How The Chinese Government Works To Censor Debate In Western Democracies
October 3, 20184:24 PM ET https://www.npr.org/2018/10/03/636299830/how-the-chinese-government-works-to-censor-debate-in-western-democracies
Last year, the Durham University students’ union organized a debate on whether China was a threat to the West. Tom Harwood, then president of the union, said the school’s Chinese Students and Scholars Association complained about the topic and pressed him to drop one of the speakers, Anastasia Lin, a former Miss World Canada. Lin is also a human rights activist and a practitioner of Falun Gong, a spiritual meditation group banned by the Chinese government.
In March, the United Kingdom is scheduled to leave the European Union, a giant market of more than 500 million consumers. British officials are desperate to ink new free trade deals with major economies, including China. Harwood was stunned that a Chinese diplomat would suggest that the United Kingdom might pay a financial price for something as small as a college debate.
lash-forward to 2012 when then-British Prime Minister David Cameron met with the Dalai Lama in public in London. China’s economy was now more than three times the size of the United Kingdom’s. Beijing responded by canceling meetings and freezing out British officials. In 2015, Cameron refused to meet the Dalai Lama, who told The Spectator, a conservative political magazine, “Money, money, money. That’s what this is about. Where is morality?”
The Chinese government no longer just tries to punish the West for straying from the Communist Party line. In the past year, Chinese President Xi Jinping has gone further, arguing that China’s authoritarian system can serve as a model for others, an alternative to liberal democracy.
Clumsy attempts to censor people — as in the case of the Durham University debate — have backfired, but China has had success pressuring businesses, as the apologies by Marriott and Mercedes-Benz show.
more on China in this IMS blog