The Chinese government has apparently made a New Year’s resolution to crack down even harder on “vulgarity” on the web, sending warning shots to nineteen sites including the two most popular search engines in China: Baidu and Google. Officials said that the sites had not done enough or acted quickly enough to prevent banned content from reaching otherwise pristine Chinese browsers. In other words, search engines must avoid including links to such sites within their search results.
While we in the Western world often take the freedom of most information for granted, the Chinese government considers the following broad categories of information Illegal and Harmful:
Those against the basic principles of the constitution;
Those that hinders national security and national unity;
Those that instigates ethnic hatred and discrimination, and hinders ethnic unity and solidarity;
Those that spreads obscene and pornographic content, content of gambling, violence, murder, terror, or criminal abetting, those that insults or libels the others, and violates the rights of the others, etc;
CIIRC is mainly focused on contents harmful to the healthy growth of minors, such as obscenity and pornography, gambling, violence, terror, criminal abetting, and contents that spread ethnic hatred, libelling and insulting, violating the others’ rights, and violating intellectual property rights.
(Sic — and also sick, IMHO). So the Chinese government entitles itself to suppress not only political dissent, but also anything it considers unhealthy. There might be something to that — just think of how their policies could prevent many needless repetitive stress injuries to male elbows! Nah — pornography is widely available in China, even though it’s illegal. This policy seems more like striking a moral pose to lend weight to their authority, as well as to show their citizens that political dissent isn’t the only thing they suppress. It’s all for your own good — you will learn to love Big Brother.
While the government is saying that “stern punishment” will be meted out to offending sites, it’s unclear exactly what that will entail. Chinese state television showed officials seizing equipment from an unknown office — but who knows if that wasn’t staged for added effect?
I wonder if [GAS] is banned in China? We’ve got “sex” in our name and our domain, and we don’t mind saying what we think. Navigating over to greatfirewallofchina.org to find out, I was met with the following disappointing notice:
Because of the ever stricter measures of censorship China imposes on the Internet, the team of www.greatfirewallofchina.org at present can no longer vouch for the reliability of its test tool. We have therefore decided to take the test tool offline.
Even what’s censored in China is censored!