søndag 13. juni 2021

Ahead of Its Centennial, the Chinese Communist Party Frets Over Unsanctioned Takes on Its History

On July 1, the Chinese Communist Party will commemorate its founding in Shanghai one hundred years ago. Unsurprisingly, Beijing is leaving no stone unturned to ensure that nothing untoward takes place in the run-up to the great day. On April 9, the Reporting Center for Illegal and Unhealthy Information, a division of the Cyberspace Administration, which oversees and regulates China’s Internet, announced that it had launched a new facility on its portal to fight “historical nihilism.” Chinese citizens concerned about online posts that “distort the history of the Party [or] of New China,” “attack the Party’s leadership or ideology,” or “slander heroic martyrs”—as China’s current leaders deploy the term—would now enjoy a convenient way to “enthusiastically report harmful information [and] work together to maintain a healthy network ecology.” The Center would also provide a phone hotline and a web address for the reporting of such historical nihilism.

That such a history-policing mechanism exists is not news. For years, the Reporting Center has run a platform to report “harmful information,” handily grouped in nine categories including terrorism, gambling, fraud, pornography, the spreading of rumors, low morals, and attacks on the Party and the state. But it has only been since the April 9 announcement that a special zone on its website has existed for the reporting of historical nihilism specifically directed against the official history of the Chinese Communist Party. The COVID-19 pandemic is the only other issue receiving that level of attention. People’s Republic of China (PRC) authorities, apparently, are as worried about what they regard as distortions of Party history as they are about Covid.