China’s Great Firewall blocks news of Hong Kong protests

China’s firewall although broadly effective, is not 100% full proof, content posted on individual accounts were not immediately censored.

In a significant development, Chinese censors are working hard to block and erase news of the Hong Kong protests on social media and search platforms.

There has been a surge of interests from mainland Chinese users on what has been happening in Hong Kong.

Images and reports of clashes, which include Chinese policemen in Hong Kong police clothing with demonstrators protesting against an extradition law with mainland China.

Beijing is working hard so that the news of its high handedness on peaceful protestors does not reach its citizens on the mainland.

“People are very curious, and there is a lot of discussion on this event,” said a person who works as a content censor at Weibo Corp, which operates the Weibo platform.

According to searches on Tencent Holdings Ltd-owned Wechat, searches for “Hong Kong” peaked at 32.4 million on Wednesday, up from roughly 12 million from a week earlier.

Freeweibo.com, which tracks censored posts on the Weibo platform, said “Hong Kong” was the most searched topic in the past few days.

Other hashtags which were among the top 10 most searched topics include “oppose China extradition” and “go Hong Kong!”.

Searches for “Hong Kong” on Baidu, China’s top search engine, has more than tripled over the weekend.

According to tests conducted by Reuters on Wednesday, mainland Wechat users were not able to retrieve images of the massive protests in Hong Kong. Images of demonstrators including those being tear gassed were removed within minutes.

Thankfully, China’s censorship, although broadly effective, is not 100% full proof.

Content posted on individual accounts was not immediately removed.

Chinese state media has virtually made no mention of the Hong Kong protests until Hong Kong authorities themselves denounced the violence.

The Chinese media showed only statements from the Hong Kong’s chief executive condemning the protests as well as pro-Beijing supporters calling for an end to American interference.

When photos of clashes between policemen and protesters were shown they were accompanied by captions that accused “Hong Kong separatists” of organizing attacks on police.

Neither Weibo, Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) or Tencent responded to requests for comment.

According to Zhang Lifan, a political commentator, “They are afraid it will trigger a chain reaction”.

He went on to add, “If the flame of the Hong Kong spreads to the mainland, then it will be very bad for them”.

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