Friday, August 31, 2012

Flight CA981 Makes Emergency Return, Posts Containing "CA981 Official Flees Abroad" Disappear From Sina Weibo


On August 30, 2012, the state-sponsored People's Daily reported:
An Air China flight heading to New York returned to Beijing last night after "receiving a threatening message." The Boeing 747 - flight CA981- landed at Beijing Capital International Airport at around 8:30pm about eight hours after it had set off for John F. Kennedy Airport.
. . . .
The airport later announced that "nothing abnormal has been found after the overall inspections."
These screenshots were taken between 9:30 am and 2 pm on August 30, and show that a search for "CA981 Official Flees Abroad" (CA981 外逃官员) at 9:30 returned 10 results. For the same search at 12:30 Sina says no search results can be found. Less than ten minutes later Sina now finds one result, but by 2 pm that result has disappeared as well and Sina says it once again cannot find any results.

The final screenshot shows the last post as it appeared at http://weibo.com/1696059701/yzxvIp8YG before it was deleted. It reads:
#China Airlines CA981 Receives Threat Returns to Airport#There's a rumor going around the street stalls that a high level official who was fleeing was arrested and brought back. If there were really dangerous materials on the plane, then it should immediately landed and been inspected, it wouldn't have returned to the busy Beijing airport. If its true that it was really to arrest a fleeing official, then at least it must have been a very senior one.
#国航CA981遭威胁返航# 坊间传闻是高官出逃被抓回来。如果真有危险品在机上,应该立即就近降落排查,不会再返回繁忙的北京机场吧。如果真是为了抓外逃官员,那至少是大佬级别了。
9:30 am
12:30 pm
12:40 pm
2:00 pm

The deleted post shown in the 12:40 pm screenshot

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Qihoo and Baidu Search Censorship Compared - Hu Jintao, Tiananmen, Liu Xiaobo, Xin Ziling, and Li Wangyang


On August 21, 2012, the state-sponsored China.org.cn website reported:
On Tuesday morning, so.360.cn replaced Google as the default search engine on Qihoo 360's portal Hao.360.com, which will radically alter the existing structure of Chinese online search engine industry. Qihoo's new search engine went live on August 16, and has in just five days overtaken Google and Sohu.com's Sogou to become China's second-largest traffic source. Baidu remains the market leader with almost 80 percent of China's domestic search traffic. 
After Google exited the Chinese search market in 2010, Baidu, Google's Hong Kong operation, and Sogou shared the country's search industry spoils. However, Qihoo's emergence is likely to shake up China's search engine market.
These screenshots, taken on August 21, show that a search for "Hu Jintao" (胡锦涛) on Qihoo and Baidu return very similar results. Both display an identically worded notice that "In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, some search results could not be displayed." (根据相关法律法规和政策,部分搜索结果未予显示。). In both cases, search results are restricted to the same strict white list of a dozen-or-so websites controlled by the central government and Communist Party. The only exception is that Baidu's top result is from its own "Baike," and Qihoo's top result is from "Hudong."
 Hudong and Baike are wikipedia clones, and in February 2011, the state-sponsored Global Times reported that  Hudong was appealing to authorities to conduct an anti-monopoly investigation on Baidu, alleging it manipulated searches and eliminated Hudong entries from its top search results.

These next screenshots show search results for "Liu Xiaobo," (刘哓波) the winner of the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize who is currently imprisoned by Chinese authorities for inciting subversion. Once again, the top results for Qihoo and Baidu are Hudong and Baike, respectively. As was the case with "Hu Jintao," Qihoo once again restricts search results to the strict white list. Baidu, however, restricts results to its broad white list, which includes large portal sites like Sohu, Sina.com.cn, and 163.com.

These screenshots show search results for "Tiananmen Square Incident." (天安门广场事件) In this case, Qihoo does not display any censorship notice, and appears to provide uncensored results. Baidu, however, once again displays the censorship notice, and restricts results to its strict white list.

These screenshots show search results for Xin Ziling (辛子陵), a former official at the China National Defense University. Qihoo appears to be restricting search results to its own broad white list, while Baidu returns no results, just a notice saying "Search results may not comply with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, and have not been displayed." (搜索结果可能不符合相关法律法规和政策,未予显示。).
These last screenshots show search results for "Li Wangyang" (李旺阳), a labour rights activist who was found hanged to death earlier this year. In this case, neither Qihoo nor Baidu return any results, just an identically worded notice saying "Search results may not comply with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, and have not been displayed." (搜索结果可能不符合相关法律法规和政策,未予显示。).


Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Translation: Wang Xiaoning Inciting Subversion Court Judgment

On August 29, 2012, overseas media reported that Wang Xiaoning (王小宁) would be released on August 31.

On September 12, 2003, the Beijing Municipal First Intermediate People’s Court sentenced Wang to 10 years’ imprisonment with two years’ deprivation of political rights for committing the crime of inciting subversion of state power. The court found:
Wang Xiaoning smeared and incited the subversion of state power and the Socialist system and endangered national security through writing and reposting articles, compiling electronic publications, and distributing them in large numbers by email.
In reaching this conclusion, the court cited the following essays as having been published by Wang on foreign websites:
  • Regulation and Control of the Internet Cannot Violate the Constitution and Laws (对网络进行管制不能违反宪法和法律)
  • Bring Down Corruption in Using Government Vehicles (打倒公车腐败)
  • The Current Condition of Science and Technology in China’s National Defense Industry Is Worrisome (中国的国防工业科技现状令人担忧)
  • Regulations and the Government's Red Documents Are Not Law (法规和政府的红头文件不是法律)
  • Discussing the Road to China's Unification On October 1 (十一论中国统一之路)
  • Analysis of the Possibility of a Military Coup in China (中国军事政变的可行性分析)
  • Whether Arresting Lü Jiaping’s Son Is Aimed at the Chinese Communist Party’s Military Authority (逮捕吕加平的儿子,是否针对中共军方)
In addition, the court cited the following articles, stating that in them Wang "advocated his own so-called 'democratic thoughts' and attacked the current political and social systems. He widely distributed and disseminated these thoughts by using Yahoo China’s online group and email, which were registered under his pseudonyms."
  • The Chinese Constitution (中国宪法)
  • Understand Correctly the Current Constitution, Use the Constitution to Advance the Establishment of a Democratic Political Body in China (正确地认识现行宪法,利用宪法推进中国民主政体的实现)
  • Hold High the Great Flag of the Current Constitution, Fight Hard against Any Violation of the Constitution (高举现行宪法的伟大旗帜,与一切违宪行为做坚决的斗争) 
  • Gu Zhun’s Socialist Dual Party System Marks the Direction for the Reform of the Political System in China (顾准的社会主义两党制的思想为中国政治体制改革指明了方向)
  • Revolt of the Left Wing in the Communist Party of China Increases the Possibility of a Military Coup (中共左派的反叛使军事政变可能性增大)
The court judgment also included the following in the list of evidence it considered:
The user information from Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. proves and confirms: the Yahoo China website is authorized by Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. to operate in mainland China. Online group is a service similar to a bulletin board provided by the Yahoo China website. Its members may upload materials to the online group through the Internet. The originator of the online group “aaabbbccc” is bxoguh@yahoo.com.cn. This user is a registered user of the Yahoo China website.
The user information from Yahoo Holdings (Hong Kong) Ltd. proves and confirms: ahgq@yahoo.com.cn is a registered user of the Yahoo China website.  
雅虎香港控股有限公司关于用户资料的证明证实:雅虎中国网站是由雅虎香港控股有限公司授权在国内经营的网站。电子部落是雅虎中国网站提供的一种类似于公告栏的服务。其成员可以通过互联网在电子部落里上传资料。电子部落aaabbbccc的发起人是 bxoguh@yahoo.com.cn 。该用户是雅虎中国网站的一个注册用户。
雅虎香港控股有限公司关于用户资料的证明证实:ahgq@yahoo.com.cn是雅虎中国网站的注册用户。
The following translation of the court's judgment was filed as an exhibit to Yahoo's Motion for Summary Judgment in a lawsuit filed by the World Organization for Human Rights against Yahoo! Inc. in California in April 2007 claiming violations under the Alien Tort Statute (28 U.S.C. §1350) and the Torture Victim Protection Act (28 U.S.C. §1350) on the grounds that Wang had "been subjected to grave violations of some of the most universally recognized standards of international law," and that Yahoo had "willingly provided Chinese officials with access to private e-mail records, copies of email messages, e-mail addresses, user ID numbers, and other identifying information about [Wang]."

