Without a doubt, China has one of the most brutal censorship regimes on the planet, and by far has the most controlled internet in the developed world. A few months ago, footage surfaced showing a woman being forcefully arrested at her home, reportedly for the crime of speaking her mind on the internet.
The specifics of the case are still unknown to the general public, since Chinese officials are not legally required to divulge the details of the case to the press.
The following video was reportedly taken in Shenzhen.
— 民主蜜蜂 (@LrBlUA8AsssKdx4) August 26, 2018
Sadly, this is standard operating procedure and a common practice in the massive dictatorship.
On December 28, 2012, the Chinese government issued new laws which required all Internet users to provide their real names to service providers. At the same time, the government imposed heavier penalties on Internet Service Providers, forcing them to have more control over the speech on their platforms, which included deleting forbidden posts and reporting them to the authorities.
According to Wikipedia, “The new regulations, issued by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress, allow Internet users to continue to adopt pseudonyms for their online postings, but only if they first provide their real names to service providers, a measure that could chill some of the vibrant discourse on the country’s Twitter-like microblogs. The authorities periodically detain and even jail Internet users for politically sensitive comments, such as calls for a multiparty democracy or accusations of impropriety by local officials.”
A New York Times report in January indicated that citizens of China were getting swept up by police all over the country, for things they said on the internet.
China Police / Photo Credit: Reuters
Peter Humphrey, a British private investigator who was once imprisoned in China, told the Times that authorities have stepped up their attacks on social media users in the past year.
“What we’ve seen in recent weeks is the authorities desperately escalating the censorship of social media. I think it’s quite astonishing that on this cloak-and-dagger basis, LinkedIn has been gagging people and preventing their comments from being seen in China,” Humphrey said.
This week, internet censorship in China has hit the news again, after Lara Zhang, an Australia-based Chinese female bodybuilder, was reprimanded by Chinese internet police after posting a video of herself in a bikini body building competition. Zhang initially posted the photo last year, but for some reason, police recently uncovered the photo and threatened the body builder with legal penalties.
“According to the national security laws and cybersecurity regulations, it’s illegal to publish or spread obscene or pornographic information on the internet. Such behavior is subject to investigation by public security departments and will be punished in accordance with relevant laws,” the police commented on the video.
Zhang showed no fear in her response to the authorities, saying that she has every right to share videos of her competitions and performances.
Photo Credit: Lara Zhang
“Please show me the results of your investigation and official documents when you are ready. I’ll fight for my rights and appeal. The competition I attended was associated with the International Federation of Bodybuilding and Fitness. It baffles me why it’s so difficult to promote an athletic sport,” Zhang explained.
In a later post, she wrote, “I don’t care about how average people see me because everyone views beauty differently. But how could a verified account of the police be so regressive and ignorant? I’m entitled to claim my rights.”
Since she is based in Australia, the Chinese authorities must not have jurisdiction to tell her what to do, because they quickly backtracked on their treats and apologized to the athlete, according to the Global Times. However, the police did not make a public apology, but contacted her in private to avoid the public humiliation.
Just this week, it was reported by The Guardian, that China claims to have arrested 13,000 “terrorists” in the past five years. However, a large portion of these people are guilty of simple offenses such as “illegal religious activities,” or possession of “illegal religious material.”
Critics of the policy and arrests suggest that the government of China is lying about the terrorist threat in order to cover up for human rights violations that are taking place in the country.