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

    Russia's Expat Community Shrinking

    Russia's troubled economy, tensions with West have led hundreds of thousands of foreigners to leave for better opportunities

    Accelerating the Push Against Islamic State: What Will Work?

    Experts stress need to step up military action, address root causes of Muslims' disaffection, counter IS social media messages in a massive way

    Experts: N. Korean Abductions Sought to Halt Brain Drain

    Pyongyang abducted about 3,800 South Koreans and more than a dozen Japanese nationals in late 1970s

    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.
    German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibiti
    X
    Hamada Elsaram
    February 05, 2016 4:30 PM
    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video German Artists to Memorialize Refugees with Life Jacket Exhibit

    Sold in every kind of shop in some Turkish port towns, life jackets have become a symbol of the refugee crisis that brought a million people to Europe in 2015.  On the shores of Lesbos, Greece, German artists collect discarded life jackets as they prepare an art installation they plan to display in Germany.  For VOA, Hamada Elrasam has this report from Lesbos, Greece.
    Video

    Video E-readers Help Ease Africa's Book Shortage

    Millions of people in Africa can't read, and there's a chronic shortage of books. A non-profit organization called Worldreader is trying to help change all that one e-reader at a time. VOA’s Deborah Block tells us about a girls' school in Nairobi, Kenya where Worldreader is making a difference.
    Video

    Video Genius Lets World Share Its Knowledge

    Inspired by crowdsourcing companies like Wikipedia, Genius allows anyone to edit anything on the web, using its web annotation tool
    Video

    Video Former Drug CEO Martin Shkreli Angers Lawmakers

    A former U.S. pharmaceutical business executive has angered lawmakers by refusing to explain why he raised the price of a life-saving pill by 5,000 percent. Martin Shkreli was removed from a congressional hearing on Thursday after citing his Fifth Amendment right to stay silent. Zlatica Hoke has more.
    Video

    Video Super Bowl TV Commercials are Super Business for Advertisers

    The Super Bowl, the championship clash between the two top teams in American Football, is the most-watched sporting event of the year, and advertisers are lining up and paying big bucks to get their commercials on the air. In fact, the TV commercials during the Super Bowl have become one of the most anticipated and popular features of the event. VOA's Brian Allen has a sneak peek of what you can expect to see when the big game goes to commercial break, and the real entertainment begins.
    Video

    Video In Philippines, Mixed Feelings About Greater US Military Presence

    In the Philippines, some who will be directly affected by a recent Supreme Court decision clearing the way for more United States troop visits are having mixed reactions.  The increased rotations come at a time when the Philippines is trying to build up its military in the face of growing maritime assertiveness from China.  From Bahile, Palawan on the coast of the South China Sea, Simone Orendain has this story.
    Video

    Video Microcephaly's Connection to Zika: Guilty Until Proven Innocent

    The Zika virus rarely causes problems for the people who get it, but it seems to be having a devastating impact on babies whose mothers are infected with Zika. VOA's Carol Pearson has more.
    Video

    Video Solar Innovation Provides Cheap, Clean Energy to Kenya Residents

    In Kenya, a company called M-Kopa Solar is providing clean energy to more than 300,000 homes across East Africa by allowing customers to "pay-as-you-go" via their cell phones. As Lenny Ruvaga reports from Kangemi, customers pay a small deposit for a solar unit and then pay less than a dollar a day to get clean energy to light up their homes or businesses.
    Video

    Video Stunning Artworks Attract Record Crowds, Thanks to Social Media

    A new exhibit at the oldest art museum in America is shattering attendance records. Thousands of visitors are lining up to see nine giant works of art that have gotten a much-deserved shot of viral marketing. The 150-year-old Smithsonian American Art Museum has never had a response quite like this. VOA's Julie Taboh reports.
    Video

    Video Apprenticeships Put Americans on Path Back to Work

    Trying to get more people into the U.S. workforce, the Obama administration last year announced $175 million in grants towards apprenticeship programs. VOA White House correspondent Aru Pande went inside one training center outside of Washington that has gained national recognition for helping put people on the path to employment.
    Video

    Video New Material May Reduce Concussion Effects

    As the 2016 National Football League season reaches its summit at the Super Bowl this coming Sunday (2/7), scientists are trying to learn how to more effectively protect football players from dangerous and damaging concussions. Researchers at Cardiff and Cambridge Universities say their origami-based material may solve the problem. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Saudi Arabian Women's Sports Chip Away at Stereotypes

    Saudi Arabian female athletes say that sports are on the front line of busting traditions that quash women’s voices, both locally and internationally. In their hometown of Jeddah, a group of basketball players say that by connecting sports to health issues, they are encouraging women and girls to get out of their homes and participate in public life. VOA’s Heather Murdock reports.
    Video

    Video A Year Later, Fortunes Mixed for Syrians Forging New Lives in Berlin

    In April of last year, VOA followed the progress of six young Syrian refugees -- four brothers and their two friends -- as they made their way from Libya to Italy by boat, and eventually to Germany. Reporter Henry Ridgwell caught up with the refugees again in Berlin, as they struggle to forge new lives amid the turmoil of Europe's refugee crisis.
    Video

    Video Zika Virus May be Hard to Stop

    With the Zika virus spreading rapidly, the World Health Organization Monday declared Zika a global health emergency. As Alberto Pimienta reports, for many governments and experts, the worst is yet to come.