Thursday, February 28, 2013

Caixin and Weibos Block Access to Report on Private/Public Cooperation in Internet Censorship

At 11:41 am on February 18, 2013, the state-sponsored Caixin Magazine posted the following on its verified Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo accounts:
[Exclusive Report: The Post Deletion Business] Caixin reporters have discovered that "post deletion" has long-since moved beyond the crude models of earlier years, becoming inter-linked grey industry where senior levels in public relations companies and portal web sites, as well as some overseeing officials, work hand-in-hand. It costs thousands to delete a negative news article, hundreds of thousands in professional fees to get a key word blocked, and those asking to get posts deleted range from users and companies to government officials.
This screenshot shows that, within hours of these posts appearing Sina Weibo began censoring searches for "The post deletion business." (删帖生意)

 These screenshots were taken on February 18 (left) and 19 (right), and show that Caixin's posts were deleted the same night.

Caixin's Weibo posts included a link to this URL -, which provides a preview of the article for non-subscribers. The preview reads:
On a Monday morning in mid-July 2012, three police buses drove into one of Sanlintun Sohu's flourishing merchant centers, and over 100 policemen stormed into the offices of Xinxun Tianxia Advertising (hereafter Xinxun Media) and Yage Times Advertising Ltd. (hereafter Yage Times), with some of the police controlling the employees and the others confisicating the offices' computers and locking up all of the employees' QQ chat records. Afterwards, 100 employees at the scene (including maintenance and cleaning crews) were loaded on the busses and by around 3:00 were taken to the Hadian district police station to give statements.
Although the preview remained available and reports indicate that subscribers could still access the full report, this screenshot, taken on the evening of February 18, shows that, within hours the publicly-available version posted here - - had been deleted and visitors to that URL were being re-directed to Caixin's home page.
Caixin also published an English language version of the article here - That version, however, omitted almost every reference to the role of government officials in funding and enabling the post deletion business.

