China has fortified its propaganda firewall and Liberals turned a blind eye

It’s time for Canada to stand up to China’s censorship crackdown

China just strengthened its Great Propaganda Firewall to limit what its citizens can see and read about the outside world. The Liberals should be outraged.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Wu Hong/Pool

Chinese President Xi Jinping and Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the Diaoyutai State Guesthouse in Beijing, China August 31, 2016. REUTERS/Wu Hong/Pool

You won’t hear any loud alarms being rung about this from either the starry-eyed or the sinister China trade enthusiasts in Justin Trudeau’s cabinet, or Global Affairs Canada, the Canada China Business Council or the Asia Pacific Foundation, but the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology in Beijing has made it official.

The Communist Party of China has ordered a shutdown of all unauthorized and unmonitored communication between China’s 1.3 billion people and the outside world. In its formal statements, the Ministry announced that it is closing the last digital breaches in the Great Firewall of China—the outer ring of the regime’s vast snooping, censorship and website-blocking superstructure.

MORE: Ottawa’s despicable display in China

Any VPN (virtual private network), proxy server or special cable service operating without Beijing’s approval, under Beijing’s tight controls, are now outlawed.

Chinese citizens require independent VPNs to access Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat, Dropbox, Youtube, Tumblr and all the other web applications that allow one-on-one and group discussions with the outside world that the regime has blocked. The technology research firm GlobalWebIndex reckons that one in three Chinese citizens has used VPNs, which redirect Chinese web traffic through offshore servers, allowing users to access outside-world websites undetected.

The corporate sector needs VPNs too, which is why Beijing has been biding its time. International companies with operations in China will be able to hold onto some perks, at least on paper. Foreign firms will still be permitted to use VPN services—but only to communicate with head office. The VPN must be a Chinese corporation. Sensitive company data must now be stored in China. The identities of every employee using a VPN workaround must be given to the ministry.

Without VPNs to traverse the catacombs under the Firewall or to scale circumvention “ladders” to get over it, Chinese citizens cannot access the regime-banned New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Le Monde, the Economist, the Financial Times, or Reuters news services—for starters. The CBC has been blocked in China since 2014. According to the results of a URL test attempted Sunday on the freedom-of-information site ‪, “100 per cent” of CBC’s online presence is off-limits inside China.

The ministry has set a deadline of March 31, 2018 to fully secure the regime’s propaganda wall around China by “urgent regulation and governance” of China’s internet systems, in order to correct what it called the industry’s “disordered development.” To that end, internal censorship has gone into overdrive in recent weeks, most noticeably to cover up the scandal surrounding the torment and July 13 death of the imprisoned Nobel laureate and democracy activist Liu Xiaobo.

READ MORE: As the U.S. retreats on trade, China is quietly picking up the pieces

A further tightening of the regime’s paranoid censorship of public discussion was already in the works, besides, owing to the upcoming national congress of the Chinese Communist Party, at which President Xi Jinping is expected to further consolidate his stranglehold on the Chinese state. Unless he rewrites the rules, Xi and Premier Li Keqiang are expected to be the only members of the seven-member Politburo Standing Committee who won’t be shuffled out.

The one glimmer of hope is that Beijing’s efforts at an across-the-board VPN clampdown may not even be possible. Fast-moving offshore operators usually pick up a lot of the slack when Chinese VPNs get shut down. Within three years of the regime’s banning of the online edition of the New York Times in 2012, the newspaper had regained its pre-censorship readership through VPNs.

Now, however, it’s not clear how Chinese citizens will find out how to access offshore VPNs, or whether they will risk attempts to go over or under the Firewall. On WeChat and Weibo, two of China’s most widely used (though intermittently non-functioning) discussion platforms, Beijing’s censors have now added “VPN” to the list of keywords that trigger eavesdropping, blacklisting and blackouts.

Last month, the Ministry of Public Security’s Network Security Squad was already issuing orders to internet service providers, warning them to expunge all software that circumvent the Firewall. China’s state-owned telecommunications giants, among them China Telecom, China Unicom and China Mobile, were instructed to bring themselves in line with President Xi’s draconian “internet sovereignty” push. The popular Hong Kong Chinese proxy-service provider GreenVPN told its customers it was being shut down by the authorities in Beijing. Last week, Guangzhou Huoyun Information Technology Ltd. told Reuters that the company had received a directive to begin blocking VPN services. Similarly leaked and off-the-record accounts have been coming fast and thick in recent weeks.

