Saturday, November 15, 2014

Free Speech with Mainland Chinese Characteristics as Metaphor: Cars, Tigers, Shoes, Water & Guests (But No Shields)

Fang Binxing: Its Like Bringing Water on a Plane

On February 18, 2011, the English language website of the Global Times (published by the People's Daily) published an article about Fang Binxing (方滨兴) entitled "Great Firewall Father Speaks Out." It was originally here - - but was subsequently deleted. It remains available here:

According to Fang:
The firewall monitors them [websites] and blocks them all. It's like when passengers aren't allowed to take water aboard an airplane because our security gates aren't good enough to differentiate between water and nitroglycerin.

Ministry of Foreign Affairs Spokesperson: Its Like Going to Battle Without a Shield

During the Ministry's regularly schedule press conference on March 3, 2011, foreign journalists asked Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson Jiang Yu (姜瑜) about journalists being prevented from reporting on events in Wangfujing on February 27:
Follow-up Question: Can you specify which article of which law in China that we have broken?
Answer: You have broken the rule that applications are required prior to reporting at that location. Don't use the law as a shield. The truth is some people are eager for the fray and attempt to create trouble in China. For those with that kind of motive, I don't think the law can protect them.


Its Like Stripping to Go Through Airport Security

Mo Yan (莫言) the 2012 Nobel Laureate in literature was quoted in articles posted on the website of the Shanghai City Government as well as state sponsored media such as the Economic Observer, as saying when asked about censorship in China at a press conference at the Royal Swedish Academy on December 6, 2012, Mo said:
When I was taking my flight, going through the customs ... they also wanted to check me — even taking off my belt and shoes. . . . But I think these checks are necessary.

Its Like Being a Guest in Their Home

On October 30, 2014, in response to a question from a reporter asking why Facebook is blocked in China Lu Wei (鲁炜), director of the State Internet Information Office, responded:
Since time immemorial China has been hospitable and welcoming, but if someone comes to our home as a guest, I get to choose. I can say two things, I have no way to change you, but I have the right to choose my friends. I hope everyone who comes to China is a friend, a true friend.

Its Like Maintaining a Car and/or Teasing a Tiger

On November 12, 2014, New York Times reporter Mark Landler asked President Xi Jinping:
Several news organizations from the United States have had issues with residency permits in China being denied, including The New York Times.  I’m wondering in the spirit of these reciprocal visa arrangements that you’ve agreed to this week with business people and students, isn’t it time to extend that sort of right to foreign correspondents who seek to cover your country?
President Xi responded:
And China protects our citizens' freedom of expression and the normal rights and the interests of media organizations in accordance with law.  On the other hand, media outlets need to obey China's laws and regulations.  When a car breaks down on the road, perhaps we need to get off the car to see where the problem lies.  And when a certain issue is raised as a problem, there must be a reason.  In Chinese, we have a saying:  The party which has created a problem should be the one to help resolve it [literally, “Let he who tied the bell on the tiger take it off”].  So perhaps we should look into the problem to see where the cause lies.
Xi’s statements were reported by several state sponsored media outlets in China, but then were subsequently deleted. According to these reports, Xi’s statement was: