Saturday, November 22, 2014

Placing the Claims Made About the Wuzhen Global Internet Conference in the Context of Current Chinese Internet Company Practices

In a Chinese language editorial published on November 20, 2014 entitled “Looking at Wuzhen, Does China’s Internet Look ‘Localized’?” (从乌镇看中国互联网像“局域网”吗) the Global Times said:
Westerners cling with a death grip to the perception that people must put a political hat on the inconsistencies between China's and the West's approach to Internet management. They are too lazy to gain a deeper understanding of what China and the rest of the world put on display.
断然给中国与西方不太一致的网络监管扣政治帽子,这是一些西方人死抱老观念,懒于深入了解中国及其他外部世界的表现。
In the spirit of helping lazy Westerners gain a deeper understanding of what China is putting on display, the following context is offered for statements by government officials and the state run media regarding the recently-concluded Wuzhen World Internet Conference:

Official Statement: President Xi Calls for "Democratic" Internet Governance

In his "Message of Congratulations" (世界互联网大会贺词) to the Conference President Xi Jinping said:
Following the principle of mutual respect and mutual trust, China is ready to work with other countries to deepen international cooperation, respect sovereignty on the Internet, uphold cyber security, and jointly build a cyberspace of peace, security, openness and cooperation and an International Internet governance system of multilateralism, democracy and transparency. 
中国愿意同世界各国携手努力,本着相互尊重、相互信任的原则,深化国际合作,尊重网络主权,维护网络安全,共同构建和平、安全、开放、合作的网络空间,建立多边、民主、透明的国际互联网治理体系。
Context: Baidu Bans Forums on "Democracy"

This screenshot was taken on November 21, 2014, and shows that Baidu has banned users from establishing a PostBar (Tieba 贴吧) forum on the subject of "Democracy" (民主).


Official Statement: Central Propaganda Department Deputy Director Lu Wei's Call for Transparency

During his closing remarks at the Conference on November 20, 2014, Lu said:
To arrive at a consensus we must strengthen communication, seek common ground while recognizing differences, and build a multilateral, democratic, and transparent governance system for the international Internet and create a peaceful, safe, open and cooperative Internet space together. 
走向共识,我们要加强沟通,求同存异,建立多边、民主、透明的国际互联网治理体系,共同构建和平、安全、开放、合作的网络空间。
Context: Transparent Internet Governance with Chinese Characteristics

As noted previously in this blog, during the last year China’s state run media has exposed at least two cases involving police officers in Beijing and Hainan who were entrusted with censoring online content, and who abused their authority by taking bribes to order web masters to delete information that did not violate any of China’s laws, regulations, or policies. See:
On April 17, 2014, the state sponsored Southern Weekend published an article entitled “Internet Police Bribe Internet Police: Deleting Posts for Their Bosses” (网警贿赂网警:替领导删帖). According to the article, this is the censorship governance system that enabled this kind of corruption:
Anyone who had authority over the Internet could send down an order to delete a post. With respect to posts about the government that were negative, the most common demand was "Don't let them garner too much attention." "Currently the orders that come down are not in any written document, they are all issued as messages in a QQ group." 
只要是有权管网络的,都可以给高强们下达删帖等处置指令,针对政府一些负面的帖子一般要求“不要炒作”。“现在下达指令并没有书面的文件,都是以QQ群里面的留言的方式下发的。”
These screenshots show that the article was deleted within hours.



State Run Media Report: Global Internet Connectivity

On November 20, 2014, China’s official news agency Xinhua published an article entitled “China Holds First World Internet Conference, Urges Better Governance.” Some excerpts:
China held the First Internet Conference in the rivertown of Wuzhen, calling for global Internet interconnectivity and shared governance by all.
. . . .
Lu Wei, minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China, hoped the attendees would make plans for Internet interconnectivity and shared governance as well as promote consensus and to make a historical contribution for the Internet.
Context: China's Weibos Censor Information About China's Manipulation of Internet Interconnectivity

These screenshots show that on the same day Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo were censoring search results for “Overseas Websites Completely Unblocked at China Wuzhen Internet Conference” (中国乌镇互联网大会全面解禁境外网站).



