Saturday, April 19, 2014

China’s Weibos and News Sites Censor Information About Shoe Factory Strike in Dongguan

On April 15, 2014, the state sponsored Global Times reported:
Thousands of workers in South China's largest shoe company marched in protest in the city of Dongguan, Guangdong Province over contract and social security benefit issues.
. . . .
The workers were unhappy the company did not pay social security or housing fund contributions based on their real salaries but the minimum amount instead, explained Zhang Zhirui, a legal consultant at a non-governmental labor dispute service in Shenzhen.

The company said it planned to raise the social security contribution in May as requested by workers, but many workers felt dissatisfied when their salaries dropped after deductions.
On April 16, the state sponsored Shanghai Daily reported:
Factory authorities have promised workers they will make the welfare payments some time before the end of 2015, a female employee told AFP, declining to be named due to fear of arrest.

But workers were not satisfied with the offer, she added. "The factory could just leave in the middle of next year, and we might end up without welfare payments."

She added that police had beaten and detained a handful of protesters earlier this week, and armed police were still stationed outside the factory gate even though the mood had calmed.
On April 17, the state sponsored China Daily reported:
Nie Xin, of the city's publicity department, said the shoe manufacturer had agreed to increase social benefits starting in May, but the problem of paying for the benefits in arrears remains.

"Now the key problem lies in the strikers asking the shoe manufacturer to catch up on the social benefits it didn't pay workers during all the time they were employed by the company," Nie said.

"Paying back all welfare benefits over several decades for thousands of workers could bankrupt the company."

The incident sets off alarms for many other manufacturers in the economically booming Pearl River Delta region.
These screenshots show that on April 18, Sina Weibo began censoring searches for “Dongguan Yuyuan Shoe Factory Strike” (东莞裕元鞋厂罢工).
This screenshot, taken on April 19, shows that Tencent Weibo was censoring searches for that phrase also.
Chinese language reports of the incident have also begun disappearing from China’s web sites. For example:

“Over 1,000 Guangdong Shoe Factory Workers Strike to Defend Rights” (广东一家鞋厂上千员工罢工为社保维权) Originally available here: http://gd.sina.com.cn/news/m/2014-04-18/082494540.html


“Over 1,000 Guangdong Shoe Factory Workers Organize Massive Strike, Official Get Involved” (广东一鞋厂上千员工举行大规模罢工 官方介入) Originally available here: http://finance.sina.com.cn/chanjing/gsnews/20140418/085818841866.shtml

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Tiananmen Watch: Sina Weibo Relaxes Censorship of Discussion of Hu Yaobang, Baidu PostBar Doesn't

On April 16, 2014, the state-sponsored Global Times published an English language article entitled “Reform Follows Hu Yaobang’s Vision: Experts.” Some excerpts:
The direction of China's current reform is consistent with the notion of late Party chief Hu Yaobang, said political analysts on the 25th anniversary of the death of the reformist leader, which fell Tuesday.

Hu was elected as general secretary of the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee in February 1980, and he resigned in 1987. He died on April 15, 1989 at the age of 74.
. . . .
There was no memorial held at central government-level this year. But officials in Liuyang, Hunan Province, Hu's hometown, visited the late leader's former residence last week in a bid to learn from Hu's "man of the people" work style, the Liuyang Daily reported.