Yahoo settled the case in November 2007.

Beijing Municipal First Intermediate People’s Court 

Criminal Verdict 

(2003) One Intermediate Criminal Division First Trial Case No. 2226 

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

MFA: "Chinese Have Full Freedom of Religious Belief," Baidu Bans Forums on Islam, Judaism, Christianity, and Buddhism


On August 2, 2012, Xinhua reported:
A spokesman for China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Thursday refuted the U.S. State Department's criticism of its religious freedom situation.
"The Chinese people are best qualified to judge China's religious situation," spokesman Hong Lei (洪磊) said, urging the United States to discard prejudice, respect the facts and view China's policy on religion and its religious freedom situation in an objective and impartial way.
The Chinese government protects citizens' freedom of religious belief in accordance with the law, he said, adding that people of all nationalities in the country are lawfully guaranteed full freedom of religious belief.
These screenshots, taken on August 4, show that searches on Baidu's Tieba forums for the following terms return no results, just a notice saying "Apologies, in accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, this forum cannot be opened at this time." (抱歉,根据相关法律法规和政策,本吧暂不开放。): Islam (伊斯兰教), Judaism (犹太教), Christianity (基督教), and Buddhism (佛教).

Hong Lei's statement in Chinese:
问:美国国务院发布2011年度“国际宗教自由报告”,继续把中国列为“特别关注国家”。你对此有何评论?
答:中国政府依法保障公民的宗教信仰自由,中国各族人民依法享有充分的宗教信仰自由。中国宗教状况怎么样,中国人民最有发言权,不需要美方指手画脚、说三道四。美方应摒弃偏见,尊重事实,客观、公正看待中国的宗教政策和宗教信仰自由状况,停止利用宗教问题干涉中国内政,不做有损中美关系和双方互信与合作的事。

Monday, August 20, 2012

Gu Kailai Found Guilty of Murdering Neil Heywood - A Chronicle of Censorship of the Case

On August 20, 2012, a court in Hefei, Anhui, found Gu Kailai (谷开来), wife of former Chongqing Communist Party Secretary Bo Xilai (薄熙来), guilty of murdering Neil Heywood (尼尔伍德), and gave her a suspended death sentence. It also found Zhang Xiaojun (张晓军) guilty and sentenced him to nine years imprisonment.

The following is a summary of events and censorship relating to Gu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun over the last several months.

November 12, 2011: Gu Kailai asks Neil Heywood to come to Chongqing.

November 13, 2011: Heywood flies from Beijing to Chongqing and checks into the Lucky Holiday hotel (南山丽景度假酒店).

November 15, 2011: Heywood is found dead in a Chongqing hotel room. Chinese authorities rule that the cause of death is alcohol poisoning, and his body is cremated.

March 26, 2012: The British government asks the Chinese government to investigate Heywood's death.

These screenshots show several examples of how several websites in China began censoring information at that time.
March 25 - Sina Weibo was already censoring searches for "Gu Kailai"
Baidu
Tencent Weibo
Yahoo.cn
April 10: Bo Xilai is suspended from his Politburo and top Communist Party posts. China announces Gu Kailai is being investigated for Heywood's death.

These screenshots show that at this point Baidu began restricting searches for "Gu Kailai" to its strict white list comprising its own Baike and about a dozen websites operated by the central government and the Communist Party.
These screenshots show that a search on Sogou for "Bo Guagua," (薄瓜瓜) son of Bo Xilai and Gu Kailai, on the morning of April 11 returned almost a million search results. The same search conducted that afternoon returned only 11 results.
As these screenshots from April 11 show, Sina Weibo was also censoring searches for terms related to the case, including "Bo Xilai," "BXL," "Gu Kailai," "Bo Guagua," "Heywood," and "Wang Lijun." (王立军)
These screenshots show that the following day Sogou began censoring searches for "Zhang Xiaojun." On April 12, searches on Sogou returned over 180,000 results from websites including Hexun, Sohu, and QQ. By April 13, however, Sogou was returning around 2,000 results, all of them from about dozen websites controlled by the central government and the Communist Party.
These screenshots show that, shortly after China's state run media began publicly discussing the Heywood case, Baidu stopped completely censoring searches for "Heywood," and instead began restricting search results to its strict white list.

