When you read the news about internet suppression in China, you may wonder – how many distinct ways of censorship can there be?
by Eugene Michaels
It seems that the Chinese government has tried and done it all to maintain its power over the domestic internet connection and contents.
Keyword blocking? Check. Man-in-the-middle attack? Check. Deletion of harming posts on social media? Check. URL filtering and IP blocking? Check and check. The list of methods that the Chinese government has cared through may surely go on for a while.
Some people have even been detained for criticising the state on social media or selling VPNs within China. Thus, taking the online restrictions to the offline world.
Furthermore, according to the recent legislation, all the VPNs not approved by the state were supposed to be banned on the 31st of March, 2018. It is already April, but no visible blocking has taken place. Businesses and individuals have been bracing themselves for a massive internet cut-off for months, but everyone is still entirely unsure when or what might happen. The government is not communicating anything about the blocking with the public, nor informing the local businesses about the government-approved VPN connections to be offered as an alternative.
For now, everyone can continue enjoying the access to Facebook and Google, while wondering if this is the last time you post a new status. Just like any other day in China.
Yet, this might leave everyone wondering, what’s next to come? Well, the Chinese government is trying out a method of making the whole internet more “Chinese”. The latest idea of the Communist Party is an establishment of a super media network, dubbed the Voice of China.
The mere repression of the domestic internet contents is no longer enough; now the government has decided to merge three major state-owned radio and TV networks, which shall employ over 14.000 journalists and other staff. Also, the propaganda department of the PRC shall directly control these three media networks. Such a massively centralized media virtually allows the government to control any press message that leaves China. It becomes easier to pour propaganda to the key audiences around the world and dominate the global narrative.
According to a press release from Xinhua (the official press agency of the PRC), the Voice of China has a goal of “propagating the party’s theories, directions, principles, and policies” while communicating positive stories about China with the world.
Nevertheless, such a massive project should not come as a surprise to most China-watchers. Ever since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, these initiatives have been quite regular.
For example, the Belt & Road Initiative, which was launched in 2013. Its primary focus is the economic and cultural connectivity and collaboration between the Eurasian nations. The initiative includes almost 70 countries across four continents. Some have been calling this colossal project China’s attempt to extend its power across the eastern hemisphere and counterbalance the American influence.
The same has been said about such Chinese projects as the numerous Confucius Institutes, global CCTV broadcasts, and even the international education initiatives, like the Yenching Academy at Peking University. In other words, any time the Chinese government invests money in shaping the public opinion about this nation around the world, someone becomes suspicious.
Still, this specific Voice of China super-network might be a bit too much even for China. While the global community is already criticising the government for massively censoring domestic social media and blocking VPNs, implementing a Chinese-style of internet censorship and propaganda on the global-scale is different.
The censorship of internet is a complex topic no matter how one looks at it. As always, those outside the Firewall of China can only get a small glimpse into what is happening in there. We should stay positive that the Chinese state-control over internet subsidies and eventually disappears. Until that happens, NordVPN is here to protect the privacy of its users against private and governmental entities while giving one of the best gifts of the modern age – the unlimited and democratic internet.
Image: Matteo Damiani
Also published on Medium.