In a low profile visit, Hu Jintao, former general secretary of the CPC Central Committee, went to the residence on Friday, reported the Hong Kong-based Wen Wei Po paper. He reportedly stayed an hour at the residence and bowed to a bronze statue of the late leader.
The Liuyang Daily article the Global Times referred to is presumably the April 11, 2014, front page article entitled "Taking Yaobang as a Mirror to Seek Out the Problem of the 'Four Winds'" (以耀邦为明镜查找“四风”问题). Some excerpts:
Yesterday, municipal Party Secretary Cao Lijun, Deputy Secretary and Mayor Yu Xunwei escorted leader from the Party, municipal legislature, municipal government, and municipal Political Consultative Conference to the former residence of Comrade Hu Yaobang to launch a Party educational group study session entitled "Being Effective and Honest for the People," and received active instruction in mass line education.
昨日,市委书记曹立军,市委副书记、市长余勋伟带领市委、市人大、市政府、市政协四大家领导来到胡耀邦同志故居开展“为民务实清廉”党性教育集中学习活动,接受群众路线教育的生动教学。
The article, originally available here - http://dzb.lyrb.com.cn/shtml/lyrb/20140411/136018.shtml - has been deleted.
Screenshots showing cached copied of Liuyang Daily article about officials
visit to Hu Yaobang's ancestral home (left), and what users see today (right)
 The Wen Wei Po article referred to by the Global Times was reposted by some PRC-based media outlets on April 14, 2014, including Sina, which published the article under the title “Hong Kong Media: Hu Jintao Visits Ancestral Home of Hu Yaobang and Bows to His Statue” (港媒:胡锦涛访胡耀邦故居向其铜像鞠躬). Some excerpts:
According to Hong Kong media, on the advent of the 25th anniversary of the death of Hu Yaobang, last Friday morning, former Chinese Communist Party General Secretary Hu Jintao went to Hu Yaobang's ancestral home in Zhonghe County, Liuyang, Hunan.  He stayed for about an hour, and during that time he bowed in tribute to a statue of Hu Yaobang.
据本港媒体新报报道,在已故中共领导人胡耀邦逝世25周年前夕,前中共中央总书记胡锦涛上周五早上前往湖南浏阳中和镇胡耀邦故居,逗留一小时,期间向胡耀邦铜像鞠躬致敬。
The article, originally available here - http://news.sina.com.cn/c/p/2014-04-14/085229928182.shtml - has been deleted.
Screenshots showing cached copied of Sina article about Hu Jintao's
visit to Hu Yaobang's ancestral home (left), and what users see today (right)
These screenshots show that, unlike 2013, this year Sina Weibo is not censoring searches for “Hu Yaobang.”

These screenshots show that Baidu, however, continues to ban users from establishing a PostBar (Tieba  贴吧) forum about Hu Yaobang.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

After Court Affirms Xu Zhiyong’s Conviction, New Citizens Movement Web Site Disappears From Baidu Search Results

On April 12, 2014, the state sponsored Global Times reported that “A Beijing court on Friday [April 11] rejected the appeal of Chinese activist Xu Zhiyong who was given a four-year sentence in prison for assembling a crowd to disrupt order in public places.”

These screenshots show that, on the morning of April 11, 2014, the top search result for "http://xgmyd.com/" was the website of the New Citizens Movement, of which Xu was one of the founders. Several hours later Baidu tells users performing  same search for that URL “That URL Was Not Found” (没有找到该URL).


Before it disappeared from Baidu’s search results, the snippet of the top search result read:
New Citizens Movement
The New Citizens Movement website is now online. And our colleagues in Beijing: Xu Zhiyong, Ding Jiaxi, Zhao Changqing . . .
新公民运动 New Citizens Movement
新公民运动网站上线了。 而在线下,在北京,我们的新公民同仁:许志永、丁家喜、赵常
This is not the first time that information relating to Xu Zhiyong has disappeared from Baidu and other China-based web sites:

Friday, April 11, 2014

Jailing of (Yet Another) Corrupt Internet Police Officer Shows How Censors Interact with Webmasters

