On the eve of the 20th Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Congress to be held on October 16, censorship has intensified on social networks. China’s Central Administration of Cyberspace started an internet tagging work that “dispels rumors” about the Chinese regime on the internet.
The censorship campaign was called “Fight against internet rumors and false information” from the CCP.
To carry out such a measure, the Network Information Office and the Integrated Internet Management Office created platforms for citizens to refute rumors posted on their social networks.
The Central Cyberspace Administration organized 12 web platforms to label and refute rumors.
On the other hand, the expert group monitoring Chinese internet censorship, Great Firewall Report (GFW Report), revealed that although more than half of internet users evade censorship by using transport layering security (TLS), the CCP is succeeding in blocking them.
GFW said that while these TLSs were previously frequently blocked by the Chinese regime, “we have never seen them blocked on such a scale.”
the GFW REport stated, “This new blocking coincides with the most politically sensitive weeks in China.”
The expert group explained that the first three weeks of October would be the most politically sensitive because three important events for the CCP were occurring.
Major events for the CCP would be the weeklong National Day holiday, which began on October 1, the 7th Plenary Session of the Communist Party Central Committee on October 9, and the 20th Congress beginning on October 16.
How did the CCP enforce censorship?
There have been many complaints recently from Chinese internet users—their group chats have been blocked and their social network accounts have been suspended.
The functions of Douyin, Weibo, and WeChat were reduced to the point where it was no longer possible to talk normally in family and friend group chats.
A social media user from Shenyang by the name of Ding explained that there is no longer a place to speak freely on Chinese social media.
Ding said, “If we had freedom, then there wouldn’t be all this online surveillance.” She went on, “It can all depend on which phrase you say that is wrong, which sensitive keyword, a specific word.”
She added, “They read your post or message, and tell the local police station, who then have a word with you.”
How far will the Chinese regime go to maintain the so-called “stability” for the 20th Congress?
What is special about this 20th CPC National Congress?
Although China has only one political party every 5 years there is a ceremony that gathers the 2,300 members of the CCP who elect their next leader.
However, this time Xi’s re-election, an unprecedented third term in Chinese history, will be through the new constitutional amendments approved by the National People’s Congress (NPC) in March 2018.
For this reason, tensions over power disputes is strong and speculations of what could happen at the 20th National Congress are many.
Several experts said that the Chinese regime increased censorship to create a welcoming public opinion environment for the congress and quash any internet opinions or hot topics that may distract the public’s attention.
Others believe that censorship is a strategy to strengthen and expand controls over public opinion and people’s thinking; make them toe the CCP line, in order to secure more years in power.
In that sense, the pressure has increased because the congress will also reveal China’s political direction, taking into account the sluggish economy, tense relations with foreign countries, especially with the United States, and the possible invasion of Taiwan.
On the other hand, the meeting will announce the officials who will accompany Xi and those who will retire.
According to CCP rules, senior officials aged 68 or older, with the exception of the top leader, in this case Xi will retire after the congress, which means that of the seven senior members of the Politburo Standing Committee, the highest authority of the regime, two are of retirement age.
Xi Jinping, 69, who hopes to be re-elected, will have the difficult task of choosing his successor, but according to rumors he may delay that decision.
Some analysts believe that Xi may have a loyal official who can succeed Li Keqiang as premier.
But going by the backgrounds and political careers of the officials, the next premier could be Vice Premier Hu Chunhua, 59, or Wang Yang, 67, chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference.
Only a few days are left to define the future of the Chinese people and even the rest of the world, as the CCP has woven deep relationships in the world, “dependent relationships.” Experts believe that the 20th National Congress of China could be a historic event that marks the beginning of the end of the Chinese Communist Party.