Here are some translated excerpts from the original Chinese language article.
Many business managers do not know what what their day-to-day work is -- illegally deleting posts. According to Article 164 of China's Criminal Law, bribing web site employees is considered "bribing a non-government employee." As for bribing government employees at Internet management offices and Internet oversight offices, that is considered the "crime of bribery" under the provisions of Article 389. In various situations it is also considered the "crime of extortion." Coordinating web sites to actively publish negative information and finding enterprises to contact the businesses also falls under this category of crime.
The legal representative of Xinxun Media is Gu Wenxi, and the legal representative of Yage Times is Ai Nuo, and the actual behind-the-scenes control is exercised by Yage Times General Manger Gu Dengda. Gu Wenxi is Gu Dengda's father, and Ai Nuo is Gu Dengda's wife. Xinxun Media's business has nothing to do with post deletion, but Yage Times is famous within the industry as "post deletion company," and both companies' offices are located in a 600 ping location in Sanlitun Soho. Since the second half of 2006 Yage Times is believed to have gotten into the business of post deletion with over 100 employees. 
Most employees who were present [during the raid] were allowed to leave following questioning, but Yage Times General Manager Gu Gengda, his brother Gu Tengfei, and finance manager Ai Nuo continued to be investigated, and the three continue to be detained in jail. 
This was only the beginning. As the investigation of Yage Times deepens, the list of those implicated continues to grow, with employees of many web sites being arresting or investigated. Police officers at the Beijing Public Security Internet Oversight Office have also been arrested.
. . . .
Most public relations companies would buy editors and mid-to-high level administrative employees and officials at oversight agencies to complete their deletion mission. In order to increase profits some business managers wouldn't flinch at taking significant risks, including creating government and oversight agency chops and forged notices demanding web sites delete posts. Even more extreme, public relations companies would go so far as to manufacture their own clients, and would use vendors' web sites to posts negative information about companies until the companies would pay to get them deleted. This business has become a kind of blackmail, and companies suffered miserably. 
For some time now the post deletion business has remained in the shadows, overseen by no one, and has been a source of no small amount of profit for public relations companies. Among these were companies like Yage Times, whose primary business model was post deletion, as well as many famous public relations companies who took up related business, taking fees directly or indirectly. According to a former high level employee at Yage Times, in 2011 alone Yage Times' gross profits exceeded 50 million yuan, with over half of its income coming from deleting posts for government officials from second and third tier cities. 
. . . .
According to a Yage Times employee, over 60% of the companies profits came from "officials in second and third tier cities, with most being police officers and county leaders." Most of enterprise clients found the service on their own, but employees would need to do some digging to get individual clients. As soon as any negative information about a local official appeared, the employee would use measures such as directory information to come up with ways to find the people to contact about getting the post deleted. 
As far as the employees were concerned, as compared to enterprise clients, finding officials who wanted posts deleted was "it seemed everyone you asked willing," especially during the period immediately before and after the  "two meetings" [the National People's Congress and China People's Political Consultative Conference held every March in Beijing]. Companies were subject to cost restrictions, and would decide whether or not to shell out for post deletion based on their assessment of influence of the negative news. Out of concern for their careers, government officials would get posts deleted regardless of price, and Gu Tengda once told the company's salespeople during an internal instruction session: "don't take less than 500,000 yuan per." 
At Yage Times, only about a dozen senior employees and a very small number of senior relations employees were qualified to accept government official post deletion jobs. Their salaries were far higher than other employees, easily pulling in 200,000 to 500,000 yuan a month, with large desks and Apple computers in their office and expensing 100 yuan lunches at a famous Taiwanese restaurant in Sanlitun.
. . . .
With respect to news that has been broadly reposted, the first order of business is to delete the originating web site. Yage Times employees recall one time when they landed a big job, where a Shenzhen private recruiting company was exposed as a pyramid scheme, adn the news was reposted on hundreds of web sites and forums including People's Daily and Xinhua. That company had bid 1,000,000 yuan for getting all posts deleted. Ten Yage Times employees took on the task and at first expended significant effort getting the original negative news "public relationized." Afterwards they went to each and every other site that had reposted the news and demanded it be deleted. It took about two months to complete the job, at a cost of only 10,000 yuan. Currently most major domestic news web site and news reposting web sites and web portals and finance web sites have a similar rule: as long as the relevant company or public relations firm can provide formal letter by fax proving that the web site where the story originated (whether paper media or web site) has stated that it has already revised it or deleted it, they will then unconditionally automatically comply and handle the reposted content in the same way.
. . . .
It is relatively easy to handle content posted on forums and PostBar, but the cost of handling news articles posted on web portals is relatively high. One "moderator" gave 4,000 yuan the price in response to request to delete a news linked from Sina's Finance Channel. 
However, this "moderator" made it clear to this reporter that, in the past he could go through Baidu keyword blocking to remove the influence of negative, but now owing to connections, "No one in the world can achieve that."
. . . .
Every Friday, senior employees from the major web sites (chief auditor and above) have to go to the Internet management office for a meeting. All major web sites have established public sentiment oversight departments and government relations departments to liaison with Internet oversight agencies. One web site went so far as to set up a police affairs office to be able to handle visits by oversight officials at any time. These orders are frequently used by public relations firms with special connections to smuggle in their own contraband. One person inside Yage Times gave an example: an official in the Shaanxi Land Resources Bureau once sought out a public relations firm to request the deletion of news showing photos of him wearing an expensive watch, and afterwards the public relations firm employed its special relationships to achieve the deletion goal. 
新讯传媒法人代表为顾文喜,雅歌时代的法人代表为艾娜,背后实际控制人均为雅歌时代的总经理顾腾达,顾文喜是顾腾达的父亲,艾娜为顾腾达之妻。新讯传媒的业务与删帖无关,但雅歌时代是业内有名的“删帖公司”,两家公司都在三里屯SOHO 600余平方米的办公室办公。雅歌时代从2006年下半年涉足删帖业务,员工上百人。
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Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Web Sites Censor Searches, Delete Story About Anti-Corruption Agency's Car Purchases

On February 21, 2013, the following was posted on the verified Tencent Weibo account Tencent (one of China's largest Internet companies):
[Chinese Communist Party Central Discipline Inspection Commission Contributes 75 Million for Subordinate Departments to Distribute Officials Cars] On February 19, the Inspection Department of the Communist Party Central Discipline Inspection Commission held a ceremony in Hami, Xinjiang to distribute official cars to village and township discipline committees, with the first group of 37 official use cars going to the residential discipline committees in the 37 townships that comprise Hami's two counties and one municipality. The Central Discipline Inspection Commission dedicated a special fund of 75 million to provide 1,018 transportation vehicles for all of Xinjiang's village and township Central Discipline Inspection Departments.
Original URL:

These screenshots show that Tencent deleted this post on February 23.

