For many younger Chinese, Liu is actually an unknown figure, the culmination of years of intense censorship of his life as well as works. The tiny minority who did attempt to express outrage online at Liu’s treatment, or commemorate him after he succumbed to liver cancer on July 14, saw their posts blocked as well as images deleted.
On Weibo, China’s most common Twitter-like platform, users were prevented through posting messages with the words “Nobel,” “liver cancer,” “RIP” or the candle emoji, according to researchers at Toronto’s Citizen Lab as well as Hong Kong’s Weiboscope.
Censorship was also widespread on messaging app WeChat, which was once less filtered than Weibo because of its more private nature. Citizen Lab found which even in one-on-one chats, mentions of Liu Xiaobo’s name as well as photos of him were deleted when chatting with Chinese users.
Sina as well as Tencent, which own Weibo as well as WeChat respectively, did not respond to requests for comment.
“The party keeps tightening censorship to an absurd degree,” said dissident artist Badiucao, who has launched a campaign to memorialize Liu worldwide.
While Liu’s case is actually an outlier in terms of the intense efforts to wipe out all mention of the deceased activist, which is actually in keeping with trends in Chinese online censorship which have been building since Xi assumed power in 2012.
Building up the Firewall
Often discussion of Chinese internet censorship can be mocking as well as disbelieving, such as recent reports on attempts to wipe out mention of President Xi Jinping’s resemblance to Winnie the Pooh.
from the early days of the internet in China, outside commentators confidently opined which Beijing’s attempts at internet control were doomed. The completely new York Times’ Nick Kristof said in 2005 the Chinese authorities were “digging the Communist Party’s grave, by giving the Chinese people broadband.”
however the Chinese censors have defied their critics, building the planet’s most sophisticated system of internet filtering as well as surveillance — the Great Firewall.
China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs as well as Ministry of Industry as well as Information Technology did not respond to faxed requests for comment.
which month saw completely new bricks added to the wall, as Beijing went after two means of bypassing its controls.
Users of encrypted messaging service WhatsApp found themselves unable to send images or videos which week, as well as analysts reported the app’s speed was being filtered or disrupted, producing which difficult to access through China.
Disruption of virtual private networks (VPNs) — which enable users to tunnel their web traffic through the Great Firewall, effectively browsing as if they’re in another country — has also been ramped up, with both Bloomberg as well as the Associated Press reporting which a blanket ban on VPN usage may be from the works.
which could be an extreme step, as VPNs are also used by many companies to enable secure networking as well as file sharing between offices.
Previously Beijing has tolerated commercial services offered to foreigners to allow them to access banned sites like Facebook as well as Twitter while they’re in China –international hotels in major Chinese cities have also been known to offer which service.
Lokman Tsui, an expert on censorship at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, said which was “possible which some of the newer developments we have seen are experimental in nature, e.g. let’s try as well as float which to see how well which works … as well as see what public reaction we get.”
Even if the VPN ban does not pan out, Tsui said, the direction things are going in is actually clear, as well as which’s not positive.
Xi Jinping did not come after the internet immediately after assuming power, focusing instead on shoring up his support base as well as extending his influence as the Communist Party’s “core leader” as well as most powerful head since Mao Zedong.
In recent years however, Xi’s efforts to consolidate power have widened, as well as in 2015, speaking at the planet Internet Conference in Wuzhen, Zhejiang province, he elucidated his vision of the internet.
which was one startlingly at odds with the free as well as open network expounded by the internet’s inventors. In Xi’s view, sovereignty, not freedom or communication or sharing, was the most important factor in online policy.
“Cyberspace is actually not a domain beyond the rule of law,” Xi said. “Greater efforts should be made to strengthen ethical standards as well as promote civilized behavior.”
The doctrine of internet sovereignty, which emerged in China from the early 2010s as well as is actually today driving Beijing’s internet policy, seeks to establish a national, as opposed to global, internet.
Instead of the planet wide web as we know which, countries could each maintain their own national internet, by force if necessary, with the border controls as well as immigration standards they see fit.
Peter Micek, general counsel for Access today, which lobbies in favor of an open internet, said Chinese officials as well as technicians are increasingly working to water down protections for online freedoms at the United Nations as well as various other bodies which oversee internet standards as well as governance.
“More as well as more Chinese engineers as well as engineers through Chinese companies are proposing as well as developing as well as adopting standards,” he added.
Technical bodies like the International Telecommunication Union, the planet Wide Web Consortium as well as others have huge influence on how the global internet operates, however sometimes with little transparency as well as limited democratic input.
“which’s one place where quietly there is actually a more concerted effort (by China) to take control of what the internet actually is actually,” Micek said.
According to the completely new York Times, in late 2015 Beijing lobbied hard — however ultimately unsuccessfully — to remove phrases like “freedom of expression” as well as “democratic” through a major UN document on internet policy.