April 25: Bo Guagua writes an open letter to his school paper, the Harvard Crimson, saying his education has been funded by scholarships and his mother's earnings as a lawyer. He says he has no comment to make about the investigation.

May 17: the New York Times reports that Patrick Henri Devillers has been implicated in the business affairs of Gu Kailai.

This screenshot shows that a search for "Devillers" (多维尔) on Sina Weibo on May 17 returned no results, just a notice saying "In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, search results for "Devillers" have not been displayed." (根据相关法律法规和政策,“多维尔”搜索结果未予显示)

At some time between April 16 and May 17, Baidu relaxed its censorship of searches for "Bo Xilai." Prior to April 16, Bo Xilai's name had been on Baidu's strict white list. But some time after that Baidu moved his name to its broader white list, which is comprised of the strict white list websites, as well as large China-based news websites and portals.

Baidu did not, however, relax its censorship of searches for "Gu Kailai." These screenshots were taken at the same time on May 18, and show search results for "Bo Xilai" (薄熙来) and "Gu Kailai" (谷开来). Both display a censorship notice, but whereas searches for "Bo Xilai" return results from websites such as QQ, Sina, and Sohu, searches for "Gu Kailai" only return results from about a dozen websites, all of which (with the exception of Baidu's own Baike) are controlled by the central government and Communist Party, such as Xinhua.


As a result of being placed on this stricter whitelist, a search for "Gu Kailai Devillers" (谷开来 多维尔) returns no results, just a notice saying "Search results may not comply with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, and have not been displayed." (搜索结果可能不符合相关法律法规和政策,未予显示。)

June 17: Cambodia detains French architect Patrick Devillers.

June 22: Cambodia’s Foreign Ministry said the country had no plans to extradite Patrick Devillers to China.

The screenshots, taken on June 22, show that, while a search for "Devillers" (多维尔) on Baidu returns (apparently) uncensored search results, searching for "Devillers extradition" (多维尔 引渡) results in a notice saying "In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, some search results have not been displayed" (根据相关法律法规和政策,部分搜索结果未予显示), and the results that Baidu has provided are restricted to about a dozen websites controlled by the central government and the Communist Party.

These screenshots, taken on July 7, 2012, show that for searches for Bo Xilai, Bo Guagua, and Gu Kailai, Baidu claims to have found 765k, 12k, and 8.4k results, respectively. In each case, however, Baidu only returns only one result - its own Baidu Baike article.
These screenshots were taken on July 15, and show that by now Baidu has reverted to its prior censorship of Bo Xilai, Gu Kailai, and Bo Guagua, with the former being on the broad white list and the latter two on the strict white list.

July 17: Patrick Devillers flies to Beijing.

July 26: Gu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun are charged with Heywood's murder by the People's Procuratorate in Hefei, Anhui province.

August 7: Bo Guagua sends an email to CNN saying: "As I was cited as a motivating factor for the crimes accused of my mother, I have already submitted my witness statement."

August 9: Gu Kailai and Zhang Xiaojun are tried in Heifei. Examples of Baidu's and Sina Weibo's censorship at that time can be found here.
Screenshot from August 9 shows Sina Weibo censoring "Hefei Court"
Screenshot from August 13 shows Sina Weibo censoring "Body Stand In"
August 20: At around 1:30 pm Xinhua reports that the Hefei court has issued its verdict. Shortly afterwards, Sina Weibo stops censoring "Gu Kailai."

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Baidu Employees Arrested for Deleting Posts for Cash, Baidu Censors "Delete Posts"


