Chinese government removes ban on Shakespeare

Chinese government removes ban on Shakespeare


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A new sign of political liberalization appears in China, when the communist government lifts its decade-old ban on the writings of William Shakespeare. The action by the Chinese government was additional evidence that the Cultural Revolution was over.

READ MORE: China: A Timeline

In 1966, Mao Tse-Tung, the leader of the People’s Republic of China, announced a “Cultural Revolution,” which was designed to restore communist revolutionary fervor and vigor to Chinese society. His wife, Chiang Ching, was made the unofficial secretary of culture for China. What the revolution meant in practice, however, was the assassination of officials deemed to have lost their dedication to the communist cause and the arrest and detention of thousands of other officials and citizens for vaguely defined “crimes against the state.” It also meant the banning of any cultural work–music, literature, film, or theater–that did not have the required ideological content.

By the early 1970s, however, China was desperate to open new and improved relations with the West, particularly the United States, partially because of its desire for new sources of trade but also because of its increasing fear of confrontation with the Soviet Union. President Richard Nixon’s 1972 trip to China was part of this campaign. In October 1976, the Cultural Revolution was officially declared ended, and the May 1977 announcement of the end of the ban on the works of William Shakespeare was clear evidence of this. It was a move that cost little, but was sure to reap public relations benefits with Western society.

Together with the announcement that the ban was lifted, the Chinese government also stated that a Chinese-language edition of the Bard’s works would soon be available.


Chinese Exclusion Act

The Chinese Exclusion Act was a United States federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. Building on the earlier Page Act of 1875 which banned Chinese women from immigrating to the United States, the Chinese Exclusion Act was the first, and remains the only law to have been implemented, to prevent all members of a specific ethnic or national group from immigrating to the United States.

  • Introduced in the Houseas H.R. 5804 byHorace F. Page (R–CA) on April 12, 1882
  • Committee consideration byHouse Foreign Relations
  • Passed the house on April 17, 1882 Votes 69R 202D Not Voting 51 (202-37)
  • Passed the Senate on April 28, 1882 Votes 9R 22D Not Voting 29 (32-15) with amendment
  • House agreed to Senate amendment on May 3, 1882 (Agreed)
  • Signed into law by PresidentChester A. Arthuron May 6, 1882

Passage of the law was preceded by anti-Chinese violence, as well as various policies targeting Chinese migrants. [1] The act followed the Angell Treaty of 1880, a set of revisions to the U.S.–China Burlingame Treaty of 1868 that allowed the U.S. to suspend Chinese immigration. The act was initially intended to last for 10 years, but was renewed and strengthened in 1892 with the Geary Act and made permanent in 1902. These laws attempted to stop all Chinese immigration into the United States for ten years, with exceptions for diplomats, teachers, students, merchants, and travelers. The laws were widely evaded. [2]

Exclusion was repealed by the Magnuson Act on December 17, 1943, which allowed 105 Chinese to enter per year. Chinese immigration later increased with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which abolished direct racial barriers, and later by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which abolished the National Origins Formula. [3]


Contents

China being the largest importer of waste plastics, account for 56% of the global market. [1] Meanwhile, the United States, Japan, Germany, and the United Kingdom are the main source countries. [1] Since 2010, China has begun to implement more stringent waste import policies that correspond with the quality of import waste and improvement of domestic production capacity. [3] Likewise, environmental and health considerations have led China to introduce the waste import policy in 2017 which bans the import of 24 types of solid waste, including certain types of plastics, paper, and textiles. [4] Based on a study by the University of Georgia, it is predicted that by 2030 with this policy, 111 million metric tons of plastic waste will be left unaccounted for. [5]

Chinese plastic history Edit

In the 1990s, economic development and the rise in living standards increased China’s demand for plastic products by 21% annually. [6] However, in that year, China lacked raw materials, and the production quality was incapable of meeting to the growing needs. Moreover, they did not have an efficient recycling system, and waste was collected through an informal recycling network. [6]

From 1980 to 1994, the recycling rate of waste products in China fell by 11%, which brought about pressure on the municipality. In some big cities, a large number of waste plastics were not being recycled and led to a strain on the urban drainage system blockage. [6] According to statistics, about 60% of plastic waste in China was discarded or not recycled at that time. In 1994, China’s agricultural film consumption was 1.9 million tons, but 300,000 tons of agricultural film remained in farmland every year, affecting the soil and causing animal diseases. [6]

In the early 21st century, China had become the second largest plastic producer in the world, second to the US. However, China’s domestic productivity still could not meet their demand for plastics. [7] Furthermore, the rising crude oil prices at the time also led to the inflation of the price of pure plastics. At the same time, although the price of waste plastics has also increased, it is still relatively cheap compared to virgin plastics. Thus, in order to cope with demand and lower costs, the import of waste has increased again. [7] The increasing demand led China to rely heavily on the import of waste, such as waste plastics. However, this also formed the dependence of other countries in the world on China's imports of waste plastics. [7]

The Green Fence Operation Edit

The quality of recyclable materials exported to China gradually declined on the contrary, large amounts of waste entering China was mixed with food, garbage, and other pollutants. These unmanageable waste products have thus burdened the Chinese government. [4] Similarly, the profitability of the waste industry has attracted speculators to invest in the market. In order to enhance the management of the market and the reduction of illegal traffic, the Chinese government had decided to implement the green fence operation. [8] It is said that this operation was the result of the China Customs’enforcing action against the law governing from February to November 2013. This initiative was designed to monitor the quality and flow of incoming waste and combat smuggling. [8] It was reported that in just five months, China customs had seized 337 cases of solid waste smuggling amounting to 1.7 billion RMB. [4]

According to the regulations of the China Waste Plastics Association, import license transactions are prohibited, and imported waste plastics must be delivered to factories with import qualifications in accordance with the provisions of the import license. Since countries are dependent on China’s waste imports, this action had adversely affected the entire value chain of waste plastics and exporting countries. [8]

In Chinese ports, inspections of waste have slowed down port operations, which means that exporters need to bear the demurrage of the goods left in the dock before the inspection. At the same time, a large number of waste materials that have not passed the review have also been returned. [8] By the end of 2013, China’s waste imports had been reduced by one million metric tons. [4] China’s policy has made exporting countries aware of the drawbacks of excessive dependence on exports. Hence, this will bring a negative impact on the domestic reprocessing capacity of exporting countries. [4]

Plastic recycling Edit

It was reported that roughly 50% of plastics are being utilized in disposable manufacturing processes such as packaging, agricultural films, and disposables, while 20 to 25 % was used for long-term infrastructure like pipes, coating for cables and structured materials and the remainder is used for durable moderate life consumer goods such as electronics, furniture, and vehicles. [9] In general, plastic is considered to be durable and non-biodegradable hence making them difficult to decompose for at least a few decades with some lasting over hundreds or thousands of years. [9] Judging from the domestic environmental factors, even some degradable plastics may still exist for a considerable period of time due to their degradation rate which is also influenced by factors such as the exposure of UV, oxygen, and temperature, whereas biodegradable plastics require the need of adequate microorganisms. Therefore, the rate of degradation in landfills and terrestrial, marine environments would tend to vary. [9]

Due to poor management of plastic waste, most plastics are currently disposed of in unauthorized dumping sites or burned uncontrollably in the field. [10] Moreover, due to the particularity and quantity of plastics, the recycling of plastics has always been a problem. In theory, most thermoplastics could be recycled in a closed loop. However, plastic packaging may call for the need to use different kinds of polymers as well as other materials such as metals, paper, pigments, inks, and adhesives, which make it challenging to control. [9] Setting up a landfill is one of the traditional methods of waste managements, but some countries lack the land to accommodate to landfills. The process of incineration will reduce the need for a dedicated plastic waste landfill, but this brings up the issue of whether or not harmful substances being released into the atmosphere during this process.

Furthermore, collecting and packaging plastics for sale to other countries is much cheaper than recycling. [9]

Challenges of waste disposal Edit

Waste disposing is a great challenge faced by China, each type of waste disposing industry has its advantages and disadvantages. So choosing a proper combination of different waste disposing industries is much more efficient than adopting monotonic industry. Nevertheless, the technology on waste disposal industries should always improving and creating. Importantly, technological progress can as an endogenous factor to increase the aggregate demand in economy and ultimately driven the economic growth in China.

Sorting Edit

The first step of disposing of the waste is to divide them into different categories. Recycling standards are various from different countries. But we can divide them into two big categories, recyclable and none-recyclable waste. In general, plastic products can be fully recycled. The difficulty is the sorting process. For example, although the plastic bottle is theoretically 100% recyclable, the plastic bottle cap and the label cannot be mixed together for recycling because they are different plastic materials. The sorting machine is currently unable to unscrew the cap and tear off the label, so this step must be done manually by the sorting worker. This process obviously increases the business cost and human resources. Some illegal industries recycled mixed plastic products together to control the costs, this cause incomplete recycling of plastic which causes some unexpected environmental issues.

Burning Edit

The general disposal method is to categorize the types of waste and dispose of them in different processes. However, a few illegal industries want to minimize the cost of disposing of the waste, so they choose the easiest way to deal with the rubbish. By inappropriate use of landfills and incinerators, earning money from the disposal of waste, rather than the secondary benefits of proper recycling waste. The burning of uncategorized waste produces toxic and contaminate air to the sky which harmful for human health. The carbon dioxide also produced by the process of burning wastes. By statistic, the global total carbon dioxide produced in 2018 was about 37.1 gigatonnes. [11] Some power plants were operated by the heat produced from the burning of waste (Waste-to-energy plant). It is a combination of disposing of waste and producing electricity which widely adopted in China's waste disposing industries.

Pyrolysis plants Edit

Pyrolysis plants is an innovative technology that can help in the aid of waste disposal. The process of disposing of is describing as "Plastics are crushed and melted at temperatures below gasification temperature and contain less oxygen. Heat decomposes plastic polymers into smaller hydrocarbons that can be refined into diesel or even other petrochemical products, including new plastics." This technology is still in the demonstration phase and hopping to expand globally. The facilities are built in China as well. Pyrolysis plants can recycle many hard to decomposed materials that normal recyclers cannot. It will only produce a little carbon dioxide and no contamination at all. The economic profits from expensive pyrolysis plants is the determinate factor of whether to build more of these plants or not.

China determined in July 2017 and announced on 16 August 2017 [12] that it would stop the import of 24 kinds of solid waste from foreign countries. Solid wastes including plastics, paper products, and textiles, etc. The new policy was implemented on 1 January 2018, and banned the imports of those wastes. [13]

An even tighter policy was announced on 15 November 2017, to take effect on 1 March 2018. This policy severely reduced the allowable contamination levels on a number of scrap material imports. [14] The newly-proposed maximum thresholds for contamination were so low that they amounted in practice to another ban.

A further policy aimed to ban almost all waste imports into the country. The Ministry of Ecology and Environment of China announced the new policy on 19 April 2018. 16 types of “Category 7” materials will be banned from import beginning 31 December 2018. Another 16 materials will be banned on 31 December 2019. [15]

It's important to notice the amount of imported foreign wastes that were unauthorized by the government, which flowed in country through reselling licenses, fake report, and smuggling, etc. The conservative estimate is approximately a few times the national licensing quota.

The cost of obtaining foreign waste is very low. It can be sold at a high price through simple process processing and obtain high profits. It is a “honey” for illegal people but the process to dispose of foreign waste caused serious pollution to the local atmosphere, water, and soil. It is a "poison" that destroys the local ecological environment and endangers the lives and health of the people. The documentaries "Plastic China" and "Beijing Besieged by Waste" [16] told the story about garbage in China, that revealed the poverty and human cost.

