How China Is Going Global With Its Censorship

from the art-of-persuasion dept

It is neither a secret nor much of a surprise that China keeps its media under tight control. But one knock-on consequence of its rise as a global power is that it is now seeking to extend that influence to those located outside China, including mainstream Western media. That trend is explored in a new report from The Center for International Media Assistance (CIMA), entitled "The Long Shadow of Chinese Censorship: How the Communist Party's Media Restrictions Affect News Outlets Around the World."

It's well researched, and contains plenty of documented examples of situations where China has applied pressure to media organizations in various ways -- subtle and not-so-subtle -- in order to re-frame discussions so that they are more favorable to itself and its agendas:

Since coming to power in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has constructed a multi-layered system for censoring unwanted news and stifling opposing viewpoints within China. Over the past two decades, this domestic apparatus has spawned mechanisms that extend some censorship to media outlets based outside China. Reflecting the adaptive nature of Chinese authoritarianism, such pressures are a complex mix of overt official actions and more discreet dynamics. They manifest themselves in four key ways:

Direct action by Chinese diplomats, local officials, security forces, and regulators both inside and outside China. These measures obstruct newsgathering, prevent the publication of undesirable content, and punish overseas media outlets that fail to heed restrictions.

Economic "carrots" and "sticks" to induce self-censorship among media owners and their outlets headquartered outside mainland China.

Indirect pressure applied via proxies -- including advertisers, satellite firms, and foreign governments -- who take action to prevent or punish the publication of content critical of Beijing.

Incidents such as cyberattacks and physical assaults that are not conclusively traceable to the central Chinese authorities but serve the party's aims and result from an atmosphere of impunity for those attacking independent media.
CIMA's report offers a fascinating snapshot of a development that is important for both the media and online worlds. Although the details may change over time, the basic methods are likely to remain the same, which makes this a valuable primer of what to watch out for in the future.

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Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 1:48am

    The funny thing is everyone in China knows how to bypass the "not so great firewall"

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 2:15am

    Machines that can be used to publish media are controlled as well

    Anyone who wants to buy printer that has printing speed faster than page per minutes must acquire written permission from the authorities.

    Anyone who wants to setup server that allow users to post article/comments must obtain written permission with authorization number from the authorities, and such number must be displayed on every major page of the website.

    Internet is not a media that can be easily controlled, so the form of control is much more limited. However, without written permission from authorities (again!), your VPN connection will be automatically disconnected on router level every 15 minutes or so.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 2:15am

    no needs the Chinese for this. Cameron over in the UK is doing a pretty good job all on his own! he is going along with whatever he is told by any industry, particularly the US entertainments industry, Hollywood, Riaa and BPI, without anyone ever being able to defend themselves in court and is allowing web sites to be blocked willy-nilly, all on the say so of those industries. there is no listening to anyone else, from any other section. there is also no 'why dont you try to do what customers want? why dont you try to do what other industries are doing?' then add in that the UKL has just added another 20years on to copyright terms and you see the 'China of the West' in action!!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:18am

    we're already censored enough as it is. if they build a great firewall for everyone else we may as well just turn off the internet and watch crappy tv shows and go back to the way it used to be before we had the internet. I remember what that was like and it sucked.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    corwin, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 7:24am

    lolwut

    How exactly do they go about punishing non-Chinese publications? Makes no sense.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 8:22am

    Re: lolwut

    How exactly do they go about punishing non-Chinese publications?

    From pp.6-7 of the full report:
    The Chinese authorities’ transnational media controls manifest themselves differently in different environments. Within China, local officials, security forces, and regulators forcibly prevent foreign correspondents from accessing sensitive locations or interviewees, intimidate their Chinese assistants, and block websites. Outside China, diplomats urge senior executives to alter content, compel businesses to refrain from advertising in disfavored Chinese-language media, and in extreme cases, pressure other governments to suppress CCP critics.

    And, further from p.8, at the the beginning of the section entitled “Overview: A Transnational Toolbox”:

    Since coming to power in 1949, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has constructed a multi-layered system for censoring unwanted news and stifling opposing viewpoints within China. Over the past two decades, this domestic apparatus has spawned mechanisms that extend some censorship to media outlets based outside China. Reflecting the adaptive nature of Chinese authoritarianism, such pressures are a complex mix of overt official actions and more discreet dynamics. They manifest themselves in four key ways:
    • Direct action by Chinese diplomats, local officials, security forces, and regulators both inside and outside China. These measures obstruct newsgathering, prevent the publication of undesirable content, and punish overseas media outlets that fail to heed restrictions.

    • Economic “carrots” and “sticks” to induce self-censorship among media owners and their outlets headquartered outside mainland China.

    • Indirect pressure applied via proxies–including advertisers, satellite firms, and foreign governments–who take action to prevent or punish the publication of content critical of Beijing.

    Incidents such as cyberattacks and physical assaults that are not conclusively traceable to the central Chinese authorities but serve the party’s aims and result from an atmosphere of impunity for those attacking independent media.

    (Footnote omitted; emphasis in original.)

    wtf, tl;dr, lolwut?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
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    John Fenderson (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 2:56pm

    Re: lolwut

    What Corwin said. Here's a different real-world example of China trying to censor things in the US:

    http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2012/09/12/13833952-china-asks-city-in-oregon-to-scrub-mural-for- tibetan-taiwanese-independence

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
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    John85851 (profile), Nov 12th, 2013 @ 3:16pm

    Isn't this similar to what the US does?

    I think it was only a matter of time until we saw something like this. After all, if the US government can influence other countries' use of the Internet (based on policy from the MPAA and RIAA), then why shouldn't other countries do the same?

    I'm just waiting for the day when a US official says China or North Korea or Iran is being "outrageous" about trying to control the internet when it's the US who puts pressure on other countries to enforce copyrights.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Nov 12th, 2013 @ 3:20pm

    Re: Re: lolwut

    What Corwin said.

    He said, “tl;dr”.    So the report was too long to read for you, too?

    I know it's very difficult, but try and see if you can make it as far as the first paragraph on page 9.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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