“China is a very open-minded country.” said no one ever. There are so many restrictions when you want to live or even travel in China. And one of the common right that you will not have in China is “freedom of speech”.
China is a place where people are being watched for what they are talking about. The government is threatened when the citizens talk about things that will affect the system’s authority. However, in this era, where social media is ruling the world, it is almost impossible to control what the citizens see and say. And this is what the main purpose of social media is(.
Therefore, the authority set up a great firewall that blocks all the social media and other platforms that may mention some sensitive topics, such as the website that shows news and commentaries. And they made their own social media platform.
To block the international social media like Facebook and Twitter, they have to set up some new social media to take the place of them for the citizens’ use and also to reduce the desire of them to jump the wall.
So, instead of Facebook and Twitter, they will have Weibo, Wechat, QQ, etc, for them to post and share their thought. what the normal social media can do, Chinese social media can also do that without any problem.
If you think that these social media are just like the one that we are using now, but just runs in China, then you know too little about China.
Chinese social media are a way for the government to monitor the citizens and make sure there is no any discussion and campaign that will affect the safety of the authority. And these are the main factors that make this possible:
First of all, when you create an account in these social media, almost all of them require you to use your real name that is in your national ID. That is because the government pay a lot of money to ask the company to do so(Dörrer, 2017). Since then, when you do something illegal online, they will know who you are and arrest you.
Secondly, you can’t post any sensitive topic or even related wordings. there is a list of word that cannot appear in those social media. the system will censor any word in the post that is on the list. Not only the post that people post publicly will be censored, but also the group chats or chats that’s are private. Some of the social media apps in China have some functions like paying utility bills, scheduling doctor’s appointments and checking driving penalty points(Dörrer, 2017). That is actually also one of the ways that they know what you are doing.
In 2016, four citizens are arrested by Chinese police for posting thing that the government don’t want their people to see. What they post is a news that happens in Wukan village where the people there have a protest about land rights disputes. And the police fired rubber bullets and tear gas at villagers. the government want no one to know this and try to cover it. However, the four people post that onto the social media. Finally, they were accused “in varying degrees” for spreading “fake information” about the Wukan incident(Huang, 2016).
As it is hard for the citizens to find and say anything, many of them have to find ways to jump the wall to the blocked site. And now the authority have to upgrade the firewall frequently to try to stop them.
- https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2017/jan/22/chinese-internet-censorship-uses-distraction The real secret of Chinese internet censorship? Distraction,
- Dörrer, K. (2017, March). Hello, Big Brother: How China controls its citizens through social media, http://www.dw.com/en/hello-big-brother-how-china-controls-its-citizens-through-social-media/a-38243388
- Huang, Z. (2016, September). Chinese citizens are being arrested for sharing news about the Wukan village rebellion online, https://qz.com/783026/china-censorship-chinese-citizens-are-being-arrested-for-sharing-news-about-the-wukan-village-rebellion-online/