PRC China Government's Censorship Examples

See: Censorship in China has spiked in recent days as the government scrambles to contain public anger over the forced evictions of migrant workers and claims of child abuse at a kindergarten in Beijing

For those of you in the West, governments deleting social media posts, removing articles and blocking searches is a very foreign concept. In China, this is how things are done.

As for our industry, this type of action should help you understand the mentality and tactics of Hikvision, a Chinese government subsidiary, who simply cannot fathom that people would be allowed to publicly criticize them.

More, new WSJ article: Jailed for a Text: China’s Censors Are Spying on Mobile Chat Groups

Key quotes include:

auto mechanic Yang Qingsong used an expletive in a WeChat post to question the intelligence of police for doing checks in the rain. Police detained Mr. Yang for five days, saying his post to a group with 241 people “created negative social effects,” according to an account of the incident the police posted on Weibo, China’s equivalent of Twitter.

Software employed by WeChat appears to automatically scrub posts containing words on a blacklist, which is continually amended by human censors, according to Citizen Lab. The technology has now advanced to identify images deemed sensitive, which are then removed during transmission without the sender being alerted to the disruption.

After he called President Xi Jinping a “baozi”—a steamed dumpling—in one WeChat post, and Chairman Mao a “bandit” in another, Mr. Wang was arrested, court records say. A local court in April sentenced him to two years in prison, a term that was reduced to 22 months after a retrial last month.

Two take-aways:

  • Criticize China and face a serious risk of going to jail
  • Government-owned companies like Hikvision come from an environment, therefore, were criticism is simply not tolerated and can easily be stopped

The sad thing is, some republicans think there would be nothing wrong with arresting anti trump citizens.......

Whatever individual Americans think or hope, the thankful reality is that we have a well established, rule of law that prevents the government or government officials from arresting people who criticize the government.


The Economist article: How China’s “sharp power” is muting criticism abroad:

Sharp power wraps all that up in something altogether more sinister. It seeks to penetrate and subvert politics, media and academia, surreptitiously promoting a positive image of the country, and misrepresenting and distorting information to suppress dissent and debate.

Hikvision's tactics with the security media are right out of the Chinese government's playbook.

A major part of the Chinese government's censorship is blocking thousands of websites. One route around this is to use a VPN but China has ramped up blocking them as well. New article from Nikkei: China's war on VPNs creates havoc at foreign companies, quotes:

Other companies are having similar headaches. An electronics parts maker in Beijing has been blocked from a server in Japan, denying it access to customer data. A food maker in Shanghai has been cut off from the company intranet. A different service-industry company in Beijing can't get into the head office's information system, forcing it to rely on data stored locally. An autoparts maker in Hubei Province found out its email no longer reaches some recipients.

State-run telecoms such as China Telecom and China Unicom are pitching dedicated lines, touting higher transmission speeds that they say can make business more efficient. But there are obvious problems with this. Authorities can intercept communications or steal data from dedicated lines

Not only is this censorship, it helps undermine foreign competitors to Chinese companies.

China government censorship continues to grow. Now WeChat (roughly the Facebook of China, where Facebook is banned), saying it is following recent Chinese government law, will be deleting accounts of those who "distort the party history and national history".

New censorship

"China's ruling Communist Party on Sunday announced plans to abolish presidential term limits, which would allow President Xi Jinping to rule indefinitely."

In the wake of that, China's move to abolish presidential term limits is more unpopular than the government thought — so it's turning to censorship

Another thing typical in China, incomprehensible in the West.

An eye roll is causing a sensation inside of China and more censorship.


Don't criticize or cause the China Communist Party to lose face. 

The HBO website has been banned in China after a John Oliver episode last week:

China is banning the new Winnie the Pooh movie because Winnie the Pooh is used in China to make fun of their Supreme Leader Xi Jinping, e.g.:

China has banned ABC, the Australian national broadcasting company, below is the statement the PRC sent to ABC:

"China's internet is fully open. We welcome internet enterprises from all over the world to provide good information to the netizens of China."

"However, state cyber sovereignty rights shall be maintained towards some overseas websites violating China's laws and regulations, spreading rumours, pornographic information, gambling, violent terrorism and some other illegal harmful information which will endanger state security and damage national pride."

The Australian government has recently been critical of the PRC, including banning Huawei and ZTE from Australia's 5G network.

China is now censoring business news, specifically negative reports about the Chinese economy, per the FT:

Chinese propaganda officials over the past few months have handed down instructions not to changshuai — bad mouth — the economy, according to a dozen journalists and editors at influential Chinese publications who spoke anonymously to the FT.

Topics such as consumers cutting back on spending, local governments struggling with debt repayments, lay-offs by bankrupt private companies and inefficiency at state-owned companies are increasingly off-limits, according to media staff. 

Vancouver Sun: How a red dot kept Chinese-Canadian readers from getting the full story on Huawei:

Users of China’s hugely popular social-media app WeChat know it well: the big red dot.