Electronic waste transactions began in the eastern coastal areas of China and enabled local farmers to get rich quickly. For example, in Guiyu, Guangdong Province, there are 150,000 people in the town, and 120,000 people are engaged in the e-waste industry. They handle millions of tons of e-waste every year, and the transaction amount is 75 million US dollars. After more than ten years of development of the garbage dismantling industry, Guiyu has already become a wealthy town. However, the wealth of Guiyu has come at the expense of environmental degradation. According to a research report published in 2010, 81.8% of rural children under the age of 6 have lead poisoning, and the source is likely to be lead ash from chip fragmentation or molten lead solder extracted pollution from gold, copper and other precious metals and semi-precious metals. The gold on the circuit board needs to be separated by highly corrosive acids after the high corrosive acid is used up, it is often poured into rivers and other open waters and further polluted environment, which is a vicious circle for the ecology. [17] The waste ban policy hopefully improves severe circumstances in China and facilitates the healthy development of people and society.

On 5 December 2020, China indicated it intends to ban all solid waste imports starting on 1 January 2021. [18]

Since 1992, China has received 106 million tons of plastic waste, half of the world’s plastic waste imports. After the introduction of the policy, China’s imports of plastic waste saw a sharp drop of 99% while the imports of mixed paper have fallen by a third, and imports of aluminum and glass waste have been less affected. [19] In the meantime, many recycling projects abandoned the separation of recyclables when they decided to just dispose of the waste into the same box. This had increased the risk of contamination from food and waste and resulted in a large amount of waste that cannot be reprocessed. [19]

China's economy was highly associated with imported waste since a few decades ago. This rapidly growing economy requires a lot of raw materials to sustain. This is not due to China's technology and ability to recycle these waste but because China's economy is based high on the manufacturing sector which has a high demand for raw materials. Therefore, importing wastes from other countries is actually benefit China itself. Due to China's large manufacturing industry, it is profitable for China to import waste from other countries. Although the cost of importing waste is only a little bit lower, due to the large quantities of output these factories produce, these small costs add up, yielding a higher return for the industry. The waste import ban in one hand slowly changes China's natural environment (both cons and pros), in another hand influence the global waste exporting countries. Due to the massive amount of wastes these countries import, countries who import waste must develop and better their technology around waste disposal in order to not let these waste cause adverse effects on the environment. Also, after the ban policy, the not accepted wastes force the waste exporting countries to develop better technology to deal with their own domestic wastes. Unexpected, the restricted policy started to influence the recycle industries and raw materials supply industries in China. The raw materials supply faces a gap of millions of tons without the imported waste from foreign countries. The restriction of recycling materials, which banned by China, will eventually forces the industries to use the raw materials. However, using the recycling materials to produce same amount of products are much more energy efficient and material saving than adopting raw materials, which presumably not a good news for the environment. The consequences of insufficient supply of recycling materials are serious, agents have to find materials from other places, for example, perhaps cutting down trees to produce paper. It is also very harmful to the environment. [20]

With the comprehensive recovery of the national economy, the rapid improvement of people's quality of life, and the acceleration of urbanization, major changes have taken place in the generation and treatment of urban domestic waste in China. A waste problem miniature is about the cemetery of "share bicycle" in China which thousands of bikes were discarded in dumping grounds. Also, the rise of the takeaway industry causes 60 million takeaway food containers thrown out across the country. [21] There are hundreds of million tons of wastes produced domestically every year. However, the garbage disposal capacity of most cities has not kept up with the growth rate of garbage. Statistics show that about 40% of the total waste in the country has not been processed centrally. In Japan, waste management is relatively mature than other Asian countries, especially for waste sorting. However, Japan owns the most waste incinerators in the world, the consequence is a lot of air pollution in Japan. [22] The surrounding less developed Asian, for example, Indonesia, facing the waste crisis from the land and ocean. The ocean waste is a global problem, countless marine animals died for eating the plastic products every year. [23] Stacked garbage and improper handing create a good living place for bacteria, causing various diseases in areas with poor sanitation.

Europe and the U.S. Edit

In these more developed countries, the waste was exported to China and other Asian countries to handle before the limited waste import strategies started in most Asian countries. The United States exports about 4,000 shipping containers of garbage to China every day before the waste ban policy. Now the waste is facing by the U.S. itself or it can exporting to other Asian countries which have relatively lower restriction of importing waste. Adina Renee, from Scrap Recycling Industries in a Washington-based institution, stated that "There is no single and frankly, probably not even a group of countries, that can take in the volume that China used to take." [24] Since the ban the US has switched from shipping to China to Thailand, Malaysia, and Vietnam. Reports from these countries state that they are struggling to handle the large increase in plastic waste intake. [25] The United States and other western nations have used China to dispose of the majority of waste for several years. The sudden ban on imports has led many countries to conclude that they are ill equipped to recycle and manage their own waste output. [26] One of the major issues was that the US and Europe sent China contaminated recyclables which still contained food and could not be processed so these recyclables in turn filled Chinese landfills. [27]

Given that the US is one of the largest producers of waste, the ban has had a great impact on the country. Some US garbage collection services have told customers that "recycling is not mandatory" now that China has stopped accepting the US recyclables, also saying that the recycling service will now incur a separate charge on the consumer's bill. [13] An example of issues resulting from that ban can be seen in Southern California municipalities who had to prepare for large cost constraints as current infrastructure could not compete with the large amounts of waste. [28] In 2016 NAFTA and Europe were the two highest consumers of plastics by developed nations. NAFTA had the largest consumption with 139 kilograms per individual, the greatest overall in the world. [29] The ban will also have the potential to cost the U.S. 6.5 billion in annual exports and remove roughly 150,000 jobs in the industry. Some US municipalities have ceased curbside pickup programs for specific paper and plastics. Robin Wiener, President of the US Institute of Scrap Recycling Industries (ISRI), said that these changes are "a big force for us in raising this issue with the US government". [30]

Oceania Edit

In Australia and New Zealand, the waste managements are based on landfill. The waste handled by landfill in Australia increased by 12% from 2001 to 2007 by statistic data. [31] And the waste disposed of by landfill also increased 100% in Auckland within 10 years. [32] Landfill causes many problems include the pollution on air, water, and agriculture. Methane is a kind of green house gas that mainly produced by decomposition process in landfill. It's about 20 times harmful to the air than carbon dioxide. Australia handled approximately 40 percent of its waste by using the landfill method, which has a very big severe impact on its land. [33] In this case, Australia shipped its waste to China as well. But after the restriction on import from China, Australia shifted its waste to some less developed countries like India, Malaysia, Vietnam, and Indonesia to decrease its own domestic waste. [34]

Asia Edit

Some developed countries have started to transport the waste to other Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand and Malaysia to respond to the ban. Some Chinese manufacturers are also setting up factories in these countries to try to undertake these new projects. [5] However, some of these countries do not have the capacity to respond to the entry of new waste and are already considering whether to impose policies to control the impact of foreign waste on the country. [5] The existing marine pollution of Asia is dire enough, and there is no doubt that transporting waste to countries with no processing capacity will exacerbate this problem. [35]

According to the Financial Times, after the ban on China, the UK’s waste exports to Malaysia tripled, and the domestic recycling industry is still sluggish. In addition, China’s ban has caused more countries to focus on the development of a recyclable economy. [5] The UK plans to impose a tax on plastic packers, and Norway also requires disposable plastic bottle manufacturers to pay environmental taxes. [19] European authorities have realized the value of plastic waste, claiming that if recycling capacity quadruples, it could create 200,000 jobs by 2030. [5]

From April 2019 onwards, multiple Asian countries including Malaysia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Cambodia and Sri Lanka began sending illegally imported and mislabeled waste back to Western countries. [36] [37] [38] [39] [40] [41]

The surrounding Asian countries like Thailand, Malaysia, Vietnam, and many other countries also influenced by China's ban policy. After the ban policy started in China and before the policy was learned by surrounding Asian countries, the imported trash increased about half times in Indonesia, two times in Vietnam, and tens of times in Thailand. [42] The increasing waste caused many environmental problems such as waste pollution, air pollution, electronic waste pollution, and so on. These countries are big waste importing countries as well but don't have the abilities to recycle and deal with so many wastes, so many of them started to decrease and stop import wastes from western countries to alleviate serious environment problems. [43] However, the waste recycling industry also gradually promote the economic growth in these developing countries. The recycling industry can also facilitate the boom of other related industries such as the waste disposal industry, sewage treatment industry, waste incineration power plants, and so on. The recently concluded Fourth United Nations Environment Programme called on governments to take action to reduce waste generation at the source, conduct sound management in their own countries, and minimize the transboundary movement of waste. It can be traded as general goods if it is a raw material obtained by the harmless processing of solid waste, meets the mandatory national product quality standards, does not endanger public health and ecological safety, and is not a solid waste.


US removes Xiaomi from blacklist banning Chinese technology firms

The US Defense Department has agreed to remove Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi from its blacklist of technology firms, following a successful lawsuit.


Xiaomi Mi 11i smartphones

Xiaomi should shortly be able to resume trading and dealing with American companies, after the US Defense Department agreed to remove it from a blacklist. The smartphone company had been one of many subjected to various sanctions and blacklisting by former president Trump.

According to the Wall Street Journal, the decision to delist the company comes two months after Xiaomi won a federal lawsuit over the blacklisting. Judge Rudolph Contreras then ordered a temporary halt to enforcement of the ban, ruling that the Pentagon had failed to provide sufficient evidence.

The decision also comes a week after Judge Contreras ordered a similar halt to the US Defense Department's blacklisting of Chinese mapping company Luokung Technology Corp.

Separately, in September 2020, US Magistrate Judge Laurel Beeler blocked the execution of an executive order banning WeChat from the App Store, on similar grounds.

Xiaomi and the Pentagon have jointly announced that they will now negotiate terms regarding the prior de-listing the company. The court is expecting to hear a final proposal regarding the terms by May 20.

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Contents

The political and ideological background of Internet censorship is considered to be one of Deng Xiaoping's favorite sayings in the early 1980s: "If you open a window for fresh air, you have to expect some flies to blow in." [16] The saying is related to a period of the Chinese economic reform that became known as the "socialist market economy". Superseding the political ideologies of the Cultural Revolution, the reform led China towards a market economy, opening it up to foreign investors. Nonetheless, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) wished to protect its values and political ideas by "swatting flies" of other ideologies, [17] with a particular emphasis on suppressing movements that could potentially threaten the stability of the Country.

The Internet first arrived in the country in 1994. Since its arrival and the gradual rise of availability, the Internet has become a common communication platform and an important tool for sharing information. Just as the Chinese government had expected, the number of internet users in China soared from less than one percent in 1994, when the Internet was introduced, to 28.8 percent by 2009. [18]

In 1998, the CCP feared the China Democracy Party (CDP), organized in contravention of the “Four Cardinal Principles”, would breed a powerful new network that CCP party elites might not be able to control resulting in the [19] CDP being immediately banned. [20] That same year, the "Golden Shield project" was created. The first part of the project lasted eight years and was completed in 2006. The second part began in 2006 and ended in 2008. The Golden Shield project was a database project in which the government could access the records of each citizen and connect China's security organizations. The government had the power to delete any comments online that were considered harmful. [21]

On 6 December 2002, 300 members in charge of the Golden Shield project came from 31 provinces and cities across China to participate in a four-day inaugural "Comprehensive Exhibition on Chinese Information System". [22] At the exhibition, many Western technology products including internet security, video monitoring, and facial recognition systems were purchased. According to Amnesty International, around 30,000–50,000 internet police have been employed by the Chinese government to enforce internet laws. [23]

The Chinese government has described censorship as the method to prevent and eliminate "risks in the ideological field from the Internet". [24] [ clarification needed ]

The government of China defends its right to censor the internet by claiming that this right extends from the country's own rules inside its borders. A white paper released in June 2010 reaffirmed the government's determination to govern the internet within its borders under the jurisdiction of Chinese sovereignty. [25] The document states, "Laws and regulations prohibit the spread of information that contains content subverting state power, undermining national unity [or] infringing upon national honor and interests." It adds that foreign individuals and firms can use the internet in China, but they must abide by the country's laws. [26]