This screenshot shows that a Baidu search for the title of the Tencent article returned no results, just a censorship notice.

By February 23 the article had been deleted from Tencent's web site - original URL: - and it had also been deleted from most other web sites where it had been reposted:
These screenshots, taken on February 23, show that a search on Baidu for "Central Discipline Inspection Commission 7,500" (中纪委 7500) returns results that include the deleted story and no censorship notice, while a search for "Central Discipline Commission 75 Million" (中纪委 7500万) only returns results from Baidu's strict white list, which comprises about a dozen web sites controlled by the central government and the Communist Party, none of which has carried the report.

A similar report was published by the People's Daily under the title "Central Discipline Inspection Commission Investigation Department Contributes 1,018 Vehicles for Xinjiang Township and Village Discipline Commissions" (中纪委监察部为新疆乡镇纪委配车1018辆).

That article has not been removed, but this screenshot shows that Baidu was also restricting searches for "Central Discipline Inspection Commission Xinjiang" (中纪委 新疆) to its strict white list.

Monday, February 25, 2013

Weibos, Web Sites, and Search Engines Censor Reports of Hacking and Spying

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.
The report has driven media to Datong Road in Shanghai where the military unit is located, but pictures and videos taken by the press were required to be deleted by officers in military uniform.
The name plate indicating the nearby clinic of PLA Unit 61398 was removed Wednesday.
The Mandiant report the Global Times referred to had been the subject of a February 18 New York Times report entitled "Chinese Army Unit Is Seen as Tied to Hacking Against U.S."

This screenshot, taken on February 20, shows that users of Baidu's PostBar (贴吧 Tieba) searching for Unit 61398 (61398部队) were told "Apologies, in accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, this Bar 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。)
These screenshots show that on February 19 Sina Weibo began censoring searches for Unit 61398 (61398部队).

These screenshots show that the following morning Sina Weibo temporarily stopped censoring searches for that time, but resumed censorship a few hours later.

These screenshots show that Tencent Weibo also began censoring searches for Unit 61398 (61398部队) on the morning of February 20.

Past Censorship

This is not the first time web sites in China have censored information relating to reports of espionage or hacking. On August 24, 2011 the Washington Post reported that a China Central Television documentary entitled "The Cyber Storm Has Arrived!" [网络风暴来了] showed a military computer program on which an unseen user selected a "target" — in this case, a website based in Alabama — and hit a button labeled "attack." According to the Post:
[E]xperts were struck by what appeared to be the first and most public indication from an official Chinese source that it has the ability and the intention to hit adversaries, even when their computer servers are based in other countries.
The video was originally posted on July 7, 2011 here -

These screenshots show that on August 24, 2011 the video was deleted and replaced with the message "Error Page - This page does not exist anymore." (该页面不存在。)
On September 1, 2011, the state owned Global Times published an editorial by Shan Renping (单仁平) entitled "Lifting the Lid on Espionage Cases." (让间谍罪去神秘化) Some excerpts:
In a secretly uploaded YouTube video, Major General Jin Yinan, professor at the PLA University of National Defense, spoke out about several of China's recent spying cases, arousing media attention. The cases mentioned by Jin went either unmentioned by Chinese media or were reported differently to Jin's version. But these cases were not secrets in whatever way.
China should be more transparent about espionage cases. Details of the cases should be secret, but if somebody, especially an official, sells state secrets to foreign countries, China should make their names known to the public.
Countries should keep certain secrets, but the security measures they adopt should be tougher and the confidential areas should be narrower. The problem China faces now is the country's definition of secrecy is too broad.
The video Shan referred to was of a lecture given by Major General Jin Yinan (金一南) in which he indicated that China's government concealed a string of spy cases over the past decade. In the video, deleted from Chinese video website but available on Youtube, Jin named eight senior Communist Party, government and military officials who allegedly sold state secrets to foreign countries, but said some of them had instead been convicted on corruption charges, as a way to minimize embarrassment. The list included:
  • Kang Rixin (康日新), the former head of China’s nuclear power program, who was sentenced to life in prison late last year for corruption, 
  • Li Bin (李滨), China’s former ambassador to South Korea. Officials will only confirm that Mr Li is no longer in the post, but Jin claimed he was in prison. Jin said: “That is a huge scandal. Li Bin [could] only be sentenced to seven, eight years, he could not be given a longer term. Why? To save face.”
  • Tong Daning (佟达宁), an official from China’s social security fund, who was executed in 2006 after being convicted of spying for Taiwan.
  • Xu Junping (徐俊平), who defected to the United States in 2000. He said that Colonel Xu had not disclosed technical secrets, but had relayed to the Americans his knowledge of the military leaders’ personalities, attitudes and habits gleaned from many years of accompanying senior military leaders on trips abroad.
The Global Times' editorial did not mention any of these cases.

