Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Qidong Protests, Censorship, and Arrests - Baidu, Sina, Sohu, Netease, Global Times, and Tencent

On July 27, 2012, the state sponsored Global Times reported:
Some 10,000 residents of the city of Qidong (启东), Jiangsu Province are expected to hit the streets in protest Saturday hoping to stop a Japanese paper factory, which locals say will discharge 150,000 tons of dirty water every day, from going into full operation.. . . .
The protest is expected to go ahead even though the city government announced on television Thursday that the plant will be suspended.
The protest did indeed go ahead. Here are some photos.
At 4pm on July 28, the state-sponsored Securities Times (证券时报 - published by the People's Daily) published a report entitled "Jiangsu Provincial Communist Party Propaganda Department: Reports on Qidong Incident Must Use Xinhua's Texts as Their Basis" (江苏省委宣传部:启东事件报道需以新华社通稿为准):
This reporter called the Jiangsu Provincial Communist Party Propaganda Department about the mass protests in Qidong against the Japanese company's pollution run-off to ask whether they would be holding a press conference. The official who answered said they need to ask the propaganda official on the scene, and would give this reporter an answer shortly. After a few minutes, he gave a response as promised, but clearly expressed that all information published by media reporting from the scene must use Xinhua's text as their basis.
That report, which originally appeared here - http://kuaixun.stcn.com/content/2012-07/28/content_6413797.htmwas deleted within hours. The screenshots below show that the report was also deleted from other websites, such as Sohu and CNFOL, where it had been reposted. 

Sina Weibo

These screenshots show that on July 28, Sina was censoring searches on its Weibo micro-blogging platform for "Qidong" and "Sun Jianhua" (孙建华 - the Communist Party Secretary of Qidong).
But just because Sina was blocking searches for "Qidong" doesn't mean it wasn't still possible for users to find posts related to events there, provided the poster did not use censored terms. For example,  the right-hand screenshot above shows that, despite the fact that when a user searched for "Sun Jianhua" Sina said that "In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, search results for 'Qidong' have not been displayed," nevertheless one of the default posts Sina provided was the following post from Lee Kaifu to his almost 15 million followers on July 28:
"Courage that is present but restrained." In 2006, when thousands of Taiwan's red shirt army surrounded Chen Shuibian's government, General Shi Mingde insisted he would not force his way in, and there could not be bloodshed. He believed one could use prettifying the ends as a means. If general who is originally on the side of justice then goes on to transgress, he will be condemned through the ages. He said: When the arrow is knocked, the greater measure of courage and wisdom is to be able to resist loosing it when it must not be loosed."  I hope that on certain streets in Jiangsu there are people who will read this post.
【箭在弦上而不发的勇气】2006年,当台湾100万红衫军包围陈水扁政府时,总指挥施明德坚持不能冲进去,不可以流血。他认为不能用目的美化手段。原本的正义之军,如果越轨,将成为千古罪人。他说:“箭在弦上,不得不发而能不发,需要更大的勇气和智慧。” 希望在江苏某条街上,有人能看到这条微博。


These screenshots show that Baidu shut down its Qidong Tieba forum on July 28.
By August 3, Baidu had re-opened the Qidong Tieba forum.


These screenshots show that a blog post entitled "Jiangsu Qidong Citizens Marching On July 28 In Opposition to the Oji Paper Plant's Polluted Water Run-Off Stripped the Party Secretary of His Clothes" (江苏启东市民反对王子制纸污水排放728大游行将市委书记孙建华衣服扒光) was deleted from a Netease blog.

The post was originally available here: http://jiuguishu.blog.163.com/blog/static/20066001220126286139456/

Global Times

On July 29, the state-sponsored Global Times reported:
On July 29, Japanese media was abuzz about Asahi Shimbun's China correspondent [Atsushi Okudera] being "beaten by police" while covering the public marches  in Qidong, Jiangsu, and are calling for an apology form the Qidong government. The Tokyo News went on to say that, currently Sino-Japanese relations are deteriorating on issues around the Diaoyu Islands, and that participants in the Qidong marches demonstrated strong anti-Japanese sentiment, with some people shouting slogans like "Japanese people get out of China."
The screenshots show that the story was deleted within hours after publication, both from the Global Times, as well as from other websites, such as Tencent's QQ, that reposted it.

Arrest for Spreading Rumors

Finally, on July 30, the People's Daily published an article entitled "Qidong Police Detain Individual Who Spread Rumor That 'Police Trampled People To Death'" (江苏启东警方拘留散布“警察踩死人”谣言者). Some excerpts: 
Based on an investigation by the Qidong public security agency: on the evening of July 28, 2012, an individual surnamed Sun spread false rumors online such as "Nantong police trampled a nine year old girl to death, and in the afternoon beat an 18 year old student to death," and Sun had already made a confession to that effect. 
The notice stated that Sun's actions violated the provision of clause 1, article 25 of the "Public Security Administrative Punishments Law of the People's Republic of China" on "spreading rumors, making false reports of emergencies, epidemics, or police actions, or any other means of intentionally disturbing public order." With respect to this the public security agency made a determination to impose a sanction of ten days administrative detention and a fine of 500 yuan.