Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Government Shuts Down Wechat Account for Six Days for Misleading Headline

On January 7, 2016, China’s official news agency Xinhua reported that the Xinjiang branch of the Cyber Administration of China shut down a public Wechat (Weixin 微信) account for six days because of what it termed a “malicious headline.”

According to the report, the offending headline read “Major Accident Outside of Urumqi - 22 Dead, 5 Wounded” (乌市南郊出大事了——22死5伤). 

The actual content of the article was “A major traffic accident occurred outside of Urumqi, 22 sheep were killed and 5 sheep were injured” (乌市南郊发生交通事故,致22只羊死亡,5只羊受伤).

According to the government, this discrepancy was a violation of the “Interim Rules on the Development and Administration of Instant Messaging Tools and Public Information Services” (即时通信工具公众信息服务发展管理暂行规定).

Misreporting traffic accident fatalities is a jailable offense in China. For example, according to a report in the state sponsored Southern Metropolis Daily, in August 2013, the Wudangshan public security bureau subjected a Mr. Xue to five days administrative detention because he had published posts with "rumors," claiming seven people had died in a car accident, when in fact only three people had died.

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Baidu Begins Censoring "Gui Minhai" - Hong Kong Bookseller Detained in China

On January 17, 2016, the state sponsored Global Times published an article entitled “‘Missing’ HK Bookseller Turns Himself in to Mainland Police for Drunk Driving Killing of a College Girl in 2003”. Some excerpts:
One of the five missing Hong Kong booksellers has said that he returned to the Chinese mainland to turn himself in after 11 years on the run for killing a college student while driving drunk, the Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday.  

"Returning to the Chinese mainland and surrendering was my personal choice and had nothing to do with anyone else. I should shoulder my responsibility and I don't want any individual or institutions to interfere, or viciously hype up my return," Gui told Xinhua. He is currently being held in a detention center, the location of which was not mentioned.
. . . .
Mystery has been surrounding the whereabouts of Gui and 4 other booksellers. Previous reports said that Gui went missing while vacationing in Thailand in the middle of October 2015. He had sent an e-mail to his printers on October 15, asking his co-workers to get ready for a new book.
On January 19, 2016, the Hu Xijin, editor of the Global Times, published an editorial under his pen name “Shan Renping” (单仁平) entitled "Don’t Distort Publisher Case into Mainland-HK Dispute." Some excerpts:
A Xinhua News Agency investigative article on Sunday revealed the story behind Gui Minhai, one of five missing Hong Kong publishers. Gui, a China-born Swedish citizen, was involved in a fatal car accident when drunk driving, in which a female college student was killed. He was sentenced to a suspended two-year jail term, and then fled abroad. He confessed his crime to Chinese mainland authorities in October last year. He was shown on State broadcaster China Central Television on Sunday night.

His appearance soon sparked speculation that he was detained by mainland authorities because of a bookshop known for selling works that maliciously attack the mainland's political systems.

How could such a person as Gui, who was serving a suspended jail term, manage to stay in Hong Kong and conduct activities which do damage to Chinese society? After his confession, some Hongkongers intentionally exaggerated this case. But his wrongdoing, before the case was revealed,  had been intentionally ignored. Those Hongkongers deliberately pick up particular legal affairs.
. . . .
Some in the Hong Kong opposition believe that "one country, two systems" grants Hong Kong the right to confront the mainland and the central government, plus Hong Kong is the bastion of any extreme or illegal actions that would shake the mainland's political systems.

Hong Kong and the mainland should not confront each other. Anyone should not try to find a "legal space" in the Basic Law where the mainland and Hong Kong face off. The difference of judiciary systems in the two parts should not be highlighted and distorted as a crackdown on freedom in Hong Kong.
These screenshots show that on January 21, 2016, Baidu began censoring search results for two spellings of “Gui Minhai” (桂敏海 and 桂民海).

Friday, January 22, 2016

Huang An's Weibo Posts Disappear

As noted previously on this blog, on January 15, 2016, the singer Huang An (黃安) posted an announcement on his verified Sina Weibo account that Zhou Ziyu had apologized and "admitted that there is only one China." A translation of the post and additional background is available here.

On January 20, 2016, Hu Xijin, editor of the state sponsored Global Times, published an editorial using the pen name Shan Renping (单仁平) entitled “Teenage Singer’s Apology Manipulated by Forces Seeking Confrontation” (周子瑜“道歉”风波,大陆网民错几许). Some excerpts:
The fallout from Taiwan K-pop star Chou Tzu-yu's apology is still fermenting. The 16-year-old singer, who waved the Republic of China's flag on a South Korean TV show, was accused of being in favor of Taiwan independence by Huang An, a formerly well-known TV host from Taiwan. Chou's fans claimed online Chou was not a Chinese and that Taiwan was a country. These comments have triggered viral criticism from the Chinese mainland against Chou and her company, JYP Entertainment.
. . . .
Chou's scandal is essentially an entertainment matter - online public opinion giving a lesson to a singer who is regarded as having touched the political bottom line. Things would be over if Chou and her company took remedial actions. Yet, Chou's way of apology has become a political bomb. It is likely that JYP Entertainment or the apology was manipulated by politicians from the very beginning.
. . . .
Above all, mainlanders have not expressed sufficient patriotic feelings. China needs to accumulate more experience in playing the card of public opinion. For any nation, patriotism is a tool for social governance, which we should not be skeptical about.

