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BBC Chinese: Inside China’s Internet Censorship – A Former Inspector’s Experience

Liu Lipeng, a former cyber inspector, defected from China in 2020. He gave his personal recount of what a cyber inspector does in China.

Liu took a job as a Sina Weibo cyber inspector out of curiosity. He had little knowledge of what the work entailed. There was no formal training because any college graduate in China knows what the politically sensitive words are. When there are certain political events, the inspectors will receive orders from the top telling them that certain related words must be deleted and blocked. From 2011 to 2013, Liu recalled being notified of a dozen words a day to block or delete. Then the number increased to several dozen a day. The list kept getting longer over the years. Sometimes they would get over 200 instructions a day to block or delete contents. As a cyber inspector, Liu had to read documents containing hundreds and thousands of words each day. He also kept a daily log of his work activity, which he is currently organizing as he plans to publish it on the China Digital Times website.

As the log was accumulating over the years, Liu started to fear for his safety. In the past, he also supplied some of the information to foreign media. If he had been caught, it would have been considered a crime. After the COVID 19 outbreak in 2020, China put a tighter control over the public. There are checkpoints everywhere and people are required to swipe their mobile phone to show their personal code. Fearing for his safety, he decided to leave China.

According to Liu, it is known that China has been using the firewall to censor domestic opinion. However, the Western world knows little about China devoting efforts to develop an Internet army force to launch a propaganda campaign outside of China and to shape public opinion around the world.

In terms of Tiktok, Liu said it has 20,000 people working daily to improve the content flow and make it more appealing and easier to control. So they don’t need a cyber inspector. Regarding the Xinjiang issue, China’s censorship system is very discriminatory and has no respect for Uyghurs or for the Uyghur language. For people who use Clubhouse, if the cyber inspector hears people speaking Uyghur, they can immediately delete the posting. If it was in a live broadcast and they heard someone speaking Uyghur, they would warn the person to switch to Chinese, otherwise they would cut off the live broadcast.

Source: BBC Chinese, March 20, 2021