For people who want to get a glimpse of China’s latest move towards Internet control, the “Military Culture Internet Thematic Forum” hosted(In Chinese) by The Chinese Military Culture Society (CMCS) may offer some insights. In late June 2016, CMCS held the Forum in Beijing, in which Chinese military theorist Luo yuan, Du Wenlong, and 200 other experts were present.
Mr. Luo Yuan reiterated the necessity to “raise the awareness of escalating the preparedness on the Internet battlefield”. It should be noted that this is nothing new as the Chinese Communist Party and its military said earlier this year(In Chinese) that they are “waging an ideological war against hostile Western ideas on the Internet.” Through censorship, intimidation and repression, and with the help of the ‘Fifty-cent Party’, an army of paid or voluntary patriotic/nationalistic netizens, the CCP appears to be winning.
Analysts said that it is part of China’s larger effort to tame the Internet and to disprove the notion that the flow of ideas across the World Wide Web would be an unstoppable force towards democracy. News and information that might threaten the CCP are kept out of the country under a system of censorship known as the Great Firewall, while foreign social-media networks such as Facebook and Twitter that allow private citizens to share ideas and join forces are also banned. Behind the wall, China’s own social-media networks are closely policed to ensure public opinion does not coalesce into a threat for one-party rule.
It is also worthy to note that censors work selectively, targeting mostly anti-government voices or inflammatory comments that might lead to mass protests. Pro-government voices generally do not engage critics in discussion or argument, that would draw too much attention to controversial issues, but do often subject them to personal attack.
In as early as October 2011, the CCP’s top leadership vowed to “seize the commanding heights” of the Internet, a campaign that has only intensified since Chinese President Xi Jinping took office in 2013. The campaign’s targets range from the Big Vs: influential commentators online who enjoyed millions of fans and huge influence to ordinary citizens who participate in political discussion or posting “rumors” that get viewed more than 5,000 times or reposted 500 times.
Adding to the threat of Internet freedom is the real-name registration system. It is now required that users of Chinese social media, internet forums and many other online or mobile applications should provide their IDs before getting an account.
Broadening the campaign, China’s internet regulator also asked news websites to crack down on online comment sections, cleaning up comments that violated the “No.9 Document”(In Chinese) which specified “seven don’ts” and “sixteen no’s” including endangering state security, challenging socialism and inciting ethnic hatred.
If you live in China or are heading there any time soon, check out our picks for the best VPNs to use while in China.