The South China Morning Post reported that Chinese cybersecurity chiefs have (unsurprisingly) pledged “absolute loyalty” to PRC President and leader of the Communist Party Xi Jinping.
The government, which has already imposed an aggressive censorship system (dubbed “The Great Firewall”) that blocks websites and content considered sensitive, has vowed to further tighten its grip over online media. While websites, articles, and editorials by foreign publications that criticize President Xi Jinping, Party officials, and the CCP are already widely censored, The New York Times reported that the government has even ordered Chinese internet companies to halt original news reporting. In effect, the government has clamped down firmly on online journalism, restricting the number of news publications to the few Communist-controlled mouthpieces like People’s Daily and Global Times.
According to the SCMP, the CCP has also taken active strides to censor and restrict comments on news and social media platforms run by Internet giants Sina and Baidu, claiming that certain comments “disrupted information dissemination and harmed a healthy environment for public opinion”. As websites like Weibo (an online microblogging site that functions as a Twitter-Facebook hybrid) are fueled by Chinese users eager to share and receive information and opinions beyond those released by official government agencies, content that questions or challenges the government would naturally provoke the ire of Xi and his CCP. In response, the government has reportedly faked about 488 million social media comments that praised the government per year (according to a study by Harvard University scholar Gary King).
As press freedom in Hong Kong remains in a precarious state, let us hope that neither the Chinese nor Hong Kong government will impose the austere policies reserved for Chinese cyberspace.