As we all know, China is notorious for its media censorship. Chinese government has been keeping a watchful eye on the new media as well as traditional media for decades to avoid any unpleasant reporting on the government. As a result, it resulted in strict media controls. The authorities used all sorts of tactics, including firewalls, jailing bloggers, activists and journalists, shutting down publications or websites etc. We are all aware of the intense battle between Google and Chinese authorities over internet censorship. We have also heard about jailed Chinese activist Liu Xiabobo winning the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010. These incidents have invited international attention to the scenario in China. However, at the same time, China’s economy is dependent on the growth of the web as well. So, one can see that growing need of internet freedom is something the authorities can overlook in the coming years.
Official media policy
If you take a look at the constitution of China, you can see that it allows freedom of speech to the citizens. Moreover, press freedom is also allowed. However, Chinese media regulations allow the authorities to control the news stories claiming that they are against national security. As for state secrets, the definition is really vague and this allows censorship in a broader sense. If the authorities think certain news article is against their economic or political interest, then they can go after that. Well, one can say that the Chinese government is in the state of schizophrenia. Even though the Chinese authorities agree to the fact that they need to press freedom in the county, they are worried about opening the doors as they are afraid of freedom leading to the downfall of the regime.
In 2010, the government came up with the first white paper on the internet. This white paper asked everyone, including foreign nationals, to strictly follow the internet laws in the country. Or in other words, they have to deal with even stricter rules these days. So, one can say that the picture is not pretty when we talk about the scenario in China.
How free is Chinese media?
How free are the Chinese media? Let’s find an answer to this question. Among 180 countries on the list of press freedom, China ranked at 175 in 2014 according to the worldwide index of press freedom. Studies have revealed that Chinese media companies have their own staff to ensure that they are reporting according to the acceptability of their content. You will be shocked to hear that censorship guidelines are circulated on a weekly basis from the government.
Some big websites like Wikipedia are considered as potentially dangerous by Chinese authorities. As a result, they have blocked Wikipedia and many other websites including Facebook, Twitter etc. The government is ready to block anything that might to lead to a social unrest. They won’t let media outlets to report ethnic strife or official corruption. There are so many examples to talk about.
However, you can bypass these restrictions easily if you have a VPN service. You can use VPN services to bypass the numerous restrictions on the local government and access many websites including Wikipedia, Facebook etc.