Lies and Deceit: China and the Effects of Censorship

Sam Taishoff ’22

Contributing Writer

As America gets ready to enter its 2020 presidential election, it is important to remember that we are not the only country in the world. There are events happening across the globe that we miss, either because the media thinks nobody cares, or because the events do not fit the agenda being pushed by the media. For example, the Amazon Rainforest is on fire and the Paris Protests are still in full swing. Lack of media coverage is one thing, but a much scarier thing is a total twisting of facts and truth.
As it stands, the people of China are being fed lie after lie about what is happening at the border of their own country. There have been five deaths, over 2,100 people injured, and approximately 750 recorded arrests, but the Chinese media reports none of that to their citizens. They are constantly twisting the facts – in some cases, blatantly altering them.
When the protests first started in June, the Chinese media reported that the citizens of Hong Kong were actually showing their support for the extradition. However, as the protest continued in this digital age, the people of China began to realize what the protests were really about. The Chinese media continued to attempt to suppress the truth, both by not reporting on it and by saying that these protests were wrong, but the people could still see the reality.
As a result, the Chinese government did what the Chinese government does the most, they shut down and censored any mention of the protests on their social media site, Weibo. In addition, the googling of the phrases “Hong Kong” and “Extradition Bill” resulted in Chinese propaganda with no actual reporting on the bill or the protests. On both Weibo and WeChat, the phrase “let’s go Hong Kong” was banned for hate speech.
The Global Times, a state-controlled newspaper, reported that the movements were “not only anti-democracy but also anti-human rights.” In addition, it praised the beanbag-gun-wielding policeman who shot unarmed and non-violent people. Even following the peaceful airport sit-ins on August tenth, the state-controlled media, People’s Daily, wrote an article about the need to make Hong Kong safe again by ending the “violent riots.”
This is not the first time the Chinese government has responded to an event with censorship and propaganda. The main event that comes to everyone’s mind is the Tiananmen Square Massacre of 1989, but there are many other small incidents of the silencing of people across China. Even on Twitch, a popular video game streaming website, when it is a Chinese stream or a Chinese event, the words “Tiananmen Square,” “1989,” and “Hong Kong” are all shadow-banned, and typing them will result in your own account being banned from that stream.
With all this censorship, I remain proud to live in the only country in the world where my freedom of speech is protected by the First Amendment. However, we must also be careful not to submit to the propaganda that is being constantly shoved down our throats. We must be advocates of the truth and always say what we know is true. To quote George Orwell, “In a time of universal deceit, telling the truth is a revolutionary act.” And to the people of Hong Kong, I stand with you as I stand with the freedoms of all peoples.