An Anatomy of Censorship in China

Via Danwei, a priceless illustration of the CCP propaganda department’s heavy-handed censorship. And they do this with a straight face. Thank god for blogs.

The Discussion: 20 Comments

I think you are too sensitive about this. When one newspaper or agency reports on something published elsewhere, it’s quite natural for it to be shortened, modified or added to provided these changes are sourced and not presented as a true representation of the original text. Readers in different countries will often want to know different things and focus on different aspects of a story.

Also I think because the readers in China are not native English speakers, the editors must pay attention to the reading level of the article (like vocabulary or complicated grammar). So I think it is helpful to make some sentences shorter, and easier to read. This is only for practical reasons. Do not always link everything to politics, otherwise it’ll become another Cultural Revolution.

Happy Chinese New Year.

February 3, 2008 @ 5:10 am | Comment

Hmm, mysterious how pretty much everything that was cut or modified from the original article to make it “easier to read” or “practical”, as HongXing says, doesn’t toe the party line on the Olympics.

I guess that makes sense, though: it’s not very practical at all to publicly counter the CCP on sensitive issues, unless one finds particular use in languishing in a jail cell.

February 3, 2008 @ 8:05 am | Comment

Good to see you back and true to form, Red Star.

February 3, 2008 @ 8:32 am | Comment

Hongxing, the Xinhua article is in Chinese so readers’ level of English is irrelevant.

February 3, 2008 @ 8:55 am | Comment

“Hongxing, the Xinhua article is in Chinese so readers’ level of English is irrelevant.”

Love it!

HX wrote: “I think you are too sensitive about this.”

Until now I didn’t realise you understood the concept of irony, HX.

February 3, 2008 @ 11:13 am | Comment

Cat, readers’ English levels are very important, just so long as Hongxing says so. Don’t forget that. I would also like to ask exactly how it would translate into Bulgarian?
Furthermore, count on ferin to inform us that people who speak English are 10 thousand more times likely to commit a crime than “Confucian people.” These are the levels of generalization and deceit that these guys work with.

February 3, 2008 @ 2:56 pm | Comment

When’s the last time any major American publication re-published a Chinese or Iraqi article editorializing on America’s involvement in Iraq, in full?

February 3, 2008 @ 3:09 pm | Comment

When’s the last time any major American publication re-published a Chinese or Iraqi article editorializing on America’s involvement in Iraq, in full?

CCT, you’re as logicless as your friend Red Star. If ever I saw a question from out of left field… What on earth are you talking about? That’s the kind of knuckle-headed nationalistic BS questions that drives me totally crazy – never mind that it doesn’t mean anything, it’s just so plain bizarre and irrelevant.

The real question would be,

“When’s the last time any major American publication published a translated article and consciously, cunningly and painstakingly edited out all the anti-America stuff and reworded it to the point of parody?”

Answer: Never.

February 3, 2008 @ 3:25 pm | Comment

Richard said:

The real question would be,

“When’s the last time any major American publication published a translated article …

Stop right there, Richard. Mainstream American media hardly translate anything about the image of their country from a foreign language. So whatever you say in the latter part of your sentence is quite moot.

The Chinese should learn the American attitude: I don’t give a f**k about what you say. I agree, this works better than the fishy editting job the Chinese have to do.

February 3, 2008 @ 5:58 pm | Comment

Brgyags, you can read whatever you choose in America. Most publications print articles in their native language. But if they do translate, they don’t butcher the copy, making it a very different piece than the original author intended.

I find it kind of an amusing argument. You’re defending China’s bastardization of an article by saying the US doesn’t translate enough articles. Well, maybe we don’t. But we never, ever do what Xinhua does, which is akin to fraud, to deception. As with CCT’s peculiar argument above, I simply don’t get where you’re coming from.

February 3, 2008 @ 10:52 pm | Comment

As a translator, I can assure you that “things” are translated from other languages to English.
However, I generally refrain from the techniques shown above. This is certainly “you zhongguo tese de fanyi.”

