Tags: books, CCP, censorship, China, Culture, Falun Gong, human rights, IT and Media, Society
By Zhou Xing
Jason Q. Ng, a Google Policy Fellow at the University of Toronto’s Citizen Lab, introduced his new book “Blocked on Weibo” on Aug. 29. The book reveals a large number of keywords censored by Chinese authorities on the Chinese microblog service Weibo.
Since 2011, Ng has spent nearly two years studying blocked keywords. He told the Epoch Times that among the 1,500 blacklisted words, 500 are unique, 150 of which are listed in his book. He believes he can help readers understand how Chinese netizens use the Internet by using various approaches to collect data from Weibo.
Ng said it’s sometimes difficult to predict which words will be blocked or why they are blocked, but those critical of the authorities are usually chosen.
For example, “tank” is associated with the Tiananmen Massacre of 1989, and so it is not surprising it should be blocked. But once the phrase “rich woman” was blocked. “Rich woman” was associated with Guo Meimei, a young woman who flaunted wealth and claimed she was an officer with the Chinese Red Cross. This combination of words rapidly circulated on the Internet, then it was blocked.
‘Canadian French’ Becomes a Forbidden Phrase
Ng’s research shows that Chinese authorities included proper names, place names, and some unlikely phrases in its censorship. The name Jiang Yanyong was blocked because he disclosed the fact that the Communist Party was concealing the SARS epidemic in 2003. Kashi, a place in Xinjiang where riots and conflicts often occur, is also blocked.
An unlikely phrase, “Canadian French,” is taboo on China’s Weibo because the Chinese pronunciation of “Canadian French” is “Jia Na Da Fa Yu” which contains two characters “Da Fa,” a term used in “Falun Dafa,” a traditional Chinese spiritual discipline.
Since 1999, the Chinese authorities have brutally persecuted practitioners of Falun Dafa (also known as Falun Gong). The Communist Party has used the entire mainland Chinese media network to paint an image of Falun Dafa as mad and evil, while censoring Falun Dafa books and any materials that give an accurate description of Falun Dafa. Because the phrase “Canadian French” contains the two characters “Da Fa,” it has been deemed worthy of censorship.
Coincidentally, Ng’s study also found that “Renmin University of China Law School,” a Communist Party institution, also contains the characters “Da Fa,” so it was censored for the same reason that Canadian French was censored.
Ng notes that Western countries meet their citizens’ needs with fewer restrictions on the free flow of information, but China maintains strict control.
“I believe that Chinese citizens want more freedom of speech, but they still have no chance to participate in the discussion on network control.” Ng said.
Ng was very interested in how much the Communist Party invested in network control. He said that there must be at least 100,000 people censoring words on Weibo, because some blocking occurs within seconds after the nearly 600 million Weibo users have circulated the word(s).
Even the title of Ng’s book was deleted within a few minutes of being posted by a Weibo user. Ng said that even if the posted text were converted into a picture, it would still be censored.
Written in English by Arleen Richards.
Read the original Chinese article.
Tags: CCP, censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, persecution of dissidents, Society
By Maia Lenei Buhre
In the first case of its kind, a teenager has been arrested after a post of his regarding a suspicious death on microblogging service, Sina Weibo went viral, Beijing Times reports.
Here’s the back story behind the tweet: A man was found dead outside a karaoke bar in Zhangjiachuan County, Gansu Province on September 12. While the official ruling is that his death was caused by an accidental high fall, the family of the deceased believes he was beaten up before being thrown out of a window.
16 year old Yang, a student at Zhangjiachuan middle school, posted several times about the murky circumstances of the death to his Weibo account two days after the death.
Tags: CCP, censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, persecution of dissidents, Society
The U.S.-based China expert He Qinglian is always interesting, but especially on the subject of China’s media. He Qinglian worked eight years as a journalist in China and has written a book about the control of media in China published in 2008 in English as “The Fog of Censorship”, as well as numerous articles on the subject of the media in China. Here are a few nuggets drawn from Ms. He’s writings.