On August 6, 2012, the state-sponsored Global Times published an article entitled "Baidu Staff Delete Posts for Cash." That article reported:
According to internal communications from Baidu, an employee, surnamed Lu, was working with professional agents to delete posts. Lu was arrested on July 16 under suspicion of bribing non-government staff, the Beijing News reported.  Another two suspects, surnamed Sun and Xu, were detained on July 20 and 23. A non-Baidu employee was also detained, the report said.
. . . .
A member of staff from a post-deleting company named Beijing Haotian Lianmeng, said that it costs 1,000 yuan ($159) to delete an article from forums, 2,000 yuan to remove one from a blog and 3,000 yuan to delete a piece of news posted on a news portal, like Sina.
. . . .
Liu also claimed that he knew insiders in Internet companies, who could help him.
Betty Tian, a Baidu spokesperson, confirmed to the Wall Street Journal that the posts in question were on Baidu's Tieba forums. Hamish Mckenzie reported in a Pando Daily article entitled "Baidu’s Latest Scandal Shows Trust Is Still An Issue":
Baidu has in the past removed links to posts related to sensitive events, such as the melamine milk crisis. But those orders would likely have come from the government, so it wouldn’t be fair to blame the company for that. [Kaiser Kuo - Baidu's head of international public relations] told me: “[Baidu] would never remove links at the request of a third party unless that third party were a properly constituted governmental agency with regulatory control over such things.”
This screenshot, taken on August 6, shows that a search for "delete posts" (删帖) on Sina Weibo returns over three million results. The top result is a post by Caijing Magazine entitled "Three Baidu Employees Detained for Accepting Money to Delete Posts" (百度3员工收费删帖被刑拘).
These screenshots, taken on August 7, show that a search for "delete posts" (删帖) on:
  • Baidu's Tieba Forum returns no results, just a notice saying "Apologies, in accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, this forum cannot be opened at this time." (抱歉,根据相关法律法规和政策,本吧暂不开放。).
  • Baidu's "Zhidao" question and answer product returns no results, just a notice saying no search results could be found. 
These screenshots show that the same search on Baidu web search restricted to Baidu's "Tieba" forums and Baidu's "Zhidao" (which is done by adding the "site:" operator - "site:tieba.baidu.com" and "site:zhidao.baidu.com") returns no results, just a notice saying "Search results may not comply with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, and have not been displayed." (搜索结果可能不符合相关法律法规和政策,未予显示。).

These screenshots show that the same searches on Sogou, one of Baidu's competitors, returns over 34,000 results for Zhidao and over 2 million results for Tieba.

The top result on Sogou for "delete posts site:zhidao.baidu.com" is a post which has since been deleted which said in part:
Our company's business purpose is the expert deletion of posts, deletion of negative information, deletion of negative news, deletion of Baidu search records, deletion of Baidu Zhidao, deletion of Baidu Tieba, and all kinds of other information.
公司以专业删帖为经营目地,删除负面信息,删除负面新闻,删除百度搜索记录,删除百度知道,删除百度贴吧及网上各类信息.

Global Times Says Diaoyu Protesters Backed by State, Sina Weibo Censors Searches for "Anti-Japanese Beijing"


On August 16, 2012, the state-sponsored Global Times published a report entitled "Coordination Needed to Succeed in Diaoyu." Some excerpts:
The Chinese public is wondering why the Diaoyu Islands, a part of China's territory, is occupied by Japan and why the PLA doesn't send navy ships to escort activists. The Chinese government is thought of as being "weak" by some.  
It is a challenge to make the Chinese public understand the complexity of the Diaoyu issue and coordinate willingness to protect Diaoyu and China's strategic interests.
Chinese society needs to understand that grass-roots activists for Diaoyu are being backed by the State.  
While there is no open official support of the activists landing on Diaoyu, that doesn't mean these activists are acting on their own. Their safe trip to Diaoyu, and eventual safe return, are both the result of China's national strength. 
The next day, the Global Times published an article entitled "Nation’s Strength Backs Diaoyu Progress." Some excerpts:
The Diaoyu issue is a problem created by the US. It is a thorny issue between China and Japan. It can be intensified, forcing a showdown between the two sides. It can also be eased, allowing the two countries to engage in other exchanges.  
Early in the 1970s, former Chinese leader Deng Xiaoping proposed that the two countries "shelve bilateral disputes and seek common development" on the Diaoyu Islands issue, so that the issue would not hinder cooperation between and development of both countries.  
But Japanese right wing groups triggered the dispute first, and the Japanese government failed to restrain their behavior, resulting in a chain reaction.
These screenshots, taken on August 19, show that Sina Weibo did not censor searches for "anti-japanese," (反日) "anti-japanese Shenyang," or "anti-japanese Shanghai." It did, however, censor searches for "anti-japanese Beijing." (反日 北京)





Lawyers Call for Reform of Re-Education Through Labor, Baidu Bans Tieba Forums on RETL


