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, Sound of Hope (SOH) 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.[1] On shortwave, the jamming sound is usually composed of Chinese folk music, specifically a composition known as The Firedrake, running one hour in duration. The one hour audio clip is sourced from the ChinaSat 6B satellite (launched in 2007) and transmitted by relay stations on the same frequencies used by target stations. High quality recordings of The Firedrake also exist on the internet.[2] On some occasions, China National Radio broadcasts are also used to jam target signals.[3]

The French defense electronics company Thales Group was accused of aiding Chinese censorship efforts by selling shortwave broadcasting equipment to Chinese authorities in 2008. The firm denied this, saying that the sale of equipment was for civil purposes.[4]


Voice of America and Radio Free Asia

Since broadcasting began in 1996, Chinese authorities have consistently jammed Radio Free Asia broadcasts.[5] 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.[6]

Voice of Tibet

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.[1]


Other targets for jamming include the BBC World Service, Radio Taiwan International, and the Falun Gong-affiliated Sound of Hope radio network.[7]


In 2011, some international radio broadcasters, including both the BBC and VOA, announced plans to scale down or close their Mandarin shortwave services for China due to spending cuts and frustrations caused by jamming efforts.[8][9] The 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.[10][11]

Broadcasters have also sought to educate their audiences on the use of anti-jamming technology.[12]

See also


  1. ^ a b Doug Mellgren, 'Tibet exile radio says China jamming it', Associated Press, 2 April 2008.
  2. ^ "Firedrake - The source of China's Radio Jammer found on Chinasat 6B". Satdirectory. Retrieved 2021-10-11.
  3. ^ CNR1 Chinese National Radio Jammer on shortwave, archived from the original on 2021-12-12, retrieved 2021-10-11
  4. ^ Amy Kraft, Thales denies selling radio jamming kit to China, Reuters, 31 March 2008.
  5. ^ Jim Mann, "China Bars 3 Journalists From Clinton's Trip", The Los Angeles Times, June 23, 1998
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ Reporters Without Borders, 'Another foreign radio station falls victim to "Great Wall of the airwaves"', 17 August 2005.
  8. ^ Vivien Marsh, BBC Chinese Service makes final broadcast in Mandarin, BBC, 28 March 2011
  9. ^ Jerome Socolovsky, 'Critics Attack VOA Decision to Cut Radio Broadcasts to China', Voice of America, 25 May 2011.
  10. ^ NEAL UNGERLEIDER, U.S. State Department to Pay for BBC's Anti-Jamming Campaign in China, Iran, Fast Company, 21 March 2011.
  11. ^ Anne Applebaum, “Why has the State Department run into a firewall on Internet freedom?”, Washington Post, 4 April 2011.
  12. ^ See 'Help:Anti-Jamming Antenna', Radio Free Asia.