8 Absurd Quotes On Censorship In China

  1. “Intended to better protect Internet users' privacy”
  2. “You can get all kinds of opinions. It's much open”
  3. “Strengthening Internet regulation is the will of the people”
  4. “While other countries have legislated to regulate the Internet, China has still been thinking about it”
  5. “Foreign-run VPNs illegal in China”
  6. “Censors Relax Grasp on Internet”
  7. “Thank god my husband had to shake his porn habit after he got here”
  8. “China: The Home to Facebook and Twitter?”

The world is a complex place, and reporting on it is a difficult task. Luckily journalists are good at getting catchy quotes and creating memorable headlines. These are supposed to give you a summary of the news and a brief idea of how the issue is developing. Sometimes they can be misleading, though. In an attempt to combat misconceptions of online censorship in China, we have selected 8 recent such quotes. These have been reported by mainstream media in China and/or outside China.

If your impression of the Internet in China is based on these claims, you may think that online censorship in China is intended to protect regular users, that it doesn’t threaten freedom of speech, that it’s wanted by the people, that it’s moderate, that circumventing it is illegal, that it’s being relaxed, that it exists to block pornography and that nonetheless more than a hundred million Chinese Internet users can access supposedly blocked websites.

If you don’t believe these claims, however, a very different picture emerges. We hope that this article can help stimulate a discussion over censorship more respectful of facts, definitions and data. Given yesterday's announcement of New Internet Management Rules such a discussion is more urgent than ever.

(1) “Intended to better protect Internet users' privacy”

Quoted from: Xinhua (Dec 24)

On Christmas Eve, Xinhua announced that China is working on new regulation “intended to better protect Internet users' privacy”. So far, so good. It quickly becomes clear though that they intend to achieve this goal by “requiring Internet users to identify themselves to service providers”. 

Wait a minute. Privacy by required identification?

You are of course entitled to your own opinion. But are you entitled to your own definitions of words? According to Wikipedia, “privacy is the ability of an individual or group to seclude themselves or information about themselves and thereby reveal themselves selectively”. Requiring Internet users to identify themselves is surely the opposite of privacy. Claiming to protect privacy by requiring to identify is as absurd as the old “Freedom Is Slavery” concept from the book 1984.

Also, most user activity is already traceable on the Chinese Internet. Because you already do have to provide your name to your ISP, the authorities can in most cases identify the user behind a given post. All they need to do is to call the website operator who will give them the IP address of the user, after which they will call the ISP who will give them a name. If the IP address is used by one of the many Internet cafes, that’s not much safer. Internet cafes ask for identification when you walk in and keep records of their clients. All it takes is one additional phone call.

(2) “You can get all kinds of opinions. It's much open”

Quoted from: Liu Xiao Ming, China's ambassador to the UK (Dec 21)

In an interview with the BBC, China’s ambassador to the UK said that “if you are in China and can get connected to the internet I think you can get all kinds of opinions. It's much open. A lot of things can be debated including politics and economic and cultural affairs.” The ambassador didn’t specify exactly how you could find all these opinions. But let’s assume he’s right and run some tests. Since he did include the topic of politics, let’s try to find “all kinds of opinions” on the Communist Party of China (中国共产党).

First let’s try Google. We browse to www.google.com and are redirected to www.google.com.hk, the Hong Kong version used by Google to serve users from all of China. We enter “中国共产党” and hit search. Unfortunately, the Great Firewall decides to reset our connection. We get a technical error message and no search results at all. We hit the back button and try again - same result. So far, no opinions of any kind.

Most Chinese Internet users don’t use Google, of course. Baidu is the leading search engine. So let’s head over to www.baidu.com in our quest for opinions. Again, we enter 中国共产党 and this time we get a full page of results. The first page is mostly made up of links to People’s Daily, Xinhua and China.com.cn, all of which are controlled by the party. But there’s also a link to the Chinese Wikipedia entry. Looking promising! We click it and the page starts loading. After a second, though, we get the same “connection reset” message that we got when we tried Google. 

Apart from information directly controlled by the government and Wikipedia, which is blocked, there’s a third source among our list of results though: Baidu Baike. This is an online encyclopedia similar to Wikipedia. Finally, a collaborative approach to what the ruling party is, made by and available to all Chinese people - or is it? To the top right, we spot a message saying that the entry is locked (词条已锁定). So, no collaboration, just another top-down channel telling people what the party is with no ability to object or comment.

Search engines are irrelevant in today's world of social media, you may retort. Twitter and Facebook may be blocked in China, but there are of course plenty of local versions offering Chinese Internet users easy ways to freely communicate with each other, bypassing central decision-making. Or do they? We head over to Sina Weibo, the biggest microblog in China, and give our search for 中国共产党 a last go. Unfortunately, we get no results at all. Instead, we’re informed that according to relevant laws, legislation and policy, results for 中国共产党 could not be shown (“根据相关法律法规和政策,“中国共产党”搜索结果未予显示”).

Of course, this does not mean that there is not a range of opinions on the ruling party on the Chinese Internet. If you search for the same term on FreeWeibo (which allows searches for any keywords and includes posts deleted by Sina, but is blocked in China), you’ll find a lot of content. If you know who to follow on Weibo, you can create your own range of opinions and catch most of them before they’re deleted. You can use euphemisms for blocked keywords to get around the censorship. You can use circumvention tools to get around the Great Firewall and access all content on Google, Wikipedia etc. There are always ways around censorship. The point is that it’s not available to most people. And it’s not enough to connect to the Internet, as stated by Mr Liu Xiao Ming.

(3) “Strengthening Internet regulation is the will of the people”

Quoted from: Global Times (Dec 21)

In what seems to be a contradiction of the previous claim that you can get all kinds of opinions in China, when it comes to Internet regulation the people has one will (if you ask Global Times). They claim that it’s clear that Chinese people want more and stronger regulation of the Internet.

Global Times says nothing about the many Chinese Internet users who want less regulation and more freedom online. Conveniently, Sina Weibo frequently deletes such messages too.

But before strengthening online regulation, how about enforcing existing ones? Here’s a good place to start, from the Constitution of The People's Republic of China:

Article 35. Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.

If citizens of China have freedom of speech, then why are large volumes of posts on Sina Weibo being deleted daily? If citizens of China have freedom of the press, then why are the websites of The New York Times and Bloomberg blocked?

(4) “While other countries have legislated to regulate the Internet, China has still been thinking about it”

Quoted from: Global Times (Dec 21)

The Global Times goes on to say that “China's legislation on the Internet and actual management over it have been moderate so far”. This leaves the reader somewhat puzzled as to whether there is currently no legislation at all (since China has been thinking about it) or some limited legislation. Assuming the latter, let’s remember what this moderate legislation entails:

  • Google Drive, Picasa, Google Plus, Google Sites, Facebook, YouTube, Yahoo Hong Kong, Yahoo Taiwan, Baidu Zhidao Taiwan, Twitter, Blogspot, Wordpress, Blogger, IMDB, hundreds of Wikipedia articles, DailyMotion, Netflix, AOL Video, New York Times, Dropbox, Nicovideo, Vimeo, Slideshare and thousands more websites are all blocked.
  • All activity on Chinese websites is tracked and just by asking the ISP or the Internet cafe most users can be identified and arrested for posting something the authorities didn’t like, such as this joke or this call to start a new party.
  • All Chinese websites are required to self-censor. For example, Sina Weibo, the biggest microblog, blocks searches for thousands of keywords and deletes massive amounts of posts by users.

Assuming that this is the moderate approach, what would more radical regulation entail?

(5) “Foreign-run VPNs illegal in China”

Quoted from: Fang Binxing, “designer of the GFW” (Dec 14)

"As far as I know, companies running a VPN business in China must register with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology. I haven't heard that any foreign companies have registered," Fang said.

VPN businesses are by their nature not registered in China. They are online businesses offering services to any users connected to the Internet. Claiming that they would have to register in China is like claiming that any website with users in China needs a Chinese license.

(6) “Censors Relax Grasp on Internet”

Quoted from: Reuters (Dec 10)

As Xi Jinping was making his much heralded trip to Shenzhen, Reuters decided to report on “an apparent easing of Internet search restrictions that the party has energetically used to suppress information that could threaten one-party rule”. As evidence for this claim, they referred to the fact that you could now search for the names of certain top leaders, including Xi Jinping and Li Keqiang, on Sina Weibo.

Sina Weibo did indeed change their management of these keywords. However, going from the previous state of admitting censorship to allowing the search but showing only a limited set of prescreened results is not necessarily a step towards less censorship. If Sina admits to censoring results, users can find ways around the censorship. If Sina pretends to not censor results, users may never know and may think that what they see is a realistic, uncensored representation of user opinions.