On August 16, 2012, the China Daily published an article entitled "Lawyers Calling for Reform of Laojiao System." Some excerpts:
"Standing regulations do not require laojiao management committees to release a written verdict to explain how their decisions were made, so it’s difficult to know if a decision was fair," said Li Fangping, an author of the letter and a Beijing lawyer known for his work in protecting the rights of people with HIV. 
The letter was sent to the Ministry of Public Security and the Ministry of Justice. In it, the lawyers wrote that the laojiao system is neither transparent nor well-supervised.
. . . .
The letter came amid a storm of criticism that arose after the mother of a rape victim was made to undergo laojiao for repeatedly petitioning authorities. 
Tang Hui, 39, was accused of "seriously disturbing the social order and exerting a negative impact on society" and sent on Aug 2 to a laojiao center in Hunan province’s Yongzhou to serve an 18-month sentence. 
Tang had accused the city police of falsifying evidence in order to reduce the sentences handed down to those who were responsible for the kidnap, rape and forced prostitution of her daughter, who was 11 years old when the crimes occurred.
This screenshot, taken on August 19, shows that a search for "Re-Education Through Labor" (劳教) on Baidu's Tieba Forum returns the following notice: "Apologies, in accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, this forum cannot be open at this time." (抱歉,根据相关法律法规和政策,本吧暂不开放。).

China Daily Says Japan Must Hear Chinese Voice on Diaoyu Islands, Baidu Bans Tieba Forums on Diaoyu Islands


On August 16, 2012, the state-sponsored China Daily published an editorial from the Beijing News entitled "Chinese Public Opinion Should be Heard". Some excerpts:
A group of activists from the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region broke through obstructions of the Japanese and successfully landed on the Diaoyu Islands on Aug 15, Victory over Japan Day, to assert China’s claim to the Diaoyu Islands. 
. . . .
China’s independent and peaceful foreign policy is built on the basis of national will and public support. If the Japanese side turns a deaf ear to the expression of Chinese people’s will and doesn’t stop at the brink of the precipice, it is bound to pay the price.
This screenshot, taken on August 17, shows that a search for "Diaoyu Islands" (钓鱼岛) on Baidu's Tieba Forum returns the following notice: "Apologies, in accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, this forum cannot be open at this time." (抱歉,根据相关法律法规和政策,本吧暂不开放。).

Friday, August 17, 2012

Posts About Tibetans Self-Immolating Disappear from Sina Weibo


On March 7, 2012, The state-sponsored China News Agency published an article entitled: "Sichuan Representatives Respond on the Aba Monks Self-Immolations: Absolutely Are Not Representative of Mainstream Tibetan Areas" (四川代表回应阿坝僧人自焚:丝毫不能代表藏区主流). The article cited Liu Qibao (刘奇葆 - Sichuan Communist Party Secretary) as saying: "Just now the AP reporter mentioned that some people in Tibetan areas complain about the suppression of minority culture. This problem does not exist in day-to-day life in Tibetan areas." (刚才美联社记者提到藏区有人抱怨压制少数民族文化。这个问题在藏区的现实生活中是不存在的。)

These screenshots show that, at some point in late February or early March, Sina Weibo began censoring searches for "Aba Self-Immolate" (阿坝 自焚).

Eventually, Sina stopped blanket censorship for searches for those terms. But at around noon on May 28, 2012, Xinhua reported that on the previous day two Tibetan men had set themselves on fire on a well-known market street in downtown Lhasa.

These screenshots show that as of 5 pm on May 28, a search on Sina Weibo for "self-immolation" (自焚) returned millions of results. The same search done several hours later only returned a notice saying "In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, search results for 'self-immolation' have not been displayed." (根据相关法律法规和政策,“自焚”搜索结果未予显示).

Once again, after some time Sina stopped blanket censorship for this term.  These screenshots were taken on August 6, 2012. The left-hand screenshot shows Sina Weibo returns two search results for "Aba Self-Immolate" (阿坝 自焚): One from August 6 and one from July 14.
August 6: BBC Information Human rights organization: a Tibetan man self-immolated in Aba, Sichuan.
BBC消息 人权组织:四川阿坝一藏族男子自焚 
July 14: Aba Kirti monastery, its said this is the home of Dana, its a very unfriendly temple and self-immolation incidents often happen here, I took a photo in the doorway, but didn't dare go in, and left quickly.
阿坝格尔登寺庙,据说是达纳的根据地,一个很不友善的寺庙,常发生自焚时间,在门口拍了点照,没敢进入,匆匆离开

Although searches are not being censored, posts are being disappeared. These screenshots were taken early in the morning on August 15. The left-hand screenshot shows Sina Weibo returns two search results for "Aba Self-Immolate" (阿坝 自焚): One from 1:00 am on August 15 and the one from July 14 translated above (I'm not sure why the time stamp has changed to July 15).

