Thursday, October 13, 2016

Baidu, Sina, News Websites Censor Discussion of Retired Soldiers' Protest in Beijing

On October 12, 2016, the state sponsored Global Times published an article entitled “China Vows to Address ‘Challenges Facing Veterans' After Protest.” Some excerpts:
China's military authorities on Wednesday pledged to continue addressing the difficulties facing some military veterans, after over 1,000 of them gathered outside a military building to protest their dismissal.

China's Ministry of National Defense confirmed the gathering with the Global Times in a statement sent by its Information Bureau on Wednesday, saying that in recent years some veterans have been facing personal and employment problems, and that they have appealed with letters and calls.

The statement said that the Communist Party of China, the State Council--China's Cabinet--and the Central Military Commission care about veterans and pay high attention to solving their problems.
. . . .
More than 1,000 protesters marched and chanted in front of China's defense ministry Tuesday, the latest apparent demonstration by soldiers as the world's largest standing military modernizes and downsizes. Two demonstrators told Associated Press that they were veterans who wanted the government to address military pensions.

"They protested because they don't have a job after serving a long period of time in the army, some for a dozen years," Liu Feiyue, editor of the website Minsheng Guancha, which monitors civil rights issues, was quoted as saying in the report.
The Global Times published a Chinese language version in its print edition, but there was no indication that the Global Times posted the Chinese language version on its website. These screenshots show that the article was being deleted from other websites where it had been reposted.

 The Chinese language version was entitled “Retired Soldiers’ Rights Defense Issues Should Be Objectively Assessed” (退伍军人维权问题应得到客观评估).  Besides the differing titles, other differences between the English and Chinese versions included:
  • The English version said specified the location as "China's defense ministry." The Chinese version said it happened "in front of a military affairs leadership agency" (军事领导机关前);
  • The English version said that "more than 1,000 protestors marched and chanted." The Chinese version said "several hundred retired soldiers gathered" (数百名退伍军人聚集).
  • The English version said "Two demonstrators told Associated Press that they were veterans who wanted the government to address military pensions." The Chinese version said foreign media were unable to determine what the demonstrators' demands were (关于他们的诉求,和他们都是哪个年代退伍的,外媒说法不一).
These screenshots show that Sina Weibo began censoring searches for “Retired Soldiers Petition” (退伍军人上访) on October 12.

These screenshots show that on October 13 Baidu deleted a question from its Knowledge (Zhidao 知道) platform.

The question read: “Yesterday over 2,000 retired soldiers assembled in Beijing” (昨天北京聚集了2000多名退伍军人).

The answers were:
  • “Haven’t heard of it” (没听说啊)
  • “Never seen people in China march” (从没见过中国有人游行)
  • “Its said the government deducted their medical expenses and other charges, many are former leaders” (说政府克扣他们的医疗费用还有其他什么费,好多还是以前领导的)
Original URL:

These screenshots were taken on October 13, and show that Baidu had banned users from establishing PostBar (贴吧 Tieba) forums on the subjects of “Retirees” (退伍) and “Soldiers” (军人).