The most deceptive form of censorship is the type that wraps itself in a veil of good intentions.
This has long been a favorite tool of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and is now being used in the censorship of video games.
China’s Tencent Holdings Ltd. released a new game, “Game for Peace,” on Chinese platform Weibo on May 8. The same day, the CCP removed the popular “Player Unknown Battlegrounds” game from the same app store, which “Game for Peace” closely resembles.
While Tencent partly owns the popular battle royale game “Player Unknown Battlegrounds”—as well as “Fortnight,” another popular game in the genre—the game is still mainly held by PUBG Corp., which is a subsidiary of South Korean video game company Bluehole. So, in other words, after a Chinese company partnered with a South Korean company to release its game in China, the CCP just happened to block that game on the same day the Chinese company released its clone.
What’s even more interesting than the use of state regulation for business warfare, however, is how the CCP packaged this move as an act of moral censorship.
The Chinese regime’s State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film, and Television claimed back in 2017 that the “battle royale” genre “seriously deviated from the core values of socialism in China.”
CCP regulators started a new program for game licenses last month, which forbids content deemed harmful to youth, including images of blood, gambling, dead bodies, and marriage between minors. Most decent people probably could agree with this.
But wrapped up in these new censorship requirements are two curious bans: games that show religious elements, and games that reference China before the CCP.
This is a method of censorship that blends moral forms of censorship—such as opposing violence—with other forms of censorship to defend the ruling regime’s persecution of religion and to cover up its destruction of China’s traditional heritage.
The CCP is an oppressive regime that brutally persecutes Christians, Falun Gong practitioners, Tibetan Buddhists, and Uyghur Muslims. Its abuses include the destruction of churches and temples, torture, concentration camps, and live organ harvesting for profit. Through several political campaigns, including the Cultural Revolution, the CCP has also done all in its power to destroy China’s traditional values and national heritage.
The method of censorship used for video games employs an interesting tactic. It sandwiches policies that continue the regime’s oppression of the Chinese people between censorship rules that many people would agree with. Using this tactic, if a person were to question these censorship policies, CCP defenders could easily reply, “Oh, so you want youth to see dead bodies? You want youth to see blood, and marriage between minors?”
Yet those parts of the policies aren’t the problem. It’s the parts that require censorship of China’s traditional heritage and that back the regime’s abuses.
This type of Trojan horse censorship isn’t limited to the CCP, either. It’s being used in the West as a less-defined form of political censorship. We saw this recently when Instagram and Facebook banned figures, including Alex Jones, Milo Yiannopoulos, Paul Joseph Watson, and others, for spreading alleged misinformation and extremism.
Legacy news outlets, including The Atlantic, backed this censorship move, labeling these individuals as “far-right extremists.” Oddly, they even labeled Louis Farrakhan as a far-right extremist, despite that Farrakhan is the head of the Nation of Islam and a longtime icon of the left.
Just like the Chinese regime with its “China Model” for censorship, these groups often begin censorship campaigns by publicly going after targets that many people would agree with. After the policy is in place, it can then be used discreetly, and anyone who questions the policy can be accused of agreeing with the public figures or issues that were initially targeted.
Yet, as is always the case with socialist censorship, the issue isn’t the individual, but rather the political agenda behind the censorship.
This plays on a classic tool of socialist disinformation: package a lie with a grain of truth. If anyone questions the lie, point to the grain of truth, resort to personal attacks, and use it to shut down the conversation—thereby protecting the lie and true motive from exposure.