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Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Global Times Says China's Online Political Discussions "The Liveliest on the Planet"

On December 6, 2014, the state-sponsored Global Times published an op-ed entitled “Internet Freedom Rankings Biased” (中国网络自由排倒三,这排名得多烂). Some excerpts:
The year 2014 saw the state of global Internet freedom declining for the fourth consecutive year, with China, Iran and Syrian rated as the world's worst abusers of Internet freedom, according to an annual report from the US-based human rights organization Freedom House.
. . . .
It is another bizarre ranking by a Western organization that attempts to defame China.
. . . .
What is the truth? About 600 million Chinese Net users made China the largest netizen group in the world. China has bred superb Internet companies like Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent, and generated the liveliest online discussions on politics. We do not know how those impressive figures and achievements can be attained without basic Internet freedom.  
美国人权组织“自由之家”星期四发表年度报告称,世界各地的互联网自由度连续第四年下降,其中表现最恶劣的国家是中国、叙利亚和伊朗
. . . .
由于网络自由可以有不同标准,再稀奇古怪的排名也能想办法自圆其说。
. . . .
那么事实是什么呢?它是中国有全球最大规模的6亿多网民,中国诞生了BAT这样全球超一流的互联网公司,中国互联网上的政治讨论也是全球互联网大国中最活跃的 [Translation: “Online political discussions on China’s Internet are also the most lively on the planet of all major Internet countries.”],等等。我们不知道如果没有网络自由,这些响当当的数据和成就都是如何从天上掉下来的。我们同样不知道那些骂中国“全球最不自由”的人中,有谁买了阿里巴巴的股票,有谁用了腾讯的微信,又有谁在新浪的微博中注册过马甲,潜水发表过言论。
The Freedom House report is available here - https://www.freedomhouse.org/report/freedom-net/2014/china.

These screenshots were taken on December 21, 2014, and show that Baidu tells users of its PRC-based search engine that it cannot find a single result for any web pages on the www.freedomhouse.org domain. Baidu tells users of its Thailand and Brazil based search engines (which are blocked in China) that it can locate 2,980 pages on that same domain.


This blog has previously shown that Baidu has banned users from establishing forums to discuss issues including “Politics,” “Freedom of Speech,” and “Rights.”

These screenshots were taken on December 21, 2014, and show that Baidu has banned users from establishing a PostBar (Tieba 贴吧) forum about “Freedom,” but appears prepared to allow users of its Thailand and Brazil based services to set up PostBars forums to discuss that topic.


Monday, December 22, 2014

Global Times Deletes Chinese (But Not English) Language Article About Great Firewall

On December 16, 2014, the state-sponsored Global Times published an English language op-ed entitled “Open Internet Not at Odds with Regulation.” Some excerpts:
Surprised to find that Google had become accessible around midday Monday, Chinese mainlanders posted the news online, which went viral on social media immediately. A jubilant group of Net users assumed that it was because of some kind of agreement between the Chinese government and Google. However, later that evening, the website was blocked again, with many people speculating that the temporary access resulted from an update to the Great Firewall.
. . . .
It might not be worth figuring out what really happened.
On the same day the Global Times published a Chinese language op-ed entitled “The ‘Temporary Lifting of the Ban’ on Google is Cause for Reflection” (谷歌“临时开禁”引发的思考) - original URL here - http://opinion.huanqiu.com/editorial/2014-12/5243426.html.

The following screen recording was taken on December 21, 2014, and shows that the English language version of the editorial remained available, but the Chinese language version was deleted.


Friday, December 19, 2014

Global Times Supports Sacking of Journalist Who “Attacked the Party”

On November 25, 2014, the state-sponsored Global Times published an article entitled “Freedom of Speech Subject to Legal Restriction.” Some excerpts:
Jiaxing Daily, a Party newspaper in East China's Zhejiang Province, announced on its official Sina Weibo account Sunday it had fired commentator Wang Yaofeng [王垚烽]. Wang paid the price for comments he made that attacked the Party and challenged the country's political bottom line on significant issues.
. . .
Wang published many Weibo posts that did not match his job position. He wrote that "Jiaxing people have the tradition of resisting dictatorship. In history, the Party was born here; and today Jiaxing people are also capable of ending it here." Another comment he published on Weibo said "If there is a war between China and Japan, I will definitely stand by the democratic Japan, not the autocratic China."
. . . .
Wang does not suit a position in the Party newspaper. There are others like Wang who oppose mainstream values. These people no longer face the treatment that they would have faced a few decades ago. In today's China, diversification should be highly cherished, rather than abused.
Law also enjoys authority in terms of speech. It is radical to claim that comments should be exempt from restrictions of law.
This screenshot was taken on November 29, 2014, and shows that in 2012 and 2013 the Global Times website published at least 10 op-eds by Wang.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