. . . .
. . . .
These screenshots show that, days after Huang An published his Weibo post gloating over Zhou Ziyu's apology, all of his Weibo posts were gone.

Huang An's now-empty Weibo page is here -

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Chinese Government Calls for "Measures to Ensure Global Cyberspace Governance Meshed with Chinese Opinions"

On December 30, 2015, China’s official news agency Xinhua published an article entitled “Xi Calls for Patriotism in Achieving Chinese Dream.” Some excerpts:
Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for promoting patriotism to achieve the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation.
. . . .
Xi said the CPC is the steadiest advocate and practitioner of patriotism, calling for making patriotism as an eternal theme in education, in a bid to make it as the firm belief and spiritual prop of each Chinese individual and be carried on from generation to generation.

Advocating that patriotism must unify it with socialism, Xi said, adding that only by loving the country, the Party and socialism can patriotism be fresh and real.
The following day the state sponsored People’s Daily published an article on the front page of its Chinese language overseas print edition entitled “Face the World and Promote a Nationalist Spirit” (面向世界弘扬爱国主义精神) with the Chinese text of Xi's speech:
On January 7, 2016, China’s official news agency Xinhua published an article entitled “China Vows to Make Party's Voice Strongest in Cyberspace” (全国网络宣传工作会议:让党的主张成为网络空间最强音). Some excerpts:
China's Internet regulator vowed to make the views of the ruling Communist Party of China (CPC) the "strongest voice in cyberspace."

The Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) discussed cyberspace publicity work on Tuesday and Wednesday, with a statement issued after the talks promising continued exploration and improvements to the governance of cyberspace with Chinese socialist characteristics.

It was agreed that the CPC's theories and achievements would be the mainstream opinions and main tone of China's cyberspace, and the Internet would be utilized to garner public support on the 13th Five-Year Plan (2016-2020).
. . . .
It also called for more work to be done to improve cyberspace governance, with measures to ensure global cyberspace governance meshed with Chinese opinions and plans.

. . . .
. . . .

Monday, January 18, 2016

During Taiwan Elections Sina Weibo Begins Censoring "Taiwan"

On January 16, 2016, the state sponsored China Daily published an editorial entitled “Tsai Should Prove Sincerity About Peace Across Taiwan Straits.” Some excerpts:
Now that the Democratic Progressive Party leader Tsai Ing-wen has won Taiwan's "presidential" election, she should waste no time to prove that she is sincere in maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Straits. She should work to make people in Taiwan feel safe, instead of creating anxieties with her ambiguous mainland policy.
. . . .
Many differences remain between the mainland and Taiwan, not only in lifestyle and social system, but also in how and when the two sides should be reunited. But under no circumstance should the differences be used as excuses to seek Taiwan independence, which means war, as the mainland's Anti-Secession Law suggests. The bottom line shall never be tested.

Any attempt to steer the island closer to independence will be a fool's errand.
On January 17, 2016, the state sponsored Global Times published an editorial entitled “Taiwanese Choose Tsai, Not Independence.” Some excerpts:
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Chairman Tsai Ing-wen won by a landslide in Taiwan’s “presidential” elections on Saturday, and the DPP she leads captured the majority of seats in the Legislative Yuan, with the Kuomintang once again becoming an opposition party.
. . . .
The vote is not a gauge of cross-Straits relations. The DPP’s victory doesn’t mean the majority of Taiwanese support Taiwan independence. Tsai and her party are aware of this, so in her victory speech, she was evasive about the current issues between Taiwan and the mainland, only scrupulously stating that she will be engaged in a “consistent, predictable and sustainable cross-Straits relations.”
. . . .
Tsai should keep in mind that if she revisits Chen’s dangerous path to cross the red line of cross-Straits relations, she will meet a dead end. We hope Tsai can lead the DPP out of the hallucinations of Taiwan independence, and contribute to the peaceful and common development between Taiwan and the mainland.
These screenshots show that on the day of the election, Sina Weibo began censoring search results for “Taiwan General Election” (台湾大选).

These screenshots show that on the evening of January 16, Sina Weibo was in fact censoring all searches containing the word “Taiwan.” The following day Sina Weibo was no longer completely censoring all search results for "Taiwan," but was instead moderating search results when users selected “View All Search Results” (查看全部搜索结果) - in this case only one result was being shown.