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

Beijing Warns Hong Kong Protesters, Cracks Down at Home

In suppressing protest news, China reportedly has arrested more than 20 people on the mainland who acted in support of Hong Kong pro-democracy protesters More

Competing Goals Could Frustrate Efforts to Fight Islamic State

As alliances shift and countries re-define themselves, analysts say long-standing goals of some key players in Middle East may soon compete with Western goals More

Child Sexual Exploitation to Worsen in SE Asia

Southeast Asia’s planned economic integration is a key step for boosting the region’s productivity, but carries downsides as well 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid