Friday, July 5, 2013

Sina Weibo Commemorates Anniversary of Government's Shutting Down Xinjiang's Internet - With Censorship

In July 2009, the state-sponsored Global Times published a timeline of the events surrounding the riots that took place in Xinjiang that month. Some excerpts:
  • June 26: Shaoguan (韶关]), Guangdong Province, 2 am: A rumor that a Han girl was raped by local Uygur workers triggered a dispute among workers of Xuri toy factory (旭日玩具厂) in Shaoguan, Guangdong Province, leading to a fight involving hundreds of people, leaving two Uygurs dead and 118 people injured.
  • July 1: The World Uygur Congress holds a special meeting planning to incite domestic mass riots via the Internet, telephone and text messages.
  • July 4: Urumqi, evening: Some demagogues begin disseminating information calling for mass demonstrations at People’s Square and Nanmen in Urumqi.
  • July 5: Urumqi, 1:06 am: The Urumqi police station command center is tipped off that some demagogues are disseminating illegal information on the Internet forum to try to stir up mass demonstrations at People’s Square at 7 pm.
  • Urumqi, 11 am: Rebiya Kadeer contacts her brother in Urumqi and says “We’ve known that many things happened already. Something might happen tomorrow evening at Urumqi.”
  • Urumqi, 8 pm: Some rioters start beating pedestrians, smashing buses, setting fire to shops along the streets and the mayhem quickly spreads to other parts of the downtown area. Tens of vehicles are set fire to.
  • Urumqi, 8:50 pm: At Erdaoqiao in downtown Urumqi, many innocent people fall down in the blood pool among the chaos.
Immediately after the riots began, the Chinese government shut off all Internet access, SMS texting, and international calling to users in Xinjiang. The screenshot below shows that Baidu searches originating from Xinjiang (in this case for "Beijing" (北京)) dropped to zero in early July.


Communications access was restored as follows:
  • December 28: Access restored to the People’s Daily and Xinhua News sites.
  • January 10, 2010: Sina and Sohu, two popular Chinese portals, are restored in a very limited capacity.
  • January 17: Text messaging restored but limited to 20/day.
  • January 20: International calling capabilities are restored.
  • February 5: the government allowed people in Xinjiang to access 27 China-based websites, including commercial sites such as Taobao and Alibaba, travel and online gaming sites, and the People's Daily and Xinhua.
  • February 10: Emailing is allowed again, but only through Sina.com.cn, and many users cannot send or receive attachments.
  • March 22: Email users of Sina can now send and receive attachments
  • May 14: Full Internet access is restored.
These screenshots show that on July 5, 2013, Sina Weibo began censoring searches for "Xinjiang Networks Cut" (新疆 断网) and "7 5 Incident" (75事件).