News / Asia

China Censorship Not Improving Under New Leaders, Analysts Say

Award winning Chinese blogger Lao Hu Miao, or Zhang Shihe, a critic of China's internet censorship, looks at a webpage with the Chinese words "Google considers leaving the Chinese market" in Beijing, March 23, 2010.
Award winning Chinese blogger Lao Hu Miao, or Zhang Shihe, a critic of China's internet censorship, looks at a webpage with the Chinese words "Google considers leaving the Chinese market" in Beijing, March 23, 2010.
Analysts say China's new Communist Party leaders are giving no indication they intend to relax the country's tough online censorship laws.

Many had hoped China's once-a-decade leadership transition, which began last month with the 18th Party Congress, would bring at least a small degree of relief for the country's estimated 500 million web users.

But in recent weeks Beijing has seemingly taken steps to reinforce the so-called "Great Firewall of China" that largely separates the country's online population - by far the world's largest - from the rest of the global Internet.

Crackdown on VPN usage

VOA reported last week that many foreign virtual private network (VPN) providers, which enable Internet users to get around censorship restrictions, have complained their servers are being blocked in China because of apparent changes in the firewall.

State media suggested the issue was because many VPN providers had failed to register with the government, and therefore were not protected by Chinese laws.

A widespread crackdown on VPN usage could be devastating for foreigners doing business in China, since many use the technology to access the government's ever-expanding list of blocked websites, which includes Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

Changes in censorship policy superficial

Following the Congress, hopes of censorship reform in social media were raised temporarily when authorities appeared to allow more open discussion on the country's microblogs.

China's biggest microblog, the wildly popular Sina Weibo, began allowing users to search for the names of top government leaders that had long been blocked.

Authorities also took steps to allow greater criticism of lower-level government corruption, resulting in investigations that led to the dismissal of several officials.

But observers say both improvements are superficial. Michael Anti, a prominent journalist and commentator on Chinese social media, tells VOA that public criticism of China's rampant government corruption is not a new development.

"CCTV, the national TV station, has already had the function of criticizing and monitoring local corruption since the 1990s. Now they're repeating the same thing on Weibo," he says. "I don't regard this as progress. It just proves Weibo is now becoming a part of central media."

He points out that public discussion about China's top leaders is still tightly monitored by Weibo's massive team of censors, which - implicitly or explicitly - follows orders from Beijing to filter out any material deemed a threat to the party.

Government hints at further restrictions

Some even fear a heightened Internet crackdown, after state media published a wave of recent editorials defending government censorship.

The Communist Party's Global Times said Friday the government's management over the Internet has been "moderate so far," and called for authorities to "strengthen regulations."

A series of apparently leaked government directives, published by the China Digital Times, orders central media outlets to prominently report on the dangers of the Internet and the punishment of online criminals.

Jeremy Goldkorn, director of Danwei.com, a site about the Chinese media and Internet, said in an interview with VOA that he doesn't foresee many changes, in either direction.

"I just don't see that there's going to be any change. I don't see anybody in the government who's committed to liberalization of Internet policy or media policy," says Goldkorn. "But will it get much worse? That's always a possibility."

Anti also takes a pessimistic stance, warning against anyone who thinks a new era of Internet freedom is about to unfold.

"Definitely not, because censorship is crucial for the party's rule," he says. "The party's rule is very centralized. The Internet by nature is very de-centralized. It doesn't match. Censorship is the only way to fix the Internet's side effects."

