On Monday, we witnessed the first of three US presidential debates between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump. Now that I’ve mentioned Clinton and Trump, I’m sure a portion of you have stopped reading and are busy attacking me in the comment section below. I’m just kidding. You’ve already started doing that before even reading this article. To those of you who’ve stayed:
After watching the debates, there was one clear winner… Democracy! That’s right. This has been a crazy election cycle that has seen the United States more deeply divided than ever before. And it’s still better than what many people in the world have.
In America we have a system where anyone can be president. Of course, that means anyone can be president. Still, people with radically different ideas can debate them freely on national television, without censorship (or even moderation.) You know where you can’t do that? China!
You know how the “president” of China gets “elected?” First, they have an internal power struggle at the top levels of the Communist Party. Whoever survives the purges rises to the top. And then that group selects among themselves who the leader of the Communist Party should be. Then the Communist Party tells China’s rubber-stamp congress who to vote for, and surprise surprise, that person gets “elected” president. Then it gets announced to the public.
So what an embarrassing contrast for the Chinese Communist Party to have US presidential candidates debating so freely! But fear not! They have a solution: Don’t let Chinese people watch it. Yes, the America’s presidential debate was censored in China. China Digital Times uncovered this leaked censorship directive that pulled the plug on the debate, saying no news service is allowed to livestream it.
Even state-run CCTV’s livestream “went black shortly after the debate began.” Same goes the two biggest Chinese news websites. And with Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, and Instagram already banned in China, you weren’t going to see it there, either.
So as more than 80 million Americans tuned in to watch the Battle Royale, in China, people had state-run media to tell them their opinions for them! And if you missed the debate, because your totalitarian government censored it, don’t worry. My favorite state-run media Global Times assures us it was trite.
And this is just the latest in a long line of presidential censorship. For more on that, here’s Shelley Zhang…from 8 years ago! But this time, the Chinese Communist Party just censored the entire thing.
But they’re still a bit worried about these debates. Because despite their efforts, people in China still figured out how to watch. China’s version of Twitter, Weibo, somehow was able to livestream the debate to nearly a quarter million people. And that’s because more and more, people in China are showing an interest in US elections.
For decades, Chinese state-run media has been telling people that the Western-style democracy is dangerous and chaotic. But China’s middle class is increasingly making their own observations—as Chinese tourists travel to every corner of the globe, and more and more people figure out how to get around China’s Internet firewall.
So if you’re still reading, and not busy angrily accusing me of bashing your favorite—or least un-favorite candidate—I’d like to end with this: At least we can all watch the debate on TV, and type our uncensored comments below.