China Announces ‘National Campaign to Clean Up’ Internet
The Chinese government newspaper Global Times recently announced Internet restrictions. They described a “national campaign to clean up the online environment.” The paper outlined new restrictions on the content of internet advertising.
Under communist ruler Xi Jinping, Beijing has significantly expanded its censorship of online content. For example, the Chinese Communist Party can force social media networks to take down any language they consider inappropriate. As at result, they have targeted thousands of websites publishing content it deems incompatible with “socialism with Chinese characteristics.”
This censorship will soon include all advertising content.
“China is going on a national campaign to clean up the online environment. This includes inappropriate online videos distorting popular cartoon characters and online games.” Major internet companies including Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent have been targeted. They were asked to “strengthen their self-discipline and supervision against pornographic, obscene and vulgar content.”
“Politically sensitive content” is on the top of the censorship list. Also included are ads “that threaten public order and people’s health.” However, the piece did not specify what an article has to do to “threaten public order.”
The campaign is “aimed at rectifying and correcting internet advertising.” They will begin by targeting “online advertising on 1,000 major websites. In addition, they will focus on 1,000 leading regional or national media, 1,000 mobile applications and 1,000 public accounts on various social media platforms.”
Specifically, China’s censors expanded their reach on social media significantly following the announcement that Communist Party officials would move to do away with term limits on the presidency.
That change will allow Xi Jinping to hold the title potentially indefinitely. The announcement triggered a wave of criticism on social media. In response, Beijing censored trigger phrases such as “I don’t agree,” “re-election,” “Winnie the Pooh” (a nickname Xi’s critics use). The letter N was barred from popular social media sites such as Weibo.
China’s censorship is possible because it controls such a large percentage of internet connections. In addition, they invest heavily in a network of government monitors. The monitors are paid to make sure any dissident material gets taken offline at a moment’s notice. The Communist Party has such a stronghold on its own internet that it has begun expanding its reach. They are not attempting to silence voices it does not like abroad. They have been using government media outlets to promote the benefits of “harmony” at the expense of free speech. They have been bullying global corporations with threats to shut them out of Chinese markets.
As part of this campaign, they have silenced corporations as large as Marriott hotels and Mercedes-Benz. China threatened to cut Marriott out of their market if they did not remove Taiwan and other regions China considers to be under its control, like Hong Kong and Macao. These were found on a drop-down menu communist censors found on one of their sites listing “countries.” In response, Marriott immediately removed the offending names and apologized.
Along with heightened Internet censorship, China has undertaken more aggressive “predictive policing” to put thousands of Chinese into “education” camps.