Previous Posts on This Topic:
On April 2, 2014, the state-sponsored China Daily published a report entitled "Hainan Internet Police Sentenced to 10 Year for Taking over 700k in 'Gratuities' for 'Paid Post Deletion'" (海南一网警"有偿删帖"收取"好处费"70余万 获刑十年). Some excerpts:
During Officer XXX Ning WEI's tenure as Deputy Director, his job responsibilities included online public sentiment oversight, intelligence gathering, information disposal, etc. If an Internet Policeman from outside of Hainan needed to delete a post on "Tianya" or "Kaidi," they needed to go through the Haikou Public Security Internet Police Detachment. The Haikou Public Security Internet Police Detachment would, in accordance with rules, use RTX (a chat platform server) to issue an order to the "Tianya" web site, and would use a specified QQ group to issues orders to "Kaidi" and other web sites. Generally web site would carry out post deletion orders as demanded by the Internet Police.
. . . .
Between August 2011 and August 2012, XXX Ning WEI used his position to help Officer XXX PENG, an officer with the Hubei Huangqu Public Security Internet Police Detachment, delete posts on the "Tianya" and "Kaidi" web sites. In order to express his gratituted, XXX PENG made over 148 inter-bank transfers from his account and the accounts of two others to XXX Ning WEI totaling 483,600 yuan as post deletion "gratuities."

魏某宁担任副大队长期间,他的工作职责包括网络舆情监控、情报收集、信息处置等。如果外地网警需删除在“天涯”“凯迪”网站的帖子,要通过海口市公安局网警支队的协助。海口公安局网警支队民警根据规定给“天涯”网站下发处置指令是通过RTX(一个聊天平台服务器),给“凯迪”等网站下发处置指令是通过指定的QQ群,网站一般都会按照网警的要求进行删帖等处置。
. . . .
2011年8月至2012年8月期间,魏某宁利用职务之便帮湖北省黄冈市公安局网警支队工作人员彭某在“天涯”“凯迪”网站删帖。为了表示感谢,彭某通过转账方式分148次用其本人和其他两人的银行账户付给魏某宁删帖“好处费”共计48.36万元。

Thursday, April 10, 2014

State Media: Baidu Staff and Internet Police Profited by Deleting Negative Information

Previous Posts on This Topic:
On March 26, 2014, the state sponsored Beijing News published an English language article on its web site entitled “Baidu Staff, Web Censor Profited by Deleting Unfavorable Posts.” Some excerpts:
Screenshot taken on March 2, 2014, showing
Baidu censoring search results for
"Delete Negative Information." Credit: Feichangdao
Beijing police have detained at least 10 people, including employees at Baidu, the leading Chinese-language Internet search provider, over allegations of abusing their positions to delete online posts in return for money, the Beijing News reports.

Xu Ning, an administrator at Baidu Tieba, an online community bound tightly to Baidu's Internet search services, was found to have taken 67,400 yuan ($10,856) for deleting more than 300 posts in collaboration with Lv Longwei, who once worked at Baidu.
. . . .
A PR company has also profited from deleted posts. It was launched in 2010 by a former Baidu employee surnamed Gu.
The Beijing News published a Chinese language version of the article entitled “A Policeman Took Money to Help People Delete Online Posts” (一警察收钱帮人删网帖). Some excerpts:
Today this reporter learned that, since 2012, at least ten personnel had been placed under control in the above-captioned case.
. . . .
Baidu reported the case to authorities and exposed the scandalous story of paid post deletion, leading to the detention of many website administrators, PR company managers, and police officers.
. . . .
One those arrested was Xu Ning, a former senior product operations manager in Baidu's social search department, where he was responsible for PostBar moderator complaints and moderator examination and verification.
. . . .
A court subsequently found that, from May 29 through June 8, 2012, Xu Ning and Lv Weilong cooperated to illegally delete posts nine times, deleting over 300 posts, and accepted fees totaling 67,400 yuan. In June 2013, a Haidian court sentenced Xu Ning and Lv Weilong to 14 and 18 months imprisonment, respectively for the crime of accepting bribes as non-government employees.
. . . .
Three days after Baidu reported Xu Ning to the police, another former Baidu employee was detained: Mr. Gu, who was deputy general manager of a PR firm. It is understood that this company was established by Gu's older brother, and that his sister-in-law Mrs. Ai was responsible for its financial affairs.
. . . .
According to the arrest warrant submitted by the police, Gu's company is suspected of "searching online for negative news and posts about government agencies and enterprises, and directing company employees to contact those government agencies and enterprises, and compelling those government agencies and enterprises with negative information online to spend money to hire his company to help get the negative online information deleted, suppressed, or blocked, and obtaining advantage thereby." In addition, they are also suspected of bribing many web site managers to delete negative information.
. . . .
Gu's company has also stated that a Mr. Liu, who was an officer with the Internet Security Office of the Beijing Public Security Bureau, had also had inappropriate economic contacts with them. Liu was subsequently subjected to compulsory measures.
. . . .
The posts at issue have already been deleted, and it has not been possible for this reporter to trace links to their original text. However, one of the suspects has stated that the deleted content was primarily the rapid promotions of second generation bureaucrats, deaths arising from forced demolitions, government building construction going over-budget, as well as some negative news about some publicly listed state owned enterprises, such as environmental pollution, increases in reserves, and product quality. Gu also said that his clients included a famous air conditioner company and a famous property developer.
. . . .
According to Gu's statement, after these governments and enterprises signed contracts with the company, they would typically use three means to remove negative influences. The first was directly deleting posts, with enterprises directly pleading with the portal web sites and the government going through Officer Liu to send a notice to various web sites.

