So how are things going in China and Taiwan these days? Swimmingly, if you only get your news from social media. To look at the blogs and microblogging sites where people discuss political or military news, everything is coming up roses. Of course, that’s because the Chinese Communist Party has further cracked down on any and all forms of online dissent. Under the recently announced rules, nobody is being allowed to comment on any of these matters unless they have a government-approved credential to do so. I doubt you’ll need to strain your imagination very much to figure out who will be getting those credentials and what sorts of opinions they will be sharing. (Associated Press)
Ma Xiaolin frequently wrote about current affairs on one of China’s leading microblogging sites, where he has 2 million followers. But recently, he said in a post, the Weibo site called and asked him not to post original content on topics ranging from politics to economic and military issues.
“As an international affairs researcher and a columnist, it looks like I can only go the route of entertainment, food and beverage now,” the international relations professor wrote on Jan. 31.
Ma, who often posted on developments in the Mideast, is one of many popular influencers working within the constraints of China’s heavily censored web who is finding that their space to speak is shrinking even further with the latest policy changes and a clean-up campaign run by the country’s powerful censors. He declined an interview request.
From the sound of it, all the CCP is really doing now is taking their long-standing unofficial policy and making it official. It’s not as if Xi Jinping’s government was ever a bastion of free speech. Posting unpopular opinions has frequently led to people being censored, locked up or simply disappearing. But this new system is particularly draconian.