Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 16/2/2016 (1374 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Censorship can be described as the suppression of speech, public communication or other information which may be considered objectionable as determined by the government or authorities.
In China, use of media and news coverage is strictly monitored and controlled. Access of the Internet is heavily monitored, and much information deemed culturally insensitive or political incorrect is forbidden. Websites containing information on political topics such as the Tiananmen Square massacre of 1989, police brutality, freedom of speech and democracy are restricted. China is a prime example of this Big Brother-like surveillance.
Prior to the introduction of the Internet, China had been a very conservative country after communist rule was implemented by Mao Zedong, founder of the People’s Republic of China in 1949. His views were uncompromising, and people who disagreed with said beliefs were often sent to labour camps and many died. His use of propaganda and censorship to control information caused people to submit to his orders.
China’s Internet censorship can be shown through the prohibiting of certain media and distribution of information. Social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter are banned in mainland China. This controlled circulating of information allows the government to prevent the population from accessing and retaining sensitive material about some of the negative aspects of China’s history and western material that may be politically incorrect or biased. The government surveillance and control of information and people allows officials to regulate and misinform their populous.
China’s youth have rebelled against their government several times. Examples include the Tiananmen Square demonstration of 1989 in Beijing and the Umbrella Revolution protests of 2014 in Hong Kong, where 470 people were injured as a result of riot police and 955 were arrested.
Both of these protests, mostly led by students, demanded a democratic government and vote. Both ended with violence; more than 10,000 Chinese troops and 50 tanks were sent to open fire on Tiananmen Square in an attempt at stopping these protests. Demonstrators set military vehicles on fire and fought back against troops.
Both protests had devastating results for chances of reform and pro-democracy. An estimated 400 to 800 civilians were killed.
The Tiananmen Square demonstrations were sparked after the death of Hu Yaobang, a reformer calling for political change in China. He was the only hope of China’s reform at the time. Originally, people gathered in the square to mourn Yaobang’s death and remember his legacy, not to create violence.
China continues to deny the events that happened in Tiananmen Square in 1989. Popular Chinese search engines such as Baidu and 360 search provide little to no information when particular tags such as freedom of speech or democracy is searched. Unlike western search engines like Google, results regarding Tiananmen Square are vague and do not show the atrocities that happened. Yelp reviews and directions are available, but nothing of a historical context.
While China is one country that is recognized for its heavy use of censorship, it is prevalent in western countries. We know this from documents released from the National Security Agency and Edward Snowden, who leaked top-secret information about NSA surveillance activities, and from Wikileaks founder Julian Assange.
China’s population is aware that they are being monitored on social media and must be cautious of what they say about political change, while many of us are oblivious to the fact that we are being watched.
As technology advances and the spread of information becomes even more readily available, we begin to assume that we have absolute freedom in terms of expressing our opinions. However, we must understand that although what we say may not have immediate consequences, we are still being watched, whether we like it or not.
» Rory Thexton is a Grade 10 student at École secondaire Neelin High School.