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Censorship in China: History and Controlling Term Paper

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Updated: Jul 29th, 2020


Censorship is a dominant feature of the society today. Every society in the world today has some form of censorship regardless of how progressed or civilized it is. What differs is the level and extent of censorship, together with degree of enforcement. In some societies, it is overtly practiced, while in others, it is covert, subtle and indiscernible, but present nonetheless.1

There are several definitions of this phenomenon of censorship. It can be conceptualized as the utilization of state or group power to exert control over the citizens’ freedom of expression.2 In contemporary society, this phenomenon can be conceptualized as efforts by the state organs to suppress dissemination of information3, expression of views or other modes of expression like art and literature.4

When the word censorship is mentioned, many people associate it with gagging of the media by the state and other agencies in power. While this may be the most prevalent form of censorship in contemporary society, it is important to note that there are several other forms of censorship that exist in the society.5

For example, there may be censorship in a dictatorial regime where human rights’ activists and other pro-democracy campaigners are arrested and executed summarily to suppress the permeation of democracy in the state. Censorship can also take the form of religious persecution. This is especially so when the government or a dominant religious denomination in a country is of the view that the proliferation of a certain religious dogma threatens the stability of the country or the grip of the rulers in the society. A case in point is the infamous censorship of religious materials by the early Roman Catholic Church.6 These are just but a few of the forms of censorships that exist in contemporary society.

Whichever form the censorship assumes, it is important to note that it is erroneous to assume it is a new phenomenon in the society.7 Censorship is as old as human civilization. It is noted that this form of state control can be traced back as early as 300 A.D.8 This was in China, a country that is closely associated with many forms of censorship in today’s society.

Censorship has been a part of Chinese society for a long time now.9 Successive governments, from the early dynasties to the current ruling party in the country, have used censorship in one form or the other. A wide range of justifications was used by these administrations to legitimize their use of power to control and censor several attributes of the Chinese society.10

This thesis is going to look at censorship in China. Given the fact that the author is a history student, this thesis will look at censorship in China from a historical perspective. The researcher will look at censorship in the history of this country. This means that the researcher will look at how different regimes in this country employed this form of control and the justifications that they gave for their actions.11

Despite the fact that different regimes give different justifications for censorship, this author believes that all of them were motivated by a single underlying objective. This is their desire to maintain political control and power over the citizens.

Censorship in China

In section 1, the investigator introduced the reader to the study by providing highlight of key issues. The researcher also provided the reader with a hypothesis statement that will be guiding them throughout the study.

In this section, the researcher will analyze literature that exists in the field of censorship with special attention to the People’s Republic of China. The aim will be to provide the reader with a picture of the status of this phenomenon in the people’s republic of china from a historical pedestal.

Censorship: Overview

Before embarking on the analysis of censorship in China, it is important to provide the reader with background information touching on various aspects of this phenomenon. This will help in contextualizing and locating the discourse that will follow within the wider field of censorship.

Common Rationales for Censorship

As earlier indicated, there are several justifications that are used by the state and other organs to legitimate their suppression of speech and other modes of expression in the society. These justifications are important given the fact that the controlling agency always seeks to have the support of the public, regardless of the fact that their actions may be harmful to the same public. Some of the justifications are genuine, while others are just excuses and efforts by the controlling agency to hoodwink the public.12 The following are some of the common justifications and arguments given to support censorship:

Moral Justification

Censorship may be justified by the argument that materials banned pose a moral threat to the society. This justification may be genuine when the government bans pornography, especially child pornography.13 However, some governments may try to justify the banning of music and literature that they consider a threat to their rule on a moral basis.14 A case in point is when China banned western literature by arguing that it is corrupting the minds of the youth, posing a threat to the culture of the Chinese society.15