READ MORE: China is no friend to Canada

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology communiques don’t just make it official that a digital Iron Curtain is shutting China off from the rest of the world. The ministry is putting the lie to any further claims by Canada’s China trade lobby and its many friends in the Liberal government that “free trade” talks are about bringing Canadians and Chinese people closer together. That is not what is happening here. We are being driven further apart.

Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, proclaimed by the U.N. General Assembly on December 10, 1948, could not be more plain in this matter: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.”

This is not just about the rights of Chinese citizens, to speak freely with one another, without fear, through any media, across frontiers. It is about the rights of Canadians to do the same. It is an inalienable human right that is being trampled upon here, openly and brazenly, and the Liberal government has only one choice in this: to carry on in its disgrace, serving the Chinese slave state as a collaborator and an accomplice, or to stand up for once and fight.




It’s time for Canada to stand up to China’s censorship crackdown

  1. Not your job to tell the govt what to do

    Not Canada’s job to tell China what to do.

    • Wrong … but thank you Ms. Obvious.

      • Where did you get the idea we were in charge of China?


  2. China is to Trudeau as Russia is to Trump.

    • A good friend? Great!

      Globalization is that much closer.

      • Uh, no. Russia/China is a country which Trump/Trudeau thinks walks on water despite it being clearly on the wrong side of some very significant issues.

        • China is China…..not Canada. MYOB

          • Yet, you have no hesitation in criticizing other countries, e.g. Israel, UK (Brexit). When you start to consistently apply your MYOB creed to yourself, I’ll then not think it’s little more than a self-serving device.

          • That makes you feel better eh?

            Criticizing BREXIT is not the same as telling the UK what to do.

            Cons have no discrimination at all.

          • @Emilyone

            OK I see, So thus in your mind, this, for example, is OK because I’m not “telling China what to do”:
            “China is a totalitarian state where freedom of political speech as practised in liberal democracies is non-existent.”

            But this is not OK, ’cause I am “telling China what to do”:
            “China is a totalitarian state where freedom of political speech as practised in liberal democracies is non-existent, and it thus needs to liberalize.”

            An interesting distinction indeed.

          • Yer going to great lengths to disguise racism

          • @Emilyone

            Kindly point to the racist statement or statements I allegedly made.

          • Jim R

            We don’t attack other countries for human rights violations or censorship or invasions etc…….just China

            All the time.

            Longest running civilization in the world, biggest market in the world……most of ‘our’ inventions come from there….yet there is constant criticism.

            Sounds like racism to me.

          • @Emilyone

            I repeat, kindly point to specific racist statements I allegedly made.

            I don’t consider bitching about a country’s lack of liberal democratic principles as being racist. YMMV.

          • Cons want every post with a caveat

            They must feel guilty about something

        • She always calls someone racist when she can’t yell MySoggyKnee!

          • Most of you are unaware you’re racist and sexist.

            It’s called ‘white male privilege’

          • Oh, I’m aware.
            And I love it.

  3. JT the “Little Prince” told all us “regular folks” (after removing the silver spoon from his mouth) the country he admired most was China because its dictators could get things done. Of course his father PET was a similar admirer of communist regimes, so the apple doesn’t fall far.

    • Dictators can get things done faster than elected leaders is all he said.

      Bush made the same observation.

    • Zee Dauphin’s father is actually Fidel Castro. Pictures don’t lie.

      • No, but you do.

        • It seems Maggie lied to Pierre, a time or two…

          • No, but you do.