All the while, Sina continues to delete unwanted comments on leaders. The authorities are stepping up interference with VPNs, used to circumvent the Great Firewall. Mainstream English-language media (Bloomberg, New York Times) has been blocked for the first time in years. The authorities are strongly pushing an agenda to further step up regulation of the Internet. None of this suggests that they are “relaxing their grasp on the Internet”.

(7) “Thank god my husband had to shake his porn habit after he got here”

Quoted from: Nellie Yellow, interviewed by Global Times (Oct 14)

The idea that censorship in China exists to protect people from foreign, sinful pornography is as widespread as it is false. While thousands of keywords are blocked on Google, “porn” is not one of them. And going through the search results on the first page, only three websites are blocked by the Great Firewall, while five others are perfectly accessible.

Sina Weibo does seem to take censoring pornography much more seriously. They block hundreds of sexual keywords, and most likely use a filter to automatically detect and remove pornographic images. The central authorities don’t object, but their management of the Great Firewall also suggests that they don’t think it should be prioritized. Perhaps they even get instructions from certain officials, who enjoy pornography, to let many such websites through.

(8) “China: The Home to Facebook and Twitter?”

Quoted from: GlobalWebIndex (Sep 27)

Research from GlobalWebIndex and eMarketer made headlines in September when they claimed that Google Plus, Facebook and Twitter, which are all blocked in China, nonetheless had achieved 107 million, 64 million and 35 million active users, respectively, in China. We posted eight questions to them, which they never responded to and TheNextWeb soon joined us in debunking their flawed figures.

Did we miss some good quotes? Do you disagree with our views? Your comments are much appreciated!


More Blog Posts

Subscribe to our mailing list
Show content from Blog | Google+ | Twitter | All. Subscribe to our blog using RSS.

Thu, Aug 10, 2023

1.4 million people used FreeBrowser to circumvent the Great Firewall of Turkmenistan

Since 2021, the authorities in Turkmenistan have taken exceptional measures to crack down on the use of circumvention tools. Citizens have been forced to swear on the Koran that they will not use a VPN. Circumvention tool websites have been systematically blocked. Arbitrary searches of mobile devices have also taken place and have even targeted school children and teachers.

The government has also blocked servers hosting VPNs which led to “near complete” internet shutdowns on several occasions in 2022. Current reports indicate that 66 hosting providers, 19 social networks and messaging platforms, and 10 leading content delivery networks (CDNs), are blocked in the country. The government presumably is unconcerned about the negative economic impact that such shutdowns can cause.

Fri, Mar 18, 2022

Well-intentioned decisions have just made it easier for Putin to control the Russian Internet

This article is in large part inspired by a recent article from Meduza (in Russian).

Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, Russian users have had problems accessing government websites and online banking clients. Browsers began to mark these sites as unsafe and drop the connection. The reason is the revocation of digital security certificates by foreign certificate authorities (either as a direct consequence of sanctions or as an independent, good will move); without them, browsers do not trust sites and “protect” their users from them.

However, these actions, caused - or at least triggered by - a desire to punish Russia for their gruesome actions in Ukraine, will have long-lasting consequences for Russian netizens.

Digital certificates are needed to confirm that the site the user wants to visit is not fraudulent. The certificates contain encryption keys to establish a secure connection between the site and the user. It is very easy to understand whether a page on the Internet is protected by a certificate. One need just look at the address bar of the browser. If the address begins with the https:// prefix, and there is a lock symbol next to the address, the page is protected. By clicking on this lock, you can see the status of the connection, the name of the Certification Authority (CA) that issued the certificate, and its validity period.

There are several dozen commercial and non-commercial organizations in the world that have digital root certificates, but 3/4 of all certificates are issued by only five of the largest companies. Four of them are registered in the USA and one is registered in Belgium.

Mon, Aug 03, 2020

Announcing the Release of GreatFire AppMaker

GreatFire (https://en.greatfire.org/), a China-focused censorship monitoring organization, is proud to announce that we have developed and released a new anti-censorship tool that will enable any blocked media outlet, blogger, human rights group, or civil society organization to evade censors and get their content onto the phones of millions of readers and supporters in China and other countries that censor the Internet.