The dot lets them know the news article they want to read is no longer available. It says the link is suspected of phishing or malware and has been blocked, but in reality the dot often appears when the Chinese government doesn’t want a story seen.

But immigrants from China who still use WeChat in Canada to get their news noticed the red dot appeared when things weren’t looking good for Meng. Arrested, in legal limbo and the subject of worldwide attention, it looked as though she could be spending the next few months in custody.

Amazing that the Chinese government censorship impacts people using the app in Canada.

NY Times: Twitter Users in China Face Detention and Threats in New Beijing Crackdown:

One man spent 15 days in a detention center. The police threatened another’s family. A third was chained to a chair for eight hours of interrogation.

Their offense: posting on Twitter.

The Chinese police, in a sharp escalation of the country’s online censorship efforts, are questioning and detaining a growing number of Twitter users even though the social media platform is blocked in China and the vast majority of people in the country cannot see it.

From the Chinese government's Global Times:

Beijing has shut down 110,000 social media accounts for spreading harmful information in line with China's enhanced efforts to "cleanse the country's cyber environment." 

Some 496,000 articles had also been removed as of December 18 after Beijing's cyberspace affairs office met with various social media platforms located in the city, according to a statement released on Tuesday on the office's WeChat account. 

Fascinating new example, even 'private' Chinese companies are now censoring articles:

In the article, Shih is critical of the concentration camps:

One particular fascinating / troubling aspect is that this is ban is global in nature, not just inside of China.

Reuters: China's robot censors crank up as Tiananmen anniversary nears.

An interesting example of false positives with computer vision:

Despite advances in AI censorship, current-day tourist snaps in the square are sometimes unintentionally blocked, one of the censors said.

And how news reporting is suppressed:

“When it comes to news, the rule is simple... If it is not from state media first, it is not authorized, especially regarding the leaders and political items,” said one Baidu staffer.

A pretty wild example of real-time censorship:

An interesting new example of China censoring China netizens criticizing giving in to protestors demands:

After weeks of Chinese media describing the Hong Kong protesters as rioters and terrorists, mainland commentators reacted poorly to news that Lam had withdrawn the bill. Thousands of comments criticizing her decision have been deleted from Chinese social media, in line with the common practice of censoring dissent. Other commenters are already asking what could be a threatening question for the Chinese Communist Party: “If Hong Kongers can get what they want by protesting, why can’t we?”

Ironically, Chinese editor complains about ‘over the top’ internet control:

The editor of the Chinese state-run Global Times newspaper made a rare departure from his loyalist views on Wednesday, complaining that the country’s strict internet control was “over the top” and made his job harder.

“As the National Day nears, it’s extremely difficult to visit foreign websites,” Hu Xijin, the editor-in-chief of Global Times, wrote on the Chinese social media site Weibo.

New: Chinese government cuts US Democratic Debate feed after Xinjiang is raised - CNN:

The screen went black just before 9 p.m. ET after PBS moderator Judy Woodruff asked Mayor Pete Buttigieg if the US should boycott the 2022 Beijing Olympics over China's alleged mass detention of its Uyghur citizens.

The feed from the PBS/Politico debate in Los Angeles remained cut for about nine minutes while candidates were asked about a range of China issues, including the Hong Kong protests and military tensions in the South China Sea.

Arsenal's Ozil deleted from Chinese computer game following criticism of Uighur treatment:

"The German player Ozil posted an extreme statement about China on social media," [Game maker] NetEase said on Chinese social media site Weibo. "The speech hurt the feelings of Chinese fans and violated the sports spirit of love and peace. We do not understand, accept or forgive this!"

Perhaps the oddest case of China censorship yet: Chinese skiers want book removed from Meråker (Norway) library

Leaders of a delegation of skiers from China wanted a controversial Chinese book at the library in Meråker removed but the library has strongly rejected such a request....

if any of the Chinese skiers are caught with these books, they are afraid that they would risk being sent to labor camp or prison in China

A strange confrontation between Swedish media and the PRC's Ambassador to Sweden:

China’s ambassador to Sweden summoned after he hit out at ‘smears’ in latest outburst against Beijing critics:

Gui Chongyou tells state broadcaster that media are like an ultra lightweight boxer trying to pick a fight with someone twice his size, who is then left with no choice but to respond

New case: University of Minnesota student jailed in China for Twitter posts - Axios:

A University of Minnesota student has been arrested in China and sentenced to six months in prison for tweets he posted while in the United States

Chinese police are tracking down and silencing Twitter users who post content critical of the Chinese government — even from abroad.

Also, Twitter is banned in China.

Below is the image that the student is alleged to have posted:

Images of a cartoon villain

The upper right is "I don't see the sky falling" which was evidently viewed as mocking the CCP. The character shown is Lawrence Limburger, an "alien from the planet Plutark. The Plutarkians solely concentrate on conquering other planets, strip-mining them for all their natural resources and move on to the next planet."