These screenshots were taken on September 1, 2011, and show that every search engine in China was censoring results for "Jin Yinan spy" (金一南 间谍). The only exception being, which is owned and operated by the People's Daily (which is also the publisher of the Global Times) - that search engine returned over 400 results.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Cheng Wanyun Detained for Comment on Xi Jinping Fan Weibo, Sina and Tencent Censor Searches and Posts

Cheng Wanyun's Twitter Photo
Cheng Wanyun (程婉芸) used to go by the name Cheng Aihua (程爱华), and posts on Twitter as @paleylin (佩利) At 5:30 pm on February 6, 2013 she posted the following on her Tencent Weibo (where she posts as "Dreams of Ensslin" - ensslin之梦 -
Just now my little brother's wife called, and the police suddenly came into the shop and took my brother and the shop's computer to the police station. Because the shop's computer sometimes uses the same Internet connection as my home, I don't know whether or not the police visit was the result of some information I posted. The current situation isn't clear, and my brother doesn't have a cell phone on him, so I'm rushing to the police station right now. Cell phone 13488860702.
Original URL:

These screenshots show that this post was subsequently deleted.

Cheng was not heard from again until February 11. These screenshots show that while she was detained Sina Weibo began censoring searches for "Peili" (佩利), "Cheng Wanyun" (程婉芸), and "Cheng Aihua" (程爱华).

At 12:46 pm on February 11, Cheng posted the following to Tencent QQ under the name Li Sheng Nan (厉胜男):
Friends, I was subjected to criminal detention "on suspicion of the crime of inciting subversion of state power" for my online speech, which has since been changed tò 4 1/2 days administrative detention. I have just returned home after being released from the Xichong jail. No need for everyone to worry, and I wish everyone a Happy New Year, and thank all my Internet friends for their appeals and calls on my behalf. See you after I've had a chance to rest.
各位朋友,我因网络言论以 “涉嫌煽动颠覆国家政权罪”被刑事拘留,现改为抵行政拘留四天半,从西充看守所放出来刚到家。让大家担心了,祝大家新年快乐,感谢网友们的呼吁和声援。稍事休息后
Later that afternoon, Cheng posted the following on her Tencent Weibo:
4:11 pm: Ah, the Lords have lifted the ban. Happy New Year everyone, and thanks to all of you for your appeals and calls on my behalf.
4:11 pm: 哦,主号解禁了。大家新年快乐,感谢大家的呼吁与声援。
Original URL:
5:36 pm: || Mo Zhixu: It was because she posted the following in the comments in the Study Xi Jinping Fan Club: "Where's a sniper, get rid of him" that she was arrested, drop dead Eunuch Nie . . . || Zou Zhiwen: I heard she'd been released || Sage Nie: A person committed some offenses, and when the police came to detain her, she farted, so can you say that it was because she farted that she was detain? You know what I mean! But no one will be able to save her.
5:36 pm: || 莫之许: 是因为在学习粉丝团的后面说了句:"狙击手在哪,干掉他",就被抓进去了,聂太监去死。。。|| 邹智文: 听说放出来了 || 聂圣哲: 一个人犯了几件事情,警察来抓她的时候,她放了一个屁,您能说是因为她放屁被抓吗?您懂的!但是,谁都救不了她。
Original URL:

These screenshots show that immedately after Cheng was released, Tencent Weibo began censoring searches for "Peili" (it had already been censoring searches for "Cheng Wanyun" and "Cheng Aihua" since at least February 10).

