How Reddit Censors Discussion on Chinese Censorship: Blog

Reddit has become oversensitive to any talk about China. Even neutral questions, genuinely seeking to understand the Chinese point of view are removed. As readers of my blog will know, I like to ask questions, and am willing to learn. Yet my best efforts to ask questions regarding Chinese censorship on Reddit have been blocked.

With the outcry over the possible disappearance of Peng Shuai, I wanted to understand why the average Chinese person is supportive of censorship in China. And they are supportive – based on whatever information we have, around 85% of Chinese approve of Internet censorship. A lot of natives in China accuse the rest of us of being biased around China, and my point is was that without censorship, this whole Peng Shuai mess could have been cleared up within hours if everyone was allowed to just walk up to her house, ask her directly, then spread the message on social media.

I merely wanted to ask the average Chinese person why they support censorship, even though it’s a major contributor to the negative views of China around the world. I wasn’t seeking to troll, I wasn’t pushing an agenda. Just wanted a normal discussion.

SIX Reddit Forums Removed my Question – One even Banned Me

Here was what I posted:

To Chinese People: Why Do you Support Censorship?

Countries are different, I get that. So I’m not passing judgment on stuff like a single-party rule, or the Chinese way of doing things. One thing I can’t get over though is the censorship. Why does the Chinese government have to have a separate Internet, and stop free speech? So many of my possible misconceptions in China will vanish if the Chinese government doesn’t censor.

Example 1: The recent outrage of the disappearance of the Chinese tennis player Peng Shuai. If there was complete freedom of speech without censorship, this whole thing could have been cleared up in hours. Any journalist could have simply walked up to her house and interviewed her, then posted the interview on Twitter or Reddit. Problem solved! Instead of that, we had to rely on formally released letters approved by the government. That’s not a good look. And even now after videos showing her moving around, there’s always doubt because a journalist can’t just interview her and tell China and the whole world that she’s ok.

Example 2: The whole Uighur situation. With complete free speech, anyone could just walk up to a so-called camp, videotape everything, then post it on Youtube. If nothing is going on, it would be super easy to find out the truth. Can that happen right now?

This is my biggest problem with the Chinese government. Free speech and no censorship, in the long run, foster trust.

To Clarify: To clarify, I’m talking about government censorship. I see many people here saying that the US also censors stuff when what they mean is that the US media doesn’t cover everything, or is biased. That is not censorship. Censorship is when the government forcibly removes or bans content. In the US, the government doesn’t own any media, so censorship is not possible.

Pretty innocuous question right? Here are the six Reddit forums that removed the post one after the other when I tried asking it:


Literally the only subreddit which hasn’t (yet) taken it down is r/findareddit in which you ask where you can post something! One commenter in that thread suggested r/NoStupidQuestions, but that got taken down as well.

Response of r/Sino After Banning Me

Strangest of all was the message I got from the moderator of r/Sino. Here’s a screenshot:

Message from the Moderator of Sino
Message from the Moderator of Sino

This response is so bizarre, I’m not going to comment on it, and will instead just leave it up “as is”.

Ironically, this Amazing Reply from a Chinese Person was Removed

Reddit moderators might have been looking to protect sensitive Chinese feelings, but in the process removed this remarkably well thought-out response from a Chinese person, explaining the deeply cultural context behind censorship in China and why most Chinese are ok with it. I’m reproducing it here in full because otherwise, this amazing response would be lost to us:

From the Reddit user: PatchyTheYoukai .


As a Chinese who was born and lived my first 10 years of life in China, here are my 2 cents.

Chinese people support censorship because it’s a necessary evil. China is a very young state that achieved prosperity within 50~60 years, something that took the Western states much longer. This comes with a really big side effect, however, which is that several social aspects are heavily underdeveloped, such as the education system and legal system, which is exasperated by the “reliance culture” in China.

Here is some historical context: unlike the West that develops the Magna Carta and the Declaration of Independence which saw individual freedom and limit on government being recognized as important, China never had this step and had always, ALWAYS lived under dictatorship. Even when the tyrannical Qing dynasty was overthrown, people gathered at the palace and begged an emperor to come and rule. This largely has to do with the structure of the agricultural origin (contrasting with the nomadic origin of the West) that emphasizes collectivism and reliance on one another, and also because the Chinese authorities in the past have always used the Divine and controlled morality to justify their actions. This means that from the very beginning there are hardly any grounds for individual freedom to be prioritized. As such when the West keeps pressing it on China, it creates a cultural dissonance as it is a very foreign concept that does not reflect the cultural situation of China.

