As far as I realize, being an authoritarian regime, China is continuously concerned with a possible uprising. So, they do not want to let the free flow of information and western thought process "contaminate" their citizens' minds.

However, recently from the Indian government's enforced censorship of Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube gave me an idea that China could have used the same kind of tactics and yet could have let American social media giants operate in China.

So, my question is, why didn't China adopt the same strategy as India does, and let the American companies operate in China?

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    Not a full answer, but the situation seems different. It seems like I’m India, they were generally free to operate, but now a specific control is being put on them. In China, the monitoring and control is broader and more long term
    – divibisan
    Feb 23, 2021 at 14:44
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    @divibisan, It seems like I’m India, they were generally free to operate, but now a specific control is being put on them. --- added new links that disagree with your statement.
    – user366312
    Feb 23, 2021 at 14:57
  • Related: politics.stackexchange.com/questions/18508/…. Feb 23, 2021 at 22:54
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    Censoring a foreign website is much harder than censoring one owned by people who you can throw in prison if they do something you don't like.
    – NotThatGuy
    Feb 24, 2021 at 13:57
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    Broadly, that would be because China takes the threat of freedom more seriously than does India. Feb 26, 2021 at 22:18

2 Answers 2


Because China is a much less pluralistic society than (even) India. Start with the one-part system etc.

China also blocks thousands of other Western websites, including traditional (Western) media. Or even Wikipedia (since 2019 at least). In the same year, China expanded its censorship of Western media outlets e.g. to the Washington Post and the Guardian. In general, China doesn't bother to provide a reason for their blocks of foreign websites, so one has to guess--it seems that anniversaries of politically sensitive events (like Tiananmen square) see a tightening of censorship in China, but there has also been a broader trend in the past decade (or so):

China’s Internet censors rarely, if ever, communicate their reasoning for blocking specific websites, and it’s not clear whether the ban would be permanent. Although authorities intermittently tighten and loosen their restrictions, the trend since 2013 has shown more and more foreign websites being irrevocably added to China’s blacklist.

Outlets such as Bloomberg, the New York Times, Reuters and the Wall Street Journal have been blocked for years.

Western media, e.g. the BBC is also "blocked" on cable in China etc.

On this backdrop, China was e.g. willing to let Google (search) exist in China, but under such strict rules that Google eventually pulled out in 2010, although by 2018 Google was apparently having second thoughts. However it seems these return plans have (still) failed to materialize. The choice that Google or similar companies faced is/was basically:

If Google remained aloof and continued to run its Chinese site from foreign soil, it would face slowdowns from the firewall and the threat of more arbitrary blockades—and eventually, the loss of market share to Baidu and other Chinese search engines. If it opened up a Chinese office and moved its servers onto Chinese territory, it would no longer have to fight to get past the firewall, and its service would speed up. But then Google would be subject to China’s self-censorship laws.

It's not clear if China even had any talks with other big on-line companies, e.g. Facebook, but it was probably a case of the gap being too great between what China would allow/expect and what these (other) companies would even consider. According to Wikipedia, Facebook was banned in China in 2009, again surrounding some politically sensitive event and Facebook's refusal to cooperate:

In China, Facebook was blocked following the July 2009 Ürümqi riots because Xinjiang independence activists were using Facebook as part of their communications network, and Facebook denied giving the information of the activists.

And, yeah, as Philipp's (unfortunately deleted) answer said, this ban on foreign social media companies also meshes well with China's nationalist promotion of their own tech industry champions. After the latter has had developed enough, it has become hard to draw a clear line between exclusion for political vs nationalist-economic reasons. Alas as noted in a recent NYT article, many/most Chinese nowadays don't even feel much need to use other (Western) on-line services... except when travelling abroad.

In difference to China, India din't press the "big off button" on an entire social media website in response to defiance by Western tech companies. (Or at least when they did it, this has been temporary/intermittent.) Also, as documented on Wikipedia, Indian telecom ministry has sent take-down orders for specific content to various big tech companies over the years (ranging from Google to Twitter), but these have sometimes been resisted or only partially complied with (e.g. Google did so in 2011, Twitter in 2021. This kind of "bargaining" was probably much harder if not impossible for these companies to pull off with China.


The comparison between Chinese media censorship and the Indian Government's selective blocking of content in the question is extreme. According to the Chinese president, "All the work by the party's media must reflect the party's will, safeguard the party's authority, and safeguard the party's unity," emphasizing that state media must align themselves with the "thought, politics, and actions" of the party leadership. references and "The Contentious Public Sphere: Law, Media, and Authoritarian Rule in China, Ya-Wen Lei, Princeton University Press" No such compulsion exists in India. No one, including commissions and omissions of Supreme Court Judges, is analyzed in Indian media. Indian Government's order for selective blocking is based on Section 69A of the Information Technology act of 2000. It reads as follows:-

  1. Where the Central Government or any of its officer specially authorised by it in this behalf is satisfied that it is necessary or expedient so to do, in the interest of sovereignty and integrity of India, defence of India, security of the State, friendly relations with foreign States or public order or for preventing incitement to the commission of any cognizable offence relating to above, it may subject to the provisions of sub-section (2) for reasons to be recorded in writing, by order, direct any agency of the Government or intermediary to block for access by the public or cause to be blocked for access by the public any information generated, transmitted, received, stored or hosted in any computer resource.
  2. The procedure and safeguards subject to which such blocking for access by the public may be carried out, shall be such as may be prescribed.
  3. The intermediary who fails to comply with the direction issued under sub-section (1) shall be punished with an imprisonment for a term which may extend to seven years and shall also be liable to fine.

Every order issued is challengeable in open court reference. Even this provision is under review reference and is not being used indiscriminately. The reason China is not following the Indian media model is quite apparent considering the CPC status in the country,

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    Farmer's protest was a threat to the sovereignty? Also, this type of law can be applied to any person or group, or situation as long as the government wants.
    – user366312
    Feb 23, 2021 at 15:48
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    Every order issued is challengeable in open court. --- In a court system where 40 million cases are already pending as of 2020 ?
    – user366312
    Feb 23, 2021 at 15:52
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    This would be a better answer if it didn't blur the distinction between (traditional) media and social media to such a degree. Also, I'm sure that party media in India is expected to reflect that party's line... And media in India in general is known to be subject to political capture to fair degree india.mom-rsf.org/en/findings/politicalaffiliations Feb 23, 2021 at 20:10

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