China Watchdog Says TV Censorship Rules Should Apply Online Too

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
A more censorious environment coincides with a boom in tie-ups between China and Hollywood. HBO and Tencent have agreed to make HBO content available on a broad basis in China, including shows like The Newsroom, Boardwalk Empire, Rome and Band of...

Media

10.03.14

Under Different Umbrellas

Zhang Xiaoran
“Dozens of mainlanders were taken away by the police because they openly supported Occupy Central and at least ten of them have been detained…They are in Jiangxi, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Beijing, Chongqing, Guangzhou, etc,” Hong Kong-based blogger and...

Media

10.01.14

They Can Take Our Freedom, But They Will Never Take Our Instagram

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
When thousands of Hong Kong protesters clashed with police on Sunday, September 28, many residents of the city immediately took to the photo-sharing platform Instagram. There, they uploaded images of police violence and demonstrations that shocked...

Not Even the Great Firewall Can Shut Out News About Hong Kong’s Protests

Christina Larson
Businessweek
Sometime late Sunday, Instagram was blocked in mainland China, presumably to stop images from the tear gas-filled streets of downtown Hong Kong from being shared on the popular social network.

Media

09.29.14

In China, the Most Censored Day of the Year

Bethany Allen-Ebrahimian
Censors on Weibo, China’s massive Twitter-like microblogging platform, just had their biggest day of the year. And once again, it was events in the special administrative region of Hong Kong, not the Chinese mainland, that triggered it.Student-led...

Censors in China Keep Mainlanders in Dark about Hong Kong Protests

Los Angeles Times
A near-complete information blackout by Chinese censors has blocked most people in mainland China from seeing sriking photos, videos and news about Hong Kong’s ongoing democracy protests.

The Revolution Will Not Be Instagrammed

Alexa Olesen
Mainland Chinese felt no effects from the protests roiling Hong Kong—until Beijing pulled the plug on another social network.

Viewpoint

09.10.14

China’s Tough New Internet Rules Explained

Hu Yong
On August 7, the State Internet Information Office issued a new set of guidelines entitled “Provisional Regulations for the Development and Management of Instant Messaging Tools and Public Information Services.” These regulations require that...

China Website Editors ‘Held for Extortion’

Damian Grammaticus
BBC
Eight people from the 21st Century financial news website and public relations firms were being investigated, Xinhua news agency said.

Culture

08.26.14

Healthy Words

Alec Ash
In 1902, Lu Xun translated Jules Verne’s From the Earth to the Moon into Chinese from the Japanese edition. Science fiction, he wrote in the preface, was “as rare as unicorn horns, which shows in a way the intellectual poverty of our time.” Not any...

Chinese Blogger Jailed For ‘Rumor-Mongering’

Rakyat Post
A Chinese blogger known for criticizing the ruling Communist Party was sentenced on Wednesday to six-and-a-half years in jail, state media said, as authorities pursue a crackdown on online “rumors”.

Chinese Social Media Shrinks by 7% During Internet Crackdown

China Digital Times
According to China Internet Network Information Center, the number of Chinese Internet users logging on to social media websites declined by 7.4% percent in the first half of 2014 amid a year of slow Internet usage growth.

China’s Censors Take Aim at Popular Internet TV Operators That Offer Foreign Shows

Wu Nan
South China Morning Post
Seven companies told ‘unauthorized’ content will be taken down in seven days and they could see license revoked if breach is found.

An Online Shift in China Muffles an Open Forum

Ian Johnson
New York Times
In recent months, Chinese microblogging service Weibo has been eclipsed by the Facebook-like WeChat, which allows instant messaging within self-selected circles of followers.

Instagram Grows in China, Despite Ban on Parent Facebook

Francis Bea
CNET
While Facebook itself is blocked by the Chinese government, Facebook-owned Instagram is growing fast in that country.

See What China Sees When It Searches For “Tiananmen” and Other Loaded Terms

Nikhil Sonnad
Quartz
Blocked on Weibo is one of the most interesting websites on the internet: A list that explains the search terms that are censored on China’s massive microblogging site Weibo.

Marking 25th Anniversary of China's Tiananmen Square Takes Creativity

Barbara Demick
Los Angeles Times
Every year, political activists try to commemorate those who died in the 1989 crackdown at Tiananmen Square, and the Chinese government tries to prevent them, a cat-and-mouse game as classic as "Tom and Jerry."