The screenshots below show that on February 16, Cheng's Tencent Weibo was deleted. This is her final post, from 9:29 pm the preceding day:
Public Security Office officials came to my home, so Liu Shasha, myself, and Hong Kong Diaoyu defense activist Captain Yang Kuang need to return to my home. They are talking about us going to Danaochuan Prison tomorrow. Actually, Liu Shasha just wanted to go and give a little money to Liu [Liu Xianbin - 刘贤斌] and Chen [Chen Wei -
陈卫], and try and get visitation rights for their wives. We're out now and can't return home, and my family is being harassed. Would everyone please help and post this on Twitter and Weibo. My home number is 0817-4224168, can everyone please call my home phone in support. Please also call the State Security phone. 
Original URL:

Monday, February 18, 2013

China's Weibos Ban Kai-fu Lee, News Sites Delete Criticism of People's Daily Search Engine Boss Deng Yaping

Kai-fu Lee's post (top)
Deng Yaping (bottom)

On September 21, 2010, the state-sponsored China Daily published an article entitled "Champion Deng Yaping Preside Over Search Engine by People's Daily." Some excerpts:
Table tennis legend Deng Yaping will soon be adding to her rich experience by taking a further step in her political career. Deng, 37, the former world and Olympic table tennis champion, has been nominated to serve as president of, a news search engine launched by People's Daily in July, and as deputy secretary-general of People's Daily.
On February 16, 2013, the China-based website (虎嗅网) published an article entitled "Homeward Bound Musings, Why is it Deng Yaping is Being Criticized" (回乡沿途八卦:话说邓亚萍为什么被批了). Some excerpts:
So far Jike has (supposedly) spent 2 billion, and has essentially no profits, [People's Daily deputy editor] Ma Li is unwilling, and has taken Deng to task, be diligent and thrifty,  stop all extravagance and waste, they are overstaffed, so a list needs to be made of 100 employees to be cut, and its said that it will be announced soon.
These screenshots were taken on February 17, and show the article as it appeared on Google Preview, but that it had been deleted from Huxiu's web site. It had also been deleted from other web sites where it had been reposted:

On February 17, the web site of the state-sponsored China Newsweek (中国新闻周刊网) published an article entitled "Li Kaifu Calls Into Question People's Search Engine and Deng Yaping" (人民搜索和邓亚萍 李开复质疑). Some excerpts:
Recently, online talk is that Deng Yaping has been criticized. Li Kaifu has raised the following four questions on his Sina Weibo with respect to "People's Search and Deng Yaping": 1) Why is taxpayer money being used to build a search engine? 2) Is there any hope of building a search engine where there is belief in the free flow of information? 3) Why is the boss of a search engine appointed by the Party? 4) If back in the day America's Democratic Party had appointed Michael Phelps to be the CEO of Google, could Google have beaten Yahoo and become the leading search engine?
These screenshots show that within hours the article had been deleted. It had also been deleted from the following web sites where it had been reposted:

At 7:53 pm on February 17, Kai-fu Lee posted the following on Twitter:
I have been banned from speaking on Sina and Tencent for three days. Everyone can come here to find me.

These screenshots show that by 8:30 pm on February 17 Sina Weibo was censoring searches for "Employee Says Deng Yaping Doesn't Get Search" (员工称邓亚萍不懂搜索) and Tencent Weibo was censoring searches for "Deng Yaping Doesn't Get Search" (邓亚萍不懂搜索).

Late in the evening of February 17, the state-sponsored Global Times published an English language article entitled "Jike Shoots Down Layoff Rumor." Some excerpts:

Despite large investments in talent over the two years since its establishment in 2011, Jike's performance has still been unquestionably bad, mainly due to improper management and unattractive product positioning, Ji Chendong, an industry analyst with Frost & Sullivan, told the Global Times Sunday.
. . . .
A staff member from the Jike public relations department, speaking anonymously, told the Global Times that the company's current top priority is building up its technology, not gaining profits.
With the support of the government, it aims to release the latest food and drug safety information to the public, which will set them apart from rivals, she noted, adding that this goal is still some way off.
. . . .
Data from US research consultancy Hitwise indicated that Baidu Inc seized a 65.7 percent market share by traffic in December 2012, ranking first, while Qihoo 360 Technology Co's growing search engine came second with 8.7 percent. Jike and another State-owned search engine, Xinhua News Agency's, did not make the list.
This screenshot, taken at around noon on February 18, shows that Sina Weibo did something to block all posts from between January 23 and February 17 from appearing in the results for a search for "Kai-fu Lee Banned." (李开复 被禁)

On the morning of February 18, Huxiu posted another article, this time entitled "Li Kaifu Gets Banned From Speaking, What Red Line Did He Step On?" (李开复遭禁言,踩到哪根红线?).  These screenshots show that it was deleted within hours.

