I think you gotta see it from Chinese point of view not from Westerner’s point of view.
For Chinese people, their lives improved dramatically from the Cultural Revolution days to now. My parents couldn’t go to university, couldn’t own a TV, had to carry red books with them all the time. That was the time that they grew up in.
Now, China is modernizing, just a few years ago they didn’t even have 3G networks now they have full LTE networks everywhere, bullet trains, skyscrapers everywhere, smartphones everywhere etc so the economy improved a lot for the middle class.
Now as Westerners think, there are problems with the Chinese government, mainly lack of freedom + censorship.
Here’s the thing: Chinese people don’t value freedom as much as Westerners do. They value stability more.
-We think not being able to access Facebook, Google, Youtube, Wikipedia etc is hard to live with. Chinese people don’t really miss it – they have their own domestic competitors WeChat, Baidu, Youku, Zhihu etc and since most Chinese cannot speak English well, its unlikely many Chinese would use foreign websites even if they had access to it. The Chinese that do speak English well, are usually tech savvy enough to use a VPN, so it’s not a problem for them.
-We think censoring sex/violence in entertainment is too extreme. Chinese people are fine living without a rating system because they think it will corrupt the youth (not saying this is true, but that’s what they believe)
-How about having political opinions online censored? Well there’s an easy solution, just don’t talk about politics. As far as I’ve noticed, talking about politics and religion almost always leads to fights and arguments in Western countries anyways.
-We put a huge premium on privacy online, as Facebook has gotten into troubles about these days. Chinese people don’t care – they know their government spies on them, but they don’t care. As long as you aren’t doing anything bad, you don’t have a problem.
So there you have it, Chinese people like the economic progress and they are fine with censorship in the name of stability.