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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.

Follow me @glynmoody on Twitter or identi.ca, and +glynmoody on Google+


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  1. icon
    John85851 (profile), 12 Nov 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.

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