China’s Censorship: It’s not just on the Internet

We all know about the Great Firewall of China and how it tries to block anything the leadership in Beijing doesn’t like. As in anything they don’t declare is “safe” for the Chinese people. That means Twitter and Facebook with their free-flowing way of communicating is blocked. (See for yourself at Great Firewall of China, where you can test any website to see — in real-time — if it is being blocked by Chinese censors.)

Just because China has gotten all high-tech, does not mean they have forgotten about good old traditional media, such as books and academic papers.

The New York Times reports on how the daughter of retired party leader Li Rui is fighting to get the government to own up to its censorship practices. (Lawsuit Over Banned Memoir Asks China to Explain Censorship)

The book being held hostage by Chinese authorities is a memoir by her father. Basically it is a no holds barred look at the inner workings of the Chinese Communist Party and government.

It seems Chinese censors have stepped up their efforts to prevent so-called subversive material coming into China from Hong Kong. They even have a code name for the operation — Southern Hill Project.

Chinese academics and dissidents have been able to get papers and memoirs published in Hong Kong because the former British colony and now Special Administrative Region of China still enjoys civic and human rights the rest of China does not. According to the Times’ article, border crossing agents subject incoming luggage to X-ray scans to look for hidden books and documents, in addition to random searches of bags being brought into the country.

And this is the problem with censorship. If a country really wants to impose its views on its people by blocking any outside ideas, the effort keeps getting harder and harder. Also, it weakens whatever trust the people might have had in their government and lessens its legitimacy.

So if the rulers in Beijing really want to bring about an unstable society, they are doing all the right things to undermine any support they may have had with the people of China.

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