Military and Security Justification

This type of censorship is especially prevalent in times of war and military aggression. The government makes deliberate efforts to control the dissemination of military intelligence touching on factors such as tactics to be used and type of weaponry.16 The argument is that, when such information is made public, it will eventually find its way into the hands of the enemy, working to the disadvantage of the state. This is especially important to curb espionage, a major threat especially in times of military aggression.17

However, some states and regimes may make efforts to censor military information that has no military significance, especially so if the information poses a political threat. This is for example when the United States of America suppresses information touching on her military activities in Afghanistan to ensure that the administration is not portrayed negatively to the international community.1819

Political Censorship and Justifications

This kind of censorship takes place when the state and its security apparatus withhold information from the populace for a number of reasons. This is especially done during times of crisis when the government is of the view that if the public shares information freely, there might be civil strife.20 The government may make efforts to gag or curtail the activities of the media, ensuring that the media does not report on matters that are considered to be sensitive to the security of the state. This is for example what the ministry of information in the People’s Republic of China does when it gives the media houses guidelines on what to cover and not cover as far as their news are concerned. For example, news touching on Taiwan and her fight for autonomy are considered to be politically explosive, and as such the state ensures that coverage to that end is limited.21

Another strategy used by the state as far as political censorship is concerned is disinformation.22 This is carried out through the government’s propaganda machinery. For example, in the Peoples’ Republic of China, the government has a well established, albeit covert, propaganda department.23 This was a hitherto vibrant arm of the government that was especially used by Chairman Mao Zedong to maintain his grip on the nation.24 The propaganda machinery is used to provide information and misinformation to the public, information aimed at furthering the interests of the government as far as maintaining political control is concerned. The propaganda is used as a means of distracting the public from controversies that may be surrounding the administration of their government.25

Religious Justifications

The controlling agency may carry out censorship and justify their actions on the basis of religious grounds. This takes place when the state or the dominant religion in a country controls the public access and utilization of materials that are taken to be controversial or objectionable to the philosophy and dogma of the state. For example, there have been incidences of religious bans by Mao Zedong, when he was persuading the Chinese to be atheist and shun anything to do with God and religion.26 Religious materials, temples and such other religious artifacts were destroyed during this campaign.27

Justifications to this end are based on the argument that the banned religion poses a threat to the cultural framework in the society. For example, the government may argue that western religious beliefs encourage the erosion of the society’s traditional beliefs.

Corporate Justifications

This form of justification is especially used by corporate media editors when they censor the stories that are published and aired by their media houses. When information that may negatively affect the media house’s business partners, the editors may censor it and claim that they could not possibly hurt the business of their benefactors.28

Types of Censorship

As there are different justifications for censorship, so are there different types of censorship in the society. The following are some of the different types of censorships in today’s society:

Political Censorship

This is the form of censorship that the controlling agencies justify on the basis of political interests. This takes place for example when a dictatorial regime censors any democratic activities in the country. The state may ban the publication of any democratic materials or the conduction of any democratic activities in the country.29

Strict censorship has especially been recorded in most Asian and European countries, including China. The governments in this region controlled tightly the media and other aspects of the community.30

For example, recorded history in the Soviet Union shows that independent media was nonexistent in this society.31 This was until Mikhail Gorbachev rose to the position of the Union’s leader.32 The Communist Party and other organs of the party fully controlled the media in this country. Pravda was the major daily publication in this country, and it acted as the propaganda mouthpiece for the Communist Party.33

In the People’s Republic of China, censorship continues to be carried out by the Communist Party. This is especially so given the fact that this country is still one of the countries in this region that is ruled through communist dogma. For example, approximately 30,000 individuals are employed by this government to control the internet.34

State Secrets’ Censorship

States that are in war carry out explicit censorship to safeguard their interests in the war. This censorship is aimed stemming the flow of information to the enemies of the state. For example, the government will control the release of information regarding the movement of their troops in the field. The release of such information may be delayed and released when it serves no purpose to the enemy.35

A case in point as far as state secret censorship is concerned is the one carried out by the British administration during the 1st World War. Letters sent by soldiers from the field to their family and friends back at home were heavily censored by the authorities to ensure that the soldiers did not disclose war secrets to the addressee. This practice was carried on to the Second World War. The authorities were guided by the “loose lips sink ships”36 mantra.

