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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.].









Saturday, November 22, 2014

Placing the Claims Made About the Wuzhen Global Internet Conference in the Context of Current Chinese Internet Company Practices

In a Chinese language editorial published on November 20, 2014 entitled “Looking at Wuzhen, Does China’s Internet Look ‘Localized’?” (从乌镇看中国互联网像“局域网”吗) the Global Times said:
Westerners cling with a death grip to the perception that people must put a political hat on the inconsistencies between China's and the West's approach to Internet management. They are too lazy to gain a deeper understanding of what China and the rest of the world put on display.
断然给中国与西方不太一致的网络监管扣政治帽子,这是一些西方人死抱老观念,懒于深入了解中国及其他外部世界的表现。
In the spirit of helping lazy Westerners gain a deeper understanding of what China is putting on display, the following context is offered for statements by government officials and the state run media regarding the recently-concluded Wuzhen World Internet Conference:

Official Statement: President Xi Calls for "Democratic" Internet Governance

In his "Message of Congratulations" (世界互联网大会贺词) to the Conference President Xi Jinping said:
Following the principle of mutual respect and mutual trust, China is ready to work with other countries to deepen international cooperation, respect sovereignty on the Internet, uphold cyber security, and jointly build a cyberspace of peace, security, openness and cooperation and an International Internet governance system of multilateralism, democracy and transparency. 
中国愿意同世界各国携手努力,本着相互尊重、相互信任的原则,深化国际合作,尊重网络主权,维护网络安全,共同构建和平、安全、开放、合作的网络空间,建立多边、民主、透明的国际互联网治理体系。
Context: Baidu Bans Forums on "Democracy"

This screenshot was taken on November 21, 2014, and shows that Baidu has banned users from establishing a PostBar (Tieba 贴吧) forum on the subject of "Democracy" (民主).


Official Statement: Central Propaganda Department Deputy Director Lu Wei's Call for Transparency

During his closing remarks at the Conference on November 20, 2014, Lu said:
To arrive at a consensus we must strengthen communication, seek common ground while recognizing differences, and build a multilateral, democratic, and transparent governance system for the international Internet and create a peaceful, safe, open and cooperative Internet space together. 
走向共识,我们要加强沟通,求同存异,建立多边、民主、透明的国际互联网治理体系,共同构建和平、安全、开放、合作的网络空间。
Context: Transparent Internet Governance with Chinese Characteristics

As noted previously in this blog, during the last year China’s state run media has exposed at least two cases involving police officers in Beijing and Hainan who were entrusted with censoring online content, and who abused their authority by taking bribes to order web masters to delete information that did not violate any of China’s laws, regulations, or policies. See:
On April 17, 2014, the state sponsored Southern Weekend published an article entitled “Internet Police Bribe Internet Police: Deleting Posts for Their Bosses” (网警贿赂网警:替领导删帖). According to the article, this is the censorship governance system that enabled this kind of corruption:
Anyone who had authority over the Internet could send down an order to delete a post. With respect to posts about the government that were negative, the most common demand was "Don't let them garner too much attention." "Currently the orders that come down are not in any written document, they are all issued as messages in a QQ group." 
只要是有权管网络的,都可以给高强们下达删帖等处置指令,针对政府一些负面的帖子一般要求“不要炒作”。“现在下达指令并没有书面的文件,都是以QQ群里面的留言的方式下发的。”
These screenshots show that the article was deleted within hours.



State Run Media Report: Global Internet Connectivity

On November 20, 2014, China’s official news agency Xinhua published an article entitled “China Holds First World Internet Conference, Urges Better Governance.” Some excerpts:
China held the First Internet Conference in the rivertown of Wuzhen, calling for global Internet interconnectivity and shared governance by all.
. . . .
Lu Wei, minister of the Cyberspace Administration of China, hoped the attendees would make plans for Internet interconnectivity and shared governance as well as promote consensus and to make a historical contribution for the Internet.
Context: China's Weibos Censor Information About China's Manipulation of Internet Interconnectivity

These screenshots show that on the same day Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo were censoring search results for “Overseas Websites Completely Unblocked at China Wuzhen Internet Conference” (中国乌镇互联网大会全面解禁境外网站).