State Run Media Report: Freedom vs Order

The same day Xinhua published a Chinese language article entitled “Becoming an Internet Superpower with the ‘Wuzhen Net’” (走向网络强国的“乌镇网事”) which quoted Lu Wei as saying:
With Internet interconnectivity there must also be respect for sovereignty, with fast development there must also be guarantees of security, with calls for freedom there must also be respect for order, with self reliance there must also be cooperation. 
The purpose of the Internet security censorship system is to safeguard Internet security and national security, safeguard the healthy development of the economy and society, and safeguard the interests of China’s consumers. We are not targeting specific countries or enterprises. Rather, it includes all countries an all enterprises.  
既要互联互通,也要尊重主权,既要加快发展,也要确保安全,既要提倡自由,也要遵守秩序,既要自主自立,也要开放合作。  
网络安全审查制度是为了维护网络安全和国家安全、维护经济社会健康发展、维护中国消费者的利益,我们不针对某一个国家、某一个企业。当然,也包括一切国家和所有的企业。
Context: On Baidu's Forums, Discussion of "Order" is Allowed, but Not "Freedom"

These screenshots were taken on November 20, 2014, and show that Baidu was banning forums on the topic of “Freedom,” (自由), but had allowed users to establish a forum for “Order” (秩序).


State Run Media Report: Domestic Companies Wielding Influence Abroad

The same day state sponsored Global Times published an English language article entitled “China Lays Out Vision for Web Governance.” Some excerpts:
Centering on the theme of "An Interconnected World Shared and Governed by All," the conference is covering topics that include global Internet governance, mobile Internet, cross-border e-commerce, cybersecurity and  combating terrorism on the Internet.
. . . .
[The conference and Xi's message] show that the Chinese government has placed higher priority on managing the Internet, as China is becoming an Internet superpower, with a huge number of Web users and the global influence of Chinese Internet companies like Alibaba," Wei Wuhui, an Internet and new media expert with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, told the Global Times.
Context: Censorship of Reports Linking Chinese Internet Companies to Government Officials

On July 20, 2014, the New York Times published an article entitled “Alibaba’s I.P.O. Could Be a Bonanza for the Scions of Chinese Leaders.” The article appeared in Chinese the following day under the title “The Red Descendants Behind Alibaba’s IPO” (阿里巴巴上市背后的“红二代”赢家). These screenshots show that on July 26, Sina Weibo began censoring search results for "Alibaba New York Times" (阿里巴巴 纽约时报).



State Run Media Report: Users Must Be Responsible for Their Speech

From the same Global Times article:
"Development without discipline and regulation will not be sustainable. As the Internet has developed, problems have emerged. Xi's initiative to construct an international Internet governance system provides direction and practical steps for solving those problems," Huang Chengqing, vice-president of the Internet Society of China and a participant at the conference, told the Global Times. 
As the development of the Internet provides individuals with greater freedom to speak and share information, the public should also be responsible for their speech and conscientious about disseminating information that will harm the country's development, said Huang.
Context: Censorship of United Nations Reports

On March 18, 2014, a statement entitled “Deadly Reprisals: UN Experts Deplore the Events Leading to the Death of Chinese Human Rights Defender Cao Shunli, and Ask for Full Investigation” (致命报复:联合国专家对导致中国维权人士曹顺利死亡的事件表示痛惜,并要求予以彻查) was published on the web site of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

These screenshots show that on March 20, a Baidu user searching for “Cao Shunli site:ohchr.org" (曹顺利 site:ohchr.org) got four results, the first of which was the foregoing statement. A user doing the same search on March 21 only got two results, and the foregoing statement was not among them.


