In a scientific study of Chinese online state censorship, Harvard researchers not only gathered large amounts of social media in real time from within the country but created a large amount themselves to see what got through and what was removed. Through this method, they reverse-engineered what they describe as "the largest selective suppression of human communication in the recorded history of any country". The results, to use a popular term, will surprise you. [more inside]
香港將於33年後毀滅 (Hong Kong will be destroyed after 33 years) is a near-future sci-fi short film about a fictional meteor that is headed for Hong Kong and expected to impact in 2047, but the public at large does nothing to address this impending doom. It might seem like an innocuous enough film, but China thought there was more to the story than that, and State Council Information Office requested that websites immediately remove video, text, etc. that advocates the short sci-fi film about Hong Kongers “saving themselves” titled Hong Kong Will Be Destroyed in 33 Years. The Diplomat has a bit more information about the film's not entirely coincidental use of the year 2047, the year in which China's Special Administrative Region (SAR) agreement with Hong Kong is set to expire, possibly bringing an end to one country, two systems.
How Reader's Digest Became a Chinese Stooge Larkin was delighted when Reader's Digest said it would take her work for one of its anthologies of condensed novels. Thirst would reach a global audience and – who knows? – take off. Reader's Digest promised "to ensure that neither the purpose nor the opinion of the author is distorted or misrepresented", and all seemed well. [more inside]
In China, there are certain "bad notes" that frighten people and are refused as legal tender. Why?
How Censorship in China Allows Government Criticism but Silences Collective Expression Researchers at Harvard University (Gary King, Jennifer Pan, and Margaret Roberts) have conducted the first large scale analysis of internet censorship in China. Their findings? Criticism of the state is not censored. What is censored, however, are any comments that support collective action or social mobilization. [more inside]
Weibo, China's most popular microblogging website, is manually censored for "impropriety" and political content. By observing the time taken for censored posts to disappear, researchers have exposed some of the the working patterns and methods of the censors. [more inside]
Television viewers in China were shocked last Friday when state broadcaster CCTV aired V for Vendetta unedited in prime time. Previously, Chinese search engines would not even return results for the anti-totalitarian 2006 film; CCTV-6 did at least harmonize the title by translating it as "V Special Forces", rather than the more common translation given in pirated DVD editions, "V the Revenge Killing Squad". [more inside]
Al Jazeera is closing its Chinese bureau after the authorities have refused to renew its reporters' press credentials and visas [NYT]. The Chinese government's reasons for this aren't clear, but Al Jazeera's recent coverage of China's "black jails" has been less than flattering.
The fact that Chinese internet access is censored and monitored is not new, but Sina Weibo (新浪微博, literally "Sina Microblog,"), handles the task differently. Commonly referred to by the generic name Weibo, the social service that is likened to Twitter and Facebook is more open in what you can post, but searches for certain words are blocked. Without context, a list of blocked searches is fairly abstract. Blocked on Weibo adds translations and context to the blocked words. [via mefi projects] [more inside]
Songs by Lady Gaga, Beyonce and Katy Perry are among those newly banned by China's culture ministry. Chinese Internet sites must remove them by 15 September in the interests of "national cultural security". Last May China banned a Mongolian protest song and arrested the student who made it, while Tibetan singer Tashi Dhondup was sentanced to one year and seven months’ imprisonment for producing a music album with “subversive songs”. Funnily enough, they also banned 'Guns'n'Roses' long awaited Chinese Democracy. No word yet on China Crisis.
Bob Dylan turns 70 next Tuesday. Why not start the party early by listening to 2ser's annual Bob Dylan Birthday Marathon on Saturday? It's streaming online from 7pm, Sydney time. Dylan has recently denied that China censored his shows, an allegation levelled against him by Maureen Dowd but opposed by Sean Wilentz.