Two key points made by Ms. He will help someone understand how to read the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) media.
First, for anything that may be considered “bad news” such as disasters, stories involving public security or public safety, or corruption, the reality is usually much worse than what is reported. The CCP’s rule is to only tell the news in a way that always makes them look good.
For example, whenever there is a disaster or major incident, the CCP strictly controls the actual situation by reducing the death toll numbers, and minimizing the damage report, in order to demonstrate that the CCP is diligently taking care of people.
Second, the news is always reported from the CCP’s viewpoint. For example, when the news is about a high number of laborers being laid off, the issue is reported as if the CCP is concerned about serious unemployment.
Or when one local leader speaks out about the farmers’ issue, the story does not focus on the local leader. Rather, the story will claim the farmers’ issue became so big that the local leader was forced to pay attention to it.
When a senior official’s corruption has been revealed, the story is about the CCP’s success in cracking down on corruption.
Even when a senior official’s corruption has been revealed, the story is about the CCP’s success in cracking down on corruption, instead of the root cause of the problem.
According to He Qinglian, the CCP’s control over media is “systematized” through laws, regulations, and statutory documents.
In controlling the media, the power of the CCP Propaganda Department surpasses that of the State Press and Publication Administration, He says.
The CCP deals with political issues as if they were non-political matters. No documents are issued; instead, communications are made through telephone calls or interior meetings. The contents of the meetings are never written, recorded, or exposed.
When it comes to media reports, He says, state-run media will not keep silent about certain issues as they did before. Rather, they will confuse the public by publishing “some lies mingled with partial facts.” This kind of propaganda mingled with partial facts is indeed more interesting than sheer lies.
The “China” constructed by the CCP-affiliated media is a far cry from the China perceived by rural or smaller-sized city dwellers, Ms. He says. The “China” exposed to the international community is purposefully shaped in the media by the communist regime.
Intelligence agencies of the CCP Public Security Bureau monitor the Internet and follow orders from some state security departments to arrest those who are charged with threatening state security for spreading damaging rumors.
With the popularity of the Internet, the CCP has developed the biggest firewalls in the world, such as the unusually costly “Golden Shield Project,” which aims to monitor public behavior.
Because the CCP uses propaganda to gain control over people’s thoughts, Chinese people have completely different concepts of universal values, like human rights, freedom, and democracy, Ms. He says.
For example, many overseas Chinese students, particularly those born after 1989, adopt skeptical attitudes toward the Western description of historical events in China, like the Korean War, the relationship between China and America, and the history of the CCP.
Translation by Rebecca Chen and Amy Lien.
More in Thinking About China
Tags: Body & Mind, CCP, censorship, China, environmental issues, Food, health, Society, sustainable development
By Gu Chunqiu
Following outrage among netizens, demands by Beijing attorneys, and media pressure, the Chinese Ministry of Land and Resources recently issued a report on the quality of the nation’s groundwater. The report has failed to address the scope or the severity of the problem, say critics.
Concern about groundwater seized the public’s attention in early February after blog posts by the journalist Dong Fei about the pumping of industrial waste water underground in eastern China’s Shandong Province. Chemical and paper plants in Jiangsu Province, just south of Shangdong, and in Huabei (a region of several provinces in northern China) were also reported using wells to dispose of their waste water.
By mid-February 2.9 million netizens published posts with pictures of water pollution in their hometowns in response to a request from Dong.
Three Beijing attorneys then publicly requested that the authorities publish official data on China’s groundwater pollution and media in China took up the issue.
In later March, a 400-page report titled “2011 Data on Groundwater Quality at Nationally Monitored Sites” appeared.
Environmental scientist Zhao Zhangyuan , a retired member of the Chinese Research Academy of Environmental Sciences, told the state-run Jinghua Times (a subsidiary of Communist Party mouthpiece People’s Daily) that the report used outdated 1993 standards, which do not test for many organic pollutants that make up the bulk of modern pollution.
