China’s crackdown on its citizens’ access to information just got a little harsher. In a bid to keep its people uniformed and unaware of current and past politics and history, the world’s largest communist country has banned Wikipedia in all languages. Censorship watchdogs had already blocked the information site in Chinese, but this most recent restriction expelled the community-based online encyclopedia so that no resident in China can gain access to any version of it unless they know how to get around all the safeguards.
In a statement, a Wikipedia spokesperson said, “In late April, the Wikimedia Foundation determined that Wikipedia was no longer accessible in China. After closely analysing our internal traffic reports, we can confirm that Wikipedia is currently blocked across all language versions.”
Of course, this may come as no surprise to anyone who has been following censorship, especially when it comes to totalitarian regimes. Reporters Without Border’s (RWB) 2019 World Press Freedom Index analyzed 180 countries and their media, finding China at 177 on the list. It’s alarming how much influence the country exerts over its media and public opinion in the quest to establish a “new world media order.”
The “Great Firewall” of China
RWB’s report, China’s Pursuit of a New World Media Order, is a 52-page account of the numerous steps taken to dominate the media and have the government opinion be the voice for all. “China has been going to great lengths for the last decade to establish a ‘new world media order’ under its control, with the aim of deterring and preventing any criticism of itself,” the report states. “Less well known than the Belt and Road Initiative but just as ambitious, this project poses a threat to press freedom throughout the world.”
The effort to control the media is growing by leaps and bounds. Just look at how China influenced other countries, including the U.S., to eradicate professional journalism and instill its Chinese Communist Party propaganda:
- China – In Nov. 2018, the country introduced its artificial intelligence (AI) news anchor, which will allow the news to be skewered without human resistance.
- United Kingdom – State-owned TV broadcaster CGTN opened a production center in London with 90 locally-hired employees in December 2018. The programs are designed to spread Chinese propaganda in Europe.
- Australia – The defense department banned the Chinese WeChat app because it is not encrypted and all data is assessible to the Chinese government.
- Mexico – The Mexico radio station XEWW 690 was purchased by H&H Group, which is “linked to Beijing controlled television network,” the Phoenix Television in Hong Kong. The station is based in Tijuana and offers Chinese programs and broadcasts to southern California as well.
- S.A. – Recently, Google changed plans for a censored search engine known as Dragonfly which, as described by Google CEO Sundar Pichai , “would remove content that China’s authoritarian government views as sensitive, such as information about political dissidents, free speech, democracy, human rights, and peaceful protest.”
There are many more instances in which the Communist Party found ways to silence journalists and gear media information to their desires. The Chinese embassy, for example, accused Jojje Olsson, a reporter for the Swedish Daily Expressen, of promoting hatred against China. Olson wrote an article that detailed methods the Communist Party uses to control news and information in China… much as we are doing here.
According to RWB, “Dozens of journalists and bloggers are in prison for collecting or circulating, information censored by the Chinese Communist Party.” The suppression of freedom of thought is not just occurring in other countries; it’s happening here at home too. RWB sums up the threat quite accurately:
“This expansion – the scale of which is still hard to gauge – poses a direct threat not only to the media but also to democracies. If democracies do not resist, Chinese citizens will lose all hope of ever seeing press freedom in their country, and Chinese style propaganda will increasingly compete with journalism as we know it outside China, thereby threatening the ability of citizens everywhere to freely choose their destiny.”
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