How PRC Websites Disappeared Civil Rights Lawyer Lu Siwei (卢思伟)
On July 28, 2023, the Associated Press reported:
Lu Siwei was seized by Laotian police Friday morning while boarding a train for Thailand. He was on his way to Bangkok to catch a flight to the United States to join his wife and daughter.I previously translated Lu's defense of poet Wang Zang after Wang and his wife were convicted of inciting subversion.
Lu had a history of taking on sensitive cases, and of navigating the fraught and murky waters of defending people who are deemed to be political targets by authorities.
In 2021, Lu was stripped of his legal license after representing a Hong Kong pro-democracy activist who tried to flee to Taiwan. Later that year, Lu was barred from leaving China for a visiting fellowship in the United States and was told he had an exit ban placed on him.
For over a year, Lu has been separated from his wife and daughter, who both resettled in the United States last year.
PRC websites began censoring Lu's name years ago. Here is a screenshot from January 8, 2020, showing that at that time Baidu had blacklisted Lu's name, returning no results.
These screenshots were taken in July 2021 and July 2023, and show that Baidu was at both times returning results for Lu's name, but only from a whitelist of about a dozen websites under the direct editorial control of the central government and Communist Part (e.g., China Daily, Xinhua, People's Daily, China Youth Daily, etc.).
The whitelisting censorship of Lu's name is more obvious when one compares how search results have changed for two other PRC search engines - Sogou and Qihoo:
- Qihoo: 2021 - 436 Results, 2023 - 1 Result
- Sogou: 2021 - 368 Results, 2023 - 9 Results
What is particularly noteworthy is that, even if PRC search engines had not whitelisted Lu's name, they would still be returning far fewer search results today than previously. This is because it appears PRC websites such as Sina and Netease have deleted almost all articles referring to Lu. These screenshots were taken in July 2021, and show that searches for Lu's name restricted to the Sina.com.cn and 163.com domains returned many results.
These screenshots were taken in July 2023, and show that searches for "Lu Siwei" on 163.com's own search engine return no results. Similarly, searches for "Lu Siwei" restricted to the sina.com.cn domain on Bing return no results.
These screenshots below show that even when Baidu was whitelist censoring Lu's name, it was still possible to find articles from state run media quoting him. Today, however, the same search returns now returns no results - presumably because the state run media has deleted those articles from their websites.
Here are translations of two of the articles from PRC state sponsored media that appeared in Baidu's 2021 search results, but which I am now unable to find online:
The new policy of online car-hailing is introduced, and a new model of "renting instead of purchasing" is emerging in Sichuan CNR.com
On August 13, 2016, Lu Siwei, chief lawyer of Beijing Yingke Law Firm, told reporters that although the risk of the "rental purchase" model of "making investment" is relatively small, it should still be based on the borrower's repayment continuity, the institutional collection capacity of the organization, and the increase of institutional vehicles......
CCTV.com-Real Estate Market Information Transparency Survey: How much do you know about real estate market information?
March 31, 2007 In this regard, lawyer Lu Siwei commented that uncertainty is exactly the risk of a market economy.
Now, if this kind of uncertainty is used as a fig leaf for the existence of information barriers in the real estate market, it will only increase the risk of this market. What's more, arbitrary price increases also violate our country's...