(TibetanReview.net, May07’23) – China effectively outlawed any unofficial media discussion on the existence of poverty in the country after President Xi Jinping declared “a comprehensive victory” in the battle against it in 2021. But many people still remain poor or live just above the poverty line and censors have been deleting any video about it over the internet, reported the UNI news service May 7, citing other reports. Any video or post that “deliberately manipulate sadness, incite polarization, create harmful information that damages the image of the Party and the government” is officially banned.
People in China are unaware of how prevalent poverty is in the country due to propaganda and censorship, the report said.
For example, in a recent viral video, a retiree was stated to have showed what groceries she could buy with 100 yuan, or USD 14.50, roughly her monthly pension and sole source of income. The video was later stated to be deleted by the Chinese authorities.
Likewise, a singer was stated to have vented the widespread frustration among young, educated Chinese about their dire finances and gloomy job prospects, like gig work. “I wash my face every day, but my pocket is cleaner than my face,” he was stated to be shown singing. “I went to college to help rejuvenate China, not to deliver meals.”
His song was banned and his social media accounts were suspended, the report said, citing The New York Times.
Discussions even on people’s struggle previously covered by the official media were reported blocked. For example, last year, a migrant worker labouring hard to support his family gained widespread sympathy and attention after he tested positive for Covid-19, and officials released extensive details of his movements. He became known as the hardest-working person in China. But censors have now blocked discussions about him, and local authorities were stationed outside his house to prevent journalists from visiting his wife, the report said.
With the country’s economic prospects dimming and the people increasingly anxious about their future in the post Covid-19 China, poverty has become a taboo subject that can draw ire from the government.
The report noted that the Cyberspace Administration of China had in March announced that it would crack down on anyone who publishes videos or posts that “deliberately manipulate sadness, incite polarization, create harmful information that damages the image of the Party and the government, and disrupts economic and social development.”
The announcement is stated to ban sad videos of old people, disabled people and children.
The New York Times was stated to note that behind the ban was a government eager to keep all talk about China positive. The Communist Party is accused of bragging about how many people it lifted out of poverty in the past four decades, while refusing to mention how it had thrown the entire nation into abject poverty under Mao Zedong.
Poverty alleviation is a self-awarded medal the party flaunts to claim its legitimacy. But despite China’s rise as an economic power, it has a drastically inadequate social safety net, and the government is eager to block any discussion of the conditions poor people face.
Searching the Chinese word “pinkun,” or poverty, on the country’s biggest news portal, qq.com, the top news item shown is stated to be about research that shows poverty is the fourth leading cause of death in the United States. The news media seldom report poverty’s systemic causes in China, The New York Times was stated to note.