Original URL:

These screenshots was taken in the afternoon of February 18, and shows that Sina Weibo was censoring "Li Kaifu Banned from Speaking" (李开复 禁言).

Monday, February 11, 2013

Sina Weibo Repeatedly Deletes Posts About Pu Zhiqiang "Blowing the Whistle" on Zhou Yongkang

The screenshots below show that Sina Weibo repeatedly deleted posts making reference to Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强 - a civil rights attorney in China) publicly calling for a reckoning of the domestic security established under the administration of Zhou Yongkang (周永康 - former Minster of Public Security and Secretary of the Central Political and Legislative Committee).

Sunday, February 10, 2013

After Celine Dion Performs "Jasmine Flower," Sina Weibo Stops Blocking Related Search Results

On February 9, 2013, Celine Dion performed the Chinese folk song "Jasmine Flower" (茉莉花) on China Central Television's 2013 Spring Festival Gala. Here are translations of some users' posts  on Sina Weibo from that night:
What song was just sung on the #New Year's Gala"#? --In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, the performance lyrics have not been displayed.
#春晚# 刚才唱了什么歌曲?——根据相关法律法规和政策,演唱歌曲结果未予显示。
If this was in 2011, you would be arrested and sent to re-education through labor for saying "Jasmine Flower."
On February 20, 2011 China Jasmine Flower, on February 20, 2013, Jasmine Flower is sung on the New Year's Gala, we are witnessing history . . . .
2011年2月20日 中国茉莉花,2013年2月10日,茉莉花在春晚唱响,我们算是见证了历史么……
Wouldn't you say that in 2011 Jasmine Flower was a banned song? Is it possible the organization has forgotten the Jasmine Flower movement?
"Jasmine Flower" has been a sensitive term since February 2011. The reason for this was that, on the afternoon of February 17, 2011, the following statement began being passed around on Twitter:
The date of the inaugural China "Jasmine Revolution" rally has been set, February 20, 2011 (Sunday), the assembly points for every major city in the country will be announced the day before on the Boxun News website, here's hoping everyone finds out.
This screenshot, taken on February 19, 2011, shows that a search on Sina Weibo for "Jasmine Flower"  returned no results, just a censorship notice.

On February 19, the locations of the rallies were announced. The Beijing rally was to take place in front of the McDonalds in Wangfujing, a popular shopping district several blocks away from Tiananmen Square. The following screenshots show that Sina Weibo began censoring search results for "Wangfujing McDonalds" (王府井 麦当劳) on February 20.

By 2013 Sina Weibo was no longer censoring the above-captioned queries. Nevertheless, queries containing the term "Jasmine Flower" plus certain other terms seeming only returned results from within the preceding several days. The following screenshots show that, within hours after Celine Dion performed "Jasmine Flower" on CCTV, Sina Weibo stopped imposing this block, allowing users to access tens of thousands of previously unsearchable results.
"Jasmine Flower 2011"
"Jasmine Flower Wangfujing" 
"Jasmine Flower McDonalds"
Sina Weibo continues, however, to completely censor certain related queries. This screenshot shows that, as of February 10, 2013, Sina Weibo was still censoring search results for "Jasmine Revolution."

These screenshots, taken on February 10, 2013, show Baidu search results for "Jasmine Flower" (no censorship notice), "China Jasmine Flower" (censorship notice saying some search results have not been displayed), and "China Jasmine Revolution" (censorship notice saying no results have been displayed).

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Baidu, Sina, and Tencent Censor Social Media Discussion of Wang Dexue's Wristwatches