The August 6 post shown above has been deleted.

The 1:00 am post says:
According to an American Radio Free Asia report, yesterday authorities dispatched a large police force, and sealed up the scene where two Tibetans self-immolated the previous day in Aba, Sichuan. Tibetans there had assembled at the scene and clashed with police, leading to an unusually tense situation. The report said one Tibetan protester was beaten to death by police, and the status of the two Tibetans who self-immolated remained unclear.
據美國自由亞洲電台報道,當局昨日派出大量警力,封鎖了兩名藏人昨日在四川阿壩縣的自焚現場,有當地藏人則在現場聚集並與警方發生衝突,導致局勢異常緊張。報道稱,一名抗議的藏人被警察打死,而兩名自焚藏人的情況至今仍然不明。
These screenshots were taken in the afternoon on August 15. The left-hand screenshot shows Sina Weibo returns two search results for "Aba Self-Immolate" (阿坝 自焚): One from 11:00 am on August 15 and the one from July 14 translated above.

The 1:00 am post shown above has been deleted.

The 11:00 am post says:
BBC reports Tibetans in Aba Sichuan are continuing to self-immolate, what's going on? BBC报道四川阿坝藏人不断自焚,有何居心?
This last screenshot was taken late in the evening on August 15, and shows that the 11:00 am post has been deleted.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rumor of Economic Observer's Shuttering Gets Quashed - But Its Report on Victims of the Beijing Floods is Still Missing


When Beijing suffered torrential rains on July 21, Sina Weibo censored searches relating to the death toll.

These screenshots show that Tencent began censoring searches for "Economic Observer" (经济观察报) on its Weibo some time on August 6 or 7, 2012, and stopped censoring searches for it some time after August 7.

These screenshots, taken on August 13, show that, while Sina Weibo was returning over 2 million  search results for "Economic Observer" and over 170 results for "The Flood's Missing," (暴雨失踪者) it was still censoring searches for "Economic Observer the Flood's Missing."

On August 4, 2012, the state-sponsored Economic Observer published an article entitled "The Flood's Missing." An excerpt:
The Economic Observer's Version
Beijing's "July 21" downpour came out of nowhere, causing the scenic mountain village of Shidu in Fangshan to lose contact with the outside world and putting many tourists in life-threatening peril. After the flood waters receded, the Shidu city government announced "Under the correct leadership of the Fangshan district government, and through the united efforts and brave struggles of the entire village, not one single citizen or tourist died in the village, and disaster relief efforts have been victorious." The Shidu police station also said: "Faced with the Juman River overflowing its banks, a miracle was achieved in that there was not one single injury or fatality amongst the citizens and tourists in Shidu." 
In fact, the Fangshan government notices neglected to mention the situation with respect to missing people. In Shidu, it seems everyone knew about "the three people swept away in the flood at Pudu village." After a detailed investigation, this paper's reporters have come to understand that, at 8 pm on July 21, at the Pudu Water Park beside Bridge No. 11 in Shidu, Ma Hailong, Hou JIan, and Yang Han were swept away following failed rescue efforts, and that there has been no word from them for over ten days. On the afternoon of August 3, Yang Han's family told this paper via telephone that Yang Han's corpse had been found in Laishui county in Hebei, and that the family was on the way to Laishui. 
The Beijing Daily's Version
北京“7·21”暴雨来袭,作为旅游景区的北京市房山区十渡镇与外界失去了联络,众多游客被困,千万生命危在旦夕。洪水退后,十渡镇政府对外宣告“在房山区委区政府的正确领导下,经过全镇上下协力奋战,镇域内百姓、景区内游客无一人伤亡,救灾工作取得首战胜利”。十渡镇派出所也称,“面对拒马河上游洪峰侵袭,创下了十渡辖区无一名村民、游客伤亡的救援奇迹”。 
事实上,在房山区政府诸多通告中,并没有提到失踪人员的情况。在十渡镇,几乎无人不知“普渡山庄被洪水冲走3个人”。本报记者经过多方调查了解到,7月21日20时许,在十渡镇十一渡桥旁边的普渡山庄水上乐园,马海龙、侯建、杨晗三人在救援失败后被洪水冲走,十几天来一直杳无音讯。8月3日下午,杨晗家属在电话中告诉本报,杨晗的遗体已经在河北省涞水县找到,家属正在赶往涞水的路上。
This article contradicted an article published on July 26 by the state-sponsored Beijing Daily entitled "Not a Single Citizen or Tourist Injured or Killed in Shidu" (十渡区域百姓游客无一伤亡).