State Run Media Report: Freedom vs Order

The same day Xinhua published a Chinese language article entitled “Becoming an Internet Superpower with the ‘Wuzhen Net’” (走向网络强国的“乌镇网事”) which quoted Lu Wei as saying:
With Internet interconnectivity there must also be respect for sovereignty, with fast development there must also be guarantees of security, with calls for freedom there must also be respect for order, with self reliance there must also be cooperation. 
The purpose of the Internet security censorship system is to safeguard Internet security and national security, safeguard the healthy development of the economy and society, and safeguard the interests of China’s consumers. We are not targeting specific countries or enterprises. Rather, it includes all countries an all enterprises.  
既要互联互通,也要尊重主权,既要加快发展,也要确保安全,既要提倡自由,也要遵守秩序,既要自主自立,也要开放合作。  
网络安全审查制度是为了维护网络安全和国家安全、维护经济社会健康发展、维护中国消费者的利益,我们不针对某一个国家、某一个企业。当然,也包括一切国家和所有的企业。
Context: On Baidu's Forums, Discussion of "Order" is Allowed, but Not "Freedom"

These screenshots were taken on November 20, 2014, and show that Baidu was banning forums on the topic of “Freedom,” (自由), but had allowed users to establish a forum for “Order” (秩序).


State Run Media Report: Domestic Companies Wielding Influence Abroad

The same day state sponsored Global Times published an English language article entitled “China Lays Out Vision for Web Governance.” Some excerpts:
Centering on the theme of "An Interconnected World Shared and Governed by All," the conference is covering topics that include global Internet governance, mobile Internet, cross-border e-commerce, cybersecurity and  combating terrorism on the Internet.
. . . .
[The conference and Xi's message] show that the Chinese government has placed higher priority on managing the Internet, as China is becoming an Internet superpower, with a huge number of Web users and the global influence of Chinese Internet companies like Alibaba," Wei Wuhui, an Internet and new media expert with Shanghai Jiao Tong University, told the Global Times.
Context: Censorship of Reports Linking Chinese Internet Companies to Government Officials

On July 20, 2014, the New York Times published an article entitled “Alibaba’s I.P.O. Could Be a Bonanza for the Scions of Chinese Leaders.” The article appeared in Chinese the following day under the title “The Red Descendants Behind Alibaba’s IPO” (阿里巴巴上市背后的“红二代”赢家). These screenshots show that on July 26, Sina Weibo began censoring search results for "Alibaba New York Times" (阿里巴巴 纽约时报).



State Run Media Report: Users Must Be Responsible for Their Speech

From the same Global Times article:
"Development without discipline and regulation will not be sustainable. As the Internet has developed, problems have emerged. Xi's initiative to construct an international Internet governance system provides direction and practical steps for solving those problems," Huang Chengqing, vice-president of the Internet Society of China and a participant at the conference, told the Global Times. 
As the development of the Internet provides individuals with greater freedom to speak and share information, the public should also be responsible for their speech and conscientious about disseminating information that will harm the country's development, said Huang.
Context: Censorship of United Nations Reports

On March 18, 2014, a statement entitled “Deadly Reprisals: UN Experts Deplore the Events Leading to the Death of Chinese Human Rights Defender Cao Shunli, and Ask for Full Investigation” (致命报复:联合国专家对导致中国维权人士曹顺利死亡的事件表示痛惜,并要求予以彻查) was published on the web site of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights.

These screenshots show that on March 20, a Baidu user searching for “Cao Shunli site:ohchr.org" (曹顺利 site:ohchr.org) got four results, the first of which was the foregoing statement. A user doing the same search on March 21 only got two results, and the foregoing statement was not among them.


