So how open was the Chinese Communist Party’s Congress. For netizens the answer would be “not even a little bit”.
In a demonstration that the old idea of say nothing and make sure no-one else does either the congress was marked by censorship, widespread internet outages and other attempts to suppress free speech. Any thought that things may be easing for China’s netizens were quickly dismissed.
The best account of what went on during the Congress comes from free speech advocacy group Global Voices.
As China’s new generation of leaders were officially presented to the world this week at the Chinese Communist Party’s 18th National Congress, Chinese netizens experienced severe Internet interruptions. As the longtime Beijing-based blogger and businessman Bill Bishop described it, “these have been the most draconian few days of Internet restrictions I have experienced.”
Several weeks before the Congress, netizens began to report frequent disruptions when accessing Google services, foreign websites and virtual private networks (VPNs) – important tools for Internet users to circumvent the “Great Firewall.” Interruptions to Internet access then cranked into high gear on November 9, one day after the start of the Congress, when Google services were reported to be fully blocked in China, and their domain name systems were deliberately redirected to unknown IP addresses in Korea. Please see Greatfire.org for more detailed reports and analysis.