Critics to Be Gagged During 18th Conference in China

February 8, 2012 Updated: February 10, 2012

A document has been posted online detailing the “stability maintenance” measures that will be in force during the period of the “two conferences” (the 18th National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference) planned this autumn in Beijing.

It requires that all relevant departments engage in comprehensive, round-the-clock monitoring of the Internet, mobile phone and text messages in order to “guide public opinion” and squash any outbreak of dissent, according to Radio Free Asia, which first reported the news. 

The document, posted Saturday to the website, requires that all departments intensify intelligence collection, especially in connection with “planned rallies and violence instigated by domestic and foreign hostile forces.” The goal is to block and delete any form of damaging information in a timely manner—including on the Internet or mobile phone networks.

In recent years, social media have enabled dissident voices in Egypt, Russia, Libya and other countries to unite, initiate mass actions and move their agendas forward.

The document also seeks to sharply reduce mass petitioning during the two conferences, beginning at the local level and extending to the office in Beijing. Top priority will be given to the close surveillance of petitioners and the preparations necessary to deal with all manner of emergencies. 

In an interview with Radio Free Asia, Liu Yiming, well-known in China’s social media space, said that the instructions in the document are explicit – a rarely seen phenomenon and contrary to the way such measures were handled in the past.

Liu also said that many influential dissidents, scholars, petitioners and bloggers have had some of their online accounts blocked, proving that the CCP has made strenuous efforts to gag its critics so that only “one voice,” that of the Party’s propaganda apparatus, will be heard before and during the 18th National Congress.