China Escalating Attack on Google

Dan Levin
New York Times
The authorities in China have made Google’s services largely inaccessible in recent days, a move most likely related to the government’s broad efforts to stifle discussion of the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square demonstrations.

China Cleans Up the Internet by Squelching Dissent

Dexter Roberts
Businessweek
A new government campaign aims to crack down on spreading “rumors” and harmful information through chat groups on instant messaging services such as Tencent’s WeChat.

Media

04.30.14

Five Lessons From the Axing of ‘The Big Bang Theory’

It’s a plot twist few saw coming. Not long ago, China’s video streaming sites were trying to clean up years of copyright violations by paying big bucks to license popular U.S. television shows. For their part, Chinese fans had begun to abandon the...

Media

04.23.14

Welcome to Uighur Web—Now Watch What You Say

China’s Internet is vast, with millions of sites and more than 618 million users. But nested within that universe is a tiny virtual community comprising just a few thousand websites where China’s Uighur, the country’s fifth-largest ethnic minority...

Media

03.21.14

“We’ll Know It When We’re There”

Jonathan Landreth
Martin Johnson (not his real name), is a co-founder of the China-based Internet freedom advocacy collective GreatFire.org. On the condition that he not be photographed, he gave the following interview to ChinaFile at an outdoor cafe in Manhattan...

Media

03.17.14

‘Self-Media’ Pushes and Beijing Pushes Back

Michelle Song, twenty-four, studies international relations at Beijing’s prestigious Peking University and lives in a dormitory, so she doesn’t watch television regularly and doesn’t subscribe to newspapers. But this has not hampered her ability to...

Media

03.14.14

The Other Shoe Drops

Welcome to the big leagues, WeChat.For the past year, the mobile chat app WeChat, or Weixinin Chinese, has been the fresh new face in China’s hyperactive social media, stealing millions of members—not to mention mojo—from its wounded but still...

Media

02.26.14

China, LinkedIn Would Like to Add You to Its Network

LinkedIn is now aiming its bow for the rocky shoals that have claimed Facebook, Twitter, Google, and even eBay: the Chinese market. On February 24, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner announced the launch of LinkedIn’s Chinese-language site, still in beta,...

The Censorship Pendulum

Yu Hua
New York Times
People like to hear voices critical of the government, so social media companies can’t silence them entirely.

Reports

02.01.14

The State of Journalism in China

Paul Mooney, Anne Henochowicz, Yu Gao, Qian Gang, Luo Changping, Hu Yong, David Barboza, Hu Shuli, Yang Xiao, Evan Osnos,
The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard
The Communist Party has long striven to control freedom of speech in China. Websites from around the world are blocked. Major social media cannot be accessed, and advanced software is used to delete “sensitive” entries from the Internet. Domestic...

How the Chinese Internet Ended Up at a House in Cheyenne, Wyoming

Brian Fung
Washington Post
In trying to block Chinese traffic going to Sophidea, the Great Firewall's operators accidentally diverted more traffic there.

China Mobilizes Cyber-cops After Leak on Elite Overseas Wealth

Benjamin Carlson
Global Post
(Op-ed) “surprising behavior from a government that says it really wants transparency to flush out corruption.”

China Suffers Massive Internet Outage, Analysts Suspect Hackers

Paul Armstrong
CNN
The state-run China Internet Network Information Center blamed the blockage on a “malfunction in root servers.”

Guardian Website Blocked in China

Gerry Mullany
New York Times
The newspaper said that it may be due to a recently run article about ethnic tensions in the western region of Xinjiang.

Apple Blocks Anti-Censorship ‘FreeWeibo’ App in China

Agence France-Presse
U.S. technology giant Apple has removed the FreeWeibo application intended to allow users to read sensitive postings on Sina Weibo, a Chinese equivalent of Twitter, from its Chinese app store on orders from Beijing. 

