Whistleblower Reveals Google’s Plans for Censored Search in China

James Vincent
Verge
According to internal documents provided to The Intercept by a whistleblower, Google has been developing a censored version of its search engine under the codename “Dragonfly” since the beginning of 2017. The search engine is being built as an...

Disgraced Former Chinese Internet Tzar Lu Wei Charged with Bribery

James Griffiths
CNN
Lu Wei “accepted a large number of bribes” during his time as national propaganda chief, head of the Cyberspace Administration of China, deputy head of the official Xinhua news agency, and as a Beijing city official, according to state media.

Conversation

07.30.18

China May Become the World’s Leader in AI. But at What Cost?

Andrew Batson, Virgilio Bisio & more
The unprecedented amounts of data Chinese tech giants like Baidu and Alibaba collect is helping accelerate China’s development of big data and artificial intelligence (AI) applications, including facial recognition, automated retail operations, and...

Facebook’s Return to China Thrown into Doubt

BBC
The company, like all major US tech platforms, has been blocked in the country since 2009. Facebook said on Wednesday it had secured a licence to set up an “innovation hub to support Chinese developers, innovators and start-ups”. But 24 hours later...

Chinese Internet Users Employ the Blockchain to Share a Censored News Article

Shannon Liao
Verge
Chinese netizens have turned to blockchain to share a censored news story about faulty vaccines given to small babies. Their efforts to repost an investigative piece about a large vaccine maker were largely thwarted by Internet monitors, but by...

John Oliver, Having Mocked Chinese Censorship, Is Censored in China

Tiffany May
New York Times
In a 20-minute segment about China that aired Sunday on the satirical news show “Last Week Tonight,” the host John Oliver brought up President Xi Jinping’s resemblance to Winnie the Pooh.

‘Ruling Through Ritual’: An Interview with Guo Yuhua

Ian Johnson from New York Review of Books
Guo Yuhua is one of China’s best-known sociologists and most incisive government critics. A professor at Tsinghua University in Beijing, she has devoted her career to researching human suffering in Chinese society, especially that of peasants, the...

Books

06.13.18

Censored

Margaret E. Roberts
Princeton University Press: As authoritarian governments around the world develop sophisticated technologies for controlling information, many observers have predicted that these controls would be ineffective because they are easily thwarted and evaded by savvy Internet users. In Censored, Margaret Roberts demonstrates that even censorship that is easy to circumvent can still be enormously effective. Taking advantage of digital data harvested from the Chinese Internet and leaks from China’s Propaganda Department, this book sheds light on how and when censorship influences the Chinese public.Roberts finds that much of censorship in China works not by making information impossible to access but by requiring those seeking information to spend extra time and money for access. By inconveniencing users, censorship diverts the attention of citizens and powerfully shapes the spread of information. When Internet users notice blatant censorship, they are willing to compensate for better access. But subtler censorship, such as burying search results or introducing distracting information on the web, is more effective because users are less aware of it. Roberts challenges the conventional wisdom that online censorship is undermined when it is incomplete and shows instead how censorship’s porous nature is used strategically to divide the public.Drawing parallels between censorship in China and the way information is manipulated in the United States and other democracies, Roberts reveals how Internet users are susceptible to control even in the most open societies. Demonstrating how censorship travels across countries and technologies, Censored gives an unprecedented view of how governments encroach on the media consumption of citizens.{chop}

For Better or Worse, Africa’s Digital Future is Tied to China

Eric Olander, Cobus van Staden & more
Chinese tech companies are now the most important players in Africa’s rapid emergence as one of the world’s fastest growing digital markets. People’s Republic of China companies, private and state-owned, are working with local telecom operators...

Peppa Pig, Subversive Symbol of the Counterculture, in China Video Site Ban

Benjamin Haas
Guardian
The latest subversive symbol in China is a small pink cartoon pig: Peppa Pig to be precise.

China Wages War on Apps Offering News and Jokes

The Economist
Economist
At the end of last year Bytedance, one of China’s most talked-about technology firms, seemed to have the world at its feet.