Educational Censorship

Another type of censorship carried out by states in contemporary and earlier societies includes the control of the contents of textbooks that are used to teach students in schools.37 This is one of the most controversial censorships, given the fact that it seeks to control the young members of the society.38 For example, claims have been made to the effect that the Communist Party in the People’s Republic of China censors the inclusion of the Cultural Revolution events in school textbooks.39 This is aimed at preventing the negative portrayal of the Communist’s Party to the youngsters.40

Other historical events that are censored from textbooks in the People’s Republic of China are the 1989’s Tiananmen Square protests.41 This kind of censorship is significant given the fact that presentation of historical facts shapes the socialization process of the learners as well as their views and opinions towards conventional thoughts.42 Given this, the government may argue that this material is inappropriate for the learners, and may corrupt their minds. This argument is however controversial, given the fact that the government may label as inappropriate any form of material that threatens their grip on power. The censorship is for their own interest, not those of the learners.43

Other forms of censorship carried out by the state include censoring of music and other forms of art, censoring of the internet and such others. Each of these censorships is justified on one basis or the other.

Censorship in China: Analysis

As earlier stated in the hypothesis statement of this study, different regimes in the peoples’ republic of China have practiced censorship in various forms and justified the same variously. However, the underlying motive for these kinds of activities is to ensure that the government maintains control over the public by weeding out any elements that are deemed to be a threat to their rule.

On political basis, censorship in this country has been viewed as helping the government to stem the activities of reformist and other revolutionaries, despite the fact that their activities and organizations may be peaceful.44 The public, through such censorship acts, is also prevented from learning about the failures and atrocities committed by the regime in the past.45 This helps in preventing the citizens from developing anti-government sentiments that may threaten the control of the party. The Chinese public, by being isolated from foreign publications and ideas, is prevented from being aware of alternative forms of governance.46 As such, they can not demand for a democratic government given that they are not aware of the benefits of such form of governance.47

Chinese authorities have also carried out censorship and justified the same on the basis of cultural interests. A case in point is thee activities of the Red Guard during the Cultural Revolution. Foreign literature and other artifacts such as religious symbols and ancient drawn from ancient China were destroyed since they were considered to be a danger to the cultural framework of the Chinese at that time.48

Chinese Rulers and Censorship

The Chinese society has undergone many forms of censorship under the rule of a number of regimes. It is argued that censorship in this society is as old as the society itself, given that it has been carried out by rulers from the early regimes to the current. As earlier noted, the first form of this activity was noted in the year 300A.D.49 In this section, the investigator will look at a few of the rulers in this society and the form of censorship that they carried out.

The Qin Dynasty and Censorship

Chinese history is usually told from the perspective of the different dynasties that has ruled the nation. Historians consider the Qin Dynasty to be the first in a string of many dynasties that were to later rule Imperial China.50 This dynasty was at the helm of this country from the year 221 BC to 206 BC.51

This dynasty is one of those that brought about great changes in China. These changes were brought about by drastic measures that were implemented by the rulers in this dynasty. Trade increased during this period, as well as agricultural output and strength of the military.