State Run Media Report: China is Quite Guileless

In a Chinese language editorial published the same day entitled “Looking at Wuzhen, Does China’s Internet Look ‘Localized’?” (从乌镇看中国互联网像“局域网”吗) the Global Times said:
It is hoped that Wuzhen will become a new starting point for global interconnectivity for the Internet. China's way of doing things is not riddled with "plots" as imagined by Westerners. With respect to the issue of opening to outsiders, China is actually quite guileless
希望乌镇成为网络世界互联互通的新起点。中国做事并非西方想的那样每一步都充满“谋略”,在对外开放的问题上,中国其实蛮淳朴的。
Context: China's Weibo Censor Information About China's Cyber-Attacks

On February 21, 2013, the state-sponsored Global Times published an English article entitled "Regular Cyber Attacks From US: China." Some excerpts:
In a report released Monday, Mandiant pointed its fingers at a Chinese military unit named People's Liberation Army (PLA) Unit 61398, saying the Shanghai-based outfit had systematically stolen confidential data from at least 141 organizations across 20 industries.
. . . .
"China should strive for a greater say in laying out international rules on cyber security," Da told the Global Times on Wednesday, suggesting that in response to continuous accusations, China, also a big victim of cyber attacks, can "fight" back with concrete evidence.
These screenshots show that immediately after the publication of the New York Times report, both Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo began censoring searches for Unit 61398 (61398部队).



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Baidu Censors Information About Political Figure's Suicide (Again)

On November 17, 2014, the website of the Beijing Youth Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Youth League committee in Beijing, published an article entitled “Hong Kong Media: PLA Navy Deputy Commissar Ma Faxiang Died After Jumping From a Building” (港媒:海军副政委马发祥跳楼身亡). It was deleted within hours.

The Beijing Youth Daily article as cached by Baidu
before it was deleted.
Shortly after the Beijing Youth Daily article was deleted, the China Daily published an article entitled “PLA Navy Deputy Commissar Ma Faxiang Died After Jumping From a Building, Was Engaged in Public Activities Last Month” (海军副政委马发祥跳楼身亡 上月公开活动)

The China Daily article.
These screenshots show that, about the same time the Beijing Youth Daily article was deleted, Baidu began restricting search results for “Ma Faxiang Suicide” (马发祥 自杀) and “Ma Faxiang Jumped” (马发祥 跳楼) to a strict white list of about a dozen website operated by the central government and Communist Party (which includes the China Daily but does not include the Beijing Youth Daily).



Both the China Daily and the Beijing Youth Daily covered similar facts:

  • They based their reporting on a report in Hong Kong’s Ta Kung Pao.
  • Vice Admiral Ma Faxiang was believed to have died after he leapt from a building at a naval complex in Beijing on November 13th.

But the reports differed in several aspects, for example, the China Daily article did not speculate as to why Ma committed suicide. Another article, this one from China.com.cn (which is also on Baidu’s strict white list) speculated that the suicide was the result of “depression.”

The deleted and censored Beijing Youth Daily article, however, said there were rumors that Ma's suicide was directly related to corruption and his having talked to the Central Disciplinary Commission.

This is not the first (or even the second) time that Baidu has censored results about an official committing suicide. For more examples, see this post: After Person Reportedly Commits Suicide Baidu Censors Searches for Their Name (Again) http://blog.feichangdao.com/2014/03/after-person-reportedly-commits-suicide.html

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Baidu, Sina, and Tencent Promise to Enforce Real Name Registration for Online Comments, Ask Users to Abide by the Socialist System

On November 6, 2014, China’s official news agency Xinhua published an article entitled “Chinese Websites Promise to Tighten Comments Management.” Some excerpts:
Twenty-nine major Chinese websites have promised to better manage the comments of their users as authorities call for a clean Internet. 
Representatives from the 29 web portals, including Tencent.com, Sohu.com, 163.com and the official website of Xinhua News Agency, signed the letter of commitment at a meeting organized by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC - 国家互联网信息办公室) on Thursday. 
These websites promised to ensure that "their users register, post and write comments with their real identity," according to the commitment letter. 
They also "promise to and sincerely ask all users to consciously abide by the 'seven bottom lines' -- law and rules, socialist systems, national interests, citizen's legitimate rights, social public order, morality and authenticity of information -- when posting."
In addition the websites promised to block 18 categories of comments, including those using:
  • language other than the language normally used to make comments;
  • words intended to deliberately circumvent censorship technology.
A full translation of the rules, entitled “Self-Discipline Commitment Letter on the Administration of Discussion and Commentary” (跟帖评论自律管理承诺书), is available here: http://blog.feichangdao.com/2014/11/translation-self-discipline-commitment.html.

