Chinese soccer fans have watched a censored broadcast of the FIFA World Cup in Qatar as politicians desperately try to prevent images of large crowds without masks from reaching the local population as protests rage against tough Covid measures.
FIFA has strictly controlled the view of the World Cup shown and all nations receive the same information except China.
A comparison of the footage from the Cup shows that the China Central Television (CCTV) broadcasting company has been intercepting the vision of the tournament and manipulating the crowd shots using a 30-second delay.
Images like this wide shot of Canada fans during their FIFA World Cup match against Croatia have been censored from reaching China.
Removed the view showing fans without a mask because while most of the world has passed pandemic lockdown measures, China still faces harsh restrictions under its Covid Zero policy.
Some regions of the PRC are still on lockdown, Chinese residents have been forced to take covid tests every day, and large street protests have broken out with protesters calling for the resignation of politicians.
The protests have intensified since a fatal fire at a compound of Urumqi units in the western Xinjiang region killed 10 people two days ago. The building was closed despite being classified as low risk for Covid.
Covid Zero, the strict policy enacted by Chinese President Xi Jinping, has been widely criticized with a record number of cases across the country, as the virus rages.
Civil disobedience has increased across the country, including passive protests and open opposition to the Communist Party, Jinping and the controversial policy.
Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) East Asia correspondent Bill Birtles showed the shocking difference in viewing China is receiving using side-by-side comparisons with the SBS World Cup broadcast Australians are enjoying.
“So I thought it was silly for China’s government broadcaster to censor fan shots at the World Cup due to lockdown-at-home anger. But it’s true,” he posted on Twitter.
‘Here are live broadcasts from SBS and CCTV (which has a 32 second delay). As @DreyerChina explained, CCTV avoids close-ups of the crowd:
Instead of crowds, CCTV’s vision focuses on close shots on the touchline and today showed footage of Canada coach John Herdman while the rest of the world had celebrating fans.
‘Here is the Canadian goal from the same game. The international broadcast that everyone else receives shows the fans up close. CCTV changes those shots with bus shots or wide shots. I watched 2 games, very obvious. It’s imperfect, though: A shot from cheering fans snuck into the replay:
“So the usual suspects will claim that China government television CCTV is not censoring close-ups of the crowd because some shots go by… or they choose to use different shots… but it’s crystal clear. Although a colleague in Beijing told me he hadn’t noticed anything unusual,’ he concluded with a laughing emoji.’
Former Sky Sports, Fox Sports and AP Sports employee Mark Dreyer created China Sports Insider in 2013 and has also pointed out the censored view on Twitter.
‘Some people still refuse to see this, so they decided to track it down. Within a minute, there was this: close-up shots of Canadian and Croatian fans on BBC/international broadcast, replaced by a solo shot of Canadian trainer John Herdman on CCTV,” he posted.
‘Moments later, Croatia scored. The rest of the world saw shots of cheering Croatian fans, but on CCTV they showed close-up shots of the two coaches. The case rested.
The censorship comes at the same time that a BBC journalist covering an anti-lockdown protest in China was arrested during wild protests over Xi Jinping’s dictatorship and Covid lockdowns in seven Chinese cities, including Shanghai, Nanjing and Guangzhou. .
The BBC’s Edward Lawrence is a camera operator for the Corporation’s China office and was filmed being dragged away by Xi’s officers as he desperately yelled: ‘Call the consulate now!’ to a friend.
Hours before his arrest, Lawrence had tweeted: “I am at the site of the extraordinary anti-Covid-zero protest last night in Shanghai. Many people are gathered here watching in silence. Lots of cops. Two girls deposited flowers which the police immediately removed. A man walked by with the middle finger pointing at the police. #carry off’.
Police officers detain people during a protest against Covid restrictions at the site of a candlelight vigil for the victims of the Urumqi fire in Shanghai.
He was held for several hours before being released and a BBC spokesman said it was concerned about his treatment.
“The BBC is extremely concerned about the treatment of our journalist Ed Lawrence, who was arrested and handcuffed while covering the protests in Shanghai,” the spokesman said.
People gather for a vigil and hold white sheets of paper in protest of Covid restrictions, as they commemorate victims of a fire in Urumqi, as Covid outbreaks continue in Beijing
‘During his arrest, he was beaten and kicked by the police. This happened while he was working as an accredited journalist.
‘It is very worrying that one of our journalists has been attacked in this way in the performance of his duties. We have had no official explanation or apology from the Chinese authorities, beyond a claim by the officials who later released him that they had arrested him for his own good in case he caught Covid in the crowd. We do not consider this to be a credible explanation.