The Central Government of China started its internet censorship with three regulations. The first regulation was called the Temporary Regulation for the Management of Computer Information Network International Connection. The regulation was passed in the 42nd Standing Convention of the State Council on 23 January 1996. It was formally announced on 1 February 1996, and updated again on 20 May 1997. [27] The content of the first regulation stated that Internet service providers be licensed and that internet traffic goes through ChinaNet, GBNet, CERNET or CSTNET. The second regulation was the Ordinance for Security Protection of Computer Information Systems. It was issued on 18 February 1994 by the State Council to give the responsibility of Internet security protection to the Ministry of Public Security. [28]

Section 5 of the Computer Information Network and Internet Security, Protection, and Management Regulations Edit

The Ordinance regulation further led to the Security Management Procedures in Internet Accessing issued by the Ministry of Public Security in December 1997. The regulation defined "harmful information" and "harmful activities" regarding internet usage. [29] Section Five of the Computer Information Network and Internet Security, Protection, and Management Regulations approved by the State Council on 11 December 1997 stated the following:

No unit or individual may use the Internet to create, replicate, retrieve, or transmit the following kinds of information:

  1. Inciting to resist or obstruct the implementation of the Constitution, legislation or administrative regulations
  2. Inciting to overthrow the government or the socialist system
  3. Inciting division of the country, harming national unification
  4. Inciting hatred or discrimination among ethnic groups or harming the unity of ethnic groups
  5. Fabricating or distorting the truth, spreading rumors, destroying the order of society
  6. Promoting feudal superstitions, obscenity, pornography, gambling, violence, murder, terrorism or encouraging criminal activity
  7. Publicly insulting or distorting the truth to slander other people
  8. Defaming state organizations
  9. Other activities against the Constitution, legislation and administrative regulations. [30]

State Council Order No. 292 Edit

In September 2000, State Council Order No. 292 created the first set of content restrictions for Internet content providers. China-based websites cannot link to overseas news websites or distribute news from overseas media without separate approval. Only "licensed print publishers" have the authority to deliver news online. These sites must obtain approval from state information offices and the State Council Information Agency. Non-licensed websites that wish to broadcast news may only publish information already released publicly by other news media. Article 11 of this order mentions that "content providers are responsible for ensuring the legality of any information disseminated through their services." [31] Article 14 gives Government officials full access to any kind of sensitive information they wish from providers of internet services.

In December 1997, The Public Security Minister, Zhu Entao, released new regulations to be enforced by the ministry that inflicted fines for "defaming government agencies, splitting the nation, and leaking state secrets." Violators could face a fine of up to CNY 15,000 (roughly US$1,800). [32] Banning appeared to be mostly uncoordinated and ad hoc, with some websites allowed in one city, yet similar sites blocked in another. The blocks were often lifted for special occasions. For example, The New York Times was unblocked when reporters in a private interview with CCP General Secretary Jiang Zemin specifically asked about the block and he replied that he would look into the matter. During the APEC summit in Shanghai during 2001, normally-blocked media sources such as CNN, NBC, and the Washington Post became accessible. Since 2001, blocks on Western media sites have been further relaxed, and all three of the sites previously mentioned were accessible from mainland China. However, access to the New York Times was denied again in December 2008. [33]

In the middle of 2005, China purchased over 200 routers from an American company, Cisco Systems, which enabled the Chinese government to use more advanced censor technology. [34] [35] In February 2006, Google, in exchange for equipment installation on Chinese soil, blocked websites which the Chinese government deemed illegal. [36] Google reversed this policy in 2010, after they suspected that a Google employee passed information to the Chinese Government and inserted backdoors into their software. [37] [38]

In May 2011, the State Council Information Office announced the transfer of its offices which regulated the internet to a new subordinate agency, the State Internet Information Office which would be responsible for regulating the internet in China. The relationship of the new agency to other internet regulation agencies in China was unclear from the announcement. [39]

On 26 August 2014, the State Internet Information Office (SIIO) was formally authorized by the state council to regulate and supervise all internet content. It later launched a website called the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) and the Office of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs. In February 2014, the Central Internet Security and Informatization Leading Group was created in order to oversee cybersecurity and receive information from the CAC. [40] Chairing the 2018 China Cyberspace Governance Conference on 20 and 21 April 2018, Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Chinese Communist Party, committed to "fiercely crack down on criminal offenses including hacking, telecom fraud, and violation of citizens' privacy." [41] The Conference comes on the eve of the First Digital China Summit, which was held at the Fuzhou Strait International Conference and Exhibition Centre in Fuzhou, the capital of Fujian Province. [42]

On 4 January 2019, Cyberspace Administration of China started a project to take down pornography, violence, bloody content, horror, gambling, defrauding, Internet rumors, superstition, invectives, parody, threats, and proliferation of "bad lifestyles" and "bad popular culture". [43] On 10 January 2019, China Network Audiovisual Program Service Association announced a new regulation to censor short videos with controversial political or social content such as a "pessimistic outlook of millennials" [ clarification needed ] , "one night stands", "non-mainstream views of love and marriage" as well as previously prohibited content deemed politically sensitive. [44]

China is planning to make deepfakes illegal which is described as the way to prevent "parody and pornography." [45]

In July 2019, Cyberspace Administration of China announced a regulation that said that Internet information providers and users in China who seriously violate related laws and regulations will be subject to Social Credit System blocklist. It also announces that Internet information providers and users who are not meeting the standard but mildly violation will be recorded in the List to Focus. [46]

Self-regulation Edit

Internet censorship in China has been called "a panopticon that encourages self-censorship through the perception that users are being watched." [47] The enforcement (or threat of enforcement) of censorship creates a chilling effect where individuals and businesses willingly censor their own communications to avoid legal and economic repercussions. ISPs and other service providers are legally responsible for customers' conduct. The service providers have assumed an editorial role concerning customer content, thus becoming publishers and legally responsible for libel and other torts committed by customers. Some hotels in China advise Internet users to obey local Chinese Internet access rules by leaving a list of Internet rules and guidelines near the computers. These rules, among other things, forbid linking to politically unacceptable messages and inform Internet users that if they do, they will have to face legal consequences. [48]

On 16 March 2002, the Internet Society of China, a self-governing Chinese Internet industry body, [49] launched the Public Pledge on Self-Discipline for the Chinese Internet Industry, an agreement between the Chinese Internet industry regulator and companies that operate sites in China. In signing the agreement, web companies pledge to identify and prevent the transmission of information that Chinese authorities deem objectionable, including information that "breaks laws or spreads superstition or obscenity", or that "may jeopardize state security and disrupt social stability". [50] [51] [52] As of 2006, the pledge had been signed by more than 3,000 entities operating websites in China. [53]

Use of service providers Edit

Although the government does not have the physical resources to monitor all Internet chat rooms and forums, the threat of being shut down has caused Internet content providers to employ internal staff, colloquially known as "big mamas", who stop and remove forum comments which may be politically sensitive. In Shenzhen, these duties are partly taken over by a pair of police-created cartoon characters, Jingjing and Chacha, who help extend the online "police presence" of the Shenzhen authorities. These cartoons spread across the nation in 2007 reminding Internet users that they are being watched and should avoid posting "sensitive" or "harmful" material on the Internet. [32]

However, Internet content providers have adopted some counter-strategies. One is to post politically sensitive stories and remove them only when the government complains. In the hours or days in which the story is available online, people read it, and by the time the story is taken down, the information is already public. One notable case in which this occurred was in response to a school explosion in 2001, when local officials tried to suppress the fact the explosion resulted from children illegally producing fireworks. [54]

On 11 July 2003, the Chinese government started granting licenses to businesses to open Internet cafe chains. Business analysts and foreign Internet operators regard the licenses as intended to clamp down on information deemed harmful to the Chinese government. In July 2007, the city of Xiamen announced it would ban anonymous online postings after text messages and online communications were used to rally protests against a proposed chemical plant in the city. Internet users will be required to provide proof of identity when posting messages on the more than 100,000 Web sites registered in Xiamen. [55] The Chinese government issued new rules on 28 December 2012, requiring Internet users to provide their real names to service providers, while assigning Internet companies greater responsibility for deleting forbidden postings and reporting them to the authorities. The new regulations, issued by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress, allow Internet users to continue to adopt pseudonyms for their online postings, but only if they first provide their real names to service providers, a measure that could chill some of the vibrant discourse on the country's Twitter-like microblogs. The authorities periodically detain and even jail Internet users for politically sensitive comments, such as calls for a multiparty democracy or accusations of impropriety by local officials. [56]

Arrests Edit

Fines and short arrests are becoming an optional punishment to whoever spreads undesirable information through the different Internet formats, as this is seen as a risk to social stability. [57]

In 2001, Wang Xiaoning and other Chinese activists were arrested and sentenced to 10 years in prison for using a Yahoo! email account to post anonymous writing to an Internet mailing list. [58] On 23 July 2008, the family of Liu Shaokun was notified that he had been sentenced to one year re-education through labor for "inciting a disturbance". As a teacher in Sichuan province, he had taken photographs of collapsed schools and posted these photos online. [59] On 18 July 2008, Huang Qi was formally arrested on suspicion of illegally possessing state secrets. Huang had spoken with the foreign press and posted information on his website about the plight of parents who had lost children in collapsed schools. [60] Shi Tao, a Chinese journalist, used his Yahoo! email account to send a message to a U.S.-based pro-democracy website. In his email, he summarized a government order directing media organizations in China to downplay the upcoming 15th anniversary of the 1989 crackdown on pro-democracy activists. Police arrested him in November 2004, charging him with "illegally providing state secrets to foreign entities". In April 2005, he was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment and two years' subsequent deprivation of his political rights. [61]

In mid-2013 police across China arrested hundreds of people accused of spreading false rumors online. The arrest targeted microbloggers who accused CCP officials of corruption, venality, and sexual escapades. The crackdown was intended to disrupt online networks of like-minded people whose ideas could challenge the authority of the CCP [ according to whom? ] . Some of China's most popular microbloggers [ who? ] were arrested. In September 2013, China's highest court and prosecution office issued guidelines that define and outline penalties for publishing online rumors and slander. The rules give some protection to citizens who accuse officials of corruption, but a slanderous message forwarded more than 500 times or read more than 5,000 times could result in up to three years in prison. [62]

According to the 2020 World Press Freedom Index, compiled by Reporters Without Borders, China is the world's biggest jailer of journalists, holding around 100 in detention. In February 2020, China arrested two of its citizens for taking it upon themselves to cover the COVID-19 pandemic. [63] [ better source needed ]

Current methods Edit

The Great Firewall has used numerous methods to block content, including IP dropping, DNS spoofing, deep packet inspection for finding plaintext signatures within the handshake to throttle protocols, [64] and more recently active probing. [65] [66] [67]

Future projects Edit

The Golden Shield Project is owned by the Ministry of Public Security of the People's Republic of China (MPS). It started in 1998, began processing in November 2003, and the first part of the project passed the national inspection on 16 November 2006 in Beijing. According to MPS, its purpose is to construct a communication network and computer information system for police to improve their capability and efficiency. By 2002 the preliminary work of the Golden Shield Project had cost US$800 million (equivalent to RMB 5,000 million or €620 million). [ citation needed ] Greg Walton, a freelance researcher, said that the aim of the Golden Shield is to establish a "gigantic online database" that would include "speech and face recognition, closed-circuit television. [and] credit records" as well as traditional Internet use records. [68]

A notice [69] issued by the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on 19 May stated that, as of 1 July 2009, manufacturers must ship machines to be sold in mainland China with the Green Dam Youth Escort software. [70] On 14 August 2009, Li Yizhong, minister of industry and information technology, announced that computer manufacturers and retailers were no longer obliged to ship the software with new computers for home or business use, but that schools, Internet cafes and other public use computers would still be required to run the software.

