Adapt or vanish: how Beijing’s guidelines for ‘civilized cyberspace’ reflect ever tighter censorship

Last week, China’s state council issued a new guideline detailing how the government hopes to create a “civilized” cyberspace. Some experts view this as part of the larger crackdown that is aimed at tightening control over civil society, writes William Yang

Monday 20 September 2021 16:42
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<p>China's President Xi Jinping is shown on a screen through digitally decorated glass during the World Internet Conference </p>

China's President Xi Jinping is shown on a screen through digitally decorated glass during the World Internet Conference

Amid China’s ongoing crackdown on multiple sectors in civil society, the country’s state council published a set of guidelines last week, aiming to promote a “civilized” internet by strengthening supervision over news websites and online platforms by asking them to promote socialist values.

According to the guidelines, cyberspace should promote education about the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and its achievements, while adopting a clear stance against “historical nihilism,” which refers to any attempt to use events from the past to challenge the leading role of the CCP.

On the other hand, good moral values should be promoted through publicizing examples set by “model workers.” Online platforms should cultivate ethics and rules based on the socialist core values by explaining to China’s younger generation how to “correctly” and “safely” use the internet.

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