State Run Media Report: China is Quite Guileless

In a Chinese language editorial published the same day entitled “Looking at Wuzhen, Does China’s Internet Look ‘Localized’?” (从乌镇看中国互联网像“局域网”吗) the Global Times said:
It is hoped that Wuzhen will become a new starting point for global interconnectivity for the Internet. China's way of doing things is not riddled with "plots" as imagined by Westerners. With respect to the issue of opening to outsiders, China is actually quite guileless
希望乌镇成为网络世界互联互通的新起点。中国做事并非西方想的那样每一步都充满“谋略”,在对外开放的问题上,中国其实蛮淳朴的。
Context: China's Weibo Censor Information About China's Cyber-Attacks

On February 21, 2013, the state-sponsored Global Times published an English article entitled "Regular Cyber Attacks From US: China." Some excerpts:
In a report released Monday, Mandiant pointed its fingers at a Chinese military unit named People's Liberation Army (PLA) Unit 61398, saying the Shanghai-based outfit had systematically stolen confidential data from at least 141 organizations across 20 industries.
. . . .
"China should strive for a greater say in laying out international rules on cyber security," Da told the Global Times on Wednesday, suggesting that in response to continuous accusations, China, also a big victim of cyber attacks, can "fight" back with concrete evidence.
These screenshots show that immediately after the publication of the New York Times report, both Sina Weibo and Tencent Weibo began censoring searches for Unit 61398 (61398部队).



Thursday, November 20, 2014

Baidu Censors Information About Political Figure's Suicide (Again)

On November 17, 2014, the website of the Beijing Youth Daily, the official newspaper of the Communist Youth League committee in Beijing, published an article entitled “Hong Kong Media: PLA Navy Deputy Commissar Ma Faxiang Died After Jumping From a Building” (港媒:海军副政委马发祥跳楼身亡). It was deleted within hours.

The Beijing Youth Daily article as cached by Baidu
before it was deleted.
Shortly after the Beijing Youth Daily article was deleted, the China Daily published an article entitled “PLA Navy Deputy Commissar Ma Faxiang Died After Jumping From a Building, Was Engaged in Public Activities Last Month” (海军副政委马发祥跳楼身亡 上月公开活动)

The China Daily article.
These screenshots show that, about the same time the Beijing Youth Daily article was deleted, Baidu began restricting search results for “Ma Faxiang Suicide” (马发祥 自杀) and “Ma Faxiang Jumped” (马发祥 跳楼) to a strict white list of about a dozen website operated by the central government and Communist Party (which includes the China Daily but does not include the Beijing Youth Daily).



Both the China Daily and the Beijing Youth Daily covered similar facts:

  • They based their reporting on a report in Hong Kong’s Ta Kung Pao.
  • Vice Admiral Ma Faxiang was believed to have died after he leapt from a building at a naval complex in Beijing on November 13th.

But the reports differed in several aspects, for example, the China Daily article did not speculate as to why Ma committed suicide. Another article, this one from China.com.cn (which is also on Baidu’s strict white list) speculated that the suicide was the result of “depression.”

The deleted and censored Beijing Youth Daily article, however, said there were rumors that Ma's suicide was directly related to corruption and his having talked to the Central Disciplinary Commission.

This is not the first (or even the second) time that Baidu has censored results about an official committing suicide. For more examples, see this post: After Person Reportedly Commits Suicide Baidu Censors Searches for Their Name (Again) http://blog.feichangdao.com/2014/03/after-person-reportedly-commits-suicide.html

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Baidu, Sina, and Tencent Promise to Enforce Real Name Registration for Online Comments, Ask Users to Abide by the Socialist System

On November 6, 2014, China’s official news agency Xinhua 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 - 国家互联网信息办公室) on Thursday. 
These websites promised to ensure that "their users register, post and write comments with their real identity," according to the commitment letter. 
They also "promise to and sincerely ask all users to consciously abide by the 'seven bottom lines' -- law and rules, socialist systems, national interests, citizen's legitimate rights, social public order, morality and authenticity of information -- when posting."
In addition the websites promised to block 18 categories of comments, including those using:
  • language other than the language normally used to make comments;
  • words intended to deliberately circumvent censorship technology.
A full translation of the rules, entitled “Self-Discipline Commitment Letter on the Administration of Discussion and Commentary” (跟帖评论自律管理承诺书), is available here: http://blog.feichangdao.com/2014/11/translation-self-discipline-commitment.html.