A senior official of the Internet Affairs Bureau of the State Council Information Office said the software's only purpose was "to filter pornography on the Internet". The general manager of Jinhui, which developed Green Dam, said: "Our software is simply not capable of spying on Internet users, it is only a filter." [ citation needed ] Human rights advocates in China have criticized the software for being "a thinly concealed attempt by the government to expand censorship". [71] Online polls conducted on Sina, Netease, Tencent, Sohu, and Southern Metropolis Daily revealed over 70% rejection of the software by netizens. [72] [73] However, Xinhua commented that "support [for Green Dam] largely stems from end users, opposing opinions primarily come from a minority of media outlets and businesses." [74] [75]

Targeted content Edit

According to a Harvard study, at least 18,000 websites were blocked from within mainland China in 2002, [76] including 12 out of the Top 100 Global Websites. The Chinese-sponsored news agency, Xinhua, stated that censorship targets only "superstitious, pornographic, violence-related, gambling, and other harmful information." [77] This appears questionable, as the e-mail provider Gmail is blocked, and it cannot be said to fall into any of these categories. [78] On the other hand, websites centered on the following political topics are often censored: Falun Gong, [79] police brutality, 1989 Tiananmen Square protests, freedom of speech, democracy, [80] Taiwan independence, [79] the Tibetan independence movement, [79] and the Tuidang movement. [81] Foreign media websites are occasionally blocked. As of 2014 the New York Times, the BBC, and Bloomberg News are blocked indefinitely. [ citation needed ]

Testing performed by Freedom House in 2011 confirmed that material written by or about activist bloggers is removed from the Chinese internet in a practice that has been termed "cyber-disappearance". [82] [83] [84]

A 2012 study of social media sites by other Harvard researchers found that 13% of Internet posts were blocked. The blocking focused mainly on any form of collective action (anything from false rumors driving riots to protest organizers to large parties for fun), pornography, and criticism of the censors. However, significant criticisms of the government were not blocked when made separately from calls for collective action. Another study has shown comments on social media that criticize the state, its leaders, and their policies are usually published, but posts with collective action potential will be more likely to be censored whether they are against the state or not. [85]

A lot of larger Japanese websites were blocked from the afternoon of 15 June 2012 (UTC+08:00) to the morning of 17 June 2012 (UTC+08:00), such as Google Japan, Yahoo! Japan, Amazon Japan, Excite, Yomiuri News, Sponichi News and Nikkei BP Japan. [86]

Chinese censors have been relatively reluctant to block websites where there might be significant economic consequences. For example, a block of GitHub was reversed after widespread complaints from the Chinese software developer community. [87] In November 2013 after the Chinese services of Reuters and the Wall Street Journal were blocked, greatfire.org mirrored the Reuters website to an Amazon.com domain in such a way that it could not be shut down without shutting off domestic access to all of Amazon's cloud storage service. [88]

For one month beginning 17 November 2014, ProPublica tested whether the homepages of 18 international news organizations were accessible to browsers inside China, and found the most consistently blocked were Bloomberg, New York Times, South China Morning Post, Wall Street Journal, Facebook, and Twitter. [89] Internet censorship and surveillance has tightly implemented in China that block social websites like Gmail, Google, YouTube, Facebook, Instagram, and others. The excessive censorship practices of the Great Firewall of China have now engulfed the VPN service providers as well. [ clarification needed ]

Search engines Edit

One part of the block is to filter the search results of certain terms on Chinese search engines. [90] These Chinese search engines include both international ones (for example, yahoo.com.cn, Bing, and (formerly) Google China) as well as domestic ones (for example, Sogou, 360 Search and Baidu). Attempting to search for censored keywords in these Chinese search engines will yield few or no results. Previously, google.cn displayed the following at the bottom of the page: "According to the local laws, regulations and policies, part of the searching result is not shown." [91] When Google did business in the country, it set up computer systems inside China that try to access websites outside the country. If a site was inaccessible, then it was added to Google China's blocklist. [92]

In addition, a connection containing intensive censored terms may also be closed by The Great Firewall, and cannot be re-established for several minutes. This affects all network connections including HTTP and POP, but the reset is more likely to occur during searching. Before the search engines censored themselves, many search engines had been blocked, namely Google and AltaVista. Technorati, a search engine for blogs, has been blocked. [93] Different search engines implement the mandated censorship in different ways. For example, the search engine Bing is reported to censor search results from searches conducted in simplified Chinese characters (used in China), but not in traditional Chinese characters (used in Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau). [94]

Discussion forums Edit

Several Bulletin Board Systems in universities were closed down or restricted public access since 2004, including the SMTH BBS and the YTHT BBS. [95]

In September 2007, some data centers were shut down indiscriminately for providing interactive features such as blogs and forums. CBS reports an estimate that half the interactive sites hosted in China were blocked. [96]

Coinciding with the twentieth anniversary of the government suppression of the pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square, the government ordered Internet portals, forums and discussion groups to shut down their servers for maintenance between 3 and 6 June 2009. [97] The day before the mass shut-down, Chinese users of Twitter, Hotmail and Flickr, among others, reported a widespread inability to access these services. [98]

Social media websites Edit

The censorship of individual social media posts in China usually occurs in two circumstances:

1. Corporations/government hire censors to read individual social media posts and manually take down posts that violate policy. (Although the government and media often use the microblogging service Sina Weibo to spread ideas and monitor corruption, it is also supervised and self-censored by 700 Sina censors. [99] )

2. Posts that will be primarily auto-blocked based on keyword filters, and decide which ones to publish later. [85]

In the second half of 2009, the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter were blocked, presumably because of containing social or political commentary (similar to LiveJournal in the above list). An example is the commentary on the July 2009 Ürümqi riots. [100] [101] Another reason suggested for the block is that activists can utilize them to organize themselves. [102] [103]

In 2010, Chinese human rights activist Liu Xiaobo became a forbidden topic in Chinese media due to his winning the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize. [104] Keywords and images relating to the activist and his life were again blocked in July 2017, shortly after his death. [105]

After the 2011 Wenzhou train collision, the government started emphasizing the danger in spreading 'false rumours' (yaoyan), making the permissive usage of Weibo and social networks a public debate. [106]

In 2012, First Monday published an article on "political content censorship in social media, i.e., the active deletion of messages published by individuals." [107] This academic study, which received extensive media coverage, [108] [109] accumulated a dataset of 56 million messages sent on Sina Weibo from June through September 2011, and statistically analyzed them three months later, finding 212,583 deletions out of 1.3 million sampled, more than 16 percent. The study revealed that censors quickly deleted words with politically controversial meanings (e.g., qingci 请辞 "asking someone to resign" referring to calls for Railway Minister Sheng Guangzu to resign after the Wenzhou train collision on 23 July 2011), and also that the rate of message deletion was regionally anomalous (compare censorship rates of 53% in Tibet and 52% in Qinghai with 12% in Beijing and 11.4% in Shanghai). In another study conducted by a research team led by political scientist Gary King, objectionable posts created by King's team on a social networking site were almost universally removed within 24 hours of their posting. [110]

The comment areas of popular posts mentioned Vladimir Putin on Sina Weibo were closed during the 2017 G20 Hamburg summit in Germany. It is a rare example that a foreigner leader is granted the safety from a popular judgment on the Chinese internet, which usually only granted to the Chinese leaders. [111]

We-media Edit

Social media and messaging app WeChat had attracted many users from blocked networks. Though subject to state rules which saw individual posts removed, [112] [113] Tech in Asia reported in 2013 that certain "restricted words" had been blocked on WeChat globally. [114] A crackdown in March 2014 deleted dozens of WeChat accounts, some of which were independent news channels with hundreds of thousands of followers. [112] [113] CNN reported that the blocks were related to laws banning the spread of political "rumors". [113]

The state-run Xinhua News Agency reported in July 2020 that the CAC would conduct an intensive three-month investigation and cleanup of 13 media platforms, including WeChat. [115]

Other examples Edit

Since May 2015, Chinese Wikipedia has been blocked in mainland China. [116] [117] [118] This was done after Wikipedia started to use HTTPS encryption, which made selective censorship more difficult. [119]

1989 Tiananmen Square protests Edit

The Chinese government censors internet materials related to the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests and massacre. According to the government's white paper in 2010 on the subject of Internet in China, the government protects "the safe flow of internet information and actively guides people to manage websites under the law and use the internet in a wholesome and correct way". [120] The government, therefore, prevents people on the internet from "divulging state secrets, subverting state power and jeopardizing national unification damaging state honor" and "disrupting social order and stability." [120] Law-abiding Chinese websites such as Sina Weibo censors words related to the protests in its search engine. [ citation needed ] Sina Weibo is one of the largest Chinese microblogging services. [ citation needed ] As of October 2012, Weibo's censored words include "Tank Man." [ citation needed ] The government also censors words that have similar pronunciation or meaning to "4 June", the date that the government's violent crackdown occurred. "陆肆", for example, is an alternative to "六四" (4 June). [ citation needed ] The government forbids remembrances of the protests. Sina Weibo's search engine, for example, censors Hong Kong lyricist Thomas Chow's song called 自由花 or "The Flower of Freedom", since attendees of the Vindicate 4 June and Relay the Torch rally at Hong Kong's Victoria Park sing this song every year to commemorate the victims of the events. [ citation needed ]

The government's Internet censorship of such topics was especially strict during the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square protests, which occurred in 2009. According to a Reporters Without Borders' article, searching photos related to the protest such as "4 June" on Baidu, the most popular Chinese search engine, would return blank results and a message stating that the "search does not comply with laws, regulations, and policies". [121] Moreover, a large number of netizens from China claimed that they were unable to access numerous Western web services such as Twitter, Hotmail, and Flickr in the days leading up to and during the anniversary. [122] Netizens in China claimed that many Chinese web services were temporarily blocked days before and during the anniversary. [122] Netizens also reported that microblogging services including Fanfou and Xiaonei (now known as Renren) were down with similar messages that claim that their services were "under maintenance" for a few days around the anniversary date. [122] In 2019, censors once again doubled down during the 30th anniversary of the protests, and by this time had been "largely automated". [123] [ clarification needed ]

Reactions of netizens in China Edit

In 2009, the Guardian wrote that Chinese netizens responded with subtle protests against the government's temporary blockages of large web services. For instance, Chinese websites made subtle grievances against the state's censorship by sarcastically calling the date 4 June as the 中国互联网维护日 or "Chinese Internet Maintenance Day". [124] Owner of the blog Wuqing.org stated, "I, too, am under maintenance". [124] The dictionary website Wordku.com voluntarily took its site down with the claim that this was because of the "Chinese Internet Maintenance Day". [124] In 2013, Chinese netizens used subtle and sarcastic internet memes to criticize the government and to bypass censorship by creating and posting humorous pictures or drawings resembling the Tank Man photo on Weibo. [125] One of these pictures, for example, showed Florentijin Hofman's rubber ducks sculptures replacing tanks in the Tank Man photo. [125] On Twitter, Hu Jia, a Beijing-based AIDS activist, asked netizens in mainland China to wear black T-shirts on 4 June to oppose censorship and to commemorate the date. [125] Chinese web services such as Weibo eventually censored searches of both "black shirt" and "Big Yellow Duck" in 2013. [125]

As a result, the government further promoted anti-western sentiment. In 2014, Chinese Communist Party general secretary Xi Jinping praised blogger Zhou Xiaoping for his "positive energy" after the latter argued in an essay titled "Nine Knockout Blows in America's Cold War Against China," that American culture was "eroding the moral foundation and self-confidence of the Chinese people." [126]

Debates about the significance of internet resistance to censorship Edit

According to Chinese studies expert Johan Lagerkvist, scholars Pierre Bourdieu and Michel de Certeau argue that this culture of satire is a weapon of resistance against authority. [127] This is because criticism against authority often results in satirical parodies that "presupposes and confirms emancipation" of the supposedly oppressed people. [127] Academic writer Linda Hutcheon argues that some people, however, may view satirical language that is used to criticise the government as "complicity", which can "reinforce rather than subvert conservative attitudes". [128] Chinese experts Perry Link and Xiao Qiang, however, oppose this argument. They claim that when sarcastic terms develop into common vocabulary of netizens, these terms would lose their sarcastic characteristic. They then become normal terms that carry significant political meanings that oppose the government. [129] Xiao believes that the netizens' freedom to spread information on the Internet has forced the government to listen to popular demands of netizens. [130] For example, the Ministry of Information Technology's plan to preinstall mandatory censoring software called Green Dam Youth Escort on computers failed after popular online opposition against it in 2009, the year of the 20th anniversary of the protest. [130] [131] [132]

