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It’s necessary to actually understand censorship

A Chinese official landed in hot water after her posh outfit at a press conference went viral and sparked an online debate about appropriate attire for civil servants.

Yes, but:

It became one of the top trending topics on Chinese social media site Weibo on Tuesday, while posts with a relevant hashtag have received more than 26 million views.

China is a heavily censored social media space. That’s important.

In something heavily censored it’s necessary to entirely invert the way one thinks about a story. Sure, not only think about what they’re not allowing to be said. But also to think about what they *are* allowing to be said.

Why are they allowing some bird to be chased for wearing expensive earrings? The point here being that simply because of the censorship someone has indeed taken a decision to allow this story to run. As they do every story, about everything. Therefore thought has to be put to why are they allowing the story to run?

That’s just how it works under censorship. There’s a reason you’re being allowed to say this. What is it?

16 thoughts on “It’s necessary to actually understand censorship”

  1. She detailed the authorities’ measures to properly sterilize patients’ apartments, including discarding their bedding and refrigerated food as medical waste.

    A lot of people assumed China was gaslighting the West, but no. They really are terrified of WuFlu, for some reason.

    I wonder why?

  2. They aren’t terrified of WuFlu, at all..
    They are using WuFlu to control the population in ways some elements in government over here like to be able to do as well…

  3. Pretty straightforward. I’m sure the CCP opportunistically jumped on this as a way to deflect anger over the extended lockdown in Inner Mongolia. Get angry with this woman, not the party.

    The CCP is indeed terrified of covid, because it has a large elderly unvaccinated population living in crowded apartments in crowded polluted cities with shit healthcare.

    An outbreak like HK had earlier this year could rack up a pretty spectacular death toll, which would lead to a whole new level of anger against the government.

    The CCP has also been claiming for 2 years that zero covid is the way forward, that it will protect the population and that it shows how China is better than the ‘lie flat’ West. So for reasons of face they are stuck with it.

  4. Bloke in North Dorset

    Sometimes they get taken by surprise and before the censors know what’s happening social media if flooded with the story and it takes a while to shut down and clear the backlog. The Chinese are also very inventive at using euphemisms and other techniques to get round censorship.

    My guess in this case is that once they realised it was out and went for the official position someone decided to let her stew as a warning to other bureaucrats not to flaunt their wealth. She might even get a visit from the fraud police, just to send a message.

    Or they’ll just say she was wearing knock off kit that cost nothing, like they did in the similar story lower down the page.

  5. They’re allowing the story about the earrings, because:

    1. Discourage individuality
    2. Mock the idea of luxury or wealth
    3. Make even minor forms of vanity undesirable
    4. Encourage cohesion among the populace in “going after” the lady
    5. Preparation for turning the populace against dissidents
    6. Get citizens accustomed to possible upcoming austerity measures
    7. They noticed the Covid policies might come off as a bit strict, so they included a possible distraction (they can still claim the public was well-informed of the coming crackdowns)

  6. @Steve – “I wonder why?”

    I think it is because it is a serious disease which, without vaccination, would kill quite a few people and very quickly fill up hospitals with seriously ill patients. In the UK we have several very effective vaccines which have been administered to a large proportion of the population, so it is no longer much of a threat. China has its own vaccines and, while good quality data is difficult to find, I would guess that they’re not as good as the ones we use. Unlike the UK (and many other Western countries), which is willing to use anything which works, Chinese patriotism forces them to use only their own vaccines, so those in charge know that between quality of vaccines and quantity vaccinated a big outbreak could be disastrous. And a big disaster for the people would be a big disaster for their rulers because Chinese people are perfectly aware that they have a very authoritarian government, but are willing to put up with it because it has brought prosperity and safety. A big outbreak which both kills people and closes businesses due to staff illness would show that the tradeoff was a poor one.

