China makes arrests to stop ‘vulgar’ content

January 16, 2009

China makes arrests to stop 'Internet porn'The official media in China say the local police have arrested 28 suspects in an expanding crackdown on Internet pornography. The authorities are deadly serious about this and the definition of what is and what is not allowed is very, very different from those of most users in other countries.

Xinhua news agency, which is owned by the government and can safely be used for reporting in China, says the campaign to scrub the country’s Internet of ‘vulgar’ content has so far resulted in 29 criminal cases. Police have ordered the removal of 46,000 pornographic and other ‘harmful’ items from websites.

A report in the United States suggested it would be impossible to censor the Internet. Plainly the authors of that report had never worked in China. There are thousands — literally — of people whose job is to scour the Internet and report offenders.

Xinhua’s report, which was carried in part by the South China Morning Post said the 28 suspects arrested in the campaign included 4 men in their twenties who ran the ‘Midnight Prostitute Call’ website from eastern China. They also included two men accused of using a video chat service to defraud customers.

No one would argue with that. It seems a good thing.

China’s government has conducted numerous censorship efforts targeting porn and online drug sellers in recent years. But it also censors the Internet for any political critics or reporting on any event which could be interpreted as such.

The latest crackdown comes after official warnings of rising social unrest as the economy slows. And it is no coincidence that this is the twentieth anniversary of Tiananmen Square , or, to use the acceptable nomenclature, ‘the June 4th incident’.

The government is, correctly, concerned at the possibility social unrest. The reason it dropped on Falun Gong like the wrath of God was not because Falun Gong preached an anti-government line. It did not. It is best thought of as being a form of Tai C’hi. It was banned because followers assembled in very large numbers in the wrong places and said the wrong things.

Xinhua, which is speaking as the voice of the government, said, ‘A principal of the Special Operation Office for the Crackdown on Online Porn and Lewd Content said the crackdown was not be a flash in the pan, and it would be followed up with more activities.’

And there is no doubt this is true. A bureaucracy has been created to deal with it and that bureaucracy will not be working to make itself redundant.

Thus the government has also extended the crackdown to include ‘vulgar’ content in mobile phone games, online novels and radio programs.

The campaign has already seen Google, Baidu and other major websites given a public dressing down for not being quick enough to wipe targeted content. Outspoken blogging portals have been shut down for posting ‘politically harmful information.’ Typically because they mentioned the Dalai Lama or Falun Gong.  Wikipedia is regularly banned for this.

Where the Western press gets it wrong is that they think that Chinese netizens give a toss. The vast majority are totally disinterested. They are too interested in playing multi-player games.

Note: Thailand has censorship which is very nearly as strong and pervasive. No one mentions them.

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4 Responses to “China makes arrests to stop ‘vulgar’ content”

  1. Darian:

    “Thailand has censorship which is very nearly as strong and pervasive. No one mentions them.”
    Thats cause america is obsessed with china, yanks are afraid of finally have another developed country that has a higher population than it. hence more money more power, lol

  2. Roger Wilcocks:

    Where do you think all that rubbish in Walmart comes from? Of course America is obsessed with China.

  3. Jake:

    A very good and balanced article.

    I find my values changing now that I have kids. I understand that it’s my job as a parent to monitor what they do online, but knowing kids, I know how tenacious they can be.

    And even though I don’t think porn is the root of all evil, I do believe that watching it at a young age is damaging.

    So to be honest, I wouldn’t mind if our government (the US) did more to censor it (I know, I know, it’s “un-American”…but still…)

    Also, one thing to note is that porn in China is often mixed in with other criminal activity. So cracking down on porn operators might also sweep up criminal gangs.

  4. Gareth Powell:

    Jake is totally correct in saying the in many cases in China pornography is associated with criminal gangs.

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