Censorship in China: a Timeline

This timeline shows the history of the Internet in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) and various acts of censorship imposed on it by the PRC government. Censorship has limited freedoms of speech and expression, and numerous people have protested China’s restrictions.

Internet Arrives in China for the First Time.

January 23, 1996
China’s first censorship bill, the Temporary Regulation for the Management of Computer Information Network International Connection, passed. The bill required that Internet service providers be approved by the Chinese government.

February 18, 1996
A second censorship bill, the Ordinance for Security Protection of Computer Information Systems, passed. It gave the responsibility of Internet security formally to the Ministry of Public Security. The regulation also defined “harmful activities” and “harmful information” concerning Internet activity.

December 1997
Public Security minister Zhu Entao established new fines for “defaming government agencies,” “splitting the nation,” and leaking “state secrets.”

The Golden Shield Project, nicknamed the “Great Firewall of China,” is launched. This censorship and surveillance project was established by the Ministry of Public Security at a time when the Democracy Party of China was gathering strength.

September 2000
Chinese government created the first content restrictions for Internet content providers under State Council Order No. 292. Chinese websites were not allowed to distribute news from overseas media without separate approval and only licensed print publishers could deliver news online.

September 2002
China blocks the search engine, Google.

Google China is founded and approved by the PRC government. It restricted searches on subjects not approved by the Ministry of Public Security.

Chinese government wished to install a program called the “Green Dam-Youth Escort” on all new computers manufactured in China. The enforcement of this program has been delayed.

March 2010
Google had up to this time obeyed Chinese censorship laws enforced by the Golden Shield Project. Search results had been filtered to remove information concerning the Tianenmen Square protests as well as the independence movements of Tibet and Taiwan. Due to criticisms, Google negotiated with the Chinese government for more leniency, but failed to reach compromise. It redirected its service to Google Hong Kong, outside of the Golden Shield Project’s jurisdiction.

March 2011
Google accuses Chinese government of disrupting its Gmail service. The Chinese government blamed the disruption on technical problems, not government intervention.

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