  7. @Charles
    The covid cold was never the plague. See Diamond Princess.
    Airborne (and nearly every infectious disease) germs become milder over time. That’s not a choice made by a virus of course, it’s a choice made by the host. Dying, staying in bed, gives the milder variant a head start in the race.
    Chinese cities are densely populated. So it’s probable that most citizens have already caught covid and are functionally immune. Except for the old and frail, who are often isolated.
    And these oldsters have memories. They’re not going to sign up for a government sponsored injection to leave them infertile again.
    Xi has driven himself into a cul de sac. He is basically claiming he can eliminate the common cold and is prepared to sacrifice the people for his vanity.

  8. MC – face does sound retarded enough to be plausible. I assume the coronation of Xi as some kind of latter-day God-Emperor is not a sign of a regime that’s becoming more flexible and reality-based.

    Grikath – China doesn’t need lockdowns to control its populace. The lockdowns might endanger their control over the populace.

    Charles – I think it is because it is a serious disease

    I don’t mean to be unkind, and am genuinely curious, but… is it? I’m not sure a disease that’s a mere nuisance for the overwhelming majority of its hosts and, where not mild, has an average fatality age of 82 (plus was it one or two preexisting chronic health problems, on average?) is really that bad, all things considered.

    Still bad, just not “holy bloody shit let’s curtail basic human rights, institute some kind of bio-techno elf fascism, and terrify billions of people with the government funded equivalent of ISIS videos while simultaneously tanking the economy to ensure we’d be utterly financially fucked” bad.

    It seems like they launched total thermonuclear economic devastation to kill a wasp’s nest, is what I’m suggesting. The Chinese, and us.

    Hu’s interests that serves, I dunno, but it seems very strange China persists with measures that are massively economically self harming. The Party needs economic growth, bad things happen when the economy stops growing, and China has enough bad investments to not want more economic pain exposing the ricketier foundations of some of their major companies/banks.

    So either they disagree with my assessment of the danger of Covid (how? it’s been around for about forever now, we know the stats.) or this is an internal power play (at potentially ruinous cost and despite Xi’s authority not appearing to be in doubt), or some third thing: space lizards, or an inscrutable yet cruel Oriental scheme by Dr. Fu Manchu* perhaps.

    *Whose creator was killed by Asian Flu. Coincidence? Come, now, Gwailo…

    As for the relative efficacy of the vaccines, they’ve had a lot of time to copy Western designs if they wanted to. I don’t think the vaccines are likely to make your brain tune permanently into Steve Wright In The Afternoon, and they probably (?) won’t sterilise you, but why idk why anybody healthy under the age of maybe fifty something would take the chance. There’s enough fairly young people dropping dead of sudden heart attacks these days, another Thalidomide scandal isn’t just some crazy Twilight Zone floating eyeball fantastical possibility at this point.

  9. Steve.. A caveat several MD/medical acquaintances of mine have made…

    “There’s enough fairly young people dropping dead of sudden heart attacks these days, another Thalidomide scandal isn’t just some crazy Twilight Zone floating eyeball fantastical possibility at this point.”

    Is trotted out often enough, but… It’s a harsh fact they’ve always done thus. Difference nowadays is that those cases get splattered all over social media, and get picked up as sob stories by “real” Media, instead of being local tragedies.


    Dunno if you’ve noticed, but for the past three decades or so there’s been a distinct, wide-spread, and structural use of “party drugs” amongst the “young”. Which aren’t “innocent” and “safe” at all.
    And which do have their adverse long-term effects and death toll which is ..coming home to roost.. after those couple of decades.

    Same for “performance enhancing preparations”.

    But hey.. Must be th WuFlu shot wot done it all….

  10. Maybe it’s just the same as the reaction to Boris’s party. One of the elite is elitising.

    After all, they’ve all been brought up to think they’re Commies. Not rich exploiters of the plebs like the wicked white Westerners.

    Of course to me, China is a fine example of the success of the National Socialist Chinese Workers Party. But they’re now reverting to the error made by Mao. And Adolf with his German version. They’re letting a dictator take charge.