Conversation

04.18.18

A Ban on Gay Content, Stopped in Its Tracks

Siodhbhra Parkin, Steven Jiang & more
On April 13, China’s major microblogging platform Sina Weibo announced that, in order to create “a sunny and harmonious” environment, it would remove videos and comics “with pornographic implications, promoting bloody violence, or related to...

Reports

03.13.18

Forbidden Feeds: Government Controls on Social Media in China

PEN America
PEN International
Based on extensive interviews with writers, poets, artists, activists, and others personally affected by the government’s grip on online expression, as well as interviews with anonymous employees at Chinese social media companies, this report lays...

Media

03.08.18

Weibo Whack-a-Mole

King-wa Fu, Channing Huang & more from Weiboscope
China might be the world’s second-largest economy, and have more Internet users than any other country, but each year it is ranked as the nation that enjoys the least Internet freedom among the 65 sample nations scored by the U.S.-based Freedom...

Why China Is Censoring Winnie the Pooh—and the Letter ‘N’

Natasha Bach
Fortune
Chinese President Xi Jinping has had a fruitful five plus years in his current position.

Viewpoint

02.15.18

A Clash of Cyber Civilizations

Geoffrey Hoffman
There has been little need for the term “cyber sovereignty” among democratic states: the Internet, by its nature, operates under an aegis of freedom and cooperation. However, as the international system slips away from American unipolarity, a...

Germany’s Daimler Issues ‘Full Apology’ to China over Dalai Lama

BBC
Daimler has issued a second emphatic apology to China after its subsidiary, Mercedes Benz, quoted the Dalai Lama in an Instagram post on Monday.

‘Me Too,’ Chinese Women Say. Not so Fast, Say the Censors.

Javier C. Hernández and Zoe Mou
New York Times
They call themselves “silence breakers,” circulate petitions demanding investigations into sexual harassment and share internet memes like clenched fists with painted nails.

China’s Vpn Crackdown Is about Money as Much as Censorship

Lucy Hornby
Financial Times
For years, Beijing has played a cat-and-mouse game with anyone trying to breach its Great Firewall of internet censorship. Recently, however, it has switched gears from high-tech censorship to old-fashioned shakedown, as the Ministry of Industry and...

China Disrupts Global Companies’ Web Access as Censorship Bites

Yuan Yang and Lucy Hornby
Financial Times
Groups fear being forced to use expensive VPN software surveilled by Beijing.

Google Says ‘No Changes’ to Mapping Platform in China after Report

Reuters
CNBC
Google denied a media report that claimed the tech giant was re-launching its mapping functions in China, where many of its services are blocked.

China's Social Media Giants Want Their Users to Help out with the Crushing Burden of Censorship

Quartz
China’s social media giants are ramping up efforts to get their users to turn in people circulating taboo content, as the Communist Party further tightens its grip on the country’s internet.

Conversation

12.06.17

Apple in China: WTF?

Samuel Wade, Shaun Rein & more
In November, the non-profit watchdog Freedom House called China “the worst abuser of Internet freedom” of the 65 countries it surveyed. And yet, on December 3, Apple CEO Tim Cook keynoted China’s annual World Internet Conference. “The theme of this...

Will Tech Firms Challenge China’s ‘Open’ Internet?

Robin Brant
BBC
China has been smart and ruthless in its control of the internet within its borders. It blocks some foreign sites altogether and it censors - heavily - what Chinese are allowed to see.

Apple CEO Backs China’s Vision of an ‘Open’ Internet as Censorship Reaches New Heights

Simon Denyer
Washington Post
Reading headlines from the World Internet Conference in China, the casual reader might have come away a little confused. China was opening its doors to the global Internet, some media outlets optimistically declared, while others said Beijing was...

China's Evicting Mentions of Its "Low-End" Migrants from Cyberspace

Quartz
First Beijing pushed thousands of migrant workers out of the city in the name of safety. Now authorities are carrying out a parallel virtual eviction as well, removing references to China’s “low-end population” from the internet.

