The World Cup, which attracts more than half a billion viewers in China, comes at an awkward time for Beijing’s censorship apparatus, already overwhelmed as protesters challenge China’s coronavirus policies. Chinese President Xi Jinping. Fans have speculated that the government may hope not to emphasize the non-masked audience from around the world, gathered in Qatar, who have largely switched from coronavirus precautions. , even as the virus continues to spread.
China is battling a massive wave of new coronavirus infections, partly due to highly contagious variants and low rates of natural immunity. In an ongoing effort to completely stamp out the virus, an approach largely abandoned elsewhere, China continues to close its borders and enforce regulations on mask wearing, blockade and other increasingly uncommon restrictions.
Meanwhile, in Qatar, another fact is being demonstrated, as fans celebrate their team, seemingly unconcerned with covid.
Xiao says: Khuong, a research scientist at the School of Information at the University of California at Berkeley and editor of China Digital Times, a bilingual news site.
Chinese officials “are telling people that outside of China, people are dying, they can’t handle the virus” and “that what we’re doing is the only right way,” Qiang said. . So when people see a different reality on display at the World Cup and compare it to their own situation, perhaps during the lockdown, that can sow discontent, he said. he said.
On Chinese social media, side-by-side footage comparing World Cup coverage went viral, sparking frustration and speculation.
“This time, the broadcast images from CCTV are often very strange,” wrote one user on Weibo, a popular social media platform in China, According to a Wall Street Journal Translate. “For example, slow-motion footage is not fully broadcast, the angle of the shot is not comprehensive, the empty scene footage appears without good reason. When they cut the distance and landscape shots, what are they trying to hide in reality? I was merely curious.”
Some viewers commented on the day and night difference between life in China and Qatar.
“None of the fans wore masks and no one was asked to present a nucleic acid test certificate. Are we even living on the same planet as them? can covid-19 not harm them?” a user asked on WeChat, a popular messaging app, before the account was suspended, According to China Digital Times.
Mark Dreyer, who runs the China Sports Insider website, notes: Even though spectators without masks can still be seen within CCTV coverage, which can only be streamed from locations China’s IP only, but the cameras seem to avoid stretching the audience.
“I actually spent the last two hours watching parallel feeds of the Brazil-Switzerland match and had FOUR times CCTV avoided showing close-ups of the crowd/fans,” Dreyer tweeted on November 28. “I saw a close-up of ONE crowd on CCTV (of former Brazilian players) at the start of the match.”
Neither CCTV nor Chinese officials have spoken publicly about the coverage. CCTV did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
An article addressing public frustration in a Communist Party newspaper on Tuesday cited the relative absence of face coverings at the World Cup – but said masks were still needed in China once again. partly because of the country’s relatively low number of hospital beds, website Something on Weibo reported.
China’s state broadcaster has a long history of censoring political signs, statements and individuals, including in international sports, deemed dangerous to the Communist Party. ruling.
Last year, China blocked access to the Boston Celtics’ current and archived matches after a player accused the Chinese government of “cultural genocide” in Tibet. Last year, the NBA issued a public apology to China after a Houston Rockets player voiced support for pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong and Beijing that banned the streaming of its games. this team to respond.
Qiang said the World Cup has special significance for the Chinese public, as it was one of the first tournaments people watched when the country opened up to the international community in the 1980s.
This year, as millions of people in China remain trapped inside and under surveillance, the games have created “a gap between China and the rest of the world,” he said. “In that context, anything will make the Chinese react.”