February 4, 2008 @ 1:52 am | Comment

Newspapers conduct edits all the time, this is simply the reality of today’s journalism. In America, or China, it’s the same. If you read any American newspaper, it’ll always have a claim: “The paper reserves the right to edit any reader submissions”. If you submit a letter to the newspaper to be printed, they’ll edit whatever they want, and they don’t need to tell you. This is simply because newspapers have limited space, limited resources, it’s impossible to print everything without shortening and edits. As long as the edits do not completely change the meaning of the original article. I do not see anything unusual about this practice at all.

February 4, 2008 @ 2:52 am | Comment

Red Star, we aren’t talking about space (as you know), but about content, the changing of meaning. Everything you say above is either false or irrelevant, as usual. Sure things are edited in newsrooms for length, but this has nothing whatsoever to do with length. It’s about consciously and intentionally changing what the author said. You can justify absolutely everything, as you did the murder of Sun Zhigang. Some things never change. Whatever the officials do is right, and those who are hurt by it must have been up to no good and only got what they deserved.

February 4, 2008 @ 9:05 am | Comment

The blog asked:
But how much of that story can be cut before the meaning is completely lost?

If YOU were an evil propagandist empire trying to use the Olympics to show people that you are some how popular and well accepted, wouldn’t you want to show people that some media that thinks you suck, actually thinks you are good?

The Cristian Science Monitor was being critical of the Propaganda Olympics, and the article of the CCP changed it to mean that the CSM was happy for the Propaganda Olympics.

And that is just from reading the title. Hopefully the CSM will catch wind of this and take the righteous actions where possible, well, they are media, so hopefully they will at least expose this blantant LYING!!!

“US NEWSPAPER: THE OLYMPICS – A MOMENT THAT MAKES CHINA PROUD.” It’s essentially a translation of another article in the Christian Science Monitor from a few days earlier: “THE OLYMPICS IN CHINA: A MOMENT FOR PRIDE – AND WORLD SCRUTINY.”

February 4, 2008 @ 1:39 pm | Comment


There are two different points here.

– Yes, clearly, the Xinhua translation is a bastardized version of the original Christian Science Monitor. It doesn’t come close to reflecting the negative aspects of the original sentiment.

– Secondly, the previous poster has it right. China should learn from the United States, and simply say we don’t give a fuck. Americans couldn’t care less what the Mexican newspapers of the day were saying about Gringos… the Chinese will eventually get to the point where we feel the same way.

February 5, 2008 @ 1:18 am | Comment

it seems like the Chinese epidemic of caring what others think is in part due to two things:

Them associating themselves directly with the communist party (due to heavy indoctrination of that) and thus having to feel defensive about a party that is totally evil. That could be very burdensome.

The second thing is that -as it is done in North Korea- the party need to create a niche to justify its existence. Since it is a total failure at ‘regular’ governance, it needs to create scenarios that bolster the fallacy that the party is crusading for some issue that the people are (not) facing. The whole idea that people are against China or against Chinese people is not based in truth. This myth and threatening scenario is spun up in order for it to seem that the party is defending the people from such antagonism.

So it’s even MORE messed up cause they take that first thing (people not liking the communist party) and they spin it to the people as people not liking THEM of their country and it in turn makes the people feel they need the CCP to help combat the issue and make them feel like there is some impending problem that will turn the country to total chaos without the party. Thats why they play up Taiwan (they love that issue cause it makes for a good spin to entice people to support the CCP)

Thats why I call China bubble world cause its a total spin, this is just one or two examples of the way the party uses the people unabashedly for its own ends, sickO!!!

February 5, 2008 @ 5:28 am | Comment


I can’t speak for all Americans, but I for one do care what Mexicans think. I feel I have a responsibility as a person to consider how the policies of my government or my individual choices affect others, and to act, vote, write, and teach accordingly. Moreover, I don’t think my empathy as a human being should stop at the water’s edge.

It seems almost silly to have to say it, but I’ve learned a great deal about my own country and the world from reading observations, critiques, articles, and books written by non-Americans. Some of those writings are quite keen and insightful, others not so much, but here’s the salient point: I personally don’t dismiss their opinion, articles or commentary simply because it comes from someone not born in the old US of A.