Before the ascendancy to power of the Qin dynasty, the Chinese community was basically organized in a feudal system.52 The peasants held allegiance to the land owning lords, and the former were the ones that controlled the society. During the Qin dynasty’s reign, this system was abolished, and the central government could now control the public directly.53 This ensured that the dynasty had a large workforce, a workforce that was used to improve the economy of the country.54

Now that the government had access to a large pool of workforce, it was able to embark on some of the most ambitious projects in Chinese history. For example, the government was able to marshal the masses and construct the Great Wall of China, a major landmark in Chinese history.55

The Qin dynasty, however, introduced some reforms that have been charged harshly by historians. A case in point is the attempt by the rulers to rid China of all traces from the earlier regimes. This led to one of the most notable censoring incidences in Chinese history. This censoring came to be known as the “burning of books and burying of scholars”56 in the dynasty. A detailed analysis of this censoring follows:

Burning of Books and Burying of Scholars

This was a series of events that took place between the years 213 and 206 BC.57 This censorship was mainly aimed at weeding out the Hundred Schools of Thought’s58 philosophies that were deemed to be against the rule of the regime. The Hundred Schools of Thought was a set of thinkers, scholars and schools of thoughts that existed during one of this country’s great intellectual and cultural success.59 This took place between the years 770 and 221 BC.60

Many schools of thoughts flourished during the Hundred Schools of Thought era. This included Confucianism, Legalism, Taoism, and Mohism among others.61 The burning of books and burying of scholars saw the rise and dominance of Confucianism and the decline of Mozi School of thoughts.

The Qin Dynasty advocated for Legalism School of thought, and all the other school of thoughts among the Hundreds School of Thought (with exception to Confucianism) were expunged.

Legalism school of thought is associated with two thinkers in early Chinese society. These were Han Feizi (d. 233 BC) and Li Si (d. 208 BC).62 According to these two thinkers, man is inherently selfish. The only way that human nature can be controlled to maintain peace and social order in the society, according to legalism, is to exert discipline and control from above. An overall and all powerful authority should be tasked with the duty of enforcing rules and laws strictly.

Legalism put the state on a pedestal, placing it above all other institutions in the society. The prosperity of the state was prioritized at the expense of the welfare of the masses. Contrast this with Mohism, a school of thought that advocated for universal love.63 This school of thought (Mohism) was of the view that every man is equal in before the eyes of the heavens.64

It is no wonder then that the Qin dynasty sought to exalt legalism above Mohism and other school of thoughts that advocated for ideas of equality and universal love. Legalism allowed the rulers to control the masses, for example marshalling them to build the Great Wall. Legalism fitted perfectly with the desires of the Qin dynasty to bring about sweeping reforms that included the implementation of some of the most ambitious projects in Chinese history. Universal love could not support the forced labor that saw the construction of the Great Wall and other projects around the country. This supports the thesis statement of this study, given that the Qin dynasty sought to exert control over the masses.

Book Burning

The censorship that was carried out by this dynasty, with regard to the burning of books and burying of scholars, is well documented in the Records of The Grand Historian.65 Qin Shi Huang, the first emperor of this country, is credited with uniting China in the year 221 BC.66 The chancellor to this emperor was Li Si,67 one of the thinkers associated with the legalism school of thought. Li Si convinced the emperor that there was a need to unify all the political thoughts and opinions in the country. According to him, this could be done only by suppressing the intellectual school of thoughts in the country, and thus began the censorship in this dynasty.

All the books and other literature and classic works from the Hundred Schools of Thought were subjected to burning from the year 213 BC.68 Naturally, the books and other forms of literature from Li Si’s school of thought, legalism, were spared. Li Si was able to convince the emperor that all the other schools of thoughts were undermining his legitimacy. As such, the burning of the books was informed by Qin Shi Huang’s fear of lose of grip over the masses.

Developments that can be discerned as propaganda efforts were initiated by the emperor at the behest of Li Si. The emperor penned his own history books, giving views that he thought were appropriate in the running of the government. All history books in the dynasty, save those authored by the Qin historians and scholars, were to be torched. For example, Classic of Poetry and the Classic of History were two literatures that were especially targeted by Li Si and his allies.69 The two books were explicitly censored to the extent that citizens were banned from any form of discussions touching on the two. Any person found to be contravening this was to be executed.70

Other forms of punishment for the crime of being in possession of banned literature were execution of entire families. The “law breakers” were also sent on forced and hard labor to build the Great Wall.71 Only books from four fields that were thought to be necessary for the prosperity of the dynasty were spared. These were those touching on war, agriculture, medicine and prophecy.72

This selective censorship goes further to support the thesis statement of this paper. The emperor did not destroy those books that were instrumental in furthering the grip of this ruler over the dynasty.73

Burial of the Scholars

Even though this occurrence was not directly associated with the censorship of books and other form of literature censorship during the Qin’s reign, some connections are nevertheless discernible.