On UN Human Rights Day, UN Global Compact Member Baidu Bans PostBar Forums on "Human Rights"

December 10, 2014 was International Human Rights Day. According to the United Nations website:
This year’s slogan, Human Rights 365, encompasses the idea that every day is Human Rights Day. It celebrates the fundamental proposition in the Universal Declaration that each one of us, everywhere, at all times is entitled to the full range of human rights, that human rights belong equally to each of us and bind us together as a global community with the same ideals and values.
According to Baidu’s website, on October 28, 2008, Baidu announced that it had joined the United Nation’s Global Compact.


The Global Compact’s website states that the Compact’s Ten Principles are derived from documents including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and that “The UN Global Compact asks companies to embrace, support and enact, within their sphere of influence, a set of core values in the areas of human rights, labour standards, the environment and anti-corruption.”

Principle 1 of the Compact states: “Businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights.”

This screenshot was taken on December 10, 2014, and shows that Baidu had banned users from establishing a forum on its PostBar (Tieba 贴吧) product on topic of “Human Rights” (人权).


Monday, December 15, 2014

Xiaomi, Baidu Promise Their Mobile App Stores Will Abide by Socialism and China’s National Interests

On December 2, 2014, the overseas edition of the People’s Daily published an article entitled “Beijing Ensures that Published Apps ‘Get Their Identity Verified’” (北京确保App发布“验明正身”). Some excerpts:
Quite a few Apps disregard the State's administrative regulations regarding news information services qualifications, covertly launch news information services, and disregard basic facts in order to attract eyeballs, and in so doing severely infringe upon the public interest. Some even go so far as to illegally transmit overseas information. 
In order to address this, the Beijing Municipal Internet Information Office and the Beijing Internet Society assembled 50 mobile client, App store, and App creator operators to sign the "Beijing Mobile Internet Application Order and Public Information Service Self-Discipline Agreement" and the "Safeguard App Information Service Order, Bring About App Positive Social Utility Commitment Letter."
不少App无视国家关于新闻信息服务的资质管理法规,变相开展新闻信息服务,为了吸引流量或夺人眼球无视基本事实,严重侵害了公众利益,有的甚至存在非法传播境外信息等现象。 
对此,北京市网信办、首都互联网协会召集50多家移动客户端、App应用商店、App工场,签署《北京市移动互联网应用程序公众信息服务自律公约》和《维护App信息服务秩序、发挥App积极社会作用承诺书》。
According to the People's Daily, signatories included Sina (新浪), Sohu (搜狐), Netease (网易), Baidu (百度), Phoenix (凤凰), Qihoo (奇虎360), and Xiaomi (小米).

