Russia and China to Ban “Illegal Content”


Russia and China to Ban "Illegal Content"

Russia and China have been getting bad press lately. And before lately, and probably even before then. 


Concentration camps, locking up protesters, meddling in elections and making sure America becomes a tacky hotel for disaster capitalists hasn’t helped their reputation. But, the two countries intend to sign a ‘cooperation treaty’ to combat illegal content on the internet to make all this go away. 


Even though this probably doesn’t help their reputation, banning people from reading about the naughty stuff is much easier than changing one’s habits. 


The treaty is set to be signed on October 20th and aims to ‘tighten control over the internet’. 


But, for those of you thinking ‘aren’t they the biggest suppliers of illegal content?’, illegal is a relative concept. 


If you’re in the business of ruining the United States or supporting ring-wing extremism in Europe, the treaty’s great news.


If, on the other hand, your business is to raise awareness for work camps in Xinjiang, to spread ‘illegal propaganda about homosexuality’ or to counter ‘traditional family values’, it is less so. 


The move towards China makes sense from a Russian perspective. Russia has been in hot water for annexing Crimea, funding right-wing EU politicians, rigging elections, supporting Assad and shooting down a passenger aeroplane. (There’s more, but this needs to be lighthearted.)


What’s more, Russia could soon lose an ally in Pennsylvania Avenue, so finding a like-minded country is critical. 


And what dictator wouldn’t be impressed with Xi’s efforts to ban Winnie the Pooh and changing Wikipedia articles to claim the Dalai Lama is a Chinese Exile, and Taiwan a Chinese Province.


From a Chinese perspective, Russia too is a good choice to be bonding with over censorship. Earlier this year, Russia passed the ‘sovereign internet bill’ which aims to protect the public from unwanted information.  


Something that Russia started because they feared they could be vulnerable to foreign election interference. Strange, as you’d think there needs to be an election first before it can be meddled with. 


Who knows. Maybe the two countries will soon be signing treaties on the freedom to pursue one’s gender identity or how the right to protest is the backbone of a strong democracy. 

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