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China launches hotline to report people who question Communist Party history

China Censorship (Mike MacKenzie/Flickr)
April 29, 2021

China launched a new hotline earlier this month that citizens can use to report other internet users who share references that criticize or reflect negatively on the ruling Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

China’s online activity regulation agency, the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC), announced a tipline for people to report those who “distort” the CCP’s history, attack its leadership and policies, defame national heroes and “deny the excellence of advanced socialist culture,” according to an April 9 CAC notice obtained and reported by Reuters.

“Some with ulterior motives … have been spreading historical nihilistic misrepresentations online, maliciously distorting, denigrating and negating the history of the Party,” the CAC notice said.

Variety reported the new hotline will accept four types of content complaints: so-called distortions of history, attacks on the CCP’s leadership, policies and political ideology, defamation of Chinese national heroes, and “denials of the excellence of traditional Chinese culture, revolutionary culture and advanced socialist culture.”

Along with the phone tipline, people can also send tips through the CAC’s official app or its website.

“We hope that the majority of Internet users will actively play their part in supervising society … and enthusiastically report harmful information,” the CAC notice states.

According to Reuters, China has used the term “historical nihilism” to describe activities and comments that spread public doubt about the Chinese Communist Party’s descriptions of historical events.

China relies heavily on censorship and closely guards its online spaces against most foreign news outlets, social media apps and search engines.

Earlier this year, China implemented new laws that state people who “insult, slander or infringe upon” the memory of historic Chinese national heroes could face up to three years in jail while Chinese social media sites that fail to censor critical content could see their services temporarily suspended along with other financial sanctions, under the current law.

Chinese internet authorities reportedly increase their censorship efforts in advance of major events like historical anniversaries, political meetings and sports events.

The new tipline to report “historical nihilism” comes ahead of the 100th anniversary of the ruling communist party’s founding in July. It also comes ahead of the 32nd anniversary of the June 4, 1989, Tiananmen Square Massacre, in which Chinese troops and tanks violently cleared out protestors occupying the Tiananmen Square in Beijing. The Tiananmen Square incident resulted in a death toll anywhere from 200 people by official Chinese estimates, to 2,600 by Chinese Red Cross estimates.