Monday, June 17, 2013

China's Weibos and Baidu's PostBar Censor Author Murong Xuecun's "Letter to a Nameless Censor"

On May 20, 2013, the Chinese language edition of the New York Times' web site published a letter by Chinese author Murong Xuecun (慕容雪村) entitled "Open Letter to a Nameless Censor" (致黑暗中的弄权者). Some excerpts:
Thanks to your efforts, this great nation of 1.3 billion people does not have a single newspaper that can express objective views, nor a single TV station that broadcasts objective programs, or even the smallest space where people can speak freely. This is your legacy, dear Nameless Censor.
. . . .
Please look closely at these names: Ran Yunfei, writer, scholar; Zhang Xuezhong, professor of law; Xiao Xuehui, professor of ethics; Song Shinan, scholar; He Bing, professor of law; Si Weijiang, renowned lawyer; Shen Yachuan, veteran journalist; Xiang Xiaokai, scholar; Wu Wei, scholar; Wu Zalai, scholar; Teng Biao, renowned lawyer, scholar. The list goes on...Over a period of a just a few days, these people’s Weibo accounts have also vanished at the end of your gun muzzle. This, is your legacy, dear Nameless Censor. Please look at the list again, put your hand on your heart and tell me, and tell yourself and the whole world, what crimes these people have committed. Why did you censor their works and blacklist their names? What legal procedure did you follow and which criteria were violated to provoke you to cock your gun? Which article of the law was broken to oblige you to pull the trigger? 
. . . .
These screenshots show that Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo began censoring the phrase "Open Letter to a Nameless Censor" (致黑暗中的弄权者) hours after it was published.

This screenshot shows that a copy of Murong Xuecun's letter posted on one of Baidu's PostBar (贴吧 Tieba) forums was deleted shortly after it appeared.