The crackdown on China’s media

In These Times offers a very decent overview of how and why China is cracking down hard on the media, including silencing and imprisoning journalists and, as we all know, filtering and manipulating information in the Internet. It causes one to wonder, can a country that is dedicated to silencing its own people’s voices really be heading toward democracy?

Though China is the fastest growing economy in the world, censorship and limits on freedom of expression are on the increase as the government struggles to contain growing unrest across the country.

New regulations issued by China’s State Council in late July prevent theater companies and artists from performing works that “oppose the basic principles of the constitution that place the Communist Party as the ruling party.”

According to the new rules, commercial performances should also refrain from performances that “are deemed harmful to the state … endanger state unity, sovereignty or territorial integrity, [or] endanger state security or the honor or interests of the state,” reported the official newspaper of China’s Communist Party, The People’s Daily….

In recent months, hundreds of riots by groups as diverse as retirees demanding withheld pensions, farmers protesting land seizures, citizens incensed by government corruption and ethnic minorities inflamed by prejudice have rocked different parts of China. The worst trouble came on June 16, when thugs in Shenyou, about 50 miles from Beijing, attacked locals resisting a forced buyout of their land, killing six people and injuring about 50.

Authorities had tried to censor news of the unrest by sealing off the affected areas and detaining journalists trying to cover the situation. But with 100 million people in China now connected to the Internet and more than 330 million owning cell phones, news of the violence spread quickly across the country.

In response, existing controls on the Internet, such as intrusive monitoring of chat rooms by human censors and advanced filtering techniques developed with help from U.S. corporations such as Cisco, are being stepped up, especially during sensitive times. The government is so blasé about the censorship that it uses state-controlled media to spread word of it.

Some of the stuff in this article is sinister, like translators who work with foreign reporters being called in for “debriefings,” and paid chat room “Netizens” boasting of how they will manipulate public opinion. Nothing very new to us China watchers, but it’s good to see the story getting so much mainstream attention.

Via Bingfeng.

The Discussion: 11 Comments

In my company, i already ban any relevant products buying from CISCO. i won’t tell to my boss WHY, but i will do it in silence. CISCO is playing an ignoble role to solicit china goverment. it’s CISCO’s freedom to do it for its greater market share and profit. but for me, i will boycott CISCO in response to its position over this issue.

P.S. i am a common IT guy working in China.

November 27, 2005 @ 11:25 pm | Comment

Jeffrey, can you share with us what your colleagues, friends, etc. have to say about the censorship? Are you alone in your attitude toward Cisco, or do you think a lot of others in China feel the same way? Thanks a lot for your comments.

November 27, 2005 @ 11:53 pm | Comment

Are you a chinese?
if you are a chinese, if you happend to working in china, then you should know that common chinese are splitting over this censorship.

some chinese agree goverment’s censorship policy since they think “STABLITY AND DEVELOPEMENT ARE MOST IMPORTANT ISSUES FOR CHINA”. they think that chinese people will be misled by other purposefully bad guys particulally by FOREIGNERS. i have debatted with them again and again that their concern is based on one assumption. this assumption is that our common chinese people is lacking of their own judgement ability. i could not agree with this assumption, because i do think that we have same(enough) intelligence to judge whether one specific news or msg is reliable or trustworth or not. we can distinguish what is bad by ourselves. we don’t need any instructions from goverment. we don’t need goverment to choose any information for us.

November 28, 2005 @ 12:25 am | Comment

then you should know that common chinese are splitting over this censorship

Yes, that’s what I found from my experience. As you can probably tell, I am on your side, and not the side of those who believe the government knows best. Whether it’s in China or the US. The people must have a voice. No taxation without representation.

November 28, 2005 @ 12:37 am | Comment

We dislike goverment choosing, making decision for us. we hope the goverment can respect our intelligence and not to regard us as FOOL.
internet is the only way for we chinese to express our own opinions. without this channel, we have to be fooled by the goverment-controlled media, we have to be a silent sheep when being in front of many injustices. if we are silent when we are confronting injustices, then we are the accomplice to the victims.

Frankly speaking, my english was too bad to read any english news 3 years ago. To search for the justices and balanced information, i have studied english very hard. thanks god, now i have an opportunity to read english news without much difficulties. now i rarely visit chinese-character news site since most of them are filter by goverment. if i believe in them, i will get anesthetized by the GREAT NEWS filterred by our goverment.

November 28, 2005 @ 12:38 am | Comment

my colleagues and friends are influenced by my opinions piece by piece. now they can understand what the censorship will bring/cause to our chinese people and society. open society and speech freedom is not the source to chaos and disorder. on the contrary, the censorship and filterring speech should be blamed for causing the future possible disorder and chaos. censorship is a friend to the tyranny.

In china, now these three terms “democracy”,”freedom”,”election” are cursed by the goverment and some left-wing guys. they try everything to smear these three terms. they are connecting these three terms to US(US is notorious in china becoz of the invasion of IRAQ)and JAPAN(many chinese regard JAPANESE as china’s biggest enemy.). i have disputted with them that they are wrong because these three terms are the wealth not only for US and JAPAN but also for our human-being.

November 28, 2005 @ 1:00 am | Comment

Hope there’s a LOT more out there like you, Jeffrey.

By the way, your hard work studying English is paying off. Using another language to write about political ideas is not easy, you’re doing great!

November 28, 2005 @ 10:13 am | Comment

It’s great to have you here, Jeffrey.

November 28, 2005 @ 12:04 pm | Comment

Jeffrey, you know more English words than I do!

November 28, 2005 @ 2:09 pm | Comment

ditto…good work jeffery

about half the people i meet here are in favour of the govt controled media, and the usual reason is that most chinese are not capable of diseminating the truth. what a load of rubbish. these people feel that big brother is needed, in a parental way, to determine what is ok to read, and what is not. well, thats not the way i was raised. let me read what i want, and ill decide what i believe, thanks very much!

November 28, 2005 @ 4:50 pm | Comment

while i absolutely agree that censorship is bad, and bad for chinese people themselves.

i do not think one should tie political issue with business ones. i.e. censoring Cisco.
Jeffrey, you could risk your job. So do not ever mention your little secret to anyone.

btw, i guess you would turn to Huawei then? 🙂

December 2, 2005 @ 5:59 pm | Comment

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