China Is Investigating Its Former Internet Censor-In-Chief for Corruption

Time
China’s former top internet regulator and censor is being investigated by the ruling Communist Party’s anti-corruption arm, the agency said Tuesday.

Taiwan Boosts Cyber Defences Against Threat from China

Edward White
Financial Times
Taiwan’s ruling party is bolstering its cyber defences after hacking attacks that have raised fears that groups linked to the Chinese government plan to influence elections.

Viewpoint

11.03.17

The Future of Particle Physics Will Live and Die in China

Yangyang Cheng from Foreign Policy
“Don’t you dare kill my project.”My phone interview with a senior official at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) had started with bland, yet polite, responses. But it took a sharp turn toward audible agitation and hostility as I raised my final...

Life Is about to Get Even Harder for Foreign Media in China

Charlotte Gao
Diplomat
It is widely known that foreign journalists encounter various strict restrictions when reporting on China — particularly since Chinese President Xi Jinping came into office five years ago. But China just sent another strong message to the “trouble-...

China Communist Party Youth Twitter Account Prompts Abuse

BBC
Setting up a Twitter account may seem a fairly obvious thing for a political party to do, but the step has not so far worked out too well for China’s Communist Party.

Google Continues to Hire in China Even as Search Remains Blocked

David Ramli
Bloomberg
Google’s search service may be banned in China but parent Alphabet Inc. is hunting for workers in a further sign it has ambitions in the world’s biggest internet market.

In China You Now Have to Provide Your Real Identity If You Want to Comment Online

Nikhil Sonnad
Quartz
The Chinese government under president Xi Jinping is continuing to make life on the internet difficult for its potential detractors. Yesterday (Aug. 25), the country’s highest internet regulator released new rules that govern who...

Facebook Tests Way Into China Via Secret Photo—Sharing App

Yuan Yang
Financial Times
A photo—sharing app has appeared on Apple’s App Store in China that looks exactly like Facebook’s Moments app, and analysts say it may be a way for the US tech group to finally break into its most coveted market.

Facebook’s Secret Chinese App Is a Dud in China So Far

Quartz
Over the weekend the New York Times reported (paywall) that Facebook had stealthily released a photo-sharing app in the Chinese iOS App Store translated as “Colorful Balloons.” The news spread rapidly around English-language media, as it marked the...

Joining Apple, Amazon’s China Cloud Service Bows to Censors

Paul Mozur
New York Times
Days after Apple yanked anti-censorship tools off its app store in China, another major American technology company is moving to implement the country’s tough restrictions on online content.

A Crackdown on Unfettered Internet Access Is Jeopardizing China’s Pro-Business Credentials

Charlie Campbell
Time
Another big political meeting, another crackdown on Virtual Private Networks (VPNs)—the location-shifting software many in China use to access websites banned by its government, such as Facebook, YouTube and Google.

Apple ‘Pulls 60 VPNs from China App Store’

BBC
The BBC understands that as many as 60 VPNs were pulled over the weekend. Apple said it was legally required to remove them because they did not comply with new regulations. It refused to confirm the exact number of apps withdrawn, but did not deny...

China Clamping down on Use of VPNs to Evade Great Firewall

CNBC
China is tightening control over foreign companies’ internet use in a move some worry might disrupt their operations or jeopardize trade secrets as part of a crackdown on technology that allows web surfers to evade Beijing’s online censorship.

Why China Censors Banned Winnie the Pooh

BBC
The blocking of Winnie the Pooh might seem like a bizarre move by the Chinese authorities but it is part of a struggle to restrict clever bloggers from getting around their country’s censorship.

Online Gossip Clampdown in China Leads to Netizen Outcry

Yuan Yang, Yingzhi Yang
Financial Times
Chinese netizens have decried a government campaign to shut down many of the nation's top celebrity gossip outlets as Beijing escalates its control over online content...

Sinica Podcast

05.12.17

What It Takes to Be a Good China-Watcher

Kaiser Kuo & Bill Bishop from Sinica Podcast
China-watching isn’t what it used to be. Not too long ago, the field of international China studies was dominated by a few male Westerners with an encyclopedic knowledge of China, but with surprisingly little experience living in the country or...