You May Like

Nearly 900 Dead, Missing in 2014 Air Disasters

Southeast Asia took a particularly heavy hit; 3 major events involved weather, two planes were shot down in eastern Ukraine, and one crash was attributed to mechanical problems More

Video Islamic State Emergence Transformed Syria, Iraq in 2014

'It was very clear that there were problems building up in Iraq at the end of 2013 but everybody was distracted by Syria,' says one expert, explaining group's rapid rise More

Rights Group: IS Executed Nearly 2,000 People in Syria in 6 Months

Islamist group also killed 120 of its own members, most foreign fighters trying to return home, in past two months, according to Syrian Observatory for Human Rights More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Exenon from: Australia
December 23, 2012 2:13 AM
It comes as no surprise that China has reverted to the Stalinist paranoia that is the hallmark of all totalitarian regimes. This is the same paranoia that built the Berlin Wall, was responsible for the mass murders of the Russian people in the 50s, and the slaughter of millions of Cambodians, and the total enslavement and starvation of the North Koreans. Keep your population in the terror of darkness and you will be free to become vastly rich, as all good communist dictators in the past have proved the veracity of this form of mind control.


by: Wangchuk from: NYC
December 21, 2012 9:58 AM
The CCP believes the media should serve the interests of the Party & State & not be an independent voice or govt watchdog. The CCP ignores the PRC Constitution & censors the media and the Internet in China. As long as China remains a one-party state, they will never respect freedom of speech and other basic human rights.

In Response

by: Anonymous from: China
December 23, 2012 3:29 AM
About ten months ago,I couldn't load Facebook,I didn't knew why. And my e-mail delivered to my friends in hotmail was missing!

In Response

by: Jonathan Huang from: canada
December 21, 2012 12:08 PM
go tell your government to stop censoring internet, Indian troll!

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaisei
X
Daniel Schearf
December 25, 2014 4:34 PM
Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Russians Head Into Holiday Facing Economic Malaise

Russian preparations for the New Year holiday are clouded by economic recession and a tumbling currency, the ruble. Nonetheless, people in the Russian capital appear to be in a festive mood. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Moscow.
Video

Video Mombasa in Holiday Tourism Slump Due to Security Fears

Kenya's usually popular beachside tourist destination of Mombasa is seeing a much slower holiday season this year due to fears of insecurity as the country has suffered from a string of terror attacks linked to Somali militants. Mohammed Yusuf reports for VOA on how businessmen and tourists feel about the situation.
Video

Video For Somalis, 2014 Marked by Political Instability Within Government

While Somalia has long been torn apart by warfare and violence, this year one of the country's biggest challenges has come from within the government, as political infighting curtails the country's progress, threatens security gains and disappoints the international community. VOA's Gabe Joselow report.
Video

Video 2014 Saw Intensification of Boko Haram Insurgency

The year 2014 saw Nigerian militant sect Boko Haram intensify its five-year insurgency and target civilians in large numbers as it seized territory in the northeast. The kidnapping of nearly 300 schoolgirls in Chibok in April sparked global outrage, but failed to become the turning point against the sect that Nigeria’s president said it would be. The picture at year's end is one of devastation and uncertainty. VOA’s Anne Look reports.
Video

Video Estimates Rising of Foreign Fighters in Iraq, Syria

Foreign fighters are making more of a mark on the battles raging across Syria and Iraq than initially thought. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more.
Video

Video US Political Shift Could Affect Iran Nuclear Talks

Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to resolve Iran’s nuclear crisis are continuing into 2015 after Iran and six world powers failed to agree by a November deadline. U.S. domestic politics, however, could complicate efforts to reach a deal in the new year. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins has the story.
Video

Video NYSE: The Icon of Capitalism

From its humble beginnings in 1792 to its status as an economic bellweather for the world, the New York Stock Exchange is an integral part of the story of America. VOA’s Bernard Shusman reports from Wall Street.
Video

Video Syrian Refugees in Lebanon Fight to Survive Water Crisis

In a region choking from dwindling water supplies, Lebanon has long been regarded as one of the few places where there is enough. But in recent years, half the people in the country have faced severe shortages. And the more than 1 million Syrian refugees in Lebanon are hit the worst by the water crisis, making the country's most vulnerable people increasingly impoverished and sick. Heather Murdock reports for VOA in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon.

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More

All About America

AppleAndroid