China’s web censors go into overdrive as President Xi Jinping consolidates power

A week that begins with the repeal of regulation that prevents dictatorship in China is likely to be a busy one for the country’s censorship people, and so it has proven to be.

China’s web scrubbers have been busy banning a collection of terms and dropping the hammer on user accounts after the Xi Jinping, the country’s premier, got the all-clear to become ‘President For Life’ after the Communist Party moved to amend the constitution to remove an article that limits Presidential terms to two five-year terms.

Limits were introduced more than 30 years ago ostensibly to prevent a repeat of the Mao dictatorship. The proposed removal understandably stoked anger among many Chinese internet users, who have already voiced concern at Xi’s rise and his moves to quash free speech online in China.

“I don’t agree”, “migration”, “emigration”, “re-election”, “election term”, “constitution amendment”, “constitution rules”, “proclaiming oneself an emperor” and “Winnie the Pooh” — the Xi’s online nickname — were among a host of phrases to be banned on microblogging site Weibo, according to U.S.-based China Digital Times. (The full list can be found here.)

Anyone found trying to enter the Chinese words was greeting with a messaging information that “the content violates the relevant laws and regulations or Weibo’s terms of service.”

Weibo restricting the messages users could post, Weibo also banned certain search terms, according to China Digital Times. In contrast, the top ten trending searches on FreeWeibo, a website that offers an unrestricted view of content on the service, all reflected responses to the news.

Over on WeChat’s top messaging service, there were reports that some users had been banned or restricted based on the content they had shared. WeChat owner Tencent has disputed claims that it stores or reads chat logs, but — regardless — the app includes a social media-like feed where users can share public messages with friends.