The rules were announced by Ren Xianliang (贤良表), deputy director of the CAC, who told the assemble website operators:
To manage the Internet in accordance with the law it is not only necessary to focus on controlling the sources where news information is produced, it is also necessary to place a high degree of focus on steering and safeguarding the publication process flows.
依法管网不仅要重视管好新闻信息源头的生产,还要高度重视传播流通过程的引导和维护。
According to a Caixin report published on November 3, Ren also warned them that they shouldn’t allow conversations to be “led around by the nose by a minority of Big Vs.” (不能被少数大V牵着鼻子走).

Xinhua also published this list of signatories, which included Baidu, the Global Times, and the People’s Daily. Here is the list in Chinese: 新华网、人民网、中国网、国际在线、中国日报网、央视网、中国青年网、中国经济网、中国台湾网、中国西藏网、中国新闻网、中青在线、中国广播网、光明网、正义网、环球网、法制网、中工网、中国军网、千龙网、新浪网、搜狐网、网易网、腾讯网、凤凰网、百度网、财新网、今日头条、澎湃新闻 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Reports on Xi Jinping Statement on Foreign Journalist Visas Disappear From State Media

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 initially reported by several state sponsored media outlets in China. For example, according to a report from the Shanghai-based “The Paper” (澎湃新闻), Xi’s statement in Chinese was:
中国政府依法保护公民的言论自由以及媒体的正当权益。但是各媒体也要遵守中国的法律。一个车子如果开到半截抛锚了,我们就要下来检查一下哪里出了毛病。中国人讲解铃还须系铃人,所以我们都可以找找原因。
However, as these screenshots show, these reports were removed from the websites of The Paper, the China Daily, Phoenix News, and Sichuan Radio and Television by November 15.

China Daily: “An Open Letter to the New York Times: News Reports Cannot Step Beyond the Limits of China’s Laws” (致纽约时报一封信:新闻报道勿跨中国法律雷池半步)
Original URL: http://cn.chinadaily.com.cn/2014-11/14/content_18917707.htm


Phoenix News: “New York Times Asks About Visas Being Rejected for American Reporters, Xi Jinping: The One Who Created the Problem Should Fix It”  (纽约时报提美国记者签证被拒问题 习近平:解铃还须系铃人)
Origina URL: http://news.ifeng.com/a/20141113/42461168_0.shtml


Sichuan Radio and Television: “Xi Jinping Responds on ‘American Reporters Being Denied Visas’: The One Who Created the Problem Should Fix It”(习近平回应“美记者签证被拒”:解铃还须系铃人)
Original URL: http://news.sctv.com/gnxw/szyw/201411/t20141115_2151168.shtml


The Paper: “Taiwan Independence, Tibet Independence, National Security: Nothing Was Off Limits During the 10 Hours of Talks Between Xi and Obama in Beijing” (习奥北京交谈长达10小时:台独、藏独、国防等话题无不涉及)
Original URL: http://www.thepaper.cn/newsDetail_forward_1278000


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 - http://special.globaltimes.cn/2011-02/624290.html - 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.
追问:你能明确告诉我们违反了中国哪项法律的哪个条款吗?
答:违反了去那个地方采访需申请的有关规定。不要拿法律当挡箭牌。问题的实质是有人唯恐天下不乱,想在中国闹事。对于抱有这种动机的人,我想什么法律也保护不了他。


Source: http://www.mfa.gov.cn/mfa_chn/fyrbt_602243/jzhsl_602247/t803799.shtml

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.
中国历来都是好客热情的,但是谁到我家作客,我是有选择的。我可以讲两句话,我没有办法改变你,但是我有权利选择朋友,我希望到中国来的都是朋友,是真朋友。


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:

中国政府依法保护公民的言论自由以及媒体的正当权益。但是各媒体也要遵守中国的法律。一个车子如果开到半截抛锚了,我们就要下来检查一下哪里出了毛病。中国人讲解铃还须系铃人,所以我们都可以找找原因。