Books

10.24.13

The Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon

Liz Carter and Anonymous, Edited by Anne Henochowicz
Over the years, China Digital Times (CDT) has collected hundreds of words and turns of phrase invented by China’s citizens of the Internet, its “netizenry.” Playfully evading online censors, netizens have created a world of “grass-mud horses” and “river crabs,” forever locked in battle in the “Mahler Desert.” CDT’s Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon is a collection of politically-charged terms which represent netizen resistance discourse. This eBook includes a selection of “classic” terms which have endured beyond the events which generated them. They are arranged by category, and indices in alphabetical order by both English and pinyin are included. This is the netizen language you need to know to understand China’s Internet. —China Digital Times{chop} 

How to Say ‘Truthiness’ in Chinese

David Wertime
Foreign Policy
In the face of recent policies assaulting their right to speak out on the internet, grassroots Chinese are trying to turn the mirror back on officialdom by calling out instances where officials or state-owned media made statements that turned out to...

Busting China’s Bloggers

Murong Xuecun
New York Times
The vast state censorship apparatus works hard to keep Chinese social media’s most influential bloggers down. But posts race through Weibo so quickly that it’s difficult to control them with technology. Hence, the government is resorting to...

China Employs Two Million Microblog Monitors State Media Say

BBC
 The Beijing News says the monitors, described as Internet opinion analysts, are on state and commercial payrolls. 

China Broadcasts COnfession of Chinese-American Blogger

William Wan
Washington Post
Chinese authorities have increasingly been broadcasting interviews after big-name arrests, forcing suspects to confess publicly to alleged crimes prior to trial or conviction.  

Sinica Podcast

09.20.13

Chinese Twitter and the Big-V Takedown

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Joining Kaiser and Jeremy this week are David Wertime and Rachel Lu from Tea Leaf Nation, along with Paul Mozur from The Wall Street Journal. And our topic? None other than the firestorm that has engulfed Sina Weibo following China’s effective...

Books

09.12.13

Blocked on Weibo

Jason Q. Ng
Though often described with foreboding buzzwords such as “The Great Firewall” and the “censorship regime,” Internet regulation in China is rarely either obvious or straightforward. This was the  inspiration for China specialist Jason Q. Ng to write an innovative computer script that would make it possible to deduce just which  terms are  suppressed on  China’s most important social media site, Sina Weibo. The  remarkable and groundbreaking result is Blocked on Weibo, which began as a highly  praised blog and has been expanded here  to list over 150 forbidden keywords, as well as offer possible explanations why the Chinese government would find these terms sensitive.As Ng explains, Weibo (roughly the equivalent of Twitter), with over 500 million registered accounts, censors hundreds of words and phrases, ranging from fairly obvious terms, including “tank” (a reference to the “Tank Man” who stared down the Chinese army in Tiananmen Square) and  the names of top government officials (if they can’t be found online, they can’t be criticized), to deeply obscure references, including “hairy bacon” (a coded insult referring to Mao’s embalmed body).With dozens of phrases that could get a Chinese Internet user invited  to the  local  police station “for a cup of tea” (a euphemism for being detained by the  authorities), Blocked  on Weibo offers an invaluable guide to sensitive topics in modern-day China as well as a fascinating tour of recent Chinese history.  —The New Press{chop}

It’s O.K. to Protest in China, Just Don’t March

Shankar Vedantam
NPR
King has just completed two studies that peer into the Chinese censorship machine — including a field experiment within China that was conducted with extraordinary secrecy. The studies refute popular intuitions about what Chinese censors are after...

Tweeting Rumors in China Can Now Land You 3 Years in Jail

Charlie Custer
Tech in Asia
The latest barrage from the government in China’s ongoing war on rumors is a Supreme Court document that announces any post “clicked and viewed more than 5000 times, or reposted more than 500 times” will be considered...

An Inside Look at China’s Censorship Tools

Paul Mozur
WSJ: China Real Time Report
To get inside the system, professor Gary King and two Ph.D. students started their own fake social network over the past year, which—while it never formally went online—allowed them to reach out to some of China’s many companies offering censorship...

China’s “Seven Base Lines” for a Clean Internet

David Bandurski
China Media Project
Run down the list of the “Seven Base Lines” and it is painfully obvious that this is part of a new government initiative to assert stronger control over online speech. This is yet another internet tightening in China ostensibly...

China in Big Push Against Opinion-Leading Blogs

Didi Tang
Associated Press
Popular microbloggers were asked at a meeting in Beijing to agree to seven standards: obey the law, uphold the socialist system, guard the national interest, protect individual rights, keep social order, respect morals and ensure factuality...

