The formula of Chinese censorship on the Internet

The proposal to eliminate the mandated limit of the President of China is met with fierce criticism by Chinese Internet users, quickly censored

A recent proposal for a change in the Constitution of China has revealed how the operations of the Government and the Communist Party of the country work in blocking what its citizens can see, read and write on the Internet.

Known as El Gran Cortafuegos, the macro-system of technologies established in the country separates what we know as “global Internet” from a “Chinese Internet”. It is a constant, visible and remarkable device of the country’s reality for national citizens, immigrants, and tourists. Each year, new policies presented from different levels of the national administration and the Party, make the drift between these “two Internets” grow.

The gap between the “global Internet” and the “Chinese Internet” grows more every year

The last few days have been an excellent example of the diligence and efficiency of online content censorship systems, and to what extent private or semi-private companies are largely responsible for their application. Necessary collaborators Chinese and foreigners that keep citizens isolated in social networks approved by the Government, where you can write and read what the Government allows, and those changes are applied immediately to keep the information in the margins that are specified.


Chinese citizens took social networks to express their opinion, with many of them against. “I have never seen as much opposition to the Party as I am seeing and hearing these days,” explained Victor Mair, a professor of Chinese literature at the University of Pennsylvania. “Not since the months before the Tiananmen massacre in 1989,” he explained in his blog.

“I have never seen so much opposition to the Party as what I am seeing and hearing these days”

Mair also explained in detail several of the new terms that the Chinese digital censorship apparatus added “quickly and drastically” to the list of forbidden words. “万岁” which literally means “ten thousand years” but which is a phrase used to express long life, or “习 泽 东” (Xi Zedong) the combination of the name of the current People’s Republic of China founder Mao Zedong with the current surname Premier Xi Jinping. But the Chinese netizens, with a sharp key and with an eye tuned by decades of censorship, began to talk about “移民” (emigrate) and use terms with double meaning to jump the filters. So they started using 登机 (ride on an airplane) that is pronounced the same as 登基 (ascend the throne) to criticize the measurement. But the censorship system noticed and began to ban this alternative version.

It was also forbidden to use terms like Winnie the Pooh, the popular fantasy bear from the British tale of the same name and which is how Xi Jinping is known for his apparent physical resemblance. Many images or “memes” of Winnie The Pooh could not be published or talk about 包子 (bao, a very soft type of bun), which is also associated with the Chinese Premier.


The censorship apparatus was issuing new forbidden terms at such a desperately fast rate that they even banned the letter “N” from the Latin alphabet. The motive behind such an unusual and wide censorship is that a mathematical equation circulated that contained it to calculate in a sarcastic way the total of legislatures that Xi Jinping could now serve.

How does it work at a technical level?

In reality, it is an apparatus with thousands of employees and officials that operate at different levels of society. On the one hand, it reviews and approves what appears on the approved television, radio or Internet media. It’s such a jealous system that recently there was discontent over the recent popularization of hip-hop in the country, and the country’s media regulator issued a statement in which “it specifically requires that shows do not show actors with tattoos or hip-hop culture or subcultures. Of the same”. The move was so drastic that it ended with the elimination of a popular rapper known as GAI from a talent show on Hunan public television.From one day to another disappeared from the videos previously uploaded by the program to the Internet and did not participate in more programs.

On the Internet, the censorship system requires the collaboration of the technology companies that operate. When platforms, apps or games grow and gain popularity, they enter the radar of the regulator’s system. They are required to adhere to a strict level of automated censorship in their systems, in addition to using only specifically approved connection providers. If they become large enough, the regulator will install a series of officials within the company’s headquarters to ensure better coordination.

The censorship apparatus keeps officials and executives ‘in situ’ in offices of the major Internet companies in China to better coordinate censorship

Impossible censorship rules apply to foreign companies. In many cases, they are directly forbidden to operate in the country such as Facebook, YouTube or Instagram. Mobile phones with Android have applications and platforms that are different from those of Google in China because Google systems are not available in the country. Although Facebook actively seeks to “fall in love” with China in order to access the country and lift the ban, Google has done so for years in a more subtle way. Since leaving the country years ago as a protest, he has created several research and development offices in the country to take advantage of and work with local talent.

The last prominent case is that of Apple, which has been forced to host the personal data of the citizens of the country in a hosting company and servers. This transfer by the company to the Chinese authorities has worried human rights experts because of the high level of access to private information of Apple customers by the authorities of the country. Apple is the great Western exception in China, and it is allowed to operate relatively normally in the country. With some application removed from the App Store from time to time, Apple has made China its second largest market-beating Europe for years at the level of income