Lagerkvist states that the Chinese government, however, does not see subtle criticisms on the Internet as real threats that carry significant political meanings and topple the government. [133] He argues that real threats occur only when "laugh mobs" become "organised smart mobs" that directly challenge the government's power. [127] At a TED conference, Michael Anti gives a similar reason for the government's lack of enforcement against these internet memes. [134] Anti suggests that the government sometimes allows limited windows of freedom of speech such as internet memes. Anti explains that this is to guide and generate public opinions that favor the government and to criticize enemies of the party officials. [134]

Internet censorship of the protest in 2013 Edit

The Chinese government has become more efficient in its Internet regulations since the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen protest. On 3 June 2013, Sina Weibo quietly suspended usage of the candle icon from the comment input tool, which netizens used to mourn the dead on forums. [135] Some searches related to the protest on Chinese website services no longer come up with blank results, but with results that the government had "carefully selected." [136] These subtle methods of government censorship may cause netizens to believe that their searched materials were not censored. [136] The government, however, is inconsistent in its enforcement of censorship laws. Netizens reported that searches of some censored terms on Chinese web services still resulted in blank pages with a message that says "relevant laws, regulations, and policies" prevent the display of results related to the searches. [137]

Usage of Internet kill switch Edit

China completely shut down Internet service in the autonomous region of Xinjiang from July 2009 to May 2010 for up to 312 days after the July 2009 Ürümqi riots. [138] [139] [140]

COVID-19 pandemic Edit

Reporters without Borders has accused that China's policies prevented an earlier warning about the COVID-19 pandemic. At least one doctor suspected as early as 25 December 2019 that an outbreak was occurring, but arguably may have been deterred from informing the media due to harsh punishment for whistleblowers. [141]

During the pandemic, academic research concerning the origins of the virus was censored. [142] An investigation by ProPublica and The New York Times found that the Cyberspace Administration of China placed censorship restrictions on Chinese media outlets and social media to avoid mentions of the COVID-19 outbreak, mentions of Li Wenliang, and "activated legions of fake online commenters to flood social sites with distracting chatter". [143]

Other examples Edit

Since 2013, the Disney character Winnie the Pooh is systematically removed on Chinese internet following the spread of an internet meme in which photographs of Xi and other individuals were compared to the bear and other characters from the works of A. A. Milne as re-imagined by Disney. [144] The first heavily censored viral meme can be traced back to the official visit to the United States in 2013 during which Xi was photographed by a Reuters photographer walking with then-US President Barack Obama in Sunnylands, California. A blog post where the photograph was juxtaposed with the cartoon depiction went viral, [145] [146] but Chinese censors rapidy deleted it. [147] A year later came a meme featuring Xi and Shinzo Abe. [145] [146] When Xi Jinping inspected troops through his limousine's sunroof, a popular meme was created with Winnie the Pooh in a toy car. The widely circulated image became the most censored picture of the year in 2015. [145] In addition to not wanting any kind of online euphemism for the Communist Party's general secretary, [148] the Chinese government considers that the caricature undermines the authority of the presidential office as well as the president himself, and all films, TV series, or toys related to Winnie the Pooh have been banned in China. [145] [146]

In February 2018 Xi Jinping appeared to set in motion a process to scrap term limits, allowing himself to become ruler for life. To suppress criticism, censors banned phrases such as "Disagree" (不同意), "Shameless" (不要脸), "Lifelong" (终身), "Animal Farm", and at one point briefly censored the letter 'N'. [149] Li Datong, a former state newspaper editor, wrote a critical letter that was censored some social media users evaded the censorship by posting an upside-down screenshot of the letter. [150]

On 13 March 2018, China's CCTV incidentally showed Yicai's Liang Xiangyi apparently rolling her eyes in disgust at a long-winded and canned media question during the widely watched National People's Congress. In the aftermath, Liang's name became the most-censored search term on Weibo. [151] [152] The government also blocked the search query "journalist in blue" and attempted to censor popular memes inspired by the eye-roll. [153] [154]

On 21 June 2018, British-born comedian John Oliver criticized China's paramount leader Xi Jinping on his U.S. show Last Week Tonight over Xi Jinping's apparent descent into authoritarianism (including his sidelining of dissent, mistreatment of the Uyghur peoples and clampdowns on Chinese internet censorship), as well as the Belt and Road Initiative. As a result, the English language name of John Oliver (although not the Chinese version) was censored on Sina Weibo and other sites on the Chinese internet. [155] [156] [157] [158] [159]

The American television show South Park was banned from China in 2019 and any mention of it was removed from almost all sites on the Chinese internet, after criticizing China's government and censorship in season 23 episode, "Band in China". Series creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone later issued a mock apology. [160] [161]

Foreign content providers such as Yahoo!, AOL, and Skype must abide by Chinese government wishes, including having internal content monitors, to be able to operate within mainland China. Also, per mainland Chinese laws, Microsoft began to censor the content of its blog service Windows Live Spaces, arguing that continuing to provide Internet services is more beneficial to the Chinese. [162] Chinese journalist Michael Anti's blog on Windows Live Spaces was censored by Microsoft. In an April 2006 e-mail panel discussion Rebecca MacKinnon, who reported from China for nine years as a Beijing bureau chief for CNN, said: ". many bloggers said he [Anti] was a necessary sacrifice so that the majority of Chinese can continue to have an online space to express themselves as they choose. So the point is, compromises are being made at every level of society because nobody expects political freedom anyway." [163]

The Chinese version of Myspace, launched in April 2007, has many censorship-related differences from other international versions of the service. Discussion forums on topics such as religion and politics are absent and a filtering system that prevents the posting of content about politically sensitive topics has been added. [164] Users are also given the ability to report the "misconduct" of other users for offenses including "endangering national security, leaking state secrets, subverting the government, undermining national unity, spreading rumors or disturbing the social order." [165]

Some media have suggested that China's Internet censorship of foreign websites may also be a means of forcing mainland Chinese users to rely on China's e-commerce industry, thus self-insulating their economy from the dominance of international corporations. [166] On 7 November 2005 an alliance of investors and researchers representing 26 companies in the U.S., Europe and Australia with over US$21 billion in joint assets announced [167] that they were urging businesses to protect freedom of expression and pledged to monitor technology companies that do business in countries violating human rights, such as China. On 21 December 2005 the UN, OSCE and OAS special mandates on freedom of expression called on Internet corporations to "work together . to resist official attempts to control or restrict the use of the Internet." [168] Google finally responded when attacked by hackers rumored to be hired by the Chinese government by threatening to pull out of China. [ citation needed ]

Reporters Without Borders suspects that regimes such as Cuba, Zimbabwe, and Belarus have obtained surveillance technology from China. [169]

Using a VPN service Edit

Internet censorship in China is circumvented by determined parties by using proxy servers outside the firewall. [170] Users may circumvent all of the censorship and monitoring of the Great Firewall if they have a working VPN or SSH connection method to a computer outside mainland China. However, disruptions of VPN services have been reported and the free or popular services especially are increasingly being blocked. [171] [172] To avoid deep packet inspection and continue providing services in China some VPN providers implemented server obfuscation. [173]

Changing IP addresses Edit

Blogs hosted on services such as Blogger and Wordpress.com are frequently blocked. [174] [175] [176] In response, some China-focused services explicitly offer to change a blog's IP address within 30 minutes if it is blocked by the authorities. [177]

Using a mirror website Edit

In 2002, Chinese citizens used the Google mirror elgooG after China blocked Google. [178]

Modifying the network stack Edit

In July 2006, researchers at Cambridge University claimed to have defeated the firewall by ignoring the TCP reset packets. [179]

Using Tor and DPI-resistant tools Edit

Although many users use VPNs to circumvent the Great Firewall of China, many Internet connections are now subject to deep packet inspection, in which data packets are looked at in detail. Many VPNs have been blocked using this method. Blogger Grey One suggests users trying to disguise VPN usage forward their VPN traffic through port 443 because this port is also heavily used by web browsers for HTTPS connections. However, Grey points out this method is futile against advanced inspection. [180] Obfsproxy [181] and other pluggable transports do allow users to evade deep-packet inspection. [182]

The Tor anonymity network was and is subject to partial blocking by China's Great Firewall. [183] [184] [185] [186] The Tor website is blocked when accessed over HTTP but it is reachable over HTTPS so it is possible for users to download the Tor Browser Bundle. [187] The Tor project also maintains a list of website mirrors in case the main Tor website is blocked. [188]

The Tor network maintains a public list of approximately 3000 entry relays almost all of them are blocked. [187] In addition to the public relays, Tor maintains bridges which are non-public relays. [189] Their purpose is to help censored users reach the Tor network. The Great Firewall scrapes nearly all the bridge IPs distributed through bridges.torproject.org and email. According to Winter's research paper published in April 2012, this blocking technique can be circumvented by using packet fragmentation or the Tor obfsproxy bundle in combination with private obfsproxy bridges. [181] [187] Tor Obfs4 bridges still work in China as long as the IPs are discovered through social networks or self-published bridges. [190]

Tor now primarily functions in China using meeks which works via front-end proxies hosted on Content Delivery Networks (CDNs) to obfuscate the information coming to and from the source and destination, it is a type of pluggable transport. Examples are Microsoft's Azure and Cloudflare. [191]

Unintended methods Edit

It was common in the past to use Google's cache feature to view blocked websites. However, this feature of Google seems to be under some level of blocking, as access is now erratic and does not work for blocked websites. Currently, the block is mostly circumvented by using proxy servers outside the firewall and is not difficult to carry out for those determined to do so.

The mobile Opera Mini browser uses a proxy-based approach employing encryption and compression to speed up downloads. This has the side effect of allowing it to circumvent several approaches to Internet censorship. In 2009 this led the government of China to ban all but a special Chinese version of the browser. [192]

Using an analogy to bypass keyword filters Edit

As the Great Firewall of China gets more sophisticated, users are getting increasingly creative in the ways they elude the censorship, such as by using analogies to discuss topics. Furthermore, users are becoming increasingly open in their mockery of them by actively using homophones to avoid censorship. Deleted sites have "been harmonized", indicating CCP general secretary Hu Jintao's Internet censorship lies under the larger idea of creating a "Socialist Harmonious Society". For example, censors are referred to as "river crabs", because in Chinese that phrase forms a homophone for "harmony". [193]

Using steganography Edit

According to The Guardian editor Charles Arthur, Internet users in China have found more technical ways to get around the Great Firewall of China, including using Steganography, a practice of "embedding useful data in what looks like something irrelevant. The text of a document can be broken into its constituent bytes, which are added to the pixels of an innocent picture. The effect is barely visible on the picture, but the recipient can extract it with the right software". [194]

Voices Edit

Rupert Murdoch famously proclaimed that advances in communications technology posed an "unambiguous threat to totalitarian regimes everywhere" [195] and Ai Weiwei argued that the Chinese "leaders must understand it's not possible for them to control the Internet unless they shut it off". [196]

However, Nathan Freitas, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard and technical adviser to the Tibet Action Institute, says "There’s a growing sense within China that widely used VPN services that were once considered untouchable are now being touched." In June 2015 Jaime Blasco, a security researcher at AlienVault in Silicon Valley, reported that hackers, possibly with the assistance of the Chinese government, had found ways to circumvent the most popular privacy tools on the Internet: virtual private networks, or VPNs, and Tor. This is done with the aid of a particularly serious vulnerability, known as JSONP, that 15 web services in China never patched. As long as the users are logged into one of China's top web services such as Baidu, Taobao, QQ, Sina, Sohu, and Ctrip the hackers can identify them and access their personal information, even if they are using Tor or a VPN. The vulnerability is not new it was published in a Chinese security and web forum around 2013. [197]

Specific examples of evasion as internet activism Edit

The rapid increase of access to Internet in China has also created new opportunities for internet activism. For example, in terms of journalism, Marina Svensson’s article on “Media and Civil Society in China: Community building and networking among investigative journalists and beyond” illustrates that although Chinese journalists are not able to create their own private companies, they are using informal connections online and offline that allows them to create a community that may allow them to go around state repression. [198] Specifically, with the development of microblogging, an increase in new community that are formed underlines a possibility of ". more open expressions of solidarity and ironic resistance”. [199] However, one shortcoming with internet activism is digital inequality. [200] In 2016, the number of internet users reached 731 million, which was about a rate of 53% for internet penetration. [200] According to the Information and Communications Technologies Development Index (IDI), [201] China exhibits high inequality in terms of regional and wealth differences. [202]

According to the BBC, local Chinese businesses such as Baidu, Tencent and Alibaba, some of the world's largest internet enterprises, benefited from the way China has blocked international rivals from the market, encouraging domestic competition. [203]

According to Financial Times, China's crackdown on VPN portals has brought business to state-approved telecom companies. [204] Reuters reported that China's state newspaper has expanded its online censoring business. The company's net income in 2018 has risen 140 percent. Its Shanghai-listed stock price jumped up by 166 percent in 2018. [205]


Huawei P30 Pro's camera put to the test in Paris

Sept. 7, 2018: Huawei gets caught cheating on a phone benchmark test.

