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SHAPE OF PUBLIC OPINION AND THE CENSORSHIP PHENOMENON: China

China has the world's largest Internet population. By the end of 2013, China's Internet user base had grown to 618 million. The voice of the online public has become too loud to ignore as the number of Internet users grows at an exponential rate.


The Chinese media has enormous power over popular opinion and Chinese politics. Hundreds of broadcasters, over 2,000 newspapers and periodicals, and innumerable web-media outlets fight intensely for attention and a large advertising market. Simultaneously, the government is continuously reevaluating media regulations and control.


The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and other Chinese government agencies have long worked to influence public debate and media coverage of China worldwide, a practice that has escalated in recent years. Over the last month, several news pieces and investigations, typically by local journalists, have revealed new evidence of how Chinese government-linked individuals influence global information flows through propaganda, censorship, surveillance, and control over the infrastructure.


 


A relevant example of Chinese censorship is recent and comes from the pandemic situation. Indeed, while the world is trying to recover from these last 2 years of Covid-19, trying to accept the virus by living with it, China does not seem that reasonable in adopting the zero-covid policy. While Shanghai shut down for the past seven weeks, the Chinese government implemented a censorship strategy to conceal the situation


SEARCHING "Shanghai lockdown" on the Chinese microblogging platform Weibo yields numerous videos of desolate streets and emergency workers distributing food. There are fewer indicators of the city's 26 million people combined wrath, despair, and desperation who have been confined to their homes since April 5 and are battling to obtain food and medicine. Though there are references to the legendary occurrence, which became a symbol of the terrible lockdown circumstances, there is no footage of pandemic workers clubbing a pet corgi to death after its owners were quarantined.


The Great Firewall of China is one of the most advanced internet filtering and censorship systems in the world. State media said in 2013 that nearly 2 million employees were hired to track online content. Furthermore, Yaqiu Wang, a senior China researcher at Human Rights Watch, says censorship has tightened since then.


Foreign firms use censorship to conduct business in China, which is a developing phenomenon given the country's market size and massive consumer base. Companies that don't want to offend the Chinese government or their Chinese customers exercise self-censorship and penalize employees who do so. Under pressure from the Chinese authorities, some corporations have apologized or issued statements in support of the regime's objectives.


Particularly, China imposes censorship on the film industry (Hollywood producers generally seek to comply with the Chinese government's censorship requirements in a bid to access the country's restricted and lucrative cinema market, with the second-largest box office in the world) on videogames and journalism.


Foreign journalists have reported rising official interference with their work, with a 2016 Foreign Correspondents' Club of China survey finding that 98 percent considered reporting conditions failed to meet international standards. Interference includes withholding a visa to work in the country, harassment, and violence by the secret police, and requiring press conference questions to submit for pre-screening. As a result of increasing intimidation and the threat of being denied a visa, foreign journalists in China have increasingly engaged in self-censorship. Topics avoided by journalists include Xinjiang, Tibet, and Falun Gong.


 


To what extent will Chinese censorship continue in the future?


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Tags: #china #censorship #Shanghai #publicopinion



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