Tuesday, May 26, 2009

China Internet Censorship

I've been re-reading George Orwell's book 1984 for the last couple of weeks and, among other things, it has inspired me to spend a lot of time learning about Internet censorship in China. So, I'd like to take a couple minutes to share with you what I've been reading up on this last week:

As you may or may not already know, China spends millions of dollars and countless hours of man power in a never-ending effort to censor the ever-growing Internet. Their censorship is quite extensive and extends not only to the Internet but to all media and means of distributing information to the people.

Among other things, the government regulates it's citizens from creating, replicating, retrieving, or transmitting any information that they perceive as:

  • Inciting to overthrow the government or the socialist system
  • Inciting division of the country, harming national unification
  • Making falsehoods or distorting the truth, spreading rumors, destroying the order of society
  • Promoting feudal superstitions, sexually suggestive material, gambling, violence, murder

The kinds of information that is actually restricted on the Internet is wide-ranging and includes:

  • News sources that often cover some taboo topics such as police brutality, Tienanmen Square protests of 1989, freedom of speech, democracy, and Marxist sites.
  • Media sites which may include unregulated content, social commentary or political commentary censored by the PRC.
  • Sites hosted by Taiwan's government and major newspaper and television media and other sites with information on Taiwanese independence
  • Web sites that contain obscenity, pornography, and criminal activity.
  • Sites linked with the Dalai Lama and his International Tibet Independence Movement, including his teachings.

Some specific sites that are (or were) blocked include:

Wikipedia and Chinese Wikipedia
Amnesty International
Human Rights Watch
The New York Times
The United Nations
You Tube
All Blogspot and Blogger Blogs (that means this one!)
Flickr and Webshots (two popular photo-sharing websites)
(this list came from
this wikipedia entry)

Despite the PRC's exhaustive and endless effort to weed out all virtual dissidents, people are more clever than algorithms, and some things will inevitably slip through the cracks. The video below, a song of the "Mud Grass Horse" is just one example.

I'm not going to go into too much detail about the video because the New York Times did a great job in
this article, but here is the video, check it out for yourself:

Pretty clever, huh?
I am sure that there were, are, and will be more videos like this one...at least I sure hope there are. I guess that's the American in me feeling the need for democracy to spread throughout the world...

But I do believe that in this "information age" it will become virtually impossible to censor the Internet from it's largest user-base, and for the sake of the people of China... I sure hope I'm right.


  1. we were in China back in March, and i checked to see if my blog was readable from Black Dragon Province. it was. i was also surprised to learn that Michael Turton's blog was also not blocked.

  2. I am a subscriber of an Australian broadband service provider and for me, we should be able to use the internet responsibly.