The New York TimesThe New York Times

Protests stretch China's censorship to its limits

By Paul Mozur, Muyi Xiao and John Liu

30 Nov 2022 · 6 min read

Editor's Note

Videos of Chinese people protesting against Covid lockdowns continue to surface, despite the country's cutting-edge censorship technology. The NYT asks what this tells us about the level of dissent.

In one video, a man sarcastically sings a patriotic song. In another, a group of protesters hold up blank pieces of paper and chant in unison. In a third clip, a group of mourners light candles around a vigil to those who died in a fire while in lockdown in western China.

Signs of organized dissent are relatively rare in China; so is their survival in the country’s digital space. China’s censorship apparatus — the most sophisticated of its kind in the world — has hunted down and deleted countless posts on social media showing the eruption of protests and anger at the government.

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