China has set up a strong system of Internet censorship and online monitoring, making the tracking of Internet users even easier.
by Jolie Lenkewicz
The system is made to block certain material and make it unreachable as well as inaccessible to the general audience. The Chinese government blocks numerous websites: foreign news sites, the most popular social media websites like Facebook, Instagram, foreign streaming video services and others. While some of the websites are blocked in general (including many Taiwanese and Hong Kong websites), the Chinese search engines are modified as well to adjust to the strict censorship. Only a few or no results are shown regarding certain keywords, making it seem as if the topic does not exist, tightening the online user control. Moreover, this type of information circumvention plants a certain idea that some topics are not discussed, making it another type of brainwashing.
There are certain groups of keywords that are blocked in China. For example, general keywords that are related to politics and political views – words like democracy, human rights, anti-communism, oppression, tyranny, dictatorship and similar. This is to avoid hate speech and criticism regarding the current ruling government and the Chinese Communist Party.
Also, banned are the keywords of events that are related to certain protests and dissent. Moreover, the names of the most famous Chinese dissidents and dissident groups are prohibited too. Dissident news channels and other media that encourages protest and self-consciousness are blocked without question.
Pornography and sexual content is blocked as well. It can be said that anything that might seem even slightly sexual or of sexual nature is prohibited, even words like ‘bra’ or ‘underwear’ are blocked. Other restricted keywords include gambling, violence and profane language as well as general curse words. This is to avoid spreading negativity online.
Of course, anything related to Tibet or Xinjiang and their independence, country names such as USA, Taiwan and others are restricted. Some blocked words may seem like a weird combination that does not make sense, but it might be related to certain events as well as some key breaking points in politics and general occurrences in China.
Many Internet users do purchase VPNs (virtual private network) to access blocked websites as well as use it as a workaround to surf the web without restrictions. Surely, the Chinese government blocks VPNs to control the Internet users and prevents them from getting a VPN by blocking their websites, blocking the servers of VPNs as well as using other tricks to make sure that they do not work in China. While many virtual private networks do not work, there are still a few of them that fully function no matter what.
While the keywords that are getting blocked are growing rapidly day by day, the Chinese as well as expats are trying their best to find workarounds and solutions to access and browse the free and unrestricted Internet.
Also published on Medium.