Sept. 5, 2018: In a Senate hearing on Facebook and Twitter, Huawei and ZTE get called out.

Aug. 1, 2018: Knocking off Apple, Huawei becomes the No. 2 phone seller.

July 19, 2018: Huawei crosses 100 million shipments mark for the year to date.

July 11, 2018: Australia says it'll ban Huawei from 5G rollout amid security concerns.

June 7, 2018: Congress calls out Google over its ties with Huawei.

June 6, 2018: A report reveals that Facebook gave Huawei special access to user data.

May 2, 2018: The Pentagon bans the sale of Huawei and ZTE phones on US military bases.

March 22, 2018: Huawei loses Best Buy as retail partner.

Feb. 13, 2018: FBI Director Chris Wray warns against buying Huawei and ZTE phones.

Jan. 9, 2018: At CES, Huawei CEO Richard Yu addresses the loss of AT&T support .


Thousands Of Banned Chinese Surveillance Cameras Are Watching Over America

Despite a ban, Hikvision and Dahua cameras can be found all over the U.S., including on government . [+] systems.

FRED DUFOUR/AFP/Getty Images

You’d have thought the U.S. government would be moving fast to kick Chinese surveillance tech out of the country. But despite a legally mandated ban signed off on a year ago, the Trump administration hasn’t been able to clean networks of prohibited Chinese cameras keeping watch over U.S. government facilities.

As of this month, all federal government bodies should have started on plans to remove tech from four manufacturers that are considered too closely linked to the Chinese government. They include telecoms giants Huawei and ZTE, as well as surveillance camera makers Dahua and Hikvision.

But at least 2,000 devices from those latter two companies remain on U.S. government systems, according to data from government contractor Forescout. An additional 1,300 Huawei and 200 ZTE systems were also uncovered.

Forescout carried out two separate scans for the Dahua and Hikvision tools for Forbes, one a month ahead of the enactment of the ban, the other just a matter of days after the deadline of August 13. Little had changed over that period, indicating that, just as the U.S. can’t kick outlawed Russian software from Kaspersky Lab, the Trump administration is finding it tricky to root out and remove Chinese surveillance tech.

According to data from Forescout, which has been able to find banned devices via its government customers, there are at least 2,061 Dahua and Hikvision systems on U.S. federal government networks. That data was accurate as of August 19, and the figure is actually higher than the total from a July 11 scan, which stood at 1,797. But Forescout noted that the figure was higher only because it had gained more customers across government, not because agencies were buying more banned technology.

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Looking across industry verticals, government appears to be the biggest user of such spy tech too. Manufacturing was the second-biggest user of the Chinese tech, with just under 1,200 Dahua and Hikvision tools, according to the Forescout data.

Dahua didn’t respond to a request for comment, but a Hikvision spokesperson said the ban had “potentially far-reaching implications for small and medium-sized American businesses.”

“We believe a standards-based cybersecurity process, as recently required by the Federal Acquisition Supply Chain Security Act, would better protect the federal supply chain and U.S. businesses. Hikvision is committed to complying with laws and regulations in all countries and regions where we operate and has made efforts to ensure the security of its products adhere to what is mandated by the U.S. government.”

Chinese surveillance “important for American national security”

One significant reason for the persistent presence of banned surveillance tools on U.S. government soil is confusion. It hasn’t been made “crystal clear” whether the law requires government agencies to remove the equipment rather than simply stop buying, said Katherine Gronberg, Forescout vice president for government affairs. As per the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), agencies are currently required to either have a plan for removing the relevant technologies or prove they’ve removed them already.

There’s also an irony when it comes to Dahua and Hikvision, noted Gronberg. Surveillance cameras perform an important function for many agencies. They are, after all, supposed to protect government sites from intruders. However, even while performing a national security function, they might at the same time be posing one because of their association with China. In such cases, the agency has to decide whether to accept the risk and keep the camera live, or swiftly remove it with the potential for disruption, Gronberg noted.

The Chinese manufacturers have known the ban was coming since Congress agreed to provisions under the NDAA last year. Huawei filed a motion in U.S. court this March, claiming that the NDAA ban was unconstitutional and should be abolished.

Banned Chinese tech everywhere across America

Forbes also had John Matherly, founder of the internet device scanning service Shodan, carry out a search for Hikvision and Dahua devices across the entirety of America. He claimed to have uncovered a vast number: as many as 200,000 for Dahua and 15,000 for Hikvision.

He believes that for the U.S. government the problem in rooting out Dahua and Hikvision will come in the form of “whitelabelling,” through which tech made by those firms is repackaged and sold under another brand name.

“These are inexpensive products, which is why they’re usually purchased, and the underlying software and hardware between Chinese vendors is very similar or sometimes even identical,” Matherly says.

“Organizations might not realize who originally wrote the software and designed the hardware for the device they purchased.”


Chinese government bans those 'weird buildings' that Xi Jinping can't stand

The Chinese government on Tuesday (April 13) issued a ban on “ugly architecture ”, nearly seven years after President Xi Jinping famously criticised the “weird” buildings popping up across China in recent decades.

As China has experienced rapid urbanisation over the past 40 years, numerous projects turned out to be eyesores – from the “giant trousers” structure of the China Central Television headquarters in Beijing to the half-Temple of Heaven, half-US Capitol building in nearby Hebei province.

The National Development and Reform Commission, China’s top economic planner, issued a directive earlier this week that said “the construction of ugly architecture should be strictly banned”.

It added that local governments should make sure buildings are “suitable, economic, green and pleasing to the eye”. The directive never elaborated on what would constitute an ugly building.

The directive, a summary of goals in urbanisation for this year, also said the construction of skyscrapers taller than 500 metres should be “strictly limited”. There are seven skyscrapers in the world that are 500 metres tall, and China boasts five of them.

While the aesthetics of architecture remain largely subjective, professionals agreed that the obsession with economic growth by local governments and businesses incentivised developers to pursue eyeball-grabbing projects.

Han Tao, a professor in architecture design at the Central Academy of Fine Arts, said they often convey a “vulgar taste”, are copied or cobbled together from old designs, or clash with the surrounding environment.

Such structures are so common across China that a website specialising in architecture, archcy.com , has issued a “top 10 ugliest buildings” ranking for 11 years. The buildings are selected through an online poll and ultimately decided by a group of experts.

The winner for 2020, for which Han was a judge, was the 2,000-seat Sunac Guangzhou Grand Theatre in the southern city of Guangzhou, a swirling edifice in Chinese red with traditional patterns of clouds and phoenixes in golden yellow.

It is “far-fetched”, “weird-shaped”, and is a “random collage of Chinese elements”, said the panel.

The central government has been cracking down on “oversized and weird” structures in recent years, in part because Xi demanded that there be no more buildings like the unusually-shaped CCTV headquarters during a major symposium on culture in 2014.

Among the structures ordered by Beijing to be rectified last year was a gigantic statue of the Chinese war deity Guan Yu that sits on top of an 8,000-square metre (86,111 sq ft) museum in Jingzhou, Hubei province in central China.

It is roughly half the height of the Statue of Liberty and the local government is still considering how to remove it after it was named-and-shamed by central authorities, according to local media.

Zhang Shangwu, deputy head of Tongji University’s College of Architecture and Urban Planning, said China’s grandiose architecture results from society’s rush for attention and growth.

“We’re in a stage where people are too impetuous and anxious to produce something that can actually go down in history,” he said.

“Every building aims to be a landmark, and the developers and city planners try to achieve this goal by going extreme in novelty and strangeness,” he added.

Han, from the Central Academy of Fine Arts, said architecture should never be uniform, despite China’s rethinking of how its cities should look.

“Contemporary culture is diverse and there should not be just one voice,” he said, urging authorities to protect the space for public appreciation of beauty and experiments of architects.

This article was first published in South China Morning Post.


Is China really scared of ghost films?

It was reported that the film Crimson Peak didn't get released in China because it had ghosts in it, which goes against the Communist Party's secular principles. But is that the whole story? Artist and horror fan Aowen Jin is not so sure.

One of the most vivid memories of my childhood was when I was eight years old. My uncle took me to the cinema to watch a Chinese film and it turned out to be a horror called Painted Skin.

The film told the story of a scholar seduced by a ghost that wore the skin of a beautiful woman. Instead of consuming the scholar, the ghost fell in love, but the weak spirited scholar was persuaded by a monk to destroy the ghost.

At the pivotal moment of the film, when the heartbroken ghost had lost all faith in her lover, she tore open her skin on her face, letting all of her blood and flesh fall, drip and seep on to the floor as she gave out a heart-rending cry, revealing her true form to her unfaithful lover!

  • Listen to Aowen Jin on The Cultural Frontline on Saturday 5 December is a topical arts programme on the BBC World Service

How was an eight-year-old exposed to this, you might wonder? Age restrictions in Chinese cinemas were almost non-existent until the ➐s, and as children we saw some of the most shocking Eastern and Western horror movies far too young.

I will never forget my first sleepless night, when I shivered and sweated under the blanket, imagining a ghost covered in blood with skin hanging from her face, standing by my bed, watching me with the most tormented and sad eyes.

Even though I spent most of my childhood permanently scared by the horror of Painted Skin, the tragic and sad love story imprinted itself on my mind. It fascinated me even more as I grew older and tried to understand the meaning of love. It turned out to be an induction for me into the world of horror, a passion that would stay with me until this day.

From that point on, I fed on a diet of ghost stories, horror and fantasy in China. These themes were in the films I watched, the TV series we saw each evening, the manga I devoured at any free moment, and the books I read, hiding under the duvet late at night.

So when I moved to the West, it came as a surprise to me that there were major ghost films that were released in the UK but banned in China. I knew they couldn't be more visceral or terrifying than the plots I had seen back home, so I was determined to find out why.

Some reasons were obvious of course - sex is still taboo in China, as are extreme religious or spiritual themes, or content that strongly criticises Chinese culture, people or especially its government. But ghosts?

Ghosts play a prominent role in Chinese culture, folklore, mythology and legend, and have done for thousands of years. Every year we have a Ghost Festival to welcome the family dead, and China's most famous classic literature is showered with ghostly themes. For example, Liao Zhai Zhi Yi is regarded as the best example of Chinese short story writing, and combines 491 individual ghost stories, including the inspiration for Painted Skin.

But like many things in China, ghosts are not as simple as they seem. Throughout Chinese literature and history, ghosts have been a metaphor, and evil ghosts often symbolise corrupt government officials. Ghost stories became a political tool anyone could use and that the government found hard to control.

Not surprisingly in China today, under one-party political rule, very little has changed. Banning ghost stories sounds almost absurd and laughable to the West, and yet it carries the deep-rooted, historical fear that the government feels about its own people.

The criteria for which these films get banned has been incredibly inconsistent over the years, but as an artist who often works in China, I've found that the strictness of the censors roughly correlates with the changing leadership of the Communist party.