These screenshots, taken on August 6, show that the article was subsequently deleted from both the HTML and ePaper versions of the Economic Observer's website. The Beijing Daily article is still online.


On the evening of August 7, the following posts appeared on Sina Weibo:

5:11 pm, from the Economic Observer:
Friends: The Economic Observer is operating as usual; information saying that this publisher has been investigated and closed is pure rumor. Thanks for everyone's concern.
各位网友:经济观察报运转如常;有关报社被查封的消息纯系谣言。感谢各位网友关心。
5:59 pm, from the Beijing Government Information Office:
Beijing Announces: We have seen information online that the "Economic Observer" has been "closed." Following confirmation from the city's agonies responsible for the administration of culture, we have an official response: this is absolutely not true, and this is purely a rumor.
北京发布:我们注意到,网上有《经济观察报》被“查封”的信息,经向市文化行政管理部门核实,得到官方回应:绝无此事,纯属造谣。
Less than an hour later, the People's Daily website published a report entitled "Online Rumors Say the Economic Observer Was Investigated and Shuttered for Investigative Reporting on Beijing Floods - Official Say That's Pure Rumor." (网传经济观察报报道京暴雨调查被查封 官方:纯属造谣)

None of these posts or reports discussed why the Economic Observer's article was no longer available where it had originally been posted.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Gu Kailai Goes On Trial for Murder of Neil Heywood - A Look at the State of Baidu and Sina Censorship


Search for "Hefei Court" on Sina Weibo returns no results.
On August 9, 2012, the state-sponsored China Daily reported:
The intentional homicide trial of Bogu Kailai [谷开来], wife of Bo Xilai [薄熙来], former Party chief of Chongqing, and Zhang Xiaojun [张晓军] began on Thursday in the Hefei City Intermediate People's Court in Anhui province.
. . . .
Bogu Kailai and her son [Bo Guagua - 薄瓜瓜] had conflicts with Neil Heywood, a British citizen, over economic interests. Concerned that Neil Heywood could be a threat to her son's personal security, Bogu decided to murder Heywood. 
She asked Zhang Xiaojun, the other defendant and then an employee of the general office of the Chongqing Municipal Committee of the Communist Party of China, to invite Heywood to Chongqing in Southwest China and accompany him from Beijing. Heywood stayed in Room No 1605 of the 16th building of a vacation resort, the Lucky Holiday Hotel, in Chongqing. 
On Nov 13, Bogu Kailai met Heywood in his hotel room for a drink. After Heywood became drunk, he vomited and asked for water. Bogu Kailai put the poison she had prepared, and which Zhang had brought to the hotel room, into Heywood's mouth, which led to his death.
The following screenshots, taken on August 8th and 9th, show how Baidu and Sina are handling searches for the names of some of the figures in the trial.

Bo Xilai

Baidu: Search results are restricted to Baidu's broad whitelist, which is composed of central government and Communist Party websites, as well as major domestic news and portal websites.
Sina Weibo: No results, just a censorship notice.

Gu Kailai

Baidu: Search results are restricted to Baidu's strict whitelist, which is composed of Baidu's own Baike (a wikipedia clone), and central government and Communist Party websites.
Sina Weibo: No results, just a censorship notice.

Bo Guagua

Baidu: Search results are restricted to Baidu's strict whitelist.
Sina Weibo: No results, just a censorship notice.

Zhang Xiaojun

Baidu: No obvious censorship.
Sina Weibo: No results, just a censorship notice.

Neil Heywood

Baidu: Search results are restricted to Baidu's strict whitelist.
Sina Weibo: No results, just a censorship notice.