Article 8 of the "Safeguard App Information Service Order, Bring About App Positive Social Utility Commitment Letter" states:
Those engaging in news information service activities must carry out relevant formalities and obtain certification for such activities. No one may publish or re-publish political news without prior approval from the competent government regulator.
八、从事新闻信息服务活动必须履行相关手续,取得从业资格。未经主管部门批准,不得发布、转载时政类新闻。
Article 4 of the "Beijing Mobile Internet Application Order and Public Information Service Self-Discipline Agreement" state:
Resolutely block illegal harmful information. Scrupulously abide by the "Seven Bottom Lines," fulfill our primary duties, and strengthen content examination and verification.
四、坚决抵制违法不良信息。恪守“七条底线”,落实主体责任,强化内容审核。
The term “Seven Bottom Lines” does not appear in any PRC law or regulation. The first mention of the “Seven Bottom Lines" appears to have come in a report posted on the People’s Daily website on August 11, 2013. According to that report, well-known online personalities had gathered at CCTV's headquarters in Beijing on August 10 and reached an agreement that there were seven bottom lines that they would observe:
  1. Laws and Regulations
  2. The Socialist System
  3. The National Interest
  4. Citizens' Legal Rights and Interests
  5. Social Order
  6. Moral Norms
  7. Factual Information
On August 13, 2013, a Sichuan government web site published an article entitled "The Seven Bottom Lines That Every Internet User Should Observe" (七条底线,全体网民应该共守).  According to that article:
The National Interest is to be placed above all others, because without the nation we have nothing. That is the way of the physical world, and even more so in the online world. We must forge an online patriotic culture, with the soul of online culture resting on the national interest.
国家利益高于一切,没有国家就没有我们的一切,现实世界如此,网络世界更如此,我们应该打造网络爱国主义文化,国家利益至上应该是网络文化的灵魂。
Regarding the socialist system, the article said:
This is our fundamental institution, this is a bottom line we cannot neglect, whether in real life on the Internet, we eat and live socialism. We cannot undermine ourselves.
这是我们的基本制度,这个底线不能丢,无论是现实中,还是网络上,我们吃的是社会主义的饭,过的是社会主义的生活,我们不能自己给自己掘墓。

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Nobel Peace Prize History With Baidu Encyclopedia Characteristics - 2014 Edition

In 2013, this blog noted that the Baidu Encyclopedia (Baike 百科 - a Wikipedia-like product) list of Nobel Peace Prize winners did not include either Liu Xiaobo or the Dalai Lama. 

These screenshots were taken on December 13, 2014, and show that the list now includes a reference to Liu Xiaobo, but still omits the Dalai Lama.


In October 2013, Baidu’s Encyclopedia had only one entry for “Liu Xiaobo” - an article about a hydrological engineer. These screenshots show that, as of December 2014, the URL that originally pointed to the article about the hydrological engineer now points to a disambiguation page that includes a link to a “Liu Xiaobo” who is a “Beijing Normal University Professor.”


This screenshot shows that that article is about the Liu Xiaobo who won the Nobel Peace Prize, or, as the Baidu Encyclopedia article describes him:
On October 8, 2010, the Norway Nobel Prize Committee awarded that year’s Nobel Peace Prize to the criminal Liu Xiaobo who had been imprisoned by China’s judicial agencies for inciting subversion of state power.
2010年10月8日,挪威诺贝尔委员会把该年度的诺贝尔和平奖授予因犯有煽动颠覆国家政权罪而被中国司法机关判处徒刑的罪犯刘晓波。

Here is another excerpt from Baidu’s Encyclopedia article on Liu Xiaobo:
Liu Xiaobo is particularly inclined to worshipping Western political, economic, and cultural systems . . . . As for the motherland that bore and nurtured him, Liu Xiaobo actually said "I am indifferent to patriotism or treason. If you want to say I've committed treason, then I've committed treason! I would consider it an honor to admit that one is an unworthy descendant who has dug up their ancestral graves." 
As a Chinese person, Liu Xiaobo regarded his own people and his own countrymen as beneath contempt . . . . Liu Xiaobo saw being Chinese as something to be ashamed of, and he believed that his greatest personal shortcoming was his inability to speak a foreign language . . . .  
刘晓波对西方的政治、经济、文化制度极尽吹捧之能事 . . . . 对于养育自己的祖国,刘晓波竟然说,“我无所谓爱国、叛国,你要说我叛国,我就叛国!就承认自己是挖祖坟的不肖子孙,且以此为荣。” 
作为一个中国人,刘晓波把自己的民族和同胞贬得一文不值 . . . .刘晓波耻于做中国人,他认为自己最大的悲哀是外语不过关 . . . .
Baidu’s Encyclopedia article on Liu Xiaobo also contains statements such as the following (attributed to “an Internet user” (“网友”)): “Liu Xiaobo receives a monthly salary of 13,000 Yuan while in prison.” (刘晓波坐牢的月薪是人民币1.3万元。)

