By Josh Rogin
Columnist, The Washington Post
May 3, 2018
Most Americans have never heard of Peppa Pig, the cartoon star of a British television show for preschoolers, which Chinese censors started purging from Internet apps and Chinese social media over the past week. Americans may not be bothered that an animated pig was deemed subversive by China’s state media and a bad influence on China’s youth. But we should be.
That China would suppress Peppa at all shows the government’s insecurity about any cultural phenomenon it can’t control. But for foreigners, it may seem harmless. Last year, many reacted with bemusement when China began censoring Winnie the Pooh, partly out of concern he looks like Chinese President Xi Jinping. (Personally, I don’t see the resemblance.)
China’s internal Internet censorship regime is part of its greater effort to control the behavior of its citizens. Combined with blanket surveillance, intrusive monitoring and a new Orwellian social credit score system, the Chinese Communist Party links loyalty to success in all aspects of Chinese life. But aside from altruistic belief in universal human rights, why should Americans care?
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