The rules were announced by Ren Xianliang (贤良表), deputy director of the CAC, who told the assemble website operators:
To manage the Internet in accordance with the law it is not only necessary to focus on controlling the sources where news information is produced, it is also necessary to place a high degree of focus on steering and safeguarding the publication process flows.
依法管网不仅要重视管好新闻信息源头的生产,还要高度重视传播流通过程的引导和维护。
According to a Caixin report published on November 3, Ren also warned them that they shouldn’t allow conversations to be “led around by the nose by a minority of Big Vs.” (不能被少数大V牵着鼻子走).

Xinhua also published this list of signatories, which included Baidu, the Global Times, and the People’s Daily. Here is the list in Chinese: 新华网、人民网、中国网、国际在线、中国日报网、央视网、中国青年网、中国经济网、中国台湾网、中国西藏网、中国新闻网、中青在线、中国广播网、光明网、正义网、环球网、法制网、中工网、中国军网、千龙网、新浪网、搜狐网、网易网、腾讯网、凤凰网、百度网、财新网、今日头条、澎湃新闻 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Reports on Xi Jinping Statement on Foreign Journalist Visas Disappear From State Media

On November 12, 2014, New York Times reporter Mark Landler asked President Xi Jinping:
Several news organizations from the United States have had issues with residency permits in China being denied, including The New York Times.  I’m wondering in the spirit of these reciprocal visa arrangements that you’ve agreed to this week with business people and students, isn’t it time to extend that sort of right to foreign correspondents who seek to cover your country?
President Xi responded:
And China protects our citizens' freedom of expression and the normal rights and the interests of media organizations in accordance with law.  On the other hand, media outlets need to obey China's laws and regulations.  When a car breaks down on the road, perhaps we need to get off the car to see where the problem lies.  And when a certain issue is raised as a problem, there must be a reason.  In Chinese, we have a saying:  The party which has created a problem should be the one to help resolve it [literally, “Let he who tied the bell on the tiger take it off”].  So perhaps we should look into the problem to see where the cause lies.
Xi’s statements were initially reported by several state sponsored media outlets in China. For example, according to a report from the Shanghai-based “The Paper” (澎湃新闻), Xi’s statement in Chinese was:
中国政府依法保护公民的言论自由以及媒体的正当权益。但是各媒体也要遵守中国的法律。一个车子如果开到半截抛锚了,我们就要下来检查一下哪里出了毛病。中国人讲解铃还须系铃人,所以我们都可以找找原因。
However, as these screenshots show, these reports were removed from the websites of The Paper, the China Daily, Phoenix News, and Sichuan Radio and Television by November 15.

China Daily: “An Open Letter to the New York Times: News Reports Cannot Step Beyond the Limits of China’s Laws” (致纽约时报一封信:新闻报道勿跨中国法律雷池半步)
Original URL: http://cn.chinadaily.com.cn/2014-11/14/content_18917707.htm


Phoenix News: “New York Times Asks About Visas Being Rejected for American Reporters, Xi Jinping: The One Who Created the Problem Should Fix It”  (纽约时报提美国记者签证被拒问题 习近平:解铃还须系铃人)
Origina URL: http://news.ifeng.com/a/20141113/42461168_0.shtml


Sichuan Radio and Television: “Xi Jinping Responds on ‘American Reporters Being Denied Visas’: The One Who Created the Problem Should Fix It”(习近平回应“美记者签证被拒”:解铃还须系铃人)
Original URL: http://news.sctv.com/gnxw/szyw/201411/t20141115_2151168.shtml


The Paper: “Taiwan Independence, Tibet Independence, National Security: Nothing Was Off Limits During the 10 Hours of Talks Between Xi and Obama in Beijing” (习奥北京交谈长达10小时:台独、藏独、国防等话题无不涉及)
Original URL: http://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_1278000