The Nanjing Survey Center of the Chinese Academy of Geological Sciences monitored groundwater near the Yangtze River Delta—a heavily urbanized area in eastern China that includes Shanghai—and found that it contained cancer-causing chemicals such as dichloroethane and dichloromethane, and other organic chemicals known to affect the nervous system, kidneys, and liver, such as toluene and chloroform. None of these chemicals are covered under the 1993 standards.
Available evidence suggests that China suffers from groundwater pollution on a much larger scale than the authorities have been willing to disclose.
Studies done by the China Geological Survey since 2006 show that in the Huabei region, only 22.2 percent of the region’s groundwater was safe to drink. Groundwater makes up the bulk of the region’s drinking water supply.
The study found that throughout the region, groundwater at shallow levels was found to be heavily polluted. Although the groundwater at deeper levels was found to be cleaner, 12.86 percent of it was found to be polluted as well.
According to the Qianzhan Industry Research Institute, a Shenzhen-based think tank, China will increasingly turn to groundwater sources for its drinking water supplies between now and 2017, due to the country’s relative lack of water resources.
The research institute projects that approximately 70 percent of the Chinese population, or over 400 out of China’s 660 cities, will draw their drinking water primarily from groundwater sources.
China’s rural population draws most of its drinking water supplies from wells, which tap into shallow-level groundwater sources. However the indiscriminate use of fertilizer and pesticide has severely polluted groundwater in the countryside.
“Cancer villages” have appeared in Henan, Anhui, Sichuan, Guangdong, Heilongjiang, and Shandong provinces.
According to a Voice of America report, groundwater in the Huabei region has been found to contain heavy metals far exceeding allowable limits, including mercury, chromium, cadmium, and lead.
In addition, organic substance pollution has appeared in: the southern suburbs of Beijing; Shijiazhuang, the capital of northern China’s Hebei Province; Jinan, the capital of Shandong Province; and the Yuxi Plain in Henan Province. The main pollutants are benzene, carbon tetrachloride, and trichloroethylene, all of which can cause cancer and other health problems.
Besides these pollutants, at least 100 million people in China are drinking groundwater with dangerous levels of arsenic, which can cause cardiovascular problems and an increased risk of cancer, as well as fluorine, which is known to cause bone deformities in children and kidney problems.
According to the Voice of America report, companies throughout China have been digging wells for the sole purpose of discharging industrial effluent into the groundwater for the past 20 years.
Chinese netizens have since gone online to express their unhappiness over the issue. On Sina Weibo—a popular microblog service similar to Twitter—a user named Wang Pan wrote, “Large businesses are heartlessly pumping pollutants into our groundwater supply, and yet the government, blinded by political goals, has ignored and even openly tolerated this.
“Our rivers and streams suffer from the pollution of surface water, but our very water sources suffer from the pollution of groundwater. How is this different from nuclear waste? This will end the lives of our future generations. When there is no more clean water left in China, what will be the use of having GDP?”
Wang Pan’s account was removed shortly after the comment was posted, showing the regime’s unwillingness to allow free discussion of the problem.
According to Fan Xiao, a geologist and chief engineer at the Sichuan Provincial Bureau of Geology and Mineral Resources, China currently lacks official regulations on the discharge of wastewater into groundwater sources, and state agencies lack the capability to enforce regulations.
“[We] are heavily reliant on our groundwater sources, and if they become polluted, cleaning them up will be virtually impossible,” Fan said.
Rapid urbanization has driven the growth of both the extent and severity of mainland China’s groundwater pollution problems. Key to this is the communist regime’s single-minded pursuit of GDP growth.
According to the 2012 Chinese Cancer Registry Annual Report, due to extreme levels of environmental pollution, there are 3.5 million new cases of cancer in mainland China every year, resulting in 2.5 million deaths annually. This is the equivalent of 8,550 new cases of cancer being diagnosed every day.
