Saturday, October 15, 2022

20th Party Congress Censorship

This blog has been following censorship of information relating to Party Congresses for over a decade now, some previous posts:

This year, the Communique of the Seventh Plenary Session of the 19th Central Committee of the Communist Party of China stated "it was decided at the session that the Party will convene its 20th National Congress in Beijing on October 16, 2022."

Prior to the commencement of the Congress, PRC based search engines were already devoting their home page doodles to the Party and its Congress, as shown by the screenshots taken on October 15, 2022.




In anticipation of the Congress PRC based search engines increased their already-strict censorship of information relating to Xi Jinping. Normally, PRC based search engines restrict search results for "Xi Jinping" to a whitelist of about a dozen websites under the direct control of the central government and the Party. The following screenshots show how Baidu's search results have been censored even more heavily in the run-up to the Congress: a search for "Xi Jinping" in 2020 returned almost 6 million results, while the same search the day before the Congress only returned 22 results.

At least Baidu still shows some results. Apparently Qihoo believes that it has to completely censor searches for the name of the leader of the Communist Party - a search for Xi Jinping's name on October 15, 2022 returned no results at all.


 The following screenshots also illustrate how censorship of certain terms has increased as the date of the 20th Party Congress has approached. Back in 2017 a search for "20th Big" (二十大 - shorthand for "20th Party Congress") returned results from two of Baidu's social media services (see the results in the red-outlined box): "Knowledge" (知道 - Zhidao) and "PostBar" (贴吧 - Tieba). The same search on October 15, 2022 returned no results from any social media services.

These screenshots were taken on October 15, 2022, and show neither service returns any results at all. Baidu's PostBar in fact acknowledges that it is censoring its results.

These screenshots show that in the past Baidu was able to locate hundreds of results on its Knowledge service, while now it claims it cannot find any.


Sunday, October 9, 2022

Dr. Li Wenliang's "Self-Criticism" Letter

Translator's Note: This document was downloaded from the New York Times website: "Dr. Li’s Apology Letter," October 5, 2022, https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2022/10/05/world/asia/li-wenliang-letter.html, which was published alongside the article "How a Chinese Doctor Who Warned of Covid-19 Spent His Final Days," October 6, 2022,  https://www.nytimes.com/2022/10/06/world/asia/covid-china-doctor-li-wenliang.html. According to that article: "[Li Wenliang's] employer, Wuhan Central Hospital where he worked as an eye doctor, had made him write a letter of apology, the content of which was obtained by The Times." In addition to being required to write this self-criticism, PRC police issued a formal reprimand to Dr. Li, and a translation of that reprimand can be found on p. 621 of "State Prosecutions of Speech in the People's Republic of China," https://ssrn.com/abstract=4168412. For additional background on how Dr. Li was silenced and information about the Wuhan outbreak was censored, see "COVID-19 Series: People Silenced and Punished by the Chinese Government," http://blog.feichangdao.com/2021/02/covid-19-wuhan-doctors-lawyers-academics-journalists-silenced.html.

Reflection and Self-Criticism on Spreading False Information Regarding the Current "Pneumonia of Unknown Origin in Wuhan" Incident  

On 2019.12.30, I self-righteously forwarded false information regarding "7 cases of SARS confirmed in the South China Seafood Market" to a social group of university classmates under circumstances where there was inaccurate sourcing of the information. Later this was spread by screenshots of unknown classmates, causing panic among the public. This led to a negative impact on the investigation, diagnosis, and treatment by the Health Commission and related departments. I have deeply reflected on this, and recognize that, as a Party member, I lacked appropriate political sensitivity, did not have enough understanding of the current laws regarding information dissemination with the development of the Internet, lacked an understanding of diseases that were not within my area of expertise, and lacked the ability to be discerning about information. In this regard, I have reviewed the Party Constitution, Party Regulations and the spirit of a series of speeches, looked for gaps, examined myself, and made an in-depth reflection and self-criticism.

1. Lack of Appropriate Political Sensitivity. My studies of the Party Constitution and Party regulations were not systematic and comprehensive, and I cannot fully utilize the relevant theories until I put them into practice. Chapter 1, Article 3 of the Party Constitution clearly stipulates that Party members must "consciously abide by the Party's discipline, first and foremost the Party's political discipline and political rules, model compliance with the laws and regulations of the State, strictly guard the secrets of the Party and the State, implement the Party's decisions, obey the Party's rules, comply with organization and assignments, and actively fulfill Party duties." I failed to identify and verify relevant information in a timely manner, easily believed external information, and published it among classmates, failing to recognize the possibility of information leakage and its serious consequences in a timely manner. SARS is extremely sensitive. The epidemic in 2003 caused an enormous threat to the lives and health of the general public, and caused serious losses to the national economy. The State has long regulated the release of information about public health emergencies. The relevant information must be “timely and accurately released by the health administrative departments of all provinces, autonomous regions, and municipalities directly under the Central Government regarding any outbreak or spread of infectious diseases, and other public health emergencies in their respective administrative areas." As an individual, I had no right to release relevant information, let alone false information. I should be consistent with the Party Central Committee in my thoughts and actions.

2. Lack of Sufficient Understanding of the Regulation of Internet Communication During Sudden Events. With the popularization of computers, especially smart phones, and the rapid development of the mobile Internet, the spread of rumors about sudden events has often lead to problems such as the spread of mass panic, a decline in the government's prestige, and social disorder. The images, videos, texts, and other information disseminated through WeChat and other self-publishing platforms are voluminous and fragmented, which can easily arouse the public's curiosity and misunderstanding. This leads to a rapid rise in the attention paid to sudden events and the further spread of rumors. Within just a few hours, the relevant text and image information I sent was forwarded to other provinces, and even to media outside of China. It adversely affected the work of the government and related health and propaganda departments. This is something I didn't expect, and I feel deeply remorseful and guilty about its impact.

3. Insufficient Study of the Laws and Regulations that Should be Complied with in the Use of WeChat. The "Provisions on the Administration of Internet Group Information Services" and "Provisions on the Administration of Internet Public Account Information Services" issued by the Cyberspace Administration of China came into effect on October 8, 2017. The new regulations clearly stipulated that group network behavior and information release shall be regulated. Making or spreading rumors can easily cause social panic and affect normal life and work order. The Internet is not a place outside the law. Article 25 of the "Public Security Administrative Punishments Law of the People's Republic of China" stipulates that anyone "intentionally disturbing public order by spreading rumors, making false reports of dangerous situations and epidemic situations or raising false alarms or by other means" may be detained or fined. I deeply realize that the WeChat platform has a large user base and wide reach. Once illegal and harmful information is spread, its impact will be even worse. In the future I will definitely not publish suspected illegal information, will strictly abide by relevant laws and regulations, and will not "cross the line."

In my future work and study, I will certainly continue to constantly reflect and self-criticize, humbly learn from the department leaders and other Party members and comrades, strengthen my ideals and beliefs, not believe in or spread rumors, and always require of myself that I strengthen my study of political theory according to the Party Constitution, Party rules, and the spirit of series of speeches. I will strengthen my study of political theory, tighten up my "political sensitivity," regulate my own behavior, and conduct myself as a qualified Party member.