Friday, May 31, 2013

News Sites Delete Images of Kunming Anti-PX Protests (Again)

On May 17, 2013, the state-sponsored Global Times published an English language article entitled "Thousands Protest Kunming PX Plan."  According to that report: "Thousands of residents in Kunming, capital of Southwest China's Yunnan Province, staged a protest near the provincial government Thursday against a massive oil refinery and paraxylene (PX) project over fears of pollution."

The previous day, the Global Times had published a Chinese language report entitled "Hundreds of Residents  Gather on the Street to Challenge Refinery Project, Officials Offer Reassurance" (昆明数百市民上街聚集质疑炼油项目 官方进行疏导).

As of May 21, both of these articles, which did not have any photographs were still available. However, as these screenshots show, articles that included photographs of the protests have been deleted.

Original URL:

Original URL:

For additional examples of censorship associated with protests against the Kunming/Anning PX plant, see:

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Phoenix Apologizes for Reporting Communist Party Would Order Leaders' Children Back to China

On May 28, 2013, the web site of the Hong Kong based Phoenix News published an article entitled
"The Report by Some Hong Kong Newspaper that 'The Central Discipline Commission Demands Children of Senior Officials Studying Abroad Return to China' Was Inaccurate" (香港某报“中纪委要求高官留学子女回国”报道失实).
On May 28, some newspaper in Hong Kong published a report claiming that the Central Discipline Commission was requiring the children of senior officials studying abroad to return within one year after graduating. Based on our understanding, this report was inaccurate, and was false news. 
Phoenix News republished this inaccurate news without verification or examination, and it had an adverse social impact, and for this we express our deep apologies to the Internet using public. We will adopt practical measures and strengthen our management of the news and the quality and training of our editorial department. We will safeguard the truthfulness and credibility of online media and do a better job of serving Internet users and society. 
These screenshots show that on May 28 Sina Weibo began censoring "Wang Qishan Demands Children of Senior Officials Studying Abroad to Return Within One Year After Graduating" (王岐山要求高官留学子女毕业一年内必须回国).

These screenshots show examples of web sites where that article was published and then deleted.

Original URLs:

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Another Protest, Another City Disappears From Sina Weibo: Pantu, Fujian

On April 26, 2013, the state-sponsored Southern Metropolitan Daily published an article entitled "Struggle Over Government Taking Rented Land: Villagers in Tongan District, Xiamen Say 3,300 Mu of Land Was Rented Out, Local Survey Finds Exercise of Imminent Domain Lawful, Procedures Complete" (租地征地之争 厦门同安区村民称3300余亩地是出租,当地调查后则认为征地合法、手续齐备). An excerpt:
At around 4:00 am yesterday, villagers gathered in front of Kaige Golf Club while officers from Xiamen's Tongan District administrative law enforcement agency demolished the Pantu residential area in Xike village. Their actions triggered a clash, with villagers and officers claiming injuries on both sides.
This screenshot, taken on April 30, shows that Sina Weibo was censoring searches for "Pantu" (潘涂).

Monday, May 27, 2013

Sina Weibo Censors Searches Related to Protests Against Shanghai Battery Factory

On May 16, 2013, the state-sponsored China Daily published an article entitled "Shanghai Battery Factory Canceled Over Protest." An excerpt:
A Shanghai battery maker has given in to public pressure and canceled its plans for a new lithium battery factory in the city's Songjiang district. 
Shanghai Guoxuan New Energy said on Wednesday it had withdrawn its investment for the Songjiang program and would return the planned factory site to the local government, without claiming any compensation. 
The company gave in after hundreds of residents of Songjiang, in Shanghai's southwestern outskirts, held three protests against the planned factory out of concern about potential wastewater and gas emissions from the plant.
This screenshot was taken on May 11, and shows that Sina Weibo was censoring searches for "Songjiang Battery Factory" (松江 电池厂).

These screenshots were taken on May 2, and show that Sina Weibo was censoring searches for "Guo Xuan" (国轩) and "Battery Factory" (电池厂).