Conversation

05.09.17

Can China’s Approach to Internet Control Spread around the World?

Anne Henochowicz, Rogier Creemers & more
Earlier this month, citing concerns over “cyber sovereignty,” China’s Internet regulators announced new restrictions on the country’s already tightly controlled Internet—further curbing online news reporting and putting Party-appointed editors in...

China Compiles Its Own ‘Wikipedia,’ but Public Can’t Edit It

LOUISE WATT
Seattle Times
It’ll be free. It’ll be uniquely Chinese. It’ll be an online encyclopedia to rival Wikipedia — but without the participation of the public. And don’t expect entries on “Tiananmen Square 1989” or “Falun Gong spiritual group” to come up in your...

China, EU Push Message of Free Trade, Engagement

ABC
Top diplomats from China and the European Union pledged closer cooperation Wednesday, highlighting their common interests in peace and security and pushing a message of free trade and open engagement in contrast to fears that the U.S. is turning...

The New York Times vs. the ‘Great Firewall’ of China

Craig S. Smith
New York Times
The problem in China is that you never really know who is behind such decisions. Chinese bureaucracy is like a series of Chinese boxes that are harder and harder to open as you move toward the center.

American Unrest Proves China Got the Internet Right

Ran Jijun
Beijing has been criticized for its Great Firewall and online censorship. Now it's looking prescient...

Is Google Another Step Closer to Being Unblocked in China?

Nectar Gan
CNBC
Google is still in talks with Beijing over its plans to return to the mainland Chinese market

There Are Echoes of China in Today’s America

Maura Cunningham
Time
We are troubled by how often lately we experience a strange sort of China-related déjà vu when following events in the U.S.

Facebook Is Trying Everything to Re-Enter China—and It’s Not Working

Alyssa Abkowitz, Deepa Seetharaman,...
Wall Street Journal
Since regulators blocked the service in 2009, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has hired well-connected executives, developed censorship tools and taken a ‘smog jog’ in Beijing—but the company has made no visible headway.

Chinese Send Fake Trump Tweets as Jokes, New Year Wishes

Associated Press
In China, Twitter is blocked but fake tweets by @realdonaldtrump look set to become the latest internet sensation.

Forget Xi’s ‘Defense’ of Globalization. China Just Fortified the Great Firewall.

Emily Rauhala
Washington Post
Over the weekend, China announced a new, year-long crackdown on “unauthorized Internet connections.”

Apple Removes New York Times App in China

Benjamin Haas
Guardian
Company says it will not offer news site in app store because it has been told by Beijing it is in ‘violation of local regulations’

China’s Digital Dictatorship

Economist
Turn the spotlight on the rulers, not the ruled: Instead of rating citizens, the government should be allowing them to assess the way it rules

Popular Chinese Muslim Website Down After Posting Letter Critical of Xi

Christian Shepherd
Reuters
Users of China Muslim Net say they have been unable to access the website since Saturday

China is Censoring People’s Chats Without Them Even Knowing About It

Josh Horwitz
Quartz
Censorship in WeChat group chats is prevalent, and is done so that the sender isn’t even aware a piece of text has been scrubbed

Why Facebook’s China Adventure Will Need More than Censorship to Succeed

Benjamin Haas
Guardian
As social network develops tools to restrict users so China will let it in, some experts say it is ‘light years’ behind rivals already in place

Putin Brings China’s Great Firewall to Russia in Cybersecurity Pact

Andrei Soldatov and Irina Boroga
Guardian
The Kremlin has joined forces with Chinese authorities to bring the internet and its users under greater state control

Conversation

11.28.16

Should Facebook Self-Censor to Enter the Chinese Market?

Kaiser Kuo, Clay Shirky & more
The social network Facebook has reportedly developed software to suppress posts from users’ feeds in targeted geographic areas, a feature created to help the giant social media network gain access to China, where it is blocked. Facebook Chief...