GreatFire has built an Android mobile app creator, called “GreatFire AppMaker”, that can be used by organizations to unblock their content for users in China and other countries. Organizations can visit a website (https://appmaker.greatfire.org/) which will compile an app that is branded with the organization’s own logo and will feature their own, formerly blocked content. The app will also contain a special, censorship-circumventing web browser so that users can access the uncensored World Wide Web. The apps will use multiple strategies, including machine learning, to evade advanced censorship tactics employed by the Chinese authorities.  This project will work equally well in other countries that have China-like censorship restrictions. For both organizations and end users, the apps will be free, fast, and extremely easy to use.

This project was inspired by China-based GreatFire’s first-hand experience with our own FreeBrowser app (https://freebrowser.org/en) and desire to help small NGOs who may not have the in-house expertise to circumvent Chinese censorship. GreatFire’s anti-censorship tools have worked in China when others do not. FreeBrowser directs Chinese internet users to normally censored stories from the app’s start page (http://manyvoices.news/).

Fri, Jul 24, 2020

Apple, anticompetition, and censorship

On July 20, 2020, GreatFire wrote to all 13 members of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law of the U.S. House Committee on the Judiciary, requesting a thorough examination into Apple’s practice of censorship of its App Store, and an investigation into how the company collaborates with the Chinese authorities to maintain its unique position as one of the few foreign tech companies operating profitably in the Chinese digital market.  

This letter was sent a week before Apple CEO TIm Cook will be called for questioning in front of the Subcommittee on Antitrust, Commercial and Administrative Law. The CEOs of Amazon, Google and Facebook will also be questioned on July 27, as part of the Committee’s ongoing investigation into competition in the digital marketplace.

This hearing offers an opportunity to detail to the Subcommittee how Apple uses its closed operating ecosystem to not only abuse its market position but also to deprive certain users, most notably those in China, of their right to download and use apps related to privacy, secure communication, and censorship circumvention.

We hope that U.S. House representatives agree with our view that Apple should not be allowed to do elsewhere what would be considered as unacceptable in the U.S. Chinese citizens are not second class citizens. Private companies such as Apple compromise themselves and their self-proclaimed values of freedom and privacy when they collaborate with the Chinese government and its censors.

Mon, Jun 10, 2019

Apple Censoring Tibetan Information in China

Apple has a long history of censorship when it comes to information about Tibet. In 2009, it was revealed that several apps related to the Dalai Lama were not available in the China App Store. The developers of these apps were not notified that their apps were removed. When confronted with these instances of censorship, an Apple spokesperson simply said that the company “continues to comply with local laws”.

In December, 2017, at a conference in China, when asked about working with the Chinese authorities to censor the Apple App Store, Tim Cook proclaimed:

"Your choice is: do you participate, or do you stand on the sideline and yell at how things should be. And my own view very strongly is you show up and you participate, you get in the arena because nothing ever changes from the sideline."

In the ten years since Apple was first criticized for working with the Chinese authorities to silence already marginalized voices, what has changed? Apple continues to strictly follow the censorship orders of the Chinese authorities. When does Tim Cook expect that his company will help to bring about positive change in China?

Based on data generated from https://applecensorship.com, Apple has now censored 29 popular Tibetan mobile applications in the China App Store. Tibetan-themed apps dealing with news, religious study, tourism, and even games are being censored by Apple. A full list of the censored apps appear below.

Subscribe to our blog using RSS.


If some one wants expert view about blogging and site-building afterward i propose
him/her to pay a visit this website, Keep up the nice work.

Appreciate this post. Will try it out.

of course like your web site but you have to check the spelling on several
of your posts. A number of them are rife with spelling issues
and I find it very troublesome to tell the reality on the other hand I will surely come again again.

Yesterday, while I was at work, my sister stole my
iPad and tested to see if it can survive a 40 foot drop,
just so she can be a youtube sensation. My iPad is
now broken and she has 83 views. I know this is totally off topic but I had
to share it with someone!

|Caffeine is a culprit in the world of beauty. It can add years to your looks, make you appear to be tired, and also make you jumpy and nervous. Limit your intake of coffee and tea to one cup each day. As an alternative without a detrimental affect on your beauty, consider a green tea or decaffeinated java.

Wow that was strange. I just wrote an incredibly long comment but after I clicked
submit my comment didn't show up. Grrrr... well
I'm not writing all that over again. Anyway, just wanted to say superb blog!

this post is awesome, great msg for us, plz update ur blog for daily basis, i am regular visitor of this site, so keep posting for us,

click the below links to create backlink
best free backlink website
click here for msg movie

Puja to Get Wealth (Money)
Dhanteras wishes

water softeners on the marketplace. watergadget.com The salt-free water conditioners usually

Add new comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.