Friday, December 12, 2014

China's Government Shuts Down Tencent Regional Website For a Week

On October 19, 2014, the state-sponsored Cnwest.com published an article entitled “Tencent Daqin Website Shuttered for Seven Days for Violating Regulations” (腾讯大秦网因违规被关停7天). Some excerpts:
Recently, the Provincial Internet Information Office decided to sanction Tencent's Daqin Net by shutting it down for seven days on the grounds that the site's content was not closely monitored, there was negligence in oversight, and malicious and harmful information was transmitted in violation of the Rules on the Administration of Internet News Information Services and other the relevant regulations. 
今日,因腾讯大秦网对网站内容把关不严、疏于监控,放任恶性有害信息传播,违反了《互联网新闻信息服务管理规定》等有关规定,省互联网信息办公室决定对其处以关停7天的处罚。

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Tencent Employees Accused of Taking Money to Censor Internet Information

On September 22, 2014, the state sponsored China News Net published an article entitled “Tencent Editor Sentenced for Taking Money to Delete Posts for 500 to 1,000 Yuan Per Deletion” (腾讯编辑收钱删帖获刑 供称删1条收5百到1千元). Some excerpts:
An investigation showed that, from August 2011 through August 2012, Mr. Wang used the facilities afforded by his job as an editor at the Tencent website to take 67,100 yuan and 127,350 yuan from two Beijing advertising companies and a Mr. Li (which cases are being handled separately), to help them delete online information from Tencent websites. In addition, from 2009 to May 2012, Mr. Wang did, in pursuit of inappropriate benefits, delete related online information and offer bribes of 469,500 yuan to Mr. He (whose case is being tried separately), a senior manager at the Internet Security Center for Beijing Sohu New Media Information Technology Company. 
经一审查明,2011年8月至2012年8月期间,王某利用担任腾讯网站编辑的职务便利,分别收受北京两家广告传媒公司和李某(均另案处理)给予的67100元以及127350元,帮助其删除腾讯网的网络信息。此外,2009年至2012年5月期间,王某为牟取不正当利益,删除有关网络信息,向北京搜狐新媒体信息技术有限公司网安中心高级经理何某(另案处理)行贿469500元。
Tencent is the operator of chat products QQ and Wechat (微信), and also operates a micro-blogging platform ("Weibo").

For more examples of censorship-for-cash on China's Internet, see:

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Searching for Lu Wei on Baidu

Lu Wei (鲁炜) holds three titles concurrently:
  • Director of the Cyberspace Administration of the People's Republic of China (中央网络安全和信息化领导小组办公室主任) 
  • Director of the State Internet Information Office (国家互联网信息办公室主任) 
  • Deputy Director of the Central Propaganda Department of the Chinese Communist Party (中共中央宣传部副部长) 
The following screenshots were taken on December 9-10, 2014.

Baidu Web Search:


These screenshots show that Baidu censors search results for Lu Wei more heavily than it does for searches for "Xi Jinping."



This screenshot shows that Qihoo (the number 2 search engine in China) is able to find thousands of search results for "Lu Wei site:sina.com.cn."


Baidu Postbar (Tieba 贴吧) - a forum product:


This screenshot shows that Sina's Weibo and Tencent's Weibo were apparently not censoring search results for "Lu Wei."




Baidu Knowledge (Zhidao 知道) - a Q&A product:


Monday, December 8, 2014

Here’s How the Xinhua World News Twitter Feed Responded When Asked How It Circumvents the Great Firewall to Get on Twitter

Update December 8, 2014: There appears to be some question as to whether or not the @XinhuaWorld Twitter account is affiliated with China's Xinhua News Agency.

On July 24, 2013, the state-sponsored Global Times published an article entitled “Hengqin New Area Aims to Skirt Firewall.” According to that article:
Local authorities of the Hengqin New Area in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province confirmed Tuesday that they are planning to bypass the Great Firewall by opening special access to the Internet.
. . . .
If passed, Hengqin will be the first region on the Chinese mainland where local residents can skirt the firewall and get access to blocked websites including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
On November 19, 2014, Twitter user Petra Zlatevska posed the following question to fellow Twitter user, Fergus Ryan:
Hey @fryan how does Xinhua post on twitter if it's blocked in China? Always wondered.
Ryan Fergus replied:
Have to ask @XHNews. What VPN are you using @Xinhua_Intl @XinhuanetNews  @Xinhua_English?
This screenshot shows the response that was posted on the Xinhua World News Twitter feed:


Thursday, December 4, 2014

On China's First "Constitution Day" Baidu Bans Forums on "The Constitution"

