Divergent Narratives on Chinese Internet Censorship: Western-centric versus Local Perspectives

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Divergent Narratives on Chinese Internet Censorship: Western-centric versus Local Perspectives

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Chinese Internet censorship refers to the Chinese government’s policies that attempt to control the circulation of online information. Internet censorship as a focus of study produces multiple, incongruent perspectives, especially among Western academics and authors. This thesis discusses “black-and-white” and “shades-of-grey” perspectives of Chinese Internet censorship. “Black and white” perspectives present Internet censorship as necessarily being oppressive, and are informed by Western-centric biases rooted in an ideologized, essentialized view of democratic principles and Orientalism. “Shades of grey” perspectives emphasize understanding censorship from a local perspective, including how it prompts the development of certain online behaviors. Under the umbrella of Chinese censorship lies various aspects, including the goal of the government to prevent collective action, as well as the underlying motivation of producing a shared understanding of reality. It also includes how netizens experience Internet censorship, how they react to it, and the influences it has on online culture. Importantly, this discussion of Chinese Internet censorship also considers how the West interprets it, which is usually in a very critical manner, as censorship is viewed as antithetical to Western-centric essentialized values of democracy and freedom.


University of Minnesota M.A. thesis. May 2021. Major: Asian Literature, Culture & Media. Advisor: Ning Ma. 1 computer file (PDF); ii, 59 pages.

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Deutmeyer, Dana. (2021). Divergent Narratives on Chinese Internet Censorship: Western-centric versus Local Perspectives. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/223096.

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