Friday, May 24, 2013

Sites Censor Information About Yuan Liya, Migrant Worker Who Died in Beijing, Authorities Arrest Boyfriend

On May 9, 2013, the state-sponsored China Daily published an article entitled "Death of Girl at Mall Triggers Large Protest." Some excerpts:
Yuan Liya, 22, died after plunging from the seventh floor of a mall last week, and police say initial findings point to suicide. 
However, by Wednesday morning, hundreds of people had gathered outside the Jingwen coat wholesale outlet in the capital's Fengtai district to call for further investigations into the tragedy. 
. . . . 
Duan Xiuying, who runs a shop in nearby Dahongmen market, said Yuan also had a part-time job at Dahongmen, which is open only in the morning. She said the protest started late on Tuesday, with only dozens of people at first. 
"I wanted to join in and call for a thorough investigation, but when I arrived, it had been blocked by police," said Duan, who hails from Hebei province.
On May 22, the China Daily published an article entitled "13 Arrested in Beijing for Rumormongering." Some excerpts:
Police in Beijing said Tuesday that 13 people have been arrested for allegedly spreading rumors and disrupting public order by inciting a protest after a young woman's death earlier this month. 
A statement from the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau said the woman surnamed Yuan, who fell to death from a clothing market building in Fengtai District on May 3, had committed a suicide.
. . . .
Yuan's death, however, spawned swirling rumors on the Internet claiming she had been raped and murdered by the building's security guards, which prompted a protest outside the building on May 8, the statement said. 
Police said Yuan's boyfriend surnamed Peng allegedly spread the rumors online to call for Yuan's fellow townsmen from east Anhui province to "demand an answer" from the market, as he was unsatisfied by the market's handling of Yuan's death. 
Police have arrested Peng and 12 others, including one of Yuan's former classmates and 11 of her fellow townsmen, who allegedly helped spread the rumors and incited the rally.
The following screenshots were taken on May 8, and show that almost every major search engine in China was completely censoring searches for "Jingwen" (京温).

These screenshots show that Tencent's Soso search engine started censoring searches for "Jingwen" on May 9.

These screenshots taken on May 8 show Sina Weibo censoring search results for "Jingwen" (京温), "Yuan Liya" (袁利亚), "Dahongmen" (大红门), "Yongdingmen" (永定门), "Muxiyuan" (木樨园), and "Helicopter" (直升机).

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Sina and Tencent Weibos Censor Information on Zhu Ling Thallium Poisoning Case

On May 6, 2013, the state-sponsored Global Times published an article entitled "Cold Case Petition Grabs US Attention." An excerpt:
A poisoning case that permanently paralyzed a former Tsinghua University student has triggered an online petition on the White House's website, the newest development to a matter that has remained unsolved for 19 years so far. 
Zhu Ling, the victim and then chemistry major, suffered severe brain damage after being allegedly poisoned by thallium in 1994 by her roommate, Sun Wei, or Jasmine Sun, who now lives in the US.
The following screenshots were taken on May 3, 2013.
Sina and Tencent censor searches for "Zhu Ling" (朱令). 
Sina censors searches for "Tsinghua Poisoning" (清华 投毒).
Sina censors searches for "Tsinghua Poisoned" (清华 中毒). 
Sina censors searches for "Thallium" (铊).

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Images of Han/Tibetan Brawl in Beijing Disappear From Sina Weibo

The screenshot below was taken on May 13, 2013, and shows the top two search results on Sina Weibo for "Gui Jie Tibetans" (簋街 藏族) - "Gui Jie" is the name of a popular restaurant street in Beijing. The posts both say "May 12, 2013 at 5:30 Beijing Gui Jie, Han restauranteurs and Tibetan peddlers brawl." (2013.05.12.下午五點半北京簋街,漢族餐飲店與藏族攤販群毆).
This screenshot was taken on May 14, and shows that both posts have been deleted.

Original URLS:

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Police Ask Chengdu Woman to Delete "We The People" Petition on Pengzhou PX Plant

