20th Party Congress Censorship
This blog has been following censorship of information relating to Party Congresses for over a decade now, some previous posts:
- Central Propaganda Department Orders News Websites to Support 18th Party Congress
- As 18th Party Congress Convenes, Sina Weibo Removes Censorship Notice, Steers Users to Official Content, Obscures User Posts
- Baidu's New Censorship Policies for Leaders' Names After the 18th Party Congress
- Sina Weibo Enacts New "7 Day Delay" Function for Sensitive Terms Following 18th Party Congress
- How Other Websites Are Censoring Leaders' Names After the 18th Party Congress
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.