Qin Shi was mollified by mortality. As such, he engaged in persistent efforts to look for remedies that might prolong his life, and if possible, make him live forever.74 It is during one of these searches that he was deceived by two alchemists.75 He was so mad that he made a decree that led to the burying alive of 460 alchemists.76 Other accounts of history during the Qin’s reign are of the opinion that another 700 alchemists were buried alive during this time.77

Majority of these alchemists were Confucius scholars, and burying them was bound to anger Confucius followers in the dynasty. This was another form of censorship, albeit with a measure of subtlety. The access of the public to these alchemists was censored. In fact, historians attribute the short lived nature of the Qin dynasty to the burial of these alchemists.

There are also reported cases of scholars, especially those that disobeyed the book burning decree, being buried alive. Scholars and thinkers who continued to advocate for Mohism and other school of thoughts that were considered a threat to the dynasty were buried alive to deter others from engaging in such acts.78

Mao Zedong and Censorship in China

This is another ruler in China who is associated with strict acts of censorship. He was born on December 26, 1893, and died on 9th September, 1976.79 he is also one of the most influential and most famous Chinese leaders. He was a communist at heart, and he is credited with the establishment of the People’s Republic of China.80

Mao Zedong led to the creation of the Maoism school of thought. His social political programs attracted a lot of controversy, and they were marked by censorship and other forms of control. These are policies such as the Great Leap Forward and the Cultural Revolution, some of the notable contributions of Maoism to the Chinese society. His rule, especially the period between 1949 and his death in 1976, was marred by a lot of controversial policies.

This paper is going to look at two of these policies and the censorship attributes of the same.

The Great Leap Forward and Censorship

This was an economic and social campaign that was started by Mao Zedong and his party, the Chinese Communist Party.81 It spanned between the years 1958 to 1961.82 The major objective of this program was to utilize the large Chinese workforce to industrialize the nation. Thee theoretical basis for this program was the Theory of Productive Forces,83 a development that pointed to Mao’s political theorizing.

The major form of censorship that was carried out by Mao Zedong during this time was economic in nature. Private farming was censored, and the administration encouraged agricultural collectivization.84 The program, however, was a catastrophe. More than 45 million people died from starvation, violence and such other vagaries by the end of the program in 1961.85

Ownership of large tracts of land by wealthy individuals was censored. Their land was redistributed to the poorer peasants by force.86 Farming of certain crops was also censored. For example, the Communist Party termed some of the crops as full of evil.87 These were crops such as opium. They were destroyed, banned from been produced and replaced by crops such as rice grains. The government also monopolized the distribution of grains and other major foodstuffs produced by the farmers. Censorship was implemented to the extent that private distribution of grains such as rice was banned.88

Mao Zedong and his allies realized that the proposed changes will be fiercely opposed by the masses. This will threaten the hold that the Communist Party and Mao Zedong had over the masses. Something had to be done to consolidate the power of the party. This led to the introduction of the agricultural collectives. This was aimed at bringing the people under the control of the party. The people were forced to join agricultural collectives, and individual farming was censored explicitly.89

The Great Leap Forward also had some overtones of religious censorship on it. For example, all religious and mystic institutions in the rural areas were banned.90 The ceremonies that accompanied these religious movements were also censored. In its place, Mao Zedong encouraged political meetings that were used to purvey the propaganda of the Communist Party.

