Baidu's New Censorship Policies for Leaders' Names After the 18th Party Congress

Prior to November 2012, Baidu's practice was to restrict all queries containing the name of a member of

Searches on Oct. 27, 2012 for PBSC members' names on
Baidu restricted to return no results.

the Politburo Standing Committee of the Communist Party of China ("PBSC") to a strict white list of about a dozen websites controlled by the central government and the Communist Party:

State Run News Outlets
The China Daily (
The Economic Daily (
The People's Daily (
The Guang Ming Daily (
Xinhua (
China News Service ( 
State Run Broadcasters
China Radio International (
China Central Television ( and 
Government Agencies
Communist Party Youth League (
Central Government (
State Council Information Office (
State Council Taiwan Affairs Office(

In early 2012 Baidu also began including its own "Baike" Wikipedia clone in its strict white list -

In the weeks surrounding the 18th Party Congress, which convened from November 8 - 15, Baidu began tweaking its censorship of the names of current and future PBSC members' names, in some cases relaxing its censorship of those names and returning search results from its broad white list, which includes large China-based news and portal websites such as Sina, Sohu, and Tencent. See:

One month after the conclusion of the 18th Party Congress, Baidu appears to have settled on the following censorship policies for the names of senior government leaders:

  • Search results for queries containing only a member's name in Chinese are restricted to the strict white list.
  • Searches for member's names on Baidu's Tieba, Zhidao, and Wenku products return no results.
  • Search results for queries containing a member's name in Chinese plus a sensitive term are either restricted to the strict white list or censored completely.
  • New Search results for queries containing a member's name in Chinese plus a non-sensitive term are restricted to the broad white list.

Some examples:

These screenshots show that searches for "Hu Jintao" in 2009 and 2012 only returned results from Baidu's strict white list.

These screenshots show that a search for "Egypt Hu Jintao" in February 2011 only returned results from Baidu's strict white list. The same search in December 2012 returned results from Baidu's broad white list.

These screenshots, taken in December 2012, show that a search for "Egypt Hu Jintao" returns tens of thousands of search results, while a search for "Namibia Hu Jintao" returns no results, only a censorship notice.

These screenshots, also taken in December 2012, show that a search for "Xi Jinping" only returns results from Baidu's strict white list, but a search for "Xi Jinping Reform" returns results from Baidu's broad white list.

But these screenshots show that, while Baidu returned over a million results for a search for "Xi Jinping" restricted to the China-based, the same search on the Hong Kong-based returned no results, just a censorship notice.

Finally, these screenshots, also taken in December 2012, show that a search for "Xi Jinping" on Baidu's Tieba, Zhidao, and Wenku products still returns no results.



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And so last week the Chinese authorities determined that Twitter was the target. In particular, the authorities targeted the Twitter account for Guo Wengui (, the rebel billionaire who is slowly leaking information about corrupt Chinese government officials via his Twitter account and through his YouTube videos. Guo appeared to ramp up his whistle-blowing efforts last week and the Chinese authorities, in turn, ramped up theirs.


Mon, Dec 12, 2016

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flowers on google china plaque

Flowers left outside Google China’s headquarters after its announcement it might leave the country in 2010. Photo: Wikicommons.

What has Google accomplished since November 2013?

The first thing they have accomplished is an entire rebranding of both Google (now Alphabet) and Google Ideas (now Jigsaw). Throughout this blog post, reference is made to both new and old company names.

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Tue, Jul 05, 2016 now testing VPN speed and stability in China

There is a commonly held belief in China that if you have a VPN that works then you should keep quiet about it. In terms of freedom of access to information, the problem with this approach is that access to knowledge suddenly is a secret. Today we are launching a project that we hope will destroy that model.

Our newest website, Circumvention Central (CC), aims to provide real-time information and data about circumvention solutions that work in China. Since 2011, we have been collecting data about blocked websites in China and now we will add data about the effectiveness of VPNs and other circumvention tools.

We are launching CC with four main objectives in mind.

Our first objective is to help to grow the number of Chinese who circumvent censorship restrictions in China. By sharing our information and data about these tools, we hope to show a wider audience which circumvention tools are working.

Our second objective is to improve the circumvention experience for users in China by bringing transparency to tool performance. We will measure these tools on speed (how quickly popular websites are loaded) and on stability (the extent to which popular websites load successfully).

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