A full-scale cyber sweep by CCP has completely taken over the major social media platforms in mainland China. Many WeChat accounts of Chinese residents have also been blocked. The scale of this surveillance is considered unprecedented by observers.

 The Wall Street Journal reporter Liza Lin posted a series of tweets detailing investigations into online censorship amid the country’s 20th CCP National Congress.

According to the WSJ, the investigation by Liza and colleagues showed that on major platforms, including Weibo, WeChat, Zhihu, Baidu Tieba, Douyin, as well as others, keywords about leaders or related comments have been locked.

Liza revealed that their calls were also interrupted when WeChat blocked her and a user from communicating via the Telegram messaging app.

However, Liza also revealed the contents of the censors could indicate possible trends in Chinese politics. She said, “陈敏尔 Chen Miner, the Chongqing party chief, was the most heavily censored on all the platforms I searched. With censorship akin to Standing Committee members. Rising star maybe?”

While the effort to censor information is nothing new to the Chinese people, observers are surprised at its scale.

Indian journalist Jency Jacob commented, “This is next-level stuff. Even the worst ideas I had about their online censorship didn’t imagine this.”

Protests in Sitongqiao against the CCP in Beijing last week were quickly blanketed. All related comments are locked. Even accounts that re-shared this content were banned.

Antony Dapiran, a financial lawyer and author based in Hong Kong, said that given the popularity of Chinese social media, permanently banning an account for sharing content related to this protest is equivalent to the severed arm of a Chinese social media user.

This is not difficult to explain when the information transmitted on social networking platforms violates censorship and will be deleted immediately, making many users highly wary of hot news updates—timely response to state censorship. A TQ user account must use their real identifier (ID).
Daphne Keller, director at the Stanford Center for Internet Policy, says China’s censorship could be a template for other governments to follow. “This is quite a rundown. And it includes techniques that other countries are toying with, like making some online behavior possible only for users who make their identity known and traceable by the state.”

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