployed an army of cyber-police, hardware engineers, software developers, web monitors and paid online propagandists to watch, filter, sensor and guide Chinese internet users. Writing politically sensitive stuff on the internet in China can be like shooting yourself in the foot as Mr Liu Xiaobo found out. In 2009 he co-wrote a manifesto calling for the end to authoritarian rule. In response the Chinese government sent him to prison for 11 years, yet he still won the Noble Peace Prize in 2010. Many people in China has no clue who Liu Xiaobo is since his name is under the category of sensitive keywords, which are blocked online. Lots of things are hidden from the Chinese eye via using sensitive keywords that are blocked from people’s reach.
The Internet has been constantly manipulated in China and the censorship started in 1996 when multiple sites were blocked. Then in September 2002 Google’s search engine was temporily blocked. After that YouTube was the next victim, being blocked in 2008 following unrest in Tibet. 2009 was a huge milestone for Chinese censorship with Facebook and Twitter being temporarily blocked during the 20th anniversary of Tinammen Square crackdown. Twitter and Facebook was allowed back onto the Chinese web after the anniversary, however it was later shut down in the same year after the riots in Xinjiang. People in China do not have access to Facebook, Youtube, Google or Twitter, however the Chinese have set up replacement sites.
- Baidu replaces Google
- Yukou Tuduo replaces YouTube
- Sina Weibo (Weibo meaning microblog) replaces Twitter
- Renren replaces Facebook
China has these replacement sites, but even thousands of posts are deleted on these sites every day! Some Chinese people celebrate not having deleted posts because it is such a rare thing!
This censorship has been a very expensive affair for the Chinese government, but I don’t think the government isn’t bothered about that much, it just wants to stay in firm control. Many people believed the internet would democratise China but due to making the internet abide by its rules China has somehow enabled itself to get a firmer grip on things using the internet. Nowadays there are nearly as many Chinese internet users as there are internet users from the European Union and America combined!
The process of censorship requires a lot of manual labour and it is believed that 100,000 people are employed in censorship. That includes cyber police, propaganda workers and ‘in-house monitors’ of thousands of websites. The Chinese government is very paranoid and whenever it sees anything that could be a social threat to the Communist Party, it orders for there to be an immediate response and there is a sudden wave/surge of censorship.
The Economist beautifully describes the internet in China as a giant cage and I believe this cage won’t be opened until the cage’s key-holder changes (the government changes). What that means for me is: I won’t get a hit from China. 😦
Hope you found this post insightful and enjoyed reading it. Please leave some feedback if you have any.