Saturday, November 15, 2014

Free Speech with Mainland Chinese Characteristics as Metaphor: Cars, Tigers, Shoes, Water & Guests (But No Shields)

Fang Binxing: Its Like Bringing Water on a Plane


On February 18, 2011, the English language website of the Global Times (published by the People's Daily) published an article about Fang Binxing (方滨兴) entitled "Great Firewall Father Speaks Out." It was originally here - http://special.globaltimes.cn/2011-02/624290.html - but was subsequently deleted. It remains available here:


According to Fang:
The firewall monitors them [websites] and blocks them all. It's like when passengers aren't allowed to take water aboard an airplane because our security gates aren't good enough to differentiate between water and nitroglycerin.


Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson: Its Like Going to Battle Without a Shield


During the Ministry's regularly schedule press conference on March 3, 2011, foreign journalists asked Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Jiang Yu (姜瑜) about journalists being prevented from reporting on events in Wangfujing on February 27:
Follow-up Question: Can you specify which article of which law in China that we have broken?
Answer: You have broken the rule that applications are required prior to reporting at that location. Don't use the law as a shield. The truth is some people are eager for the fray and attempt to create trouble in China. For those with that kind of motive, I don't think the law can protect them.
追问:你能明确告诉我们违反了中国哪项法律的哪个条款吗?
答:违反了去那个地方采访需申请的有关规定。不要拿法律当挡箭牌。问题的实质是有人唯恐天下不乱,想在中国闹事。对于抱有这种动机的人,我想什么法律也保护不了他。


Source: http://www.mfa.gov.cn/mfa_chn/fyrbt_602243/jzhsl_602247/t803799.shtml

Its Like Stripping to Go Through Airport Security


Mo Yan (莫言) the 2012 Nobel Laureate in literature was quoted in articles posted on the website of the Shanghai City Government as well as state sponsored media such as the Economic Observer, as saying when asked about censorship in China at a press conference at the Royal Swedish Academy on December 6, 2012, Mo said:
When I was taking my flight, going through the customs ... they also wanted to check me — even taking off my belt and shoes. . . . But I think these checks are necessary.

Its Like Being a Guest in Their Home


On October 30, 2014, in response to a question from a reporter asking why Facebook is blocked in China Lu Wei (鲁炜), director of the State Internet Information Office, responded:
Since time immemorial China has been hospitable and welcoming, but if someone comes to our home as a guest, I get to choose. I can say two things, I have no way to change you, but I have the right to choose my friends. I hope everyone who comes to China is a friend, a true friend.
中国历来都是好客热情的,但是谁到我家作客,我是有选择的。我可以讲两句话,我没有办法改变你,但是我有权利选择朋友,我希望到中国来的都是朋友,是真朋友。


Its Like Maintaining a Car and/or Teasing a Tiger


On November 12, 2014, New York Times reporter Mark Landler asked President Xi Jinping:
Several news organizations from the United States have had issues with residency permits in China being denied, including The New York Times.  I’m wondering in the spirit of these reciprocal visa arrangements that you’ve agreed to this week with business people and students, isn’t it time to extend that sort of right to foreign correspondents who seek to cover your country?
President Xi responded:
And China protects our citizens' freedom of expression and the normal rights and the interests of media organizations in accordance with law.  On the other hand, media outlets need to obey China's laws and regulations.  When a car breaks down on the road, perhaps we need to get off the car to see where the problem lies.  And when a certain issue is raised as a problem, there must be a reason.  In Chinese, we have a saying:  The party which has created a problem should be the one to help resolve it [literally, “Let he who tied the bell on the tiger take it off”].  So perhaps we should look into the problem to see where the cause lies.
Xi’s statements were reported by several state sponsored media outlets in China, but then were subsequently deleted. According to these reports, Xi’s statement was:

中国政府依法保护公民的言论自由以及媒体的正当权益。但是各媒体也要遵守中国的法律。一个车子如果开到半截抛锚了,我们就要下来检查一下哪里出了毛病。中国人讲解铃还须系铃人,所以我们都可以找找原因。