A Few (Edited) Words on Chinese Censorship – Mure Dickie

Mure Dickie of the Financial Times writes about the censorship of his views as a panelist on a Chinese television show:

While courageous Chinese journalists continually test the boundaries, they swim against a regulatory tide. The collapse of the government’s attempt to cover up the deadly Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome epidemic in 2003 raised hopes Beijing might ease censorship, but Hu Jintao, president, appears even more keen to control than his predecessor Jiang Zemin…

Some visitors to China – and, indeed, many Chinese – say free-speech advocates overstate the censors’ power. But local media look much freer than they really are – in part because of the role dupes such as me play in creating a false impression of genuine debate. No one watching Reform Dialogue could have known that my real views never got past the editing room.

The party propaganda department wisely suppresses discussion of its work (my comments about the difference between western and Chinese media were among those excised, for example). But it leaves every journalist, editor and television producer in no doubt that there are boundaries they should not cross. [Full text]

For more on Chinese people’s views of the media, see “Chinese trust the Internet above ALL information sources, including MSM” from Thomas Crampton’s blog.