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Tags: Body & Mind, books, CCP, censorship, China, Culture, human rights, Society
A former senior editor for the Chinese Communist Party’s propaganda mouthpiece collected the Manhattan Institute’s Hayek Prize Wednesday night.
The book award is given by the libertarian-leaning think tank to acknowledge recent works that “best reflect Hayek’s vision of economic and individual liberty.” It comes with a $50,000 cash prize.
Chinese journalist and historian Yang Jisheng’s book, “Tombstone,” was published in English last year; it is a comprehensive account of the Great Chinese Famine from 1958 to 1962, during which his father starved to death among over 36 million other peasants.
At the time, Chairman Mao attributed the tragedy to “the three years of natural calamities,” but Yang, through his own experiences and 15 years of research while working for Xinhua, learned the truth: to exponentially increase grain and steel production during the so-called Great Leap Forward, Mao expended the lives of countless rural workers.
As grain was sent to the cities and abroad, Chinese in the countryside were prevented from leaving to find food. Desperate, they tried to subsist on things like clay, elm bark, and bird droppings; some parents even ended up eating their own children.
“Mao’s powers expanded from the people’s minds to their stomachs,” Yang recently told the Wall Street Journal. “Whatever the Chinese people’s brains were thinking and what their stomachs were receiving were all under the control of Mao. . . . His powers extended to every inch of the field, and every factory, every workroom of a factory, every family in China.”
In his 1944 book “The Road to Serfdom,” Austrian economist and philosopher Friedrich Hayek had called this approach the “fatal conceit” of socialism, contrasting it with a free market, which allows producers to match prices to consumers’ preferences without coercion or waste of human and natural resources.
Hayek’s book was translated into Chinese in 1962, but could only be read by Party leaders wanting to study a critique of socialism. Years later, a censored version became available to the Chinese public, which greatly influenced Yang’s thinking on events that had unfolded since the Mao era.
Manhattan Institute founder Sir Anthony Fisher spoke with Hayek on how to reverse the erosion of freedom, who advised beginning “on the battlefield of ideas.”
In “Tombstone,” Yang said that the totalitarian regime was the root cause of the famine. In a more open system, people would have realized immediately, and leaders would have modified mistaken policies, he said.
During the event in New York, Yang explained the significance of the name he chose for the book. “There are four levels of meaning to the book title–first it’s the tombstone of my father, who died of starvation during that time; second it’s the tombstone of the 36 million Chinese, who died during those three years of starvation; third I hoped it would be a tombstone for the system that allowed so many people to die of starvation; and fourth, due to the danger I was in while writing, I thought it might be my own tombstone.”
Although he supports democracy and freedom of information, Yang questions how soon these can come to China while the Communist Party still holds power.
“If a people cannot face their history, these people won’t have a future,” he told the Journal. “That was one of the purposes for me to write this book. I wrote a lot of hard facts, tragedies. I wanted people to learn a lesson, so we can be far away from the darkness, far away from tragedies, and won’t repeat them.”
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Tags: CCP, censorship, China, Chinese culture, classical Chinese dance, Shen Yun, Society
Letters sent to businesses and government officials ask for withdrawal of support
By Matthew Robertson
TOKYO—Chinese consulates in Japan have recently sent letters to businesses, newspapers, and government officials in cities and prefectures across the country, demanding that they withdraw their support for Shen Yun Performing Arts, a Chinese classical dance company that tours the world. Good relations with the People’s Republic of China PRC are said to be at issue.
Shen Yun’s tour in Japan runs from April 19 until May 1. It will perform 11 shows in five cities, and is currently playing in Tokyo.
Last year, and the year before, Chinese consular officials also sent similar letters.
One of the letters, reviewed by The Epoch Times, asks a businessman to cancel his sponsorship of Shen Yun’s local promoters in Fukuoka, where the company is scheduled to perform on May 1. He was additionally asked to withdraw all public relations activities, “involvement,” or other support.