On China realtime report (WSJ blogs): while China celebrates the upcoming year of the rabbit, an intensely violent satirical animation has gone viral. [more inside]
The Great Firewall just got a little taller. Starting next month, all geo data about China must be stored on servers inside China. This is much more that a snub of Google for moving its data out of the mainland, it is a power play aimed at controlling a type of data about which China is very sensitive, as shown in recent border disputes, and the discovery of secret military installations. [more inside]
The Free Art and Technology (F.A.T.) Lab is an organization dedicated to enriching the public domain through the research and development of creative technologies and media. You may know them from such projects as How to build a fake Google Street View car, public domain donor stickers, internet famous class, the first rap video to end with a download source code link, or their numerous firefox add-ons (such as China Channel, Tourettes Machine, or Back to the future). FAT members have been hard at work standardizing various open source graffiti-related software packages, including Graffiti Analysis, Laser Tag, Fat Tag Deluxe and EyeWriter [previously] to be GML (Graffiti Markup Language) compliant. Fuck Google. Fuck Twitter. FuckFlickr. Fuck SXSW. Fuck 3D. FAT Lab is Kanye shades for the open source movement.
The charges and retaliations seem reminiscent of so much cold war bluster, and indeed this encounter could be the first great clash of the 21st century’s two emergent superpowers—Google and China.
Official Google Blog: In mid-December, we detected a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on our corporate infrastructure originating from China that resulted in the theft of intellectual property from Google. However, it soon became clear that what at first appeared to be solely a security incident--albeit a significant one--was something quite different ... ... we have evidence to suggest that a primary goal of the attackers was accessing the Gmail accounts of Chinese human rights activists ... ... We have decided we are no longer willing to continue censoring our results on Google.cn, and so over the next few weeks we will be discussing with the Chinese government the basis on which we could operate an unfiltered search engine within the law, if at all.
Chinese news site dispense with user anonymity. Includes an updated list of sites China actively blocks, including Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International (?!? - both links work only outside of China). prev
Caijing (财经) is an independent, Beijing-based magazine devoted to reporting on business in China. The publication's title means "Finance and Economics." [more inside]
With the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown on Thursday, China's ever-vigilant censors have stepped up the reach of the "Great Firewall," blocking Western sites like Twitter, Flickr, and (just one day after its launch) Microsoft's Bing. via [more inside]
Stories about caonima, grass-mud horses have become a popular meme with their own theme song [Flash] in China. If you don't speak Chinese it's surprisingly hard to find out why: the name sounds rude. Sometimes juvenile humor can be the best way to poke fun at the ever-present government censorship.
The messy 3-way interaction between grassroots Chinese nationalism, foreign opposition, and the quiet hand of China's media censors continues.
A Lone Tibetan Voice, Intent on Speaking Out. Woeser (previously mentioned here) is a Tibetan writer and poet living under house arrest in Beijing, from where she blogs about the recent unrest in Tibet (there are English translations of her posts at China Digital Times). Last year she was awarded the Norwegian Authors Union Freedom of Expression Prize, but she was not allowed to travel to Oslo to collect the prize.
Is Web2.0 a wash for free speech in China? "Lately I've given a few talks around town titled 'Will the Chinese Communist Party Survive the Internet?' My answer - for the short and medium term at least - is 'yes.'"
China’s veteran voices of reform by Li Datong (李大同). Li is the former editor of Freezing Point, an influential Chinese weekly supplement to the China Youth Daily. His frequent clashes with his superiors and bold publishing stance there led to his sacking and the temporary closure of the magazine, but he now has a regular column in English at openDemocracy. Here, Li looks at how Party elders are using the pages of the journal 炎黄春秋 (Yanhuang Chunqiu "Chinese Chronicles") to promote a reform agenda quite daring in the Chinese context, making reformists hopeful about the upcoming Seventeenth National Congress of the CCP.
Although I Am Dead (YouTube) (Parts 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10) Compelling documentary by Hu Jie (胡杰) on the death during the Cultural Revolution of Bian Zhongyun (卞仲耘), recalled by her now octogenarian husband. He photographed her corpse after she was beaten to death by Red Guards, students at the middle school of which she was deputy principal. The film's inclusion in the documentary section of YunFest has apparently led to the authorities shutting down the event. (Via)
The Great Firewall of China connects to a server within China, and lets you know if your site is blocked or not, per the government's internet censorship.
Google Images Censored in China A picture says 1000 words, and Google.cn is censoring them all. Check out the side-by-side screens of a search for "tiananmen+square" in Google.com and Google.cn images. Looks like a nice place, with little historical significance. You can try the search yourself. The text on the bottom left is the censorship disclaimer. Very different than our results. A far cry from Google's claim that they do not censor results. Nice to know that they stand up to the government here but not abroad.