On December 4, 2014, the state sponsored Global Times published an article entitled “Xi Marks Constitution Day.” Some excerpts:
Chinese president Xi Jinping on Wednesday reiterated the importance of Constitution-centered governance and called for better awareness of the Charter and the rule of law, ahead of Thursday's first Constitution Day.
Xi made the remarks at a meeting with the Communist Party of China (CPC) Central Committee's Publicity Department, the National People's Congress Standing Committee and the Ministry of Justice, aimed at promoting the "Constitutional spirit."
Xi noted that the Constitution guarantees the socialist path with Chinese characteristics, adding that the rule of law must be in harmony with the Constitution.
These screenshots were taken on December 4, 2014, and show that Baidu has banned users of it PostBar (Tieba 贴吧) forum from establishing forums on “The Constitution” and “Constitutional Governance.”


Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Air Pollution Data From US Embassy Blocked During APEC Meeting

On October 10, 2014, the state-sponsored China Daily published an article entitled “Beijing to Keep the Lid on Air Pollution for APEC.” Some excerpts:
Beijing plans to keep a tight rein on pollution by cutting emissions caused by industrial production and vehicles when it hosts the APEC Economic Leaders' Meeting in November.
. . . .
From November 3 to 12, the city will restrict the use of private vehicles based on even- and odd-numbered license plates, reducing the use of such vehicles by 35 percent, the municipal traffic committee said on Thursday.
On November 13, 2014, the China Daily published an article entitled “Beijing Authorities Release Pollution Data for APEC Week.” Some excerpts:
Beijing environment authorities released air quality data on Thursday for the week of APEC, with PM 2.5 levels, a key indicator of air pollution, dropping dramatically.
Following a special air pollution control plan for APEC meetings, the city's daily PM 2.5 density fell to 43 micrograms per cubic meter between November 1 and November 12, a 55-percent reduction compared with the same period last year, according to the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau.
. . . .
"Beijing had 11 days with good air quality, while only one day suffered from mild air pollution," said Fang Li, deputy head of the bureau.
This screenshot was posted on Twitter on November 11, 2014, and shows a notice that appeared on the China Air Quality mobile app produced by “Fresh-Ideas Studios.” The “source” in question was the US Embassy in Beijing.



This screenshot was taken on November 11, 2014, and shows that on that day the Beijing-Air website was not displaying any data from the US Embassy in Beijing, and instead told readers:
“Upon instruction from our superiors, this month the air quality data will take the information published by the Beijing Environmental Office as the standard. We wish the APEC summit members ample success!”

These screenshots were taken at the same time on November 16, 2014, and show the difference between the data reported by the US Embassy in Beijing (left) and the PRC government (right).


Monday, December 1, 2014

Weeks Ago the Global Times Committed to Clean Up Online Comments - How's That Working Out?

On November 6, 2014, the state-sponsored Global Times website published an article entitled “Chinese Websites Promise to Tighten Comments Management.” Some excerpts:
Twenty-nine major Chinese websites have promised to better manage the comments of their users as authorities call for a clean Internet.
Representatives from the 29 web portals, including Tencent.com, Sohu.com, 163.com and the official website of Xinhua News Agency, signed the letter of commitment at a meeting organized by the Cyberspace Administration of China (CAC) on Thursday.
. . . .
The letter asks them to remind web users not to release 18 categories of information that "are against basic principles established by the Constitution," such as information jeopardizing national security, leaking national secrets or instigating ethnic hatred or discrimination.
According to a Xinhua report, the Huanqiu Wang (环球网 - the online version of the Global Times) was one of the signatories of the Self-Discipline Commitment Letter on Administration of Discussion and Commentary (跟帖评论自律管理承诺书 - English translation available here -http://blog.feichangdao.com/2014/11/translation-self-discipline-commitment.html), in which the Global Times committed to “ensure that views exchanged in comments and opinions are civil, rational, amicable, and of high quality.”

The following screenshots were taken on November 29, 2014, and show some of the comments made by Global Times readers on the article “US Self-Belief Not a Model for China.”

[N.B. - Readers should not infer from the following selection that these comments were representative of the Global Times views, nor is there any implication that the selection below is representative of comments on the Global Times website generally. It is suggested that readers visit the article in question and see the comments in context.].