China possess one of the most thoroughgoing systems for filtering and blocking information from the outside world ever developed.
China still jams Chinese-language broadcasts of the Voice of America and some other foreign radio services.
Short-wave radio receivers are on display in stores but one Western diplomat says he has been told by Chinese that permission to purchase and own such radios is difficult to obtain. In border areas, such as southern Yunnan, residents are forbidden to own even regular radios because they might be able to pick up foreign broadcasts.
The Chinese authorities distribute millions of copies every day of a Chinese-language newspaper that reprints selected articles from Western news agencies and major newspaper around the world. The articles that are chosen tend to reinforce the Chinese view of the world: any article about Soviet military might appearing in a major Western newspaper, for instance, stands a very good chance of being picked by the the Chinese.
The newspaper, called Reference News, also devotes some space to reprinting favorable articles written about China by visiting Western journalists or by Peking based Western correspondents. All in all, the cumulative effect of Reference News seems to be a Chinese we-told-you-so.
No foreign newspapers or magazines are sold openly in China except for a handful of newpapers put out by tiny foreign Maoist parties. These devote much of their space to a rewriting of official Chinese materials. Chinese scientists receive foreign journals most often through a central ordering agency in Peking, and bureaucrats concerned with foreign affairs receive foreign newspapers at work.
There are foreign books in some Chinese libraries but access to libraries is restricted. The private publiction and distribution of books is, of course, forbidden.