On May 17, the web site of the state-sponsored Yunnan Info Daily published an article entitled "WhiteHouse Web Site Petition Leads to Visit from Chengdu Police" (白宫网站请愿 成都警察找上门).  An excerpt:
When the White House launched a new version of its "Internet Government Query" - "We The People," on September 1, 2011, it may not have foreseen that it would trigger an undercurrent of rivalry across the ocean. On May 7, 2013, a woman in Chengdu posted an English language petition on the "We The People" web site under the pseudonym "B.Y.," and three days later local police demanded she delete it.
. . . .
On May 7, 2013, after a woman in Chengdu signed petition under the pseudonym "B.Y." expressing support for Zhu Ling, she discovered that in fact she could also submit a petition. Consequently, she also published an English language petition on the "We The People" web site, expressing her discontent regarding some local matters. However, she clearly hadn't foreseen the trouble it would lead to. 
Based on media reports, three days later she was summoned to appear at a police organ near her workplace, she was "invited to drink tea." 
When she was interviewed she said that the meeting was "just for a chat," and "they wanted to know what I was opposing, and whether there were other issues of public concern." 
However, the local police requested she delete the aforementioned petition.
But she discovered that petitions could not be deleted once they have been published, and so there was nothing she could do. She did, however, delete related Weibo posts.
2011年9月1日,白宫开设的“网络问政”新板块——“我们人民”(We the people)时,可能没想到会引起大洋彼岸的暗涌。2013年5月7日,一名网名“B.Y.”的成都女子在“我们人民”网站发布了一份英文请愿,3天后,当地警方要求她删帖。
. . . .
These screenshots show the article was subsequently deleted.

Origina URL:

The petition in question read:
Of pengzhou, sichuan province, 10 million tons/year crude distillation and 800000 tons/year ethylene production project. 
Is located in pengzhou, sichuan province, sichuan petrochemical base, including 10 million tons/year crude distillation and 800000 tons/year ethylene and 25 sets of production equipment. To chengdu surrounding environment have a big impact, in 2008 and 2013, two big earthquake happened in sichuan province. So, for environmental risk above is so big, need to reassess safety, implored the international environment monitoring and evaluation institutions to help support! Thank!
These screenshots were taken on May 19, and show that Sina Weibo was censoring searches for "Pengzhou PX," (彭州 PX) and Tencent Weibo was censoring searches for "Pengzhou" (彭州).
For more examples of protests against PX plants and related censorship, see:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Search Engines and Sina Weibo Censor Searches for "Ziyang Black Jail"

On May 14, 2013, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post published an article entitled "Eight Activist Lawyers Detained in Sichuan Over 'Illegal Jail' Have Been Released." An excerpt:
Eight prominent lawyers, who have been arbitrarily detained in Sichuan province on Monday, have been released from police custody. Seven of them tried to visit a detention centre; the eighth was part of a rescue group that arrived later. 
The seven detained lawyers had attempted to visit an "illegal" detention centre in Ziyang. Later that day a separate group of four lawyers arrived to try to rescue them, but they were also detained. 
Three in the later group had been released early, but police in Ziyang kept the fourth, Li Heping (李和平), in detention. By Tuesday morning, all had been released.
. . . .
The seven lawyers from Beijing, Chongqing and Wuhan, including renowned activists Tang Jitian (唐吉田) and Jiang Tianyong (江天勇), had gathered in Ziyang on Monday morning to raise awareness over what they say is an illegal detention facility in the prefecture-level city.
These screenshots show that on May 14 Baidu began censoring searches for "Lawyers Detained and Beaten While Calling Attention to Black Jail in Ziyang" (律师围观资阳黑监狱被殴打监禁).

These screenshots show that the specific phrase targeted by search engines like Baidu and Qihoo for censorship is "Ziyang Black Jail," and they are restricting search results to a white list of about a dozen web sites controlled by the central government and the Communist Party.

These screenshots show that  Sina's Weibo and Tencent's Soso were returning no search results for "Ziyang Black Jail," just censorship notices.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

News Sites and Weibos Censor Information About Kunming Anti-PX Protests

On May 10, 2013, the state-sponsored China Daily's web site published an article entitled "Public Opinion Decisive in Kunming's PX Project." An excerpt:
CNPC, China's largest oil and gas producer, is planning to build an oil refinery in Anning, a county-level city administered by Kunming.
One of the refinery's byproduct projects would produce 500,000 tons of paraxylene (PX) annually, according to media reports.
PX is a carcinogenic petrochemical used to create raw materials for the production of polyester film and fabrics.
Hundreds of people took to the streets in Kunming on Saturday to protest the project, insisting that the production of PX will damage the environment.
On May 5, 2013, the state-sponsored Nanjing Daily web site published an series of photos under the title "3,000 Kunming Citizens Gather in City's Center to Peacefully Protest PX Project."(昆明3000市民聚集市中心和平抗议PX项目) These screenshots show that the photos were deleted the following day, between 9:15 and 10:30 am.

Original URL:

These screenshots were taken on May 13, and show that both Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo were censoring searches for "Kunming PX" (昆明 PX).

