China has launched a mobile application for citizens to report online comments against the ruling Communist Party and the country’s history ahead of the party’s upcoming 100th anniversary.
The new programme allows internet users to report those who spread “mistaken opinions” online in order to create a “good public opinion atmosphere”, an arm of the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) said in a notice.
The offences that can be reported include “distorting” the party’s history, or any comments against its leaders and policies, defaming national heroes and “denying the excellence of advanced socialist culture”, the notice said.
“For a while now, some people with ulterior motives have spread historically nihilistic false statements online, maliciously distorting, slandering and denying party, national and military history in an attempt to confuse people’s thinking.
“We hope that most internet users will play an active role in supervising society and enthusiastically report harmful information.”
The phrase “historical nihilism” is often used in China to describe questions and doubts over the history of the country that the Communist Party propagates.
The CAC notice did not explain what the punishment would be for people who they found guilty. However, people in China already face jail time and other legal punishments for posting content online that criticises or questions the Communist Party’s leadership, policies or accounts of past events.
China’s internet is one of the most rigidly censored in the world. It bans most foreign social media sites, search engines and news outlets, and the country’s own platforms are under strict surveillance.
Increasing supervision ahead of major events including historical anniversaries, political meetings and sports events is very common.
Earlier this year, China also passed legal amendments against those who “insult, slander or infringe upon” the memory of China’s national heroes and martyrs, setting a jail time of up to three years.