China: Beating Beijing’s censors

Podcasts are offering the people of China a rare chance to hear open discussion, writes Pratik Jakhar

The World Today Updated 10 June 2021 Published 2 April 2021 2 minute READ

Pratik Jakhar

East Asia specialist focusing on China and North Korea, BBC Monitoring

Early last year, at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, a Peking University professor appeared in a podcast to criticize lockdown measures in China and growing nationalism inside the country. The interview, posted by SurplusValue, a cultural podcast run by three former journalists, was quickly transcribed and circulated on Chinese social media. 

In the days that followed, as China struggled to regain control of the coronavirus narrative, the episode was removed from local platforms and then the podcast itself was banned in China. 

The case highlighted the tightrope that China’s podcasters have to walk as they seek listeners for thought-provoking content while trying to evade the censors.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.