Tuesday, May 17, 2016

On the 50th Anniversary of the Cultural Revolution Baidu Bans Forums on the Cultural Revolution

On May 17, 2016, the state sponsored Global Times published an editorial entitled “Society Firmly Rejects Cultural Revolution” (“文革”已被彻底否定) by “Shan Renping” - a pseudonym used by Hu Xijin, editor-in-chief of the Global Times. Some excerpts:
Discussions over China's Cultural Revolution have been emerging on the Internet. The decade-long internal chaos was a huge disaster. It is thus normal to hear people talking about it on the 50th anniversary of this movement. On the other hand, however, such discussions cannot be treated as a cleavage in people's ideological understanding.
. . . .
We have bid farewell to the Cultural Revolution. We can say it once again today that the Cultural Revolution cannot and will not come back. There is no place for it in today's China.
That same day, the People’s Daily ran an editorial in its print edition entitled “Appraising History is Done for a Better Future” (以史为鉴是为了更好前进). Also by an author who coincidentally had the name “Ren Ping” (任 平 - albeit with a different Character for “Ren” than the author of the Global Times’ editorial). Some excerpts:
We must unify our ideology and our actions with the policies set forth by the Party, as well as with the spirit of important statements of Secretary General Xi Jinping . . . . 
我们要把思想和行动统一到党中央的决策部署上来,统一到习近平总书记系列重要讲话精神上来 . . . .
These screenshots were taken on May 15, 2016, and show that Baidu was censoring image search results for “Cultural Revolution,” and had banned users from establishing a PostBar (Tieba 贴吧) forum on the subject of the Cultural Revolution.

These screenshots were also taken on May 15, and show web search results for “Cultural Revolution” on Baidu and Bing.

The top results on Baidu were from the following websites:
  • Baidu.com (4 results)
  • 163.com (government licensed website, article was from 2015)
  • Tianya.cn (government licensed bulletin board, post was from 2010)
  • China.com (state sponsored media outlet)
  • qq.com (government licensed website)
  • Gov.cn (China’s central government website)
  • 83133.com (government licensed website, article was from 2015)
The top results on Bing.com were from the following websites:
  • Wikipedia.org (4 results - one each for simplified Chinese, Japanese, and the Macau and Jiangnan Chinese dialects)
  • Epochtimes.com (foreign news outlet)
  • Xinhuanet.com (China’s official news agency)
  • Youtube.com (foreign video website)
  • Gov.cn (China’s central government website)
Baidu did not show a censorship notice.

These screenshots show that Baidu was able to find the “Cultural Revolution” Wikipedia articles in Japanese and the Macau and Jiangnan Chinese dialects, but not in simplified Chinese.

These screenshots show that Baidu could not find any results from Epochtimes.com or Youtube.com.