By now, you probably know that protests against the government in China’s capital of Beijing have been going on for more than a month.
The protesters, who call themselves the “Red Guards”, have taken to the streets of several Chinese cities to voice their discontent over the treatment of political dissidents.
“The government is using censorship to stifle dissent, and it has no respect for human rights,” said one student protester, who asked that his name not be used for fear of retribution.
In response, China’s government has used all the tools it can to silence those who have chosen to protest, including arrests, media censorship and even the use of torture to silence protesters.
Students are being arrested for the first time, and the crackdown on dissent has led to a surge in students attending colleges and universities across China.
A recent survey of more than 1,000 students at a university in southern China’s Heilongjiang province found that half said they would not go to college if it was not for the protests.
One student in the survey, identified as Yang, said she was a student of the same year at a leading university in Shanghai, but now felt unsafe at home and feared for her safety.
She said she did not know if the government would try to silence her, but added that she would go to a university to study in peace.
“The only thing I can do is work hard, and work with the government,” she said.
“I think it will be difficult to escape from this situation.”
China’s Ministry of Education released a statement on Friday calling for a “peaceful” atmosphere at schools and universities, but many students and teachers were angered by the government’s use of “hostile” language to describe the protests, including the term “riot”.
“They are saying they are trying to instill calm and respect and we should listen to them.
But if you look at it, the response to the riots has been extremely harsh,” said another student protester.
On the government-owned microblog platform Sina Weibo, one student posted a video showing students chanting slogans like “freedom of expression is an honour” and “free speech is a right”.
“We have no way of controlling these students.
They have no right to be there.
They should be allowed to come to schools and colleges freely,” he said.
Despite the protests and the heavy-handed policing, China is not giving up its efforts to control social media, according to Liu Qiang, an independent scholar of China at Oxford University.
“We are seeing this kind of behaviour [from China], because social media has been completely censored and the authorities have been able to suppress all kinds of online activity,” he told Al Jazeera.
“This is an attempt to suppress dissent, to limit the freedoms of people in China, to restrict the press and to limit access to information and information-based activities.
It’s an attempt by the Chinese government to crush dissent and to suppress the free flow of information.”‘
We’re all Chinese’ The protests are not the first major social media protest in China.
In 2014, the country’s government shut down more than 300 websites and online forums, with the aim of silencing criticism of its policies and policies.
But the government has since launched several online censorship campaigns, including on Sina Weiqi, the state-run messaging service that has been under constant government control.
The crackdown on social media and online media is not limited to China, as in the US, the UK and Canada, which are among the most tech-savvy countries in the world.
This crackdown has been seen in China as a response to protests by some US students at universities across the country in October last year, which resulted in protests that lasted until the following spring.
Students have also staged similar protests in India and Malaysia.
In a bid to control the protests in China and prevent them from spreading to other countries, the Chinese authorities have banned social media platforms and other online services, including Google, Facebook and Twitter.
Last month, Facebook was also blocked from operating in China due to its role in “spreading propaganda” and engaging in “cyber-bullying”, according to China’s state-controlled news agency Xinhua.
While the crackdown has had the unintended effect of curbing some of the internet activity that many people would normally do on a daily basis, the government insists it has a legitimate reason for doing so.
“China has a long history of suppressing freedom of expression and information and speech,” a spokesperson for the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology told Al JA.
“In the past, it has been used to suppress protests and to silence people, especially through social media.
However, since the internet has become a fundamental tool for people to express themselves and to express their opinions, we are seeing more and more people expressing their opinions online.”