China is a unique country of the world where freedom of speech of its people is taken away. Someone has rightly stated “freedom of expression in China is a privilege, not a right”.
According to Qianfan Zhang (The constitution of China: a analysis-2012), Chinese constitution states that its citizens have freedom of speech and also freedom of press. Strangely, the same is not institutionally protected.
It is also argued that even language used is vague. This gives government to use arbitrary and unilateral judgments. Citizens giving public speeches of wider impact on forbidden subjects are liable to severe punishments and warning. Furthermore, Benjamin Carlson (Global Post -2013) posited that Chinese people cannot talk 7 things in China. These are: judicial independence, crony capitalism, the historical errors of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), civil rights, civil society, freedom of speech, and universal values.
Experts on Chinese affairs argued that Chinese government has made technology central to its repression. In fact, China uses a combination of growing economical means technical capacity for mass surveillance on its people. When Chinese people step out from their houses, their actions and moves are recorded into the central control room. Through powerful videos which are placed in streets and all over the cities, government officials collect tremendous amount of data. If any citizen commits any type of crime, it uses recognition algorithms and match video footage of criminals with photo in a national identification database system.
Additionally, Chinese government is also known for scrutinizing individual citizens as evidence of disloyalty to the government. Now it started developing a powerful and comprehensive database on its citizens. It is also reported in media that China's government has been evolving algorithmic surveillance system on citizens. They are developing Artificial Intelligence to monitor control the activities of it citizens. This has been severely criticized by several scholars.
The situation has been worst ever since Coronavirus started in Wuhan. During February 2020 (Zhong, R., NYT, 6 Feb, 2020) when the case of Coronavirus infections continued to surge, the Chinese government clamped down on news and controlled the Internet. It is also widely reported that China suppressed coverage of Coronavirus cases and thousands of deaths.
Additionally, Chinese authorities have strictly censored what its people read and say online about the virus. It was also reported that local officials were cracked down for online rumours about Coronavirus. Chinese government has been accused for human abuses when Coronavirus situation deepened.
Therefore, it looks that in their public life, Chinese people are forced to remain by and large in silence mode.