For more examples of protests against PX plants and related censorship, see:

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Liaoyuan Daily Swaps Story on Party Circular on Ideology For Pictures of Moms (and Related Censorship)

Images of PDF versions of the Liaoyuan Daily front page
showing the article on the Party Circular was
replaced with a story about Mother's Day.

On May 9, 2013, the web site of the Chongqing Construction Committee (重庆市城乡建设委员会) published an article entitled "Hold High the Flag, Remain Resolute, and Maintain Unanimity with the Party Central Committee" (高举旗帜 坚定信心 坚决同党中央保持高度一致). Some excerpts:
On May 8, 2013, the Party leadership groups for various local construction committees convened a meeting to expand study of the central organization, the specific topic being the study of the Communist Party Central Committee Working Office's publication of the "Circular Regarding the Status of the Current Ideological Realm" (the "Circular"). The meeting was lead by the Party group secretary and director Cheng Zhiyi.
. . . .
At the same time, central authorities have undertaken in-depth analysis and a steadfast attitude toward the seven outstanding issues that are worth paying attention to in the current ideological realm, and have a clearer understanding of the acuteness and complexity of the struggle for the ideological realm. 
The meeting called on Communist Party committees at all levels to fully appreciate the significance of strengthening work in the ideological realm, fully comprehend the threat posed by the propagation of Western values and ideas, fully comprehend the importance of vigorously propagandizing "stand up," "get rich," and "grow strong," and fully comprehend the urgent need to use scientific theories and advanced culture to educate Party cadres. 
First, strengthen leadership and fulfill responsibilities. The Committee system and Party Committees at all levels must make ideological work an important part of their daily agenda, and regularly analyze and discuss newly developing circumstances in the ideological realm, handle them in a timely and effective manner, and safeguard and handle all types of contradictions in the ideological realm. 
Second, show good leadership and distinguish between right and wrong. Increase the instructive power of socialism with Chinese characteristics, always maintain ideological clarity and political steadfastness. When it comes to political principles and what is right and what is wrong, the Party Committee system and Party cadres must wave the flag and have a staunch attitude with respect to what to support and what to oppose. In ideology, politics, and deed, maintain a high degree of unanimity with Comrade Xi Jinping as the General Secretary of the Party Central Committee. 
Third, hold the line and strengthen management. The Party system upholds the principles of territoriality and whoever has authority bears responsibility, one level oversees another, and each level decides what needs to be done. Strengthen administration over propaganda on the cultural battlefield, and constantly improve and effectively deploy administrative systems, cut off channels for the dissemination of incorrect ideological trends and speech at the source. Strengthen administration of the Internet,  improve guidance of public opinion, purify the Internet environment, and do not give bad elements any opportunity. 
. . . .
These screenshots show that the article was subsequently deleted.

Original URL:

On May 10, 2013, the state-sponsored Liaoyuan Daily (辽源日报)published an article on its front page entitled "City Party Organization Department Move Quickly to Implement the Spirit of the 'Circular Regarding the Status of the Current Ideological Realm' and the 'Jilin: Innovate and Navigate for Rapid Development' Notices" (市委组织部迅速贯彻落实《关于当前意识形态领域情况的通报》及《吉林:创新领航催振兴》通讯精神). Some excerpts:
We must show initiative in strengthening four types of awareness: political awareness, situational awareness, responsibility awareness, and concern awareness. We must be steadfast in our political faith. Utilize instruction of Party cadres through belief eduction and Party education to shore up ideal beliefs, strive to increase people's ability to differentiate between what is ideologically right and wrong.
. . . .
We must strictly observe political discipline. In ideology, politics, and deed maintain a high degree of unanimity with the Party Central Committee.
. . . .
We must reinforce and strengthen administration over the propaganda battlefield. Make every effort to strengthen leadership over ideology work, educate and guide cadres at every level of city leadership to "toe the line," fully comprehend the protracted, complex and acute nature of strengthening propaganda ideology work, make ideological work an important part of the daily agenda, regularly analyze and discuss it, and handle it in a timely and effective manner. We must strengthen education and guidance of Party members and cadres so they can clearly distinguish between what is right and wrong when comes to ideolgy, strictly enforce political discipline, and always maintain a high degree of unanimity with the Party Central Committee. Earnestly implement the principles of whoever has authority bears responsibility and of territoriality, and courageously undertake your responsibility to do your duty to defend your country's territory with respect to the sensitive incidents and complex problems in the ideological realm. 
. . . .
. . . .
These screenshots show that the story was subsequently replaced with a photo captioned "Once again another Mother's Day is upon us, and on May 9, 2013, the Dongfeng County Women's Federation and the Dongfeng County Red Cross joined up to hold an activity entitled "Mothers' In Need, Love Delivers Tenderness," to distribute packages to mothers." (在一年一度的母亲节即将到来之际,东丰县妇联与东丰县红十字会于2013年5月9日会举办“情系贫困母亲、爱心传递温暖”暨母亲邮包发放仪式活动。)

