The Scope of Chinese Web Censorship
Google’s statement of its intention to stop censoring search results on its Chinese website has again highlighted the subject of web freedom in China.
To gain a clearer picture of the extent to which censorship is built into Google’s China search engine, The Epoch Times compared search results between the Chinese website Google.cn, the Taiwanese website, google.com.tw and the English site google.com.
This comparison showed a massive gap between the Internet of the free world and the Internet of China.
On June 4th, 1989 the Tiananmen Square Massacre took place in the heart of Beijing. The incident shocked the world and is famous in the West.
Unsurprisingly, typing the date “June 4th” into the English Google yielded 3,970,000 results—a large proportion of which were about the massacre.
A search using simplified Chinese characters in the Taiwanese Google gave similar results. However, when searching the Chinese Google, 74,500 results appeared. That’s 1.9 percent as many results as the English search. Also, few of the results—and none of the first page results—were about the massacre.
The popular spiritual practice, which was banned by the Chinese regime in 1999, has since become a very sensitive issue for China’s ruling party.
Searching for the term ‘Falun Gong’ in simplified Chinese characters on the Chinese Google site yielded 33,100 hits. The first 20 pages of these results were entirely composed of sites which carried official party propaganda slandering the meditation practice. Many of the sites belonged to state controlled media such as Xinhua and the People’s Daily.
Using Google Taiwan to search for the same terms, a total of 1,100,000 results were found. This was roughly 30 times more content than what Google China showed. Listed at the top of the search results were third party sources. Afterwards the People’s Daily online and then the Falun Gong Information Centre, which carries news and analysis on the persecution in China.
Searching for “Falun Gong” on the English Google gave similar results to Taiwan and overall there was not a large amount of content negative toward Falun Gong, with many positive or neutral pages.
This comparison indicates that Chinese Netizens are exposed to only around 3 percent of the total information available on the web about Falun Gong.
Jiang Zemin was a staunch supporter of the suppression of democracy activists in 1989 which helped facilitate his rise to power as the head of the communist regime. He is also widely accredited with the orchestration of the regime’s attempt to eradicate Falun Gong.
On Dec. 17, 2009, using the legal principle of universal jurisdiction, an Argentine judge, Octavio Araoz de Lamadrid, issued arrest warrants for the former leader of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) Jiang Zemin, and Luo Gan, former head of the 610 Office, on charges of crimes against humanity. The incident was well publicized.
Typing “arrest Jiang Zemin” into the three versions of Google, Google.cn had 8,690 search results, Google.com.tw showed 129,000 results and Google.com unveiled 981,000 web pages.
In Google China, the vast majority of the results were related to either ‘arrest’ or to ‘Jiang Zemin’ with none relating to both of the terms in union. None of the information found had anything to do with the indictment issued by the Argentine court.
On the first page view of Google.com.tw, the first result was news related to the Argentine case. After that were Reuters, New Tang Dynasty, and The Epoch Times’ reports on the court’s order to arrest Jiang.
On Google.com, the first result was The Epoch Times’ report on the judge’s decision, followed by VOA and Reuters news on Jiang’s arrest.