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Chinese censorship taken to new levels

Mainland China censorship of social media and the Internet has been heightened in Hong Kong, as a critical deadline is approaching for both the demonstrators and the Hong Kong chief executive, Leung Chun-ying. During the past week of predominantly student protests, Beijing has brought the Great Firewall to bear in all its glory as it attempts to contain the fallout from the demonstrations.

We reported a few days ago about how the Chinese government is nimbly allowing broadcasts of the demonstrations, blocking descriptive images of the events unfolding along with negative rhetoric, while simultaneously allowing pro-government commentary to air intact. In these instances, the censorship regime has not been an unwieldy instrument but an incisive, resourceful government tool to mold popular opinion.

On the flip side, pro electoral freedom protesters and advocates are streaming to alternative apps to get at the truth. But Beijing has the upper hand and has recently employed government sponsored phishing programs to clandestinely install Trojan horses in an effort to destroy communication channels. Often regarded as a technological marvel, the Great Firewall of China, is fully engaged.

The notion that such inhibiting tactics are making the government less efficient was debunked in a recent article appearing in the Guardian.It raises the question as to whether the censorship is so fine-tuned that it may be actually strengthening the repressive actions by making them more clever rather than clumsy and unwieldy. It allows the Chinese to navigate amidst their fog of lies.

Recent results of surveys indicate that selected information can bleed through without apparently being censored. The key words are ’selected information’ . You can say pretty much anything you like on Chinese media, providing that it does not lead to any kind of action.

’Chinese people can write the most vitriolic blogposts about even the top Chinese leaders without fear of censorship, but if they write in support of, or even in opposition to an ongoing protest – or even a rally in favour of a popular policy or leader- they will be censored.”

It turns out that you can say what you like, including all the hashtag journalism and activism. All you can’t do is influence events away from the keyboard or refer to them. There are lists of keywords that will get a post blocked or at least reviewed. Hence, think what you like-just don’t act on it.

This is evident from the Hong Kong debacle.


Stan Ward Stan Ward has enjoyed writing for 50 years. Writing has been a comfortable companion to a successful business and teaching career for him. Find him on Google+.

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