Original URL:

These screenshots were taken on May 13, and show that both Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo were censoring searches for "Circular Regarding the Status of the Current Ideological Realm" (关于当前意识形态领域情况的通报 - also known as "Document No. 9" 九号文件).

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Sina Weibo Censors "Our Lhasa is on the Verge of Destruction"

On May 13, 2013, the official Communist Party mouthpiece the People's Daily published an article on page four of its hard copy edition entitled "Lhasa's Old Town 'Big Demolition Big Construction' False (For Confirmation - See the Truth Behind the Uproar" (拉萨老城“大拆大建”不实(求证·探寻喧哗背后的真相)). Some excerpts:
On May 4, a Weibo claimed "Our Lhasa is on the Verge of Destruction! Please, Save
Lhasa!" It also posted a photo of "big demolition big construction," and criticized the excessive commercialization of Lhasa's old town. 
Is there any truth to the claims of large scale demolition of the cultural relics and buildings in the old town? Is Lhasa becoming overly commericialized? The People's Daily's investigative journalists took these questions the heart of the Lhasa old town - Bakuo Street District - for in-depth research to "seek proof." 
. . . . 
Lhasa city conducted surveys regarding the protective construction of the old town which found 96% of residents supported it and 91% of small retailers understood the need to relocate their stands. 
The heart of this construction is to better protect the style and features of Lhasa's ancient city, protection and renovation work includes the protection of historic buildings, the renovation of traditional buildings, reforming the appearance of new structures and installing energy saving doors and windows in people's homes." According to Wang Jian, chief architect at the Tianjin Housing Construction Appraiser Design Institute, planning departments have undertaken large scale surveys of structures in the old town, and at the same time have invited many Tibet architecture experts to provide guidance throughout the process in order to achieve genuine "renovate the old as if it were the old." 
. . . .

These screenshots were taken on May 12, 2013, and show a search on Sina Weibo for:
  • "Our Lhasa" (我们的拉萨) returns 12 results.
  • "Lhasa is on the Verge of Destruction" (拉萨快被毁了) returns 1 result.
  • "Our Lhasa is on the Verge of Destruction" (我们的拉萨快被毁了) returns no results, just a censorship notice.
Below, the left-hand screenshots show Baidu cached versions of two blogs on which posted an article entitled “Our Lhasa is on the Verge of Destruction! Please, Save Lhasa!” by Woeser (唯色) on May 7 and May 9. The right-hand screenshots were taken on May 13, and show that both posts had been deleted.

Monday, May 13, 2013

China's Web Sites Censor Searches For "Deng Zhuodi" - Deng Xiaoping's Grandson

On May 3, 2013, China's official news agency Xinhua published an article on its web site entitled "Deng Xiaoping's Only Grandson Deng Zhuodi Assumes Post of Deputy County Chief of Pingguo County, Guangxi" (邓小平唯一孙子邓卓棣任广西平果副县长).

That same day, published an English language article entitled "Deng Xiaoping’s Grandson Named Deputy County Chief." According to that article: "It was reported that Deng Zhuodi was an erudite and diligent man with outstanding work ability, but he kept low profile and never received any interview."

The following screenshots show how China's web sites were censoring search results for information regarding Deng Zhuodi.
Between May 4 and May 9, Sina Weibo began censoring search results
for "Deng Zhuodi America." (邓卓棣 美国)
Screenshots taken on May 9 show Baidu did not censor search results for
"Deng Zhuodi America," but did censor results for (邓卓棣 美国)
"Deng Zhoudi American Nationality." (邓卓棣 美国国籍)
Screenshots taken on May 9 show that Tencent Weibo
and the Sogou and Youdao search engines return no
results for a search for "Deng Zhuodi," just a
censorship notice.