The second means was Internet optimization, known in the profession as "astroturfing," pushing negative information lower in search engine result rankings. To achieve this they had specialized software, and it was not necessary to spend any additional money on any specific case.

The third means was to go through Baidu to block key words, and for this they had to obtain help from Mr. Lu, who worked in Baidu's public relations department.

记者近日获悉,至2012年,上述涉案人员至少十余人被控制.
. . . .
百度报案揭开有偿删帖黑幕;多位网站管理人员、传媒公司负责人、公安民警先后落网。
. . . .
被批捕的是百度公司原社区搜索部高级产品运营管理专员许宁,负责百度贴吧内吧主投诉和吧主审核工作。
. . . .
后法院审理查明,2012年5月29日至6月8日,许宁、吕伟隆二人共进行违规删帖操作9次、删帖300余条,并收受好处费共计人民币67400元。去年6月,海淀法院一审以非国家工作人员受贿罪分别判处许宁有期徒刑一年二个月、吕伟隆有期徒刑一年六个月。
. . . .
就在百度向警方举报许宁三天后,同样曾在百度任职,后为一家传媒公司的副总经理的顾某被海淀公安分局刑事拘留。据了解,该公司由顾某的哥哥创立,顾某嫂子艾某主管财务。
. . . .
根据警方提请批准逮捕书显示,顾某的公司被怀疑“在网上搜寻政府、企业类负面新闻、帖子等信息,之后指使公司员工联系相关的政府、企业单位,迫使有负面信息的政府、企业单位同意花钱找上述公司帮助在网上删除、压制或屏蔽负面信息,从中牟利”。此外,他们还被警方怀疑曾向多名网站管理人员行贿,以删除负面信息。
. . . .
顾某公司还显示,与他们有不正当经济往来的,还有北京市公安局原网安总队民警刘某,刘某后被采取强制措施。
. . . .
目前,涉案的帖子均已删除,记者无从根据链接查到帖子原文。不过,一位嫌疑人举例称,诸如官二代火箭提升、强拆出人命、政府办公楼超标等,以及一些国有上市公司的负面新闻,比如环境污染、库存增加、产品质量问题等,都是删帖的主要内容。顾某也曾透露,某知名空调品牌、知名地产商都是其客户。
. . . .
等这些政府、企业与公司签订协议后,据顾某供述,他们通常会使用三种方式消除负面影响。第一种就是直接删帖,企业的就直接拜托门户网站,政府就通过警察刘某给各家网站下通知;第二种是网络优化,行话叫“下沉”,即让负面信息在搜索引擎中较靠后的页数出现,为此他们还专门有一套软件完成,不需要针对个案再另外花钱;第三种就是通过百度屏蔽关键词,而这个只能找百度公关部门负责人卢某帮忙。