A good spoof of the whole thing.
A good spoof of the whole thing.
Microsoft takes down chinese language blog critical of Beijing This was on the global (.com) site not a .cn site. Meaning this policy affects all Chinese speakers all over the world, including in the US. Interestingly, the pressure seems to have been commercial, as a commercial Chinese blogging company took Microsoft to task for allowing the commentary. Is globalization exporting censorship?
Every weekly meeting causes me to feel ashamed. I listen to people lie. I listen to people lie shamelessly and authoritatively. And you cannot refute them. You cannot stand up and say, "You are lying. What are you lying?" Tolerating lies is regarded as wisdom. Those who are anxious to speak the truth are regarded as being victims of too much hormone. People make fun of themselves this way, and then wisely say: "Those naive actions will only bring even worse consequences. Be mature, be rational, be practical. Research more issues and talk less about theories."This was written by an employee at The Beijing News after three of it's head editors were fired from their positions last week. The paper, one of the most progressive newspapers in China, was taken over by editors from The Guangming Daily, a paper directly controlled by "The Ministry of Publicity". Via Eastwestnorthsouth who translated the original blog post as well as this one written by another member of the staff at The Beijing News.
"The explosion of suggestive images [in Chinese media and art] is partly a reflection of changes in Chinese society -- many sociologists say China is in the midst of a sweeping sexual revolution -- and partly due to market reforms...The government has not given the press free rein to publish material with sexual themes, but the way censorship is carried out means that some media outlets can get away with quite a lot. Rather than issue top-down decrees, Beijing's censors primarily react to existing material, so websites, whose content is easily removable, and publications far from Beijing, which are less likely to attract censors' attention, can take more chances. Still, articles on topics such as 'China's Janet Jackson,' a TV star who has twice revealed a breast in public, and the incidence of erectile dysfunction among China's urban men are now common in the national media."
Micros[censored] Helps China [censored] Bl[censored]s. "This topic contains forbidden words. Please delete them."
People in China are searching for justice on sites like Sina.com, as in this recent case of a poor woman who was run over by a BMW. At the same time, the authorities continue to try to tighten their grip on the web and on dissidents. Meanwhile, the official People's Daily temporarily admitted on its website the "violent crackdown" on pro-democracy students in Tiananmen Square 15 years ago, but this appears to have been a case of careless internet plagiarism.
China's crackdown on online dissent continues. It's been a year since the arrest of Chinese internet dissident Liu Di. Many of her supporters have signed petitions calling for her release, but last week one of their organizers, essayist Du Daobin, was himself arrested.
In her autobiography, "Living History," Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton recounts how China's imprisonment of a prominent human rights activist, Harry Wu, caused a sensation in the United States and nearly derailed her plans to attend a United Nations women's conference held in Beijing in 1995. In the officially licensed Chinese edition of Mrs. Clinton's book, though, Mr. Wu makes just a cameo appearance. While named, he is otherwise identified only as a person who was "prosecuted for espionage and detained awaiting trial." But nearly everything Mrs. Clinton had to say about China, including descriptions of her own visits here, former President Bill Clinton's meetings with Chinese leaders and her criticisms of Communist Party social controls and human rights policies, has been shortened or selectively excerpted to remove commentary deemed offensive by Beijing. My question: is anybody other than Hillary really suprised by this?
Internet Filtering in China, a report from the Berkman Center at Harvard Law School. There's been "a documentable leap in filtering sophistication since September 2002".
China Blocks Google » In the highest praise yet for Google, China (as in "great firewall of China") blocks Google. Dissident search engines. It must be the future.
Fire at Internet Cafe 'forces' Chinese government to close all 2400 Beijing cafes. This one has to rank up there with the line from the Good Old Days in which missing Soviet leaders were often described as 'having a cold.' I can't wait for the 2008 Happy Fun Olympics.
Corporate censorship in China (via slashdot). I guess censorship and collusion in the repression of people is okay if you're making profits for your shareholders. An eye-opening look into the way that corporations are helping to facilitate censorship on the Internet in China. AOL and Yahoo's attitudes to what I thought were universal human rights is nothing short of sickening.
SinoFilter.com Can I resume drinking from the made in China Metafilter coffee mug yet?