Mao Zedong also censored free speech during this time. However, the censorship to this end was subtle and cleverly crafted. For example, in the year 1957, Zedong implemented the 100 Flowers Campaign, a campaign that was ostensibly aimed at enhancing free speech within the Communist Party.91 However, critics have argued that Mao Zedong’s intentions were not to encourage free speech, but to curb it. The campaign was a ploy to let the critics of his leadership to expose themselves.92 This was confirmed by the anti-rightist campaign that followed shortly. More than half a million critics of the party and of the agricultural policies were weeded out during this campaign.

Censorship has many and far reaching impacts on the society. One of the major impacts of this form of governance in China during Mao Zedong’s reign was the lowering of the citizen’s quality of life.93 Masses starved, especially after the authorities enforced the steel production requirement for all households. This led to the establishment of backyard furnaces, and farm tools were smelted to enable the peasant attain the steel production quota set for them. Farming was censored, and grain production plummeted, leading to severe hunger.94

The Cultural Revolution and Censorship

This is another project that is associated with Mao Zedong in China. It was initiated in the year 1966 and came to an end when Zedong died in the year 1976.95 At its wake, this movement left a lot of destruction, including destruction of artifacts and historical sites.96

The idea behind this movement can be attributed to Mao’s childhood and upbringing. It is important to note that Mao was born to a peasant family, and as such, naturally harbored resentments towards the bourgeoisie. In justifying the Cultural Revolution, Mao argued that liberalists from the bourgeois class were acting against the spirit of the communist party by encouraging capitalism. These radical elements, according to Mao, were to be weeded out through a violent class struggle powered by the youth.97 This was how the Cultural Revolution movement was born, together with the accompanying Red Guard movement.

The Cultural Revolution, The Four Olds and Censorship

One of the major objectives of the Cultural Movement was the destruction of what the advocates came to refer to as the Four Olds, or the Four Old Things.98 These were the four things that were seen to be working against the modernization of China. They included antiquated customs, culture, habits and ideas.99 The campaign was initiated in Beijing on 20th August, 1966.100

This campaign was not unlike the burning of books and burying of scholars campaign by Qin during the reign of the Qin dynasty. Just like in the Qin dynasty, this campaign was driven by the leaders’ paranoia on the effects of what they referred to as old things on their legitimacy. For example, the old ideas of Confucianism were a threat to Mao’s communist ideas and rule. As such, to strengthen his grip on the People’s Republic of China, Mao had to censor these four old things.101

Intellectuals and thinkers were targeted by these campaigns. They had their ideas censored, and books written by them and other presumed radical elements were destroyed. The intellectuals were especially viewed as personifications of the four olds, and as such were destroyed together with them.102

The Cultural Revolution, the Red Guards and Censorship in China

The Red Guard can be viewed as one of the organs that were used by the state and by Mao Zedong to enforce his censorship campaigns. It was a mass movement that was made up mainly of the youths drawn from the country’s universities and colleges. The activities of this movement were especially pronounced between the years 1966 and 1967.103 This was the period within which the Cultural Movement campaign was at its zenith, and this movement was instrumental in carrying it out.

The Red Guards movement is a classic example of how the state can use some elements of the public itself to implement censorship decrees upon the same populace. The most public endorsement of this movement by the administration took place on 18th August, 1966.104 Zedong granted more than a million Red Guards an audience in Tiananmen Square.105 He went as far as publicly donning the movement’s symbolic armband to symbolically express his support for the movement.

