China’s Censorship Obsession

By: William Hongsong Wang

The Chinese government has recently produced a lot of international news: the trade war with the U.S. government ; the suspicious financing on Malaysia’s former corrupted ruling party ; the suppression on Taiwan’s foreign and diplomatic space , etc. Excluding the news related to international politics, the Chinese government was also fighting against the Chinese internet users at the same time. What exactly are going on?

Let’s review these entire events. During the first semi-final of the 2018 Eurovision Song Contest, Irish singer Ryan O’Shaughnessy’s performance was featured two male dancers expressing a gay love story. This might not be a big deal in Western countries, but in China, the program violates the latest media censorship regulations ! Therefore, Eurovision’s Chinese agent Mango TV deleted all of O’Shaughnessy’s song performance . At the same time, by the new media censorship regulations, Mango TV also blurred the rainbow flag that appeared in the competition and the tattoo of another Azerbaijani contestant . Subsequently, due to the intervention from EBU , Eurovision had to retreat from the Chinese market temporarily.

In addition to this Eurovision incident, Peppa Pig , Winnie the Pooh , tattoos , and Hip-Pop are all prohibited from transmitting in media in various forms. Obviously, Chinese government has recently intensified the media censorship. In the ongoing 2018 FIFA World Cup, we will undoubtedly see many tattooed soccer players. As China’s soccer players were also recently ordered to cover their tattoos on the match day , and due to the recent media censorship regulations, is the Chinese government ready for blurring all the tattooed players when the World Cup matches are live?

This series of Internet censorship incidents has made Chinese netizens finally intolerable. Faced with the Eurovision incident, Chinese Internet users directly criticized the media censorship regulations and Mango TV’s compromise with the government . In response to the previous incidents, on April 12, Chinese netizens drove hundreds of cars at late night, passing through the entrance of the State Administration of Press, protesting its media censorship with horn .

We are not the locusts of the Chinese government, so we do not know whether the officials have discriminated and are biased against the above contents, or whether they patriarchally think that what young people should do. In fact, what the government officials believe is not essential. What matters is that media censorship is an infringement of property rights and voluntary exchanges for information ; and what is important is that this wave of protests, dominated by young netizens, shows their increased awareness of being individualists and their sense of consumer sovereignty . These young people want to be themselves authentically, deciding what they like and what they want to do based on their own willing. They don’t like and don’t want to have a big government and a big brother telling them dictatorially: what is right for your young people.

It is not known whether the Chinese politicians have realized that 40 years after the market-oriented reform, many people who benefited from the free exchange of markets and private property rights, especially young netizens, are less likely to behave like many of the old generations who had experienced the terrible Cultural Revolution , forbearing the violations of individual freedom and the infringement of private property rights. This reality may also be a reminder to Chinese government which has deliberately intensified the cult of the political leader : the rise of individualism is making it harder for China returning to the Mao era. Only by respecting individual freedom, and further advancing market-oriented reforms will it be a policy for all to win together.

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