China’s censorship measures have recently taken a darker turn as it emerges that poverty-related content is being wiped from the internet. Reports indicate that the government is censoring discussions and videos that shed light on the financial struggles of its citizens. This latest revelation has raised concerns over the country’s control of information and the limitations placed on open dialogue.
A recent report by The New York Times highlights the extent of China’s censorship efforts, detailing the deletion of videos that depict poverty in the country. One such video documented an elderly woman’s daily struggle to afford basic necessities, such as rice and meat. The woman relied on her meagre pension for survival and was moved to tears as she recounted her financial crisis. The man ends the video with a ‘heavy heart’. This video has been removed from the Chinese internet but still exists on Youtube.
Challenging for people to challenge status quo
The suppression of poverty-related content raises concerns about the state of welfare in China and the challenges faced by its elderly population. The Chinese government has a history of taking strong action against any form of insubordination, making it challenging for people to challenge the status quo.
The Chinese government’s censorship of poverty-related content extends beyond the removal of videos, as demonstrated by the case of a migrant worker whose story of financial struggle after he contracted COVID-19 last year went viral on the internet. Despite being hailed by netizens as the “most hardworking person in China”, censors swiftly blocked all discussion of him, even stationing authorities outside his home to prevent reporters from speaking with his wife about their financial situation.
‘Poverty’ search results
The New York Times report also highlighted the lack of coverage on poverty in China’s biggest news portal, where searching for ‘pinkun’ or poverty only reveals news about it being the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. The absence of discourse on Chinese poverty conditions is indicative of the government’s efforts to keep all online content positive and avoid any criticism.
Chinese President Xi Jinping declared victory in the country’s battle against poverty in 2021, but the government’s censorship raises questions about the accuracy of these claims. While they tout lifting millions out of poverty over the past four decades, they also refuse to acknowledge how previous leadership, such as during Mao Zedong’s rule, pushed many citizens to the brink of crisis.