Lincoln High School Statesman

The Great Firewall expands

Big Trouble in Little China

Silly ole' bear

Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo

Silly ole' bear

Will Howes, Staff Writer

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Citizens of the People’s Republic of China have long endured the harsh reality of state-mandated censorship. However, as President Xi Jinping pushes to remove term limits from law and cement his power indefinitely, censorship practices are shifting from bad to much, much worse.

Chinese authorities have long opposed the spreading of ideas that could threaten the stability of their empire. As new forms of media have come and gone, China has only ever become more controlling of its citizens’ cultural views and the information they have access to. In this age of information, China has become the most impressive force of censorship the world has ever seen.

The following is an excerpt from Section Five of the Computer Information Network and Internet Security, Protection, and Management Regulations, approved by the Chinese State Council on Dec 11, 1997:

“No unit or individual may use the Internet to create, replicate, retrieve, or transmit the following kinds of information:

  1. Inciting to resist or breaking the Constitution or laws or the implementation of administrative regulations;
  2. Inciting to overthrow the government or the socialist system;
  3. Inciting division of the country, harming national unification;
  4. Inciting hatred or discrimination among nationalities or harming the unity of the nationalities;
  5. Making falsehoods or distorting the truth, spreading rumors, destroying the order of society;
  6. Promoting feudal superstitions, sexually suggestive material, gambling, violence, murder;
  7. Terrorism or inciting others to criminal activity; openly insulting other people or distorting the truth to slander people;
  8. Injuring the reputation of state organizations;
  9. Other activities against the Constitution, laws or administrative regulations.”

The People’s Republic of China treats free speech like a plague and curb stomps conformity into its citizens. Minor infractions are solved with extensive jail time. China insists that current law “guarantees the citizen’s freedom of speech on the Internet as well as the public’s right to know, to participate, to be heard and to oversee.”

China is lying.

Jed Crandall, the Associate Professor of the Department of Computer Science at the University of New Mexico, explained censorship tactics in China like this:

“Imagine you want to remove the history of the Wounded Knee massacre from the Library of Congress,” said Crandall. “You could remove ‘Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee’ and a few other selected books, or you could remove every book in the entire library that contains the word ‘massacre.’”

The latter strategy is China’s favorite way to keep its people out of the know. If a person in China was to search the terms “democracy movements” or “persecution,” zero search results would be found. Internet traffic is thoroughly vetted by the two million state-employed censors through what is commonly called “the great firewall.” Common methods to escape censorship, like through a VPN or the Tor browser, have been or will soon be blocked.

It isn’t hard to imagine why Jinping enforces this; he has every right to be worried about the power an idea can have. As shown during the Arab Spring of 2011, social media and the instant communication that the internet allows for empowers people more than any tools before them.

Currently facing criticism from the many concerned citizens of China, Jinping has beat himself at his own game once again. According to censorship-monitoring website China Digital Times, newly-censored phrases include:

  • I don’t agree
  • slavery
  • constitution amendment
  • emigration
  • Winnie the Pooh*
  • re-election
  • election term
  • constitution rules
  • driving backwards

*Winnie the Pooh was banned because it has become a satirical nickname for Jinping

The China situation is bleak at best. Jinping wants absolute power and it seems that he won’t let anything get in his way. As for the rights of Chinese citizens, extinction looms. As for what happens next, all we can do now is wait and see.

Update: After a vote within the National People’s Congress on March 11, the 3000 members of China’s legislation voted almost unanimously in favor of removing term limits. Xi got his way.

For more information, these two articles offer quick explanations on why this matters for China and what the future may hold.

Will Howes, Staff Writer
LHS junior Will Howes is a first year staff writer and the official legume editor of the Statesman. A strong believer in the power of the bean, Will has dined on Bush’s Best for every meal he has had since 2007. In his future, Will hopes to have achieved his lifelong dream of becoming the...
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