  4. A one sided look at anything is inaccurate. Just like the Chinese, thousands of Canadians use VPNs to access foreign content that they are otherwise prevented from accessing; meanwhile, the Canadian government is looking for ways to prevent this. The argument is simply that using VPNs for this purpose is tantamount to theft of intellectual property; normally, a journalist would rail against Chinese theft of IP but not in this case. When Canadian regulators attempt to block Canadians accessing foreign content that’s somehow not censorship. As an extension of this censorship. organizations that provide financial services are restricting the free use of capital. Hopefully, this author is so naive as to believe that CSIS isn’t watching whatever Canadians type and trapping on keywords like VPN or that the Canadian government doesn’t now engage in website blocking. Website blocking as currently practiced comprises summary judgment without due process or even rules of evidence.
    Sure it’s good to pick on the Chinese – as always – while ignoring official US Islamophobia or racial prejudice or misogyny even voter suppression. To be sure, the Chinese share with Canada the distinction of being found wanting by human rights tribunals and our security services have been publicly exposed for abusive acts so, calling out the other guy is a necessary tactic commonly learned by 6-year-olds.

    • Chinese censorship also includes freely available content, not just copyright protected materials.

      But Western governments (the US and European ones) and multinationals (Google, Facebook) now intend to censor some freely available content also.

      • I wish Canada would block Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snap chat and the rest. My grand kids would end up much better educated as a result!!

  5. China is Canada’s second largest trading partner. Don’t look for Trudeau to damage the relationship.

  6. Once China saw another Macleans in the making, they shut down that conservative rag industry for some realism.

  7. All this Canadian-Chinese detente is aimed and getting the Chinese to invest more money in Canada. We wouldn’t want something as silly as human rights to become a fly in the proverbial ointment, would we? Best stick with the money-gathering program and forget about human rights (which will just irritate the funders and maybe scare them off). As any respectable Canadian company or government official would tell you.

  8. How could we express outrage when we have censorship too.

    We let businesses fire people for tweeting free speech. Isn’t that breaking the law?

    The west invented modern propaganda with Edward Bernays, Freuds nephew, to trick the US into WW1.

    Regarding censorship by law just look at the holocaust. The official narrative is forced by law. Should a scientist or historian find alternative evidence he will be charged with hate crimes for sharing it.

    We should be outraged.

  9. It is ignorant to judge other countries using Canadian values. Canada has about 36 million people, China has about 1.4 billion people. Political influences will certainly be different just using that one fact alone. Telling China how to run their country has no more credibility than China telling Canada how to run it’s affairs. Don’t forget Canada has it own share of human rights violations …. Maybe best to solve those first.

    • .
      Nobody is saying that Canadians should interfere in the Peoples’ Republic of China’s domestic affairs,

      However we need to understand that Canadian working class families lose when Canada liberalizes trade with an oppressor state.

      • Working class families lose every time they are taxed. What’s your point?

        • The overpaid underworked ‘working class families’


    And a touch or racism makes it sound more acceptable.

    • If it ain’t my soggy knee it’s Ray Schism. Every time.

      • Junkie or drunk…..there is no point talking to you


        • Yet you keep wiping your digital rectum all over this forum.

  11. You mean like we told Iraq and Syria and Libya and all those other countries. Look how well that worked out.

    But seriously why are we so superior that we should be telling other people how to live their lives? Is that not what sharia law is all about?

    • Indeed. Which is why Sharia Law will be coming to a suburb near you.
      Ask the Swedes.

  12. If they can’t get uncensored outside content. Yes, that it outrageous.

    But maybe that Robert J. Sawyer’s book is coming true. Now is the time for every good Canadian to read WATCH. Try your local library even. This can be the beginning of good things coming!

  13. Ok settle down folks. There’s bigger things to worry about then censorship and that’s North Korea. How many of you know that in the next 12 months North Korea will have a ballistic missile that will be capable of hitting Alaska and in 18 months having one that’s capable of hitting anywhere in the U.S? How many of you know that the closer way of hitting the U.S is firing them over Canada? Now we don’t need to upset China’s leader with this non-sense after all we do supply China with a lot of things such as dairy, meat and crops we may need the China leader on our side after all he does have influence on North Korea which could help Canada. So why piss in the face of someone that could prevent Canada from being hit. What can Canada do to protect itself from something like that happening? Absolutely nothing. The Liberals chose not to sign on with the North American missile defence and therefore Canada has no real protection if this where to happen.

  14. How about we focus on our own suppression of speech and ideas here?? People so quick to judge, yet we are moving very fascist, very fast at home.