  11. @Steve – covid is certainly mainly a threat to the over-80s, but when you have tens of millions of them, it is a serious threat. Especially when they are not vaccinated or under-vaccinated. The effect of the vaccines was obvious in Hong Kong. We had a massive flurry of infections and the overwhelming majority of the deaths came amongst those who were unvaccinated or with only one dose of Sinovac. Over-80s with 2 doses of Pfizer shrugged it off.

    However, because of the lack of vaccination and the large elderly population, HK racked up nearly 10,000 deaths in a just over a month and the healthcare system nearly collapsed. Bear in mind this is one of the richest cities in the world with a decent public health system. China doesn’t have that. A similar outbreak in Chongqing could see 100k dead in a month. That’s the sort of thing that triggers oppressed masses going tonto.

    China obviously doesn’t have the knowhow to reverse-engineer an MRNA virus. Clearly it’s harder than copying handbags.

    it seems very strange China persists with measures that are massively economically self harming.

    Not really. Xi’s coronation speech was about his intent to press ahead with economically self-harming measures. Growth is important for China but it is not the CCP’s priority. The priority is ‘national security’ which means entrenching the CCP in power over China and Xi in power over the CCP.

  12. The CCP want the populace to be poor. Poor people living hand-to-mouth worry about where the next meal is coming from, not what the government is doing to them; it’s always the middle classes who are the revolutionary leaders thus China’s ballooning middle class is a worry to the likes of Xi.

    Most of China’s ills can be laid at the door of ineptitude, but the CCP is powerful enough to have pretty firmly shut the door on that ineptitude if it wanted to — indeed they did when it was being committed by those in need of purging. Hundreds of millions of people’s savings disappeared in either fraudulently unbuilt/unfinished flats or in bank accounts that retrospectively (and fraudulently) changed from savings accounts into investment accounts thus losing their deposit guarantee, and it’s all happened in a few months. Not only has it removed their self-sufficiency, it’s crucially crushed the idea that you can work hard, save and be self-sufficient.

    Despite other companies and their owners being heavily sanctioned for the heinous crime of listing their company on the NYSE, the owners of the banks and developers who have committed serious fraud costing hundreds of millions of people potentially trillions of dollars have got off scot free. Why? They’re doing what the government wants them to do.

  13. Charles
    In the UK we have several very effective vaccines which have been administered to a large proportion of the population, so it is no longer much of a threat.


    Effective “vaccines”! That’s a good one.
    These things weren’t even vaccines, until they changed the definition.
    And they’re so effective they prevented the transmission of this diseases.
    Oh no, wait they didn’t.
    They prevented people from dying of COVID… By killing them off something else first. Myocarditis, blood clots, etc.
    Claiming that the vaccines made COVID turn into a less dangerous illness is ridiculous. As one of the other comments said, that’s what viruses do anyway. We could equally claim that rain dancing works, because if you do it long enough, it will rain.

  14. @CD

    “We could equally claim that rain dancing works, because if you do it long enough, it will rain.”

    This is disingenuous, since with vaccine studies it’s possible to compare vaccinated and unvaccinated groups. Or even to compare groups vaccinated in different ways to see which one worked best. It’s not the same as just saying Covid deaths decreased after the vaccination drive and therefore the vaccine “must” have been wot dun it, which would indeed be faulty logic.

  15. @philip – “The covid cold was never the plague. See Diamond Princess”

    712 infected, 14 dead. That’s 2%. So it’s not the plague, but then neither are many other diseases, such as measles, which we take very seriously and try to vaccinate against. Furthermore, as a novel disease, it would have infected very many people very quickly if left to spread, unlike an established disease which might infect almost everyone over their lifetime, but not all at once. This is highly relevant for provision of healthcare – once all the doctors, nurses, beds, and equipment are in use the chances of recovery can plummet – as well as having a similar effect on other ailments.

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