The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) censoring the media and information its citizens can consume isn’t exactly a new development. That said, the way the Chinese government is censoring the World Cup in its country is unique in its dystopian stupidity.
For context, China is still enforcing draconian COVID-19 lockdowns in pursuit of its deranged “zero COVID” goals. Its policies are so extreme that citizens have even been burned alive after authorities locked them in their homes to quarantine. Thankfully, the Chinese people are starting to rise up against this oppression. But the people can’t be allowed to know just how free the rest of the world is, or these revolts would gain even more steam. So, the CPP is literally blurring out the crowds in the World Cup footage airing in its country so the people of China don’t see that they are maskless and essentially allowed to live normal life.
They are also cutting away from the usual close-ups of fans that are being shown in all the other coverage. The resulting footage is both bizarre and disturbing. Check out these examples:
China blurred out faces in the World Cup so that their citizens wouldn't know the world is masklesspic.twitter.com/YR1GqSLXeO
— IndySpanglish (@IndySpanglish) November 23, 2022
So I thought it was BS that China’s govt broadcaster was censoring shots of fans at the World Cup due to lockdown anger back home. But it’s true.
Here are live feeds from SBS & CCTV (which has a 32 second delay). As @DreyerChina explained, CCTV avoids crowd close ups: pic.twitter.com/wWui0cTdkC
— Bill Birtles (@billbirtles) November 27, 2022
Why are they doing this? Well, it seems that at the start of the competition, Chinese citizens were seeing the rest of the world living in relative freedom and it was undermining support for the regime’s draconian domestic “zero COVID” policies.
“In live broadcasts, Chinese citizens saw large crowds gathering and celebrating—maskless—in stadiums, effectively piercing narratives such as ‘all other countries screwed up on Covid except us’ and ‘Western countries don’t care about their citizens and just let them die,’” explained The Spectator’s Melissa Chen. “[The] vast majority of people believed these narratives, or at least thought that the party was doing what’s best for China, but seeing all these World Cup fans traveling and celebrating maskless, created a counter-narrative especially in light of the new round of draconian lockdowns.”
That said, it’s not clear how much this censorship will actually accomplish. The damage may well have been done, and Chinese people aren’t stupid: they’ll surely wonder why the fans are being blurred out and many will no doubt put the pieces together.
Still, the disturbing act does reveal a few things.
For one, it’s an important reminder why we don’t ever want the government to have control over the media and social media. Once it has such control, it can and will abuse it to try to shape the very reality citizens are allowed to experience—to keep them compliant and submissive.
Yet the CCP’s censorship effort, being so obviously stupid, also reeks of desperation. It’s more proof that even though it is an authoritarian regime, the Chinese government knows it cannot sustain its oppression if it loses the support of enough of the Chinese people.
It will eventually fall, if enough people stop supporting the CCP and rise up against it. It looks like the people of China are starting to do just that—and doctoring World Cup footage certainly won’t stop them.