Friday, June 7, 2013

Baidu's Censorship of the 24th Anniversary of the Government's "Clearing" of Tiananmen Square

On July 14, 2011, the state-sponsored China Daily published an article entitled: “Tiananmen Massacre a Myth.” It consisted entirely of excerpts from a Gregory Clark article in the Japan
Screenshot showing Baidu
censors search results for
"Tiananmen Square Massacre"
Times. Some excerpts:
The recent WikiLeaks release of cables has helped finally kill the myth of an alleged massacre in Beijing's Tiananmen Square on the night of June 3-4, 1989. But how did that myth come to exist in the first place? 
Several impartial Western observers in the square at the time, including a Reuterscorrespondent and a Spanish TV crew, have long insisted, and written, that they saw no signof any massacre.
. . . .
The fact is that for seven weeks the Beijing government had tolerated a student protest occupation of its iconic central square despite the disruption. Some then leaders even tried to negotiate compromises, which some of the student leaders later regretted having rejected. 
When eventually troops were sent in to clear the square, the demonstrations were already ending. But by this time the Western media were there in force, keen to grab any story they could.
. . . .
Tiananmen remains the classic example of the shallowness and bias in most Western mediareporting, and of governmental black information operations seeking to control those media.China is too important to be a victim of this nonsense.
These screenshots show Baidu and Bing image search results for "June 4, 1989" (1989年6月4日). The Baidu result page states "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).
These screenshots show Baidu bans searches for "Tiananmen Massacre" (天安门屠杀) and "Tiananmen 641989" (天安门 641989).
These screenshots show that Baidu bans users from opening PostBar (Tieba 贴吧) forums on "Tiananmen" (天安门) - in both Chinese and English.
Baidu not only bans searches for "Six Four Incident," (六四事件), it also bans searches for "Willow Silk Incident" (柳丝事件) - because in Chinese "Willow" sounds the same as "Six" and "Silk" sounds the same as "Four."
These screenshots show that on May 16, 2013, Baidu's first search page of search results for "Tiananmen 24th Anniversary" (天安门 24周年) displayed 10 results. For the same search on June 4 Baidu displayed 3 results.

These screenshots show Baidu does not censor searches for "June 3, 1989" or "June 5, 1989," but it does censor searches for "June 4, 1989."

These screenshots show that Baidu censors searches for "Hu Yaobang" (胡耀邦 - Communist Party leader whose death triggered the protests), "Chen Xitong" (陈希同 - Mayor of Beijing in June 1989), and "Fang Zheng Two Legs" (方政 双腿 - Fang Zheng lost both his legs during the protests in Beijing).

Chen died of cancer on June 2, 2013. In May 2012, Yao Jianfu, a former official and government researcher in Beijing published a book in Hong Kong last year based on his conversations with Chen. According to AFP, in the book Chen said:
Nobody should have died in the June 4 incident if it was handled properly. I feel sorry, but I could not do anything, very sorry . . . I believe the truth of the 1989 episode will be uncovered one day.
The screenshots show that on May 31, 2012, a search for "Conversations With Chen Xitong" (陈西铜亲述) on Baidu returned over 500 results. The same search a day later returned no results, just a censorship notice.
These screenshots show Baidu's Baike articles on "Tiananmen" and "Tiananmen Square" make no mention of the events in early June 1989.