Friday, May 10, 2013

The Chinese Government's 2013 Critique of Free Speech in America in Perspective

On April 21, 2013, China's official news service Xinhua published an article entitled "China Hits Back with Report on U.S. Human Rights Record." Some excerpts:
China on Sunday retorted the U.S. criticism and distortions of its human rights situation by publishing a report of the U.S. human rights record.
The Human Rights Record of the United States in 2012 was released by the Information Office of China's State Council, or the Cabinet, in response to the Country Reports on Human Rights Practices for 2012 issued by the U.S. State Department.
China in the report argued that there are serious human rights problems in the U.S. which incur extensive criticism in the world, as it has posed as "the world judge of human rights" again.
"As in previous years, the reports are full of carping and irresponsible remarks on the human rights situation in more than 190 countries and regions including China," China said in its report. "However, the U.S. turned a blind eye to its own woeful human rights situation and never said a word about it."
Here is the complete text of the report's discussion of free expression:
On September 17, 2012, or the first anniversary of Occupy Wall Street’s initial demonstration, confrontations between protesters and police around the Wall Street resulted in the arrests of more than 100 people. The US journalist community is worried about the continued toughening up of legislation on mass media. It is frequent that journalists in the US lose their jobs because of “politically incorrect” opinions.
Occupy Wall Street. These screenshots were taken on October 21, 2011, and show that, while users of Sina's and Tencent's Weibo microblogging services could search for "Occupy Wall Street," (占领华尔街) searches for "Occupy Beijing" (占领北京) returned no results. In the case of Sina, the user is told: "In accordance with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, search results have not been displayed." (根据相关法律法规和政策,搜索结果未予显示。)

Toughening up of legislation on mass media.  On April 16, 2013, China's state-sponsored media reported that the General Administration of Press, Publication  Radio, Film, and Television (国家新闻出版广电总局) issued a "Notice Regarding Strengthening Management of Online Activities of News Editorial Personnel (关于加强新闻采编人员网络活动管理的通知). That Notice stipulated:
  • "No news outlets may utilize overseas media or overseas website news information products without prior authorization." (未经批准,各类新闻单位均不得擅自使用境外媒体、境外网站的新闻信息产品).
  • "News editors must persist on encouraging unity and stability, and on the guiding principle of focusing on positive propaganda." (新闻采编人员要坚持团结稳定鼓劲、正面宣传为主的方针)
  • "Do not use or report Internet information that has not been verified through authoritative channels." (不引用、不报道未通过权威渠道核实的网络信息)
  • "News outlets may not provide information from news informants, commissioned authors, civil society organizations, or commercial groups on their news web sites without prior authorization." (未经核实,新闻单位所办新闻网站不得擅自发布新闻线人、特约作者、民间组织、商业机构等提供的信息)
For more on the Chinese Communist Party's approach to legislating the mass media, see this post:

Journalists in the US lose their jobs. These screenshots show that on the morning of January 4, 2013, Sina Weibo began censoring searches for "Southern Weekend Raped." (南方周末 被强奸) To understand why, see this post:

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Almost Every Major Chinese Internet Company Bans Searches for Gao Zhisheng

April 20, 2013, was the 48th birthday of Gao Zhisheng (高智晟).

Gao is a Chinese army veteran and self-taught lawyer. He was named one of the 10 Best Lawyers in China by the Ministry of Justice in 2001. On December 22, 2006, Gao was convicted of subversion, and was sentenced to three years in prison. The sentence was suspended, and he was placed on probation for five years.

In February 2009, Chinese security agents took Gao for interrogation, and he was not seen again until March 2010. At that time he said that he had abandoned his criticism of the government in the hope of reuniting with his family.

On December 16, 2011, Xinhua reported that, one week before Gao Zhisheng's probation was to expire, a Beijing court withdrew his probation and sent him back to jail for another three years. Gao's probation had been due to expire in a week. See:

These screenshots show that on December 16, 2011, a user searching for "Gao Zhisheng" on Baidu could find around 300 results, though only from a restricted white list of about a dozen websites operated by the central government and Communist Party. By December 18, the same search returned no results, only a notice informing users "Search results may not comply with relevant laws, regulations, and policies, and have not been displayed."

These screenshots were taken on May 1, 2013, and show that most of China's major search engines and Weibo services were returning no results for searches for "Gao Zhisheng." The only exceptions were Jike and, which were restricting results to the restricted white list.