CCP Expands Its Censorship Efforts Across the Globe, With the Help of US Technology: Report

by EditorL
The CCP’s censorship efforts ‘pose a major challenge to US diplomatic, economic, and national security interests,’ report says.

Chinese police officers walk outside the newly built Museum of the Communist Party of China in Beijing on June 25, 2021. (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

The Chinese regime has the “world’s most elaborate and pervasive” censorship system, regulating what its citizens are saying at home. In the past decade, Beijing’s censorship has increasingly gone global, posing a significant challenge to American interests, according to a new congressional report.

The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has doubled down its efforts to stifle the spread of opinions and narratives it deems harmful to its interests all over the world, according to a report by the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission (USCC), released on Feb. 20.

“This undertaking has proceeded along multiple lines of effort, including punishing U.S. private companies and individuals who express positions the CCP deems to be objectionable, restricting U.S. access to economic data, and conducting disinformation campaigns aimed at sowing division within U.S. society,” the report stated.

The Party has poured massive resources into advancing its capability to shape global opinion, the report found. For instance, to restrict the discussion on Beijing’s human rights abuses in Xinjiang and Tibet, or other sensitive topics like Taiwan, Chinese censors have frequently flooded overseas social media platforms with irrelevant content.

Assistance by US Technology

The CCP uses censorship as a tool to attain its monopoly on political legitimacy and control its citizens’ behaviors, according to the report.

However, much of its rigid control of the internet was built on American technology and expertise. According to the report, China historically “relied heavily on hardware component parts and software sourced from the United States to construct and operate its online censorship.”

One example, the report said, was that China allegedly used routers, firewalls, and antivirus products from U.S. companies like Cisco and Symantec in the early 2000s, which enabled the regime to carry out advanced censorship.

While the regime has been pushing for industrial self-reliance over recent years, the CCP’s “censorship apparatus is still reliant on U.S. imports, especially those used in emerging technologies such as AI, machine learning, and big data applications,” the researchers noted.

“Many of these AI-enabled ‘public opinion guidance’ tools rely on off-the-shelf components imported from the United States, such as general processing units (GPUs) and cloud computing infrastructure,” the report said. It cited a 2019 report suggesting that American tech giants such as Google and IBM may work with Chinese companies to contribute to the CCP’s censorship regime.
Some of the U.S. firms may inadvertently support the regime’s censorship apparatus, but in many cases, the report found, “foreign companies working in China deliberately conceal their connections to China’s security services which complicates due diligence to avoid contributing to the censorship apparatus.”


Under the current CCP head Xi Jinping, the CCP has “significantly expanded the scope and stringency of its censorship apparatus, with a particular focus on solidifying its control over internet content,” the report stated.

Instead of exerting absolute control on all topics, the CCP employs a flexible approach to censorship that allows limited discussion of sensitive issues, such as corruption and mismanagement by local officials, as long as they don’t threaten the Party’s hold on power. By doing so, the Chinese public can air their grievances while the Party is then able to shift blame to lower-ranking officials who are said to have “incorrectly” implemented the orders of the central authorities.

The tightened suppression of information at home also poses a threat to people abroad. The report highlighted how the CCP responded to the outbreak of COVID-19, which first emerged in the central Chinese city of Wuhan in late 2019, to illustrate the terrible cost of the regime’s growing censorship efforts.

Dr. Li Wenliang, an eye doctor from Wuhan, tried to warn about a “SARS-like” virus in December 2019, but he was reprimanded by the local police and accused of spreading the rumors, as the authorities tried to downplay the severity of the outbreak. Dr. Li later died of COVID-19.

When the world sought to investigate the origins of the COVID-19 pandemic, “China stifled researchers by restricting what could be published, and then it flooded domestic and international media platforms with disinformation,” the report stated.

To counter the regime’s censorship, the report, prepared by Exovera’s Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, a Virginia-based think tank, provided a series of recommendations to U.S. policymakers, such as increasing cooperation with private companies and supporting “the development and spread of tools geared toward preventing common ‘information saturation’ techniques such as using botnets to hijack and algorithmically manipulate online conversations on sensitive topics.”

It suggested the United States issue a “public advisory list” of China-based companies that contributed to the CCP’s censorship, including their subsidiaries and shell companies. “Doing so will greatly assist due diligence by U.S.-based technology firms and will enable them to avoid inadvertently supporting China’s censorship regime.”

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