According to a report by The Diplomat on 17 July 2023, an academic survey carried out at Anhui Normal University has been removed from social media platforms after it concluded: “Since March, the CAC (Cyberspace Administration of China] has banned videos and posts that portray the challenges faced by poor, elderly or disabled people.” This is just one example of how Communist authorities are censoring any news items that do not fit in with the narrative of China’s highly successful and effective government and ever improving economic situation.
World Watch Research analyst Thomas Muller explains: “While such censorship is not new and can arguably be detected in any number of world governments (commonly referred to under such terms as ‘massaging the numbers’), it is noteworthy that China’s current focus would seem to be on the economy and especially on all poverty-related news. In the survey in question, the findings showed that 60 percent of the provincial migrant workers surveyed – many of whom had been working in Chinese cities for over 30 years – had no pension and were unable to retire, lest they be forced to live on just 100 to 200 yuan ($14 to $28) per month.”.
Thomas Muller continues: “It is also interesting that the number of cremations in China in the 4th quarter of 2022 have not yet been officially published, and this has led to much speculation. However, in what looks like slip which was quickly rectified, official cremation numbers for the 1st quarter of 2023 in the province of Zhejiang were online for a short period of time (Reuters, 18 July 2023). According to those numbers, cremations increased by 70%, compared to the 1st quarter of 2022. If extrapolated, experts say that the estimated 1.5 million excess deaths due to COVID-19 and the sudden change in the Zero-COVID-policy are backed up by these numbers. It should also be kept in mind that Zhejiang is a wealthy province with a comparably well-developed health system.”
Thomas Muller concludes: “This episode about cremation numbers also shows that even the best control system is not foolproof. In all technical developments and in all sophisticated improvements for surveillance etc., it is still the human factor that influences and even dominates security (The Diplomat, 13 July 2023). At the same time, tools like artificial intelligence can help in outsourcing ‘standard surveillance’ and free up precious analytical and tactical capacity for security forces. Therefore, Christians and other groups seen as dissident should expect increased surveillance, not less.”