How China censors Egypt news, and why the story is so sensitive in China


At Global Voices Advocacy, Oiwan Lam has a piece up about the censoring of terms and news related to the Egypt uprising, inside China.

As our readers confirmed in comments on a previous BB post, Oiwan reports that that the word "Egypt" has been blocked from search in major social media websites, and Chinese state media outlets have been downplaying the news.

On Xinhua news' front page, above, Egypt news is absent but the term "Egypt New Government" (circled in green above) appears as a popular/trending term.

The filtering of search result and the blocking of search term “Egypt” in social media websites is to prevent certain interpretation of the political situation in Egypt. The scenes of Tanks moving into the city center, the confrontation between the people and the soldiers are very likely to recall Chinese people's memory of the June 4 incident back in 1989 and the criticism of the authoritarian government in Egypt can easily turn into a political allegory in China. The propaganda department certainly has to issue censorship alert to web-portal and social media websites, where opinions can spread rapidly and become mainstream public discourses in a few hour time.

Nevertheless, micro-bloggers still find their way to get around censorship and bridge the news. Many bloggers keep updating the political situation in Egypt by translating and transcribing the Al Jazeera TV news reports and other overseas media outlets. Wang Xiaoshan is among one of the key news curators. And even though the term “Egypt” is blocked from keyword search, info-activists can always create a separate user account to spread the information, like this livecast of Egypt unrest in Sina Weibo..

China: Bridging news on Egypt (Global Voices Advocacy, via Ethan Zuckerman)


  1. Keep in mind that a great deal of Chinese don’t even know what happened on June fourth: they may have some idea but rarely the full story. Censorship in China is remarkable in that it has been both very extensive and very successful. I would guess that this is partially because of the strong appeal to authority in Chinese culture, and partially the zeal of the Communist government in hiding their sins.

  2. twitter @fuzheado: Interesting: China Central TV (CCTV 4) showing Egypt protest footage not seen on CNN/Al Jazeera – smashed ATMs, army tanks

Comments are closed.