Photos from deleted Baidu
Wang Dexue PostBar post.
On February 3, 2013, the web site of the state-sponsored China Daily published an article entitled "Human Error Behind Fatal Expressway Collapse." Some excerpts:
Chinese authorities have confirmed that an expressway viaduct collapse in Central China's Henan province that left 10 dead and 11 injured was a serious accident caused by multiple human errors.
. . . .
A joint work team of officials from local authorities as well as Wang Dexue, vice head of the State Administration of Work Safety, Huang Ming, vice minister of public security, and Feng Zhenglin, vice minister of transport, was sent to the scene to guide rescue work and the investigation.
The following day, the web site of the state-sponsored Global Times published an article entitled "Weeping Official Photo Met with Media Cry for 'Actions, Not Tears'." Some excerpts:
A photo showing an official wiping away tears at the site of fatal bridge collapse on February 2 inspired scathing satire and mockery online. Netizens berated officials for staging photo ops followed by no action after the photo was highly publicized in media.
The photo in question showed Wang Dexue, deputy director of the State Administration of Work Safety, weeping upon inspection of a bridge that collapsed in Sanmenxia, Henan Province and killed 10 people, according to the People's Daily on February 4.
The photo hit a sore spot among netizens, especially since it follows an incident in August 2012 when Yang Dacai, director of Shannxi Administration of Work Safety, came under fire for being photographed laughing at the scene of a traffic accident that claimed 36 lives. 
On the same day, the state-sponsored Mirror (法制晚报) published the following on their verified Tencent Weibo account:
[Overacting] While reviewing the scene of the State Administration of Work Safety deputy director Wang Dexue wailed and moaned, utterly tragic! Fan Jing said, who knew that he would be exposed as a "watch brother"! One "watch" stirred up many layers of waves! Song Zude spoke frankly, official are consummate actors, and some actors are forced to use eyedrops when they can't cry on cue, but government officials are true masters of the dark arts. Ah, can this charade continue?
【戏演过了】安监总局副局长王德学视察连霍高速义昌大桥垮塌事故现场,哭天抹泪,好不悲伤!范静 称,谁知道被人发现是“表哥”!一“表”激起千层浪!宋祖德 直言,官员演技比专业演员精湛,有的演员现场哭不出来还得借助眼药水,官员大部分是厚黑学的高手。唉,这戏可咋继续?
These screenshots show that between January 4 and January 5, Tencent Weibo deleted this post, as well as post from the Guangzhou Daily's verified account that also drew attention to Wang's wristwatches and comparisons with Yang Dacai (杨达才 - for more on Yang Dacai, see here:

These screenshots show the Mirror's post before and after it was deleted.
Original URL: 
This screenshot shows that on February 4 Sina Weibo was not censoring searches for "Wang Dexue" (王德学) or "Watch Brother," (表哥) but was censoring searches for "Wang Dexue Watch Brother." (王德学 表哥)

These screenshots show that on February 6 the Baidu PostBar ("Tieba" 贴吧) for "Wang Dexue" had 20 subjects and 23 posts. The following day the Wang Dexue PostBar had one subject and one post. The one remaining post was the inaugural post from February 3, and is entitled "Hey, welcome to the Bar, you can speak freely here." (嗨,欢迎来到本吧,您可以在此畅所欲言!)

These screenshots show one of the posts before and after it was deleted, in this case entitled "Wang Dexue, Big Watch Brother!" (王德学,大表哥!).
Original URL:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

On 8th Anniversary of Zhao Ziyang's Death, Sina, Tencent, and Baidu Censor Searches for His Name

Zhao Ziyang (赵紫阳) was the third Premier of the People's Republic of China from 1980 to 1987, and General Secretary of the Communist Party of China from 1987 to 1989. He died on January 17, 2005.

These screenshots show that on January 17, 2013, both Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo were censoring searches for "Zhao Ziyang."

These screenshots, also taken on January 17, show that Baidu was censoring searches for "Zhao Ziyang" on its web search and "PostBar" (贴吧 "Tieba" a forum service), and claims to be unable to find any results on its "Encyclopedia" (百科 “Baike” a wikipedia service), "Knows" (知道 "Zhidao" a Q&A service) and "Library" (文库 "Wenku" a document sharing service) products.

Compare that with Baidu's treatment of searches for another former PRC Premier - Zhou Enlai -

The screenshot below shows that Baidu's Encyclopedia  included an entry for Zhao Ziyang until at least  February 22, 2012. At that time users had noted that the entry appeared to be open for editing. Zhang Ming, a political scientist at Renmin University in Beijing, was quoted in the South China Morning Post as saying: "This could be a signal that the central government wants to free up public discussion about Zhao" and "If we ponder deeply about this issue, it appears the central government is moving towards reform and democracy."

By February 24, however, the Zhao Ziyang article was no longer available. Note that, in comparison of Baidu's treatment of Zhao and Zhou above, the URL for the search result for Zhao Ziyang on Baidu's Encyclopedia includes the parameter "flag=forbid."

On February 25, 2012, the South China Morning Post quoted a Baidu spokesperson as saying about the reasons behind the appearance and disappearance of the Zhao Ziyang Encylopedia entry: "We are not clear and it's not convenient to talk about it."