In post-1949 China, the education system is largely nonexistent because of the early Maoist movement that denounces education (not their “revolutionary education” of course) as the bourgeoisie. The education system is further devastated by the Cultural Revolution, which saw many prominent academics tortured, exiled, or killed. The current education system was slowly developed from the rubble starting in the 1970s. What this essentially means is that people born and raised in that era are heavily uneducated (which is quite a huge part of the population). They were told that they need to go see the authorities if they have grievances or need their problem solved, rather than encouraging them to think for themselves. The end result is that they will often harass the authorities or even use violent means to get what they want, even if it is completely unreasonable. For these kinds of people, if some information is not censored, it will create a huge cognitive dissonance and they will immediately swarm the authorities, which could result in a rebellion in the worst-case scenario. Even in the best case, the authorities will become extremely overwhelmed and unable to carry out public functions for an extended period of time.

Not only that, China is an extremely diverse country with many different cultures (56 ethnic groups to be exact). This already represents a huge amount of different interests and coupled with the low rate of education among the older population, you can see how a slight misstep will result in the country imploding on itself. This furthers the need for censorship as a temporary means to hold the country together and prevent a civil war until the population becomes more educated and abandons violence as a means to solve problems (yes, violent flame wars, death threats, toxicity, and doxxing are QUITE prominent on the Chinese internet. Even things like geographical discrimination exist. On that you can see how freedom of speech goes in China).

Moreover, because China is such a war-torn country (that went through SEVERAL wars to defend their territories and was devastated in the process) and had been through absolutely TERRIBLE disasters (Nanjing massacre, great leap forward, cultural revolution), many people right now (especially those who lived through it) only want their basic needs met, which is to be fed, clothed and have a roof on their head. Anything that threatens that basic needs (such as the chaos and strife brought by foreign ideas like freedom of speech) will be met with heavy and violent rejection as they think the West wants to once again colonize China as they did 100 years ago.

Now as the 2 questions you asked:

As to Peng Shuai, I believe it’s more of a matter of corruption rather than a legitimized state action. Corruption is a HUGE problem in China, to the point that if you need a priority treatment you need to bribe the doctors (or if you don’t want to get beat up and abused in a psychiatric hospital). I myself am heavily against this action as it serves no legitimate interest for the state with such a grave injustice done to the individual and I can’t see it as anything more than personal spite (and yes, officials WILL abuse their power like that). If it is sadly a legitimized state action, then I gotta say they made a really, REALLY bad move as you can see from the international reactions and lack of actual benefit.

As to the Uighur situation, I won’t be too surprised if the allegations are true. Corruption is not the only thing that is rife in China, but also formalism (where the local authorities put on a beautiful front to please their superior and completely mask their brutal way to achieve it). Formalism is especially hard to combat because it’s so discreet to the central authority since the local authority can just hide everything bad away from them (and they hardly want to accept local people’s voices because of frivolous claims as I said before). The reason why it’s so hard to believe for us is that we were taught from primary school that Uighur people are an inseparable part of our culture and collective identity. They were treated like siblings alongside us and it should be that way. Plus there is a legitimate interest in anti-terrorism, things can get really, REALLY messy. It does not help that there are a lot of things that can be misinterpreted when viewed through a western lens, such as a list of people with their names, parents, family, and addresses on it. To elaborate, a lot of people in the West think it’s specifically targeting the Uighurs. However, in reality, the Chinese authority lists out these things for EVERYONE (it goes all the way back to ancient times and because again, agricultural society is collectivistic in nature).

As for why you can’t get in there and take photos now, the reason is obvious with the virus. China is especially keen on tackling the pandemic even at the cost of internationally recognized rights (but again, in the lens of Chinese people it’s not very “international” but “colonial”).

My personal view is that there are a lot of places I consider the Chinese authority to be extreme and unjustified, but currently, it is a necessary evil because it keeps everyone fed, clothed, and have their basic needs met. If freedom of speech is to be enacted in current China, chaos will quickly unfold which can easily turn into a civil war because of people’s lack of education and diversity of interests. Then once again, the people of China will have to go through the trauma of war, starvation, and poverty. Nobody is very keen on that.

This is just my personal opinion, however.

tl;dr: as bad as it is it’s necessary to prevent an even greater evil, because of China’s unique history.

Thanks to the removal of my post, this nuanced comment is no longer available on Reddit. Shame on the mods!

Western Self-Censorship on China is Worse Because we Expect Better

We all expect the Chinese government to censor stuff. It’s so unexpected that it’s almost not worth commenting on. But it’s horrible when western moderators indulge in self-censorship, by infantilizing the Chinese people and their feelings. They don’t need your protection. They’re perfectly capable of explaining themselves without you intervening on their behalf. They are people with opinions. When you strike down their opinions, YOU are the transgressor, and playing the “white savior”.

No one needs this kind of BS.

Thank God for Independent Websites like this Blog

It’s still a free Internet. Despite content gatekeeping by the big discussion platforms like Facebook, Reddit, and others, there are independent outlets where we can publish and discuss things. I’ve never appreciated that more than today. It saddens me that we’ve lost the time when every random person had a blog with their own musings. Yes, it was disorganized, and yes it was often cringe. But it was ours. Now, sadly, most of our content doesn’t belong to us. Will we reach a time when no one has an independent voice?

Hopefully not. At least not today.

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