The Chinese regime has apparently further tightened its already tight grip on the Internet since New Year’s Eve. Internet users in China have alerted the Chinese-language Epoch Times about having problems accessing uncensored online information outside China with anti-censorship software.
“Freegate was down for three days. It has taken me much effort to overcome the Great Firewall,” a reader commented on the Chinese-language Epoch Times website. “We won’t allow the bandits to repeatedly isolate us.”
Freegate is anti-censorship software freely provided by the U.S.-based company Dynamic Internet Technology (DIT), which allows people to break through Internet censorship.
Another reader urged the release of a new version of Freegate after the older version 7.52 was no longer effective in overcoming the great firewall.
Censorship in the New Year
The tightening of the Internet in China appeared to take effect on Dec. 31, 2014, a Beijing political affairs observer, Hua Po said in an interview with the Epoch Times.
“That day at round 9 to 10 at night, the Chinese regime scaled up its Internet censorship,” Hua said. “It directly inflicted the anti-censorship software hosting servers, and the interference this time was not only the work of the national security and censorship departments. It is highly possible that the military was involved.”
In a country where freedom of speech is heavily repressed, the Chinese regime wouldn’t have taken all the hassle to further tighten the Internet without a specific objective, Hua said.
One possibility would be the result of intense political in fighting within China’s one party leadership, and that plays out in how information is manipulated. Usually officials are not ousted for simple reasons, such as poor performance or insufficient qualifications. Often, the reasons for removing officials are factional, and one faction will use its own media outlets to attack others and garner public support.
Less than a week into the New Year, two high-ranking officials—the party secretary of Nanjing City, Yang Weize, and one of the assistant ministers in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Zhang Kunsheng—had been ousted, in the so-called “anti-corruption campaign” that has been going on for more than two years in China.
Despite the recent trend, the Chinese regime still faces a great technological challenge in maintaining its iron-grip on the Internet, according to an article written by a research center of People’s Liberation Army (PLA) National Defense University, and published in the state-run political theory magazine, Red Flag Manuscript in Dec. 2014.
“The use of circumvention software and other information techniques has put the Party on the defensive in the battle for control,” the article states.
The article went on to say that the Chinese regime has lagged behind in the IT development needed to further control blogs, Weibo, WeChat, and other online media.
The technology for “anti-censorship software” was listed as one of five technologies that the regime needs to pay more attention to.
“For years, the CCP has never commented directly on its Internet censorship, apart from saying that it is simply removing pornographic content on the Internet, while turning a blind eye to the fact that many Chinese people are using anti-censorship software.” the president of DIT, Bill Xia said.
“This article published in Red Flag Manuscript simply states the obvious, which is more and more Chinese Internet users are using anti-censorship software. The CCP can no longer neglect or deny the very existence of this software,” Xia said.
Read the original article in Chinese.