The Great (Fire) Wall of China Keeps Out Free Speech

Great Fire Wall of China Keeps Out Free SpeechIt seems that whenever the communist Chinese have a problem, they like to wall it off by separating the problem from the general population. For a long time, dissidents have been separated in labor and reeducation camps. Now it appears that unwelcome commentary is getting its own wall—a firewall.

In a futile attempt to control all communication, China has created the News Morality Committee to censor the Internet use of its citizens extending to Facebook, Twitter and the blocking of popular Virtual Private Network (VPN) providers such as Golden Frog, Astrill and StrongVPN.

An editorial in the official Communist Party newspaper, The People’s Daily, hyped the need for the government to “purify” the work of journalists “lest the country slip into a bog of evil winds and noxious fumes.” The rhetoric continues with the promise of more utopia assuring that the Communist Party will guide the media industry into a “cold and bright space.”1

On March 1, 60,000 online accounts were deleted by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), for spurious reasons. The accusations include misleading information, rumor mongering, links to terrorism, violence, pornography and other violations—whatever that might be. The main goal of the new regulations is to force people to use their real names online. This way the government can hold people accountable when they criticize the government.

This is a puzzling list of transgressions in light of the fact that the accusers are communists, a group of individuals that give misleading information, spread rumors, commit acts of terrorism and violence and deny morality. Communism is officially atheistic and has no moral code because the end justifies the means. The existence of a News Morality Committee seems to be a patent oxymoron.

In 2014, China earned the top place for the world’s worst jailer of journalists, bloggers and cyber dissidents according to the Committee to Protect Journalists. The alleged crimes committed: criticizing the communist government. What is Chinese President Xi Jinping’s response? Silence the opposition in blatant contradiction with the Chinese communist constitution that feigns to protect free speech.

Article 35 of China’s constitution, states that “citizens of the People’s Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration.”2

Apparently Article 35 does not apply to journalists. The organization, Reporters Without Borders, ranked China 175 out of 180 countries in its 2014 worldwide index of press freedom.3 The organization reported that journalists are pressured into “self censorship” through physical and psychological harassment, imprisonment and the arbitrary destruction of physical and digital archives. For Reporters Without Borders, China is a nation with physical walls and firewalls to silence all free speech.

Footnotes

  1. http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/12/08/china-rails-against-pollution-of-the-journalistic-vari
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constitution_of_the_People’s_Republic_of_China
  3. http://rsf.org/index2014/en-index2014.php

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