Leaders will often either liberalise the arts, or make them more conservative at each turn. This ebb and flow will continue as each leader changes, but for now the theme seems to be conservative, as Chinese premier Xi Jinping continues a devoted moral crusade.

As such, the recent banning of Guillermo Del Toro's latest gothic film, Crimson Peak, comes at a time when the government is also re-cutting many classic Chinese TV series to remove any obvious cleavage. And in my opinion, it's far more likely the censors took issue with Crimson Peak's themes of incest and sex than just with the ghosts.

Soon China's box office is expected to overtake the US, and success in China can make or break a film. More and more frequently, we see films being made in the West featuring prominent Chinese characters, positive reflections on the Chinese government and even having a special edit designed for the Chinese market- such as the final instalment of the Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy.

Chinese production companies often fund major Hollywood blockbusters, and this trend will only quicken as the market grows - meaning on one side that the whims of the Chinese censors will have more impact on our own cultural output, but also that we will see so much more cultural cross-pollination and collaboration in future too.

The bigger question for Xi - like in the West - is how effective the censorship can be in the face of internet sharing. More and more of my Chinese friends and colleagues watch and share movies online, via illegal downloads, with little regard for copyright. It is extremely hard to censor channels like this, and on a brief survey of my Chinese friends on the social network WeChat, almost 25% have already seen Crimson Peak.

Most weren't even aware that it had been banned in cinemas at all.

Listen to Aowen Jin on The Cultural Frontline - the topical arts show on the BBC World Service. Listen again via iPlayer.

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Bannings and Burnings in History

Some of the most controversial books in history are now regarded as classics. The Bible and works by Shakespeare are among those that have been banned over the past two thousand years. Here is a selective timeline of book bannings, burnings, and other censorship activities.

2019: In the United States, people demanded the removal of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series from public libraries. Complainants objected to depictions of magic, witchcraft, and “actual curses and spells” in the text. They also disliked the characters’ use of “nefarious means” to achieve their goals, reported the American Library Association (ALA). The fantasy novels—there are seven in all—chronicle the lives of students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The ALA also reported that Harry Potter books were the most frequently challenged in U.S. public libraries from 2000 to 2009.

2019: In the United States, people demanded the removal of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale from public library shelves. Complainants objected to profanity and “vulgarity and sexual overtones” in the text, reported the American Library Association (ALA). The novel, which was published in 1985, depicts a future Christian theocracy in the southern half of North America. The ALA also reported that Atwood’s novel was the 88th most frequently challenged book from 2000 to 2009 and the 37th most frequently challenged book from 1990 to 1999 in U.S. public libraries.

2016: In northern Russia, the Vorkuta Mining and Economics College burned 53 books, including textbooks about logic, French surrealism, and criminology. A spokesperson said they were full of ideas “alien to Russian ideology.” A Western foundation created by George Soros, the billionaire financier and philanthropist, had provided the money to publish the books. The college also seized another 427 books for shredding.

2013: In Pakistan, spokesmen for organizations that represent the nation’s private schools announced bans on I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban. In November, Adeeb Javedani, president of the All Pakistan Private Schools Management Association, said that a ban was in force in the libraries of 40,000 affiliated schools. Kashif Mirza, chairman of the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation, said a ban was in force in its affiliated schools. Senior education officials said the book—which was co-authored by Malala Yousafzai and Christina Lamb—showed insufficient respect for Islam.

2013: Islamist insurgents in the African nation of Mali set fire to a library in Timbuktu and incinerated 4,000 ancient manuscripts. The damage would have been worse, but a quick-thinking librarian had organized the removal of hundreds of thousands of manuscripts to safety.

2012: In the United States, people demanded the removal of Toni Morrison’s Beloved from public library shelves. Complainants claimed the novel was sexually explicit, and they objected to depictions of violence and the novel’s religious viewpoint, reported the American Library Association (ALA). The novel, which was published in 1987, explores the destructive legacy of slavery in 19th-century America. The ALA also reported that Morrison’s novel was the 26th most frequently challenged book from 2000 to 2009 and the 45th most frequently challenged book from 1990 to 1999 in U.S. public libraries.

2012: In May, Irshad Manji—a reform-minded Muslim—toured Malaysia to promote her book Allah, Liberty and Love. In Kuala Lumpur, government officials raided bookstores to confiscate copies of the book. Then, after receiving a critical report from the Department of Islamic Development, Malaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs banned the book. Manji protested the ban, and her Malaysian publisher challenged the ban in court.

2011: In June, Canadian author Lawrence Hill received an email from a man in the Netherlands who said that he and others planned to burn Hill’s novel The Book of Negroes because they objected to the use of the N-word in the title. On June 22, they burned copies of the book’s cover in Amsterdam. Two years later, Hill published another work: Dear Sir, I Intend to Burn Your Book: An Anatomy of a Book Burning.

2010: The U.S. Department of Defense bought and destroyed the entire first printing—9,500 copies—of Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer’s Operation Dark Heart. The book focused on the war in Afghanistan. Even though Shaffer had worked closely with military officials when he was writing the manuscript, some feared that the book would reveal military secrets. Shaffer’s publisher, St. Martin’s Press, did release a second printing, but it featured cuts and changes that the U.S. Department of Defense had ordered.

2010: In India, nationalist students burned copies of Such a Long Journey, Rohinton Mistry’s acclaimed novel, at the gates of the University of Mumbai. The students also pressed the university to stop teaching the book. Aditya Thackeray, the students’ leader, said he objected to the “obscene and vulgar language” in the novel and to negative references to India’s nationalist politicians, including his grandfather. The university quickly dropped the novel from the syllabus.

2001: The U.S.A. PATRIOT Act, passed by the American Congress in response to terrorist attacks on New York and Washington on September 11, gave the FBI power to collect information about the library borrowings of any U.S. citizen. The act also empowered the federal agency to gain access to library patrons’ log-ons to Internet Web sites—and protected the FBI from disclosing the identities of individuals being investigated.

1998: American publishers expressed outrage over news that a Washington bookstore was ordered to turn over records of Monica Lewinsky’s book purchases to independent counsel Kenneth Starr. Lewinsky is the former White House intern with whom President Clinton had what he later termed an “inappropriate relationship.” The Association of American Publishers declared: “I don’t think the American people could find anything more alien to our way of life or repugnant to the Bill of Rights than government intrusion into what we think and what we read. I would suggest Mr. Starr give some thought to his own reading list. Maybe it’s time for him to re-read the First Amendment.”

1998: In Kenya the government banned 30 books and publications for “sedition and immorality,” including The Quotations of Chairman Mao and Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses.

1997: In Ireland, a government censorship board banned at least 24 books and 90 periodicals.

1992: In August, during the Bosnian war, Serbian troops shelled the National Library in Sarajevo. They destroyed between 1.5 million and 3 million volumes. It was one of the worst book burnings in modern history. Soldiers shot at anyone who tried to save the books.

1988: Salman Rushdie’s The Satanic Verses, which some critics said blasphemed Islam, was burned repeatedly by Muslims in the United Kingdom. In October, India—a majority Hindu nation which has a minority Muslim population—became the first of several countries in the world to ban the novel. (In 2012, Indian writers called for the ban’s repeal.) The Republic of South Africa also banned the novel in 1988, although the government lifted this ban in 2002.

1987: After retiring from 20 years’ service with Britain’s MI5 counterintelligence agency, Peter Wright moved to Australia and wrote his autobiography, entitled Spycatcher, in which he accused British security services of trying to topple Harold Wilson’s 1974–76 Labour government. The book, a best-seller, was banned in Britain, and the British government waged a lengthy and expensive legal battle to prevent its publication in Australia. Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher said that if Wright ever returned to Britain, he would be prosecuted for breaching the country’s Official Secrets Act. But when Wright died in 1995, he got the last laugh, since his ashes were scattered over the waters of the Blackwater Sailing Club in southern England.

1987: I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou was removed from the required reading list for Wake County, North Carolina, high school students because of a scene in which the author, at the age of seven and a half, is raped.

1983: Members of the Alabama State Textbook Committee called for the rejection of The Diary of Anne Frank because it was “a real downer.” It was also challenged for offensive references to sexuality.

1980s: During its examination of school learning materials, the London County Council in England banned the use of Beatrix Potter’s children’s classics The Tale of Peter Rabbit and Benjamin Bunny from all London schools. The reason: the stories portrayed only “middle-class rabbits.”

1977: Maurice Sendak’s picture book In the Night Kitchen was removed from the Norridge, Illinois, school library because of “nudity to no purpose.” The book was expurgated elsewhere when shorts were drawn on the nude boy.

1977: Decent Interval, a memoir written by a former CIA employee, criticized the CIA, Henry Kissinger, and U.S. involvement in the Vietnam War. Author Frank Snepp succeeded in getting his book published before the CIA knew about it, but the government filed a lawsuit against him, even though no classified information appeared in the book. In 1980, the U.S. Supreme

Court ruled against Snepp the government seized all profits from the book and imposed a lifelong gag order on the author. Snepp was required to submit everything he might write—fiction, screenplays, non-fiction, poetry—to the CIA for review. The CIA won the right to cut any classified or classifiable information within 30 days of receipt of Snepp’s work.

1974: The CIA and the Cult of Intelligence revealed some of the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency’s dirty tricks and failures overseas and in the United States. The authors (Victor Marchetti, a former senior analyst for the CIA, and John D. Marks, a former U.S. State Department official) were told by a U.S. court to submit their manuscript to the CIA before the book was published. The CIA demanded the removal of 339 passages from the text, but eventually the publisher won the right to retain 171 of those in the first edition of the book. By 1980, the publisher had won the legal right to publish 25 more passages, but the most recent edition (1989) still indicated numerous censored passages.

1973: The school board in Drake, North Dakota, ordered the burning of 32 copies of Kurt Vonnegut’s Slaughterhouse-Five and 60 copies of James Dickey’s Deliverance for, respectively, the use of profanity and references to homosexuality.

1970: White Niggers of America, a political tract about Quebec politics and society, was written by Pierre Vallières while he was in jail. The book was confiscated when the writer was accused of sedition, and an edition published in France was not allowed into Canada. A U.S. edition was published in English in 1971.

1960: D.H. Lawrence’s novel Lady Chatterley’s Lover was the subject of a trial in England, in which Penguin Books was prosecuted for publishing an obscene book. During the proceedings, the prosecutor asked: “Is it a book you would wish your wife or servant to read?” Penguin won the case, and the book was allowed to be sold in England. A year earlier, the U.S. Post Office had declared the novel obscene and non-mailable. But a federal judge overturned the Post Office’s decision and questioned the right of the postmaster general to decide what was or was not obscene.

1959: After protests by the White Citizens’ Council, The Rabbits’ Wedding, a picture book for children, was put on the reserved shelf in Alabama public libraries because it was thought to promote racial integration.

1954: Mickey Mouse comics were banned in East Berlin because Mickey was said to be an “anti-Red rebel.”

1953: The Irish government banned Anatole France’s A Mummer’s Tale (for immorality), Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises and Across the River and Into the Trees (for immorality), all the works of John Steinbeck (for subversion and immorality), all the works of Emile Zola (for immorality), and most works by William Faulkner (for immorality).

1937: The Quebec government passed An Act Respecting Communistic Propaganda, popularly known as the Padlock Act. The statute empowered the attorney general to close, for up to one year, any building that was used to disseminate “communism or bolshevism.” (These two terms were undefined.) In addition, the act empowered the attorney general to confiscate and destroy any publication propagating communism or bolshevism. Anyone caught publishing, printing, or distributing such literature faced imprisonment for up to one year without appeal. In 1957, the Supreme Court of Canada struck down the Padlock Act in a case called Switzman vs. Elbling. The court said that the act made the propagation of communism a crime however, the court’s reason for striking down the law had less to do with the evils of censorship than with the division of powers between federal and provincial governments. The court declared that the power to pass criminal law belonged exclusively to Ottawa, so Quebec’s Padlock Act was ultra vires and unconstitutional. Only two justices raised the issue of censorship in this case.