You long for a day when, as you so eloquently put it, Chinese “don’t give a f–k.” I on the other hand, wish that more of my own countrymen and women would eschew parochialism and explore the wider world of ideas beyond our borders, even if–especially if–some of those ideas cause us to rethink who we are and what we are doing in our country and in the world.

It’s a sign of maturity to be able to read thougthful criticism without throwing a hissy-fit. It is a maturity that too often America lacks, but which I fear China, for all its millennia of history, seems to lack even more.

February 5, 2008 @ 6:59 am | Comment

I agree with Jeremiah,

I think it is normal and healthy to consider other peoples opinions and insights, ESPECIALLY if you want to be a leader in globalized politics and economy. As long as the government is manipulating governments and economies around the world (whether benign or not, in this case not), it makes total sense to take peoples opinions into consideration, thats human.

But, that hissy fit thing always comes when peoples opinions and facts test the limits of their unfortunate indoctrination.

On a personal level you can detect those limits easily since right off the bat, (brainwashed) Chinese people tend to feel that others are against them and they don’t trust others and feel that they have to hold onto something and defend it without thinking. Most people can detect that if they bring up something that goes beyond the fallacies indoctrinated into their minds by the party. Thats pretty pessimistic though, lots of Chinese people are slowly growing to understand and/or admit whats been happening…

February 5, 2008 @ 1:31 pm | Comment

I was mentionning this point in the other thread about Hu Jia (and his party member mother) I was explaing why I think that people living in China (specially party members) have unfortunately less credibility…

What do you think happens to someones credibility when all he is exposed to is stuff like the CSM article, it’s even stuff that is written one way and doctored to say the opposite, that is major mind manipulation and creates a false reality a la North Korea. As long as the CCP can keep people in the dark about its using Chinese people as mere tools, it will survive. But if they catch on and realize that they are being manipulated to the very core, that would be AWESOME!.

I too have a pretty good outlook about China’s future because I think people WILL somehow, someday access information that the party is desperately hiding, and if there is any hope left in peoples souls then they will take back their dignity and the right to their own minds.

Freedom to think what you think, thats the fundamental human right that I usually think of when it comes to China. People believe different things, communism, Catholic, all sorts. The problem is that people never had the choice whether to believe in the CCP or not, they really never had the choice, it was support us or be horribly tortured spychologically, physically and throughout generations of loved ones. Remember the let 100 (?) schools of thought/ let (#) flowers bloom campaign where Mao pretended to let people be free to think at some big conferences and he used the perceived freedom to trap people into “admitting’ their “anti-party’ sentiments. He labelled all of those people and denounced them, soo soo horrible.

they fear their own illigitimacy and therefore cannot let freedom of thought happen in China. Some people say CCP has improved this or that but what are you without freedom of thought? How can one live? How can you call yourself Chinese without freedom of thought!? Don’t tell me that people in China have this freedom. While the party controls strictly the ‘information’ people absorb, they are not letting people think.

February 6, 2008 @ 3:14 am | Comment

“Do not always link everything to politics, otherwise it’ll become another Cultural Revolution”


Who are you trying to threaten?! Are you trying to shut people up? Are you trying to cover up the truth and threaten us at the same time, make sure we sell out in fear that the party will start another bloody canabalistic massacre?

If you can come on here and say that false is truth and say that the truth will lead to such a crazed slaughter and we all agree to not stand up, wont the cultural revolution have succeeded? And is that not exactly where you are coming from? You want Chinese peoples fear of the party to overcome their value for the truth and their own dignity? You would even have people belive that if they tell the truth then it would be THEY who cause the party to murder them?

I am waiting for your answer. I would ask the same question to all party members reading this and I wait for your answer.

Please correct me if I am wrong Hong Xing. If you are genuinely afraid that exposing the truth will lead the party to kill us all, then I truly sympathize with you but I think you need to show a little more conviction in your values.

February 6, 2008 @ 3:24 am | Comment

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URL

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.