Radio jamming in China
Radio jamming in China is a form of censorship in the People's Republic of China that involves deliberate attempts by state or Communist Party organs to interfere with radio broadcasts. In most instances, radio jamming targets foreign broadcasters, including Voice of America (VOA), Radio Free Asia, the BBC World Service, the NHK World (Radio Japan) and stations based in Taiwan.
Radio jamming is achieved by transmitting radio signals on the same frequency as the intended target. The government of the People's Republic of China disrupts shortwave radio communications through this method, typically by broadcasting music, drumming, or other noise. On shortwave, the jamming sound is composed of Chinese folk music, specifically a composition known as The Firedrake, running about one hour in duration. The one hour audio clip is broadcast at high power on the same frequencies used by target stations. It is being streamed through the "Sat 6B" satellite that was launched in 2007. There are also high quality recordings (mono) existing on the internet.
The French defense electronics company Thales Group has been accused of aiding Chinese censorship efforts by selling shortwave broadcasting equipment to Chinese authorities. The firm has responded that the sale of equipment was intended for civil purposes.
Since broadcasting began in 1996, Chinese authorities have consistently jammed Radio Free Asia broadcasts. In 2002, the Broadcasting Board of Governors reported that "virtually all of VOA's and RFA's shortwave radio transmissions directed to China [...] are jammed," including their Mandarin, Cantonese, Tibetan, and Uyghur language services.
In 2008, the Oslo-based Voice of Tibet reported that jamming of its radio communications intensified during the 2008 Tibetan unrest, as authorities increased the number of disrupted signals it employed to block outside transmissions.
In 2011, some international radio broadcasters, including the BBC and VOA, announced plans to scale down or close their Mandarin shortwave service for China due to spending cuts and frustrations caused by jamming efforts. BBC and VOA instead chose to invest more heavily in internet radio; both received financial support from the U.S. Department of State to fund and research internet censorship-circumvention software, such as Freegate and Ultrasurf, to enable their Chinese audience to access their programs online.
Broadcasters have also sought to educate their audiences on the use of anti-jamming technology.
- "Feng Shou Luo Gu (Drum & Gong for Harvest)", Harvest Festival music, being orchestrated with Chinese Flute, Gong, Erhu Fiddle, Drums. Duration: about one hour per set (often repeated).
- Doug Mellgren, 'Tibet exile radio says China jamming it', Associated Press, 2 April 2008.
- 'Firedrake - The source of China's Radio Jammer found on Chinasat 6B'
- Amy Kraft, Thales denies selling radio jamming kit to China, Reuters, 31 March 2008.
- Jim Mann, "China Bars 3 Journalists From Clinton's Trip", The Los Angeles Times, June 23, 1998
- Statement of the Broadcasting Board of Governors Before the Congressional-Executive Commission on China "Open Forum" Archived 2011-11-17 at the Wayback Machine, 2 December 2002.
- Reporters Without Borders, 'Another foreign radio station falls victim to "Great Wall of the airwaves"', 17 August 2005.
- Vivien Marsh, BBC Chinese Service makes final broadcast in Mandarin, BBC, 28 March 2011
- Jerome Socolovsky, 'Critics Attack VOA Decision to Cut Radio Broadcasts to China', Voice of America, 25 May 2011.
- NEAL UNGERLEIDER, U.S. State Department to Pay for BBC's Anti-Jamming Campaign in China, Iran, Fast Company, 21 March 2011.
- Anne Applebaum, “Why has the State Department run into a firewall on Internet freedom?”, Washington Post, 4 April 2011.
- See 'Help:Anti-Jamming Antenna', Radio Free Asia.