Zedong’s administration used the gullible nature of the youths and their pent-up frustrations to further the obvjectives of the Cultural Movement. This was evident during the proceedings of the 11th Plenum on August the same year.106 This was the meeting that came up with the resolutions that were to guide the Cultural Revolution. One of these resolutions was an agreement among the officials on the role that will be played by the students and the youths in extension during the revolution. It was unanimously agreed that the youth, through the Red Guard movement, will be asked to destroy the Four Olds.107 The rest of that year was marked by the Red Guards marching through the streets of urban China, ransacking libraries, museums and any other places that had the faintest resemblance to the old fours.108

The Red Guards were also used by the Mao regime to censor intellectual thoughts and intellectual dissent in the countries learning institutions. For example, professors that were deemed to be advocates of the four olds were targeted. They were publicly humiliated and persecuted. They were stripped of their teaching duties and allocated menial roles such as washing of toilets and sweeping the streets. The aim was to censor their radical thoughts by making them reflect on their “past mistakes”.109

The Red Guards movement can be viewed as the efforts of a scared regime, a regime scared of losing its control over the populace. The movement was used to help the regime maintain control by instilling terror on the public, instilling terror to the extent that radical thoughts and ideas were stemmed. The Red Guards were also used to help quell the resistance of the public against the Cultural Revolution Campaign.110 By instilling terror on the public, the Red Guards made Mao Zedong and his allies’ work of ruling the People’s Republic of China easier.

Falun Gong Movement and Censorship in China

Falun Gong, also referred to as Falun Dafa,111 is one of the most recent movements in China that has had profound effect on the culture and lifestyle of the Chinese people. It was started in the year 1992 by Li Hongzi.112 It is a movement based on a system of beliefs and practices, and has been viewed as a remnant of the country’s qigong movement.113

One of the central tenets of this movement is morality. The movement advocates for truthfulness, universal compassion and forbearance.114 Between the years 1992 and 1999, the movement expanded rapidly, by the time of which it had about 70 million adherents.115

Falun Gong has not gone unchallenged over the years. In July 1999, the People’s Republic of China government, led by the communist party, officially banned this movement.116 A nationwide campaign targeted at the leaders of this group and the adherents was initiated. There are claims that members of this movement are victims of widespread abuses of human rights orchestrated by the government.

The teachings of the Falun Gong movement do not sit well with the communist government. For example, the movement teaches that humans are innately virtuous, but they are corrupted by selfishness and such other desires for worldly goods.117 They thus advocate for control over the bodily desires and frugality. The influence that such teachings may have over the public may seem to erode the control of the government over them. The public may start viewing the communist party and its dogma through another set of lens, and this may make their subjectivity to the communist party shaky.

The Ministry of Public Security has censored any materials touching on the teachings of this movement.118 Books and banners bearing the teachings of the Falun Gong movement have been declared illegal, and they are explicitly censored. This form of censorship also supports the central argument of this paper, the argument to the effect that the Chinese government engages in censoring activities to maintain control over the public.


This paper has showed that censorship in the People’s Republic of China is carried out by successive regimes to serve their own ends. The regimes may try to justify their actions variously, but the fact remains that their actions are not aimed at benefiting or safeguarding the welfare of the citizens. Rather, the actions are orchestrated to enforce and maintain the control of the government over the citizens.

This paper also showed that censorship in the People’s Republic of China is not a new phenomenon. It is a feature that is as old and as rich as the country’s own culture. From the year 300 A.D., to the Qin Dynasty, to the rule of Mao Zedong and the current regime, censorship permeates successive 119regimes and seems a permanent feature in the country’s socio-economic and political landscape.


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  1. David Goldberg, Stefaan Verhulst, and Tony Prosser, Regulating the Changing Media: A Comparative Study (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 207.
  2. Vander Sprenkel, “The Red Guards in Perspective,” New Society 2 (1966): 455-456.
  3. Sprenkel, 207.
  4. Timothy Jay, Why we Curse: A Neuro-psycho-social Theory of Speech (New York: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 2000), 209.
  5. Stephen Karnow, Mao and China: Inside China’s Cultural Revolution (London: Penguin Books, 1984), 88.
  6. Sprenkel, 456.
  7. Sprenkel, 457.
  8. Richard Howard, “Red Guards are Always Right,” New Society 67 (2007): 169-170.
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