1933: A series of massive bonfires in Nazi Germany burned thousands of books written by Jews, communists, and others. Included were the works of John Dos Passos, Albert Einstein, Sigmund Freud, Ernest Hemingway, Helen Keller, Lenin, Jack London, Thomas Mann, Karl Marx, Erich Maria Remarque, Upton Sinclair, Stalin, and Leon Trotsky.

1932: In a letter to an American publisher, James Joyce said that “some very kind person” bought the entire first edition of Dubliners and had it burnt.

1931: Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll was banned by the governor of Hunan province in China because, he said, animals should not use human language and it was disastrous to put animals and humans on the same level.

1929–62: Novels by Ernest Hemingway were banned in various parts of the world such as Italy, Ireland, and Germany (where they were burned by the Nazis). In California in 1960, The Sun Also Rises was banned from schools in San Jose and all of Hemingway’s works were removed from Riverside school libraries. In 1962, a group called Texans for America opposed textbooks that referred students to books by the Nobel Prize-winning author.

1929: The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle was banned in the Soviet Union because of “occultism.”

1929: Jack London’s popular novel Call of the Wild was banned in Italy and Yugoslavia. In 1932, copies of this and other books by London were burned by the Nazis in Germany.

1927: A translation of The Arabian Nights by the French scholar Mardrus was held up by U.S. Customs. Four years later another translation, by Sir Richard Burton, was allowed into the country, but the ban on the Mardrus version was maintained.

1885: A year after the publication of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn, the library of Concord, Massachusetts, decided to exclude the book from its collection. The committee making the decision said the book was “rough, coarse and inelegant, dealing with a series of experiences not elevating, the whole book being more suited to the slums than to intelligent, respectable people.” By 1907, it was said that Twain’s novel had been thrown out of some library somewhere every year, mostly because its hero was said to present a bad example for impressionable young readers.

1881: Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass (published in 1833) was threatened with banning by Boston’s district attorney unless the book was expurgated. The public uproar brought such sales of his books that Whitman was able to buy a house with the proceeds.

1864–1959: Victor Hugo’s novel Les Misérables was placed on the Index Librorum.

1859: George Eliot’s novel Adam Bede was attacked as the “vile outpourings of a lewd woman’s mind,” and the book was withdrawn from circulation libraries in Britain.

1859: Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species was published, outlining the theory of evolution. The book was banned from the library of Trinity College, Cambridge, where Darwin had been a student. In 1925, Tennessee banned the teaching of the theory of evolution in schools the law remained in force until 1967. The Origin of Species was banned in Yugoslavia in 1935 and in Greece in 1937.

1843: The English Parliament updated an act that required all plays to be performed in England to be submitted for approval to the Lord Chamberlain. Despite objections by illustrious figures such as George Bernard Shaw (in 1909), this power remained with the Lord Chamberlain until 1968.

1807: Dr. Thomas Bowdler quietly brought out the first of his revised editions of Shakespeare’s plays. The preface claimed that he had removed from Shakespeare “everything that can raise a blush on the cheek of modesty”—which amounted to about 10 per cent of the playwright’s text. One hundred and fifty years later, it was discovered that the real excision had been done by Dr. Bowdler’s sister, Henrietta Maria. The word “bowdlerize” became part of the English language.

1807: In Paris, French police entered the room in the asylum where the Marquis de Sade was imprisoned and seized several of his manuscripts, including the manuscript of his latest novel, The Days at Florbelle. The police claimed that the notorious libertine’s novel was blasphemous and obscene, and Sade never saw it again. After Sade died in 1814, his younger son, anxious to restore the Sade family’s name, asked the Ministry of Justice to burn The Days at Florbelle and any other manuscript like it. The authorities obliged. But one police officer saved one notebook: it outlined the story and briefly described a few characters and incidents.

1788: Shakespeare’s King Lear was banned from the stage until 1820—in deference to the insanity of the reigning monarch, King George III.

1744: Sorrows of Young Werther by the famed German author Goethe was published in this year and soon became popular throughout Europe. The book was a short novel, in diary form, in which a young man writes of his sufferings from a failed love affair. The final chapter of the book drops the diary form and graphically depicts Werther’s suicide. Because a number of copycat suicides followed the publication of the book, the Lutheran church condemned the novel as immoral then governments in Italy, Denmark, and Germany banned the book. Two hundred years later an American sociologist, David Phillips, wrote about the effect of reporting suicides in The Werther Effect.

1720: Robinson Crusoe by Daniel Defoe was placed on the Index Librorum by the Spanish Catholic Church.

1616–42: Galileo’s theories about the solar system and his support of the discoveries of Copernicus were condemned by the Catholic Church. Under threat of torture, and sentenced to jail at the age of 70, the great scientist was forced to renounce what he knew to be true. On his death, his widow agreed to destroy some of his manuscripts.

1624: Martin Luther’s German translation of the Bible was burnt in Germany by order of the Pope.

1614: Sir Walter Raleigh’s book The History of the World was banned by King James I of England for “being too saucy in censuring princes.”

1597: The original version of Shakespeare’s Richard II contained a scene in which the king was deposed from his throne. Queen Elizabeth I was so angry that she ordered the scene removed from all copies of the play.

1559: For hundreds of years, the Roman Catholic Church listed books that were prohibited to its members but in this year, Pope Paul IV established the Index Librorum Prohibitorum. For more than 400 years this was the definitive list of books that Roman Catholics were told not to read. It was one of the most powerful censorship tools in the world.

1524–26: Thousands of copies of William Tyndale’s English translation of the New Testament were printed in Germany and smuggled into England, where they were publicly burned in 1526 on the orders of London’s Roman Catholic bishop. Church authorities in England insisted that the Bible would be available only in Latin and that only they would be able to read and interpret it. In 1536, as a result of a plot masterminded by the English, Tyndale was arrested in Belgium, tried for heresy, and strangled and burned at the stake near Brussels. A few of his translations were burned with him. Today, only three original copies of Tyndale’s New Testament survive.

1497–98: Savonarola, a Florentine religious fanatic with a large following, was one of the most notorious and powerful of all censors. In these years, he instigated great “bonfires of the vanities” which destroyed books and paintings by some of the greatest artists of Florence. He persuaded the artists themselves to bring their works—including drawings of nudes—to the bonfires. Some poets decided they should no longer write in verse because they were persuaded that their lines were wicked and impure. Popular songs were denounced, and some were turned into hymns with new pious lyrics. Ironically, in May of 1498 another great bonfire was lit—this time under Savonarola who hung from a cross. With him were burned all his writings, sermons, essays, and pamphlets.

640: According to legend, the caliph Omar burned all 200,000 volumes in the library at Alexandria in Egypt. In doing so, he said: “If these writings of the Greeks agree with the Book of God they are useless and need not be preserved if they disagree, they are pernicious and ought to be destroyed.” In burning the books, the caliph provided six months’ fuel to warm the city’s baths.

35: The Roman emperor Caligula opposed the reading of The Odyssey by Homer, written more than 300 years before. He thought the epic poem was dangerous because it expressed Greek ideas of freedom.


China ends one-child policy after 35 years

The announcement followed a four-day Communist party summit in Beijing where China’s top leaders debated financial reforms and how to maintain growth at a time of heightened concerns about the economy.

China will “fully implement a policy of allowing each couple to have two children as an active response to an ageing population”, the party said in a statement published by Xinhua, the official news agency. “The change of policy is intended to balance population development and address the challenge of an ageing population,”

Some celebrated the move as a positive step towards greater personal freedom in China. But human rights activists and critics said the loosening – which means the Communist party continues to control the size of Chinese families – did not go far enough.

“The state has no business regulating how many children people have,” said William Nee, a Hong Kong-based activist for Amnesty International.

“If China is serious about respecting human rights, the government should immediately end such invasive and punitive controls over people’s decisions to plan families and have children.”

For months there has been speculation that Beijing was preparing to abandon the divisive family planning rule, which was introduced in 1980 because of fears of a population boom.

Demographers in and outside China have long warned that its low fertility rate – which experts say lies somewhere between 1.2 and 1.5 children a woman – was driving the country towards a demographic crisis.

Since 2013, there has been a gradual relaxation of China’s family planning laws that already allowed minority ethnic families and rural couples whose firstborn was a girl to have more than one child.

Thursday’s announcement that all couples would be allowed two children caught many experts by surprise.

“I’m shaking to be honest,” said Stuart Gietel-Basten, an University of Oxford demographer who has argued for the end of the one-child policy. “It’s one of those things that you have been working on and saying for years and recommending they should do something and it finally happened. It’s just a bit of a shock.”

The Communist party credits the policy with preventing 400m births, thus contributing to China’s dramatic economic takeoff since the 1980s.

But the human toll has been immense, with forced sterilisations, infanticide and sex-selective abortions that have caused a dramatic gender imbalance that means millions of men will never find female partners.

“The gender imbalance is going to be a very major problem,” warned Steve Tsang, a professor of contemporary Chinese studies at the University of Nottingham. “We are talking about between 20 million and 30 million young men who are not going to be able to find a wife. That creates social problems and that creates a huge number of people who are frustrated.”

History showed that countries with a very large number of unmarried men of military age were more likely to pursue aggressive, militarist foreign policy initiatives, Tsang said.

In one of the most shocking recent cases of human rights abuses related to the once-child policy, a woman who was seven months pregnant was abducted by family planning officials in Shaanxi province in 2012 and forced to have an abortion.

Opponents say the policy has created a demographic “timebomb”, with China’s 1.3 billion-strong population ageing rapidly, and the country’s labour pool shrinking. The UN estimates that by 2050 China will have about 440 millionpeople over 60. The working-age population – those between 15 and 59 – fell by 3.71 million last year, a trend that is expected to continue.

There were no immediate details on how or when China’s new “two-child policy” would be implemented. But Gietel-Basten said the policy change was good news for both China’s people and its leaders, who stood to gain from ending a highly unpopular rule.

“From a political, pragmatic perspective, loosening the policy is good for the party but also it is a good thing for individual couples who want to have that second child. It is a kind of win-win for everybody,” he said.

“Millions of ordinary Chinese couples will be allowed to have a second child if they want to – this is clearly a very positive thing.”

Experts said the relaxation of family planning rules is unlikely to have a lasting demographic impact, particularly in urban areas where couples were now reluctant to have two children because of the high cost.

“Just because the government says you can have another child, it doesn’t mean the people will immediately follow,” said Liang Zhongtang, a demographer at the Shanghai Academy of Social Science.

Gietel-Basten said: “In the short term, probably there will be a little baby boom particularly in some of the poorer provinces where the rules have been very strict, like in Sichuan or in parts of the south. But in the long term I don’t think it’s going to make an enormous amount of difference.”

Dai Qing, a Chinese writer who has publicly called for all family planning rules to be scrapped, said the announcement was a positive step.

“It shows that the authorities have understood the changes in the total population and the demographic structure and started to address them,” she said.

But Dai said questions remained, particularly about how Beijing would enforce its new two-child policy.

“Even if people are allowed to have two children, what if they want to have three children or more? What if unmarried women want to have their own children? At the end of the day, it’s about women’s reproductive rights and freedoms.”

Others expressed concern that the announcement of the new two-child policy, which referred to Chinese couples, suggested children born outside of wedlock would continue to be penalised by the government.

Liang called on the Communist party to completely dismantle its unpopular and outdated family planning rules.

“I think they should abolish the family planning [system] once for all and let people decide how many children they want to have. Only that way can they straighten out their relationship with the people.”

But Gietel-Basten said it would have been virtually unthinkable for Beijing to completely abandon its family planning rules.

“That would in some ways imply that the policy was wrong … which of course would be a smack in the face of the last two generations of policymakers who stuck by it,” he said.

“Getting rid of it completely probably wasn’t an option in the short term. But in the long term it’s certainly not inconceivable that they would move towards a pronatalist policy at some point, maybe over the next five or 10 years, and that they would develop policies similar to in Korea or in Taiwan, or in Hong Kong or in Singapore, where there would be incentives for couples with one child to have a second child. I certainly think that is the future direction it [policy] is likely to go in.”


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