Reports

07.24.13

Throttling Dissent: China’’s New Leaders Refine Internet Control

Madeline Earp
Freedom House
This special report is based on the 2013 China chapter of Freedom House’’s annual Freedom on the Net survey. As the home of one of the most systematically controlled and monitored online environments in the world, China will no doubt retain its...

Censoring the News Before It Happens

Perry Link
New York Review of Books
Chinese censors number in the hundreds-of-thousands. Their duties are to not only block stories they disapprove of, but to alter and obscure details in published stories, and promote stories that cast the Party in a good light.

Censoring the News Before It Happens

Perry Link from New York Review of Books
Every day in China, hundreds of messages are sent from government offices to website editors around the country that say things like, “Report on the new provincial budget tomorrow, but do not feature it on the front page, make no comparisons to...

Chinese Suggestions For Improving Internet Disappear

Adam Minter
Bloomberg
Thriving microblogging culture has become China’s de facto town square. But as more alleged rumors and critical commenters are quieted or deleted this center of civil society becomes a less interesting place to visit. 

S.P.C. Directive on Handling Suits Related to Internet “Management”

Siweiluozi
Siweiluozi’s Blog
A translation of a directive that reveals, among other things, just how many layers of oversight, guidance, and coordination Chinese courts are subject to. 

Censorship Feeds Criticism of Poisoning Case

Adam Minter
Bloomberg
For a Chinese government determined to corral public opinion in its favor, the failed attempt to shut down the debate about a once-obscure 19-year old poisoing case is nothing short of a spectacular public-relations failure. 

Reports

05.03.13

The PEN Report: Creativity and Constraint in Today’s China

Sarah Hoffman and Larry Siems
PEN International
The report which follows measures the conditions for freedom of expression through literature, linguistic rights, Internet freedom and legal obligations. This is an approach anchored both in the breadth of history and in today’s realities, one that...

China’s Internet: A Giant Cage

Economist
Not only has Chinese authoritarian rule survived the internet, but the state has shown great skill in bending the technology to its own purposes, enabling it to exercise better control of its own society and setting an example for other repressive...

Media

02.21.13

In Face of Mainland Censorship, Taiwanese Revisit Reunification Question

Within twenty-four hours of registration, Sina Weibo (China’s equivalent of Twitter) deleted the microblog account of Frank Hsieh, former premier of Taiwan’s pro-independence Democratic Progressive Party (DPP). Ironically, Hsieh’s last tweet before...

Media

02.20.13

On China’s Twitter, Discussion of Hacking Attacks Proceeds Unblocked

As The New York Times reported yesterday evening, U.S.-based cybersecurity firm Mandiant has just released a deeply troubling report called “Exposing One of China’s Cyber Espionage Units.” The report alleges wide-spread hacking sponsored by the...

Viewpoint

01.24.13

China at the Tipping Point?

Perry Link & Xiao Qiang
Of all the transformations that Chinese society has undergone over the past fifteen years, the most dramatic has been the growth of the Internet. Information now circulates and public opinions are now expressed on electronic bulletin boards with...

How Social Networks Skirt Censorship in China

Mike Isaac
All Things Digital
WeChat, the social network owned by Tencent—China’s largest listed Internet company—provides a way around the traditional text-based censorship rained down upon users by the state.

Chinese Censors Lift the Veil on Bloggers

Adam Minter
Bloomberg
Can China’s raucous, muckraking Internet culture survive if microbloggers are forced to disclose their identities. 

Google Concedes Defeat in Chinese Censorship Battle

Josh Halliday
Guardian
U.S. company quietly drops warning message that Chinese users saw when searching for politically sensitive phrases

Rule of Law: A Ring to Bind China's Internet (Analysis)

David Bandurski
China Media Project
China’s new propaganda chief, Liu Qibao, has laid out an agenda for increased political controls on the Internet.

China Tightens Up Censorship of Internet Sites

David Pierson
Los Angeles Times
For years, China’s net nannies overlooked virtual private networks used to jump the Great Firewall. But in recent weeks, even these tools have begun to falter, frustrating tech-savvy Chinese and foreign businesspeople who now struggle to access...