Local government officials have also received such letters, like that sent to the mayor of a city in the Fukuoka Prefecture, by Li Tianran, an official at a PRC consular office in Fukuoka.
Officials in prefectural governments in Tokyo, Kanagawa, Osaka, and Aichi, at least, have also received the letters, according to the local promoters in those areas, who were contacted by confused officials after receiving the abusive notes.
So have theaters, television broadcasters, magazines, and three of Japan’s largest newspapers.
The letters frame their demands as being “for the sake of Sino-Japanese relations,” according to the text in the letter seen by The Epoch Times. The Epoch Times devotes a segment of its website to feedback from audiences that have seen Shen Yun.
The Chinese authorities have long attempted to shut down Shen Yun’s performances around the world. The company is frequently sponsored by the Falun Dafa Associations where it performs; Falun Dafa, a spiritual practice, is persecuted ferociously by the Communist Party in China.
A focus of the round of letters in Japan was to slander the host Falun Dafa Association, using the Communist Party’s propaganda against the practice.
In addition, analysts say that the Chinese regime fears the attractiveness to Chinese audiences of the traditional Chinese culture Shen Yun presents. The Chinese Communist Party has sought over the past 60 years to stamp out China’s traditional culture.
The demanding letters were sent in the context of ongoing maritime disputes between Japan and the PRC, where many Japanese feel that the PRC is acting like a bully.
This round of letters targeting Shen Yun is unlikely to reassure the Japanese that China is a generally benign presence, indicated Koyu Nishimura, a Japanese critic and journalist, who read the letter sent to government officials.
“We have the freedom to think, freedom to speak, and freedom to believe. This is what the Communist Party is most frightened of,” he said in an interview with The Epoch Times. “The world is awakening to the real nature of the Communist Party.”
Nishimura continued: “If this has been happening each time the performers come to Japan, we should not keep silent. We must take action.” He added: “We shouldn’t forgive these actions.”
As a result of the letter-writing campaign, some of the sponsors of the hosting organization withdrew their support, and newspapers have been reluctant to run advertising for Shen Yun.
In the history of Shen Yun’s performances this response is unusual. Letters of this kind are regularly sent to sponsors and politicians who support the hosting organizations in countries around the world, and are often ignored or dismissed. Sometimes they are roundly rebuffed.
In early 2011 one such letter reached Dr. Cathy Casey, a member of the city council of Auckland, New Zealand. “I was quite outraged by it,” she said in an interview at the time. “I’m really upset that the consulate should think it can influence elected members in a host country, where they’re our guest. … How dare they!”
After seeing Shen Yun on April 20, Hirosato Nakatsugawa, a member of Japan’s House of Representatives, said: “I deplore the Chinese Communist Party sabotaging the performing arts. It is just pure artistic performance. People want this emotional experience.”
Updates: The article was updated to reflect the widespread nature of the letter-writing campaign, the content of the letters sent, and the impact they had in Japan.
Translation by Yukari Werrell. Written in English by Matthew Robertson.
Read the original article in Japanese.
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Tags: CCP, censorship, China, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
By Cassie Ryan
The General Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television, the office charged with regulating the media, announced the move Wednesday. The office claimed it wanted to “strengthen management” and stop the “spread of harmful information.” The prohibition also applies to freelancers, NGOs, and commercial organizations.
The move coincided with the news that The New York Times had just won a Pulitzer Prize for its October 2012 report on the hidden wealth of ex-premier Wen Jiabao and family.
Press freedom group Reporters Without Borders (RWB) condemned the ruling as “draconian,” saying that the Communist Party’s censorship has been increasing steadily since its 18th Congress last November, when the new leadership was selected.
“The censors have had the foreign media in their sights ever since they published embarrassing revelations about China’s leaders,” the report said. “The regime is trying to prevent the Chinese media from repeating such revelations.”
The report added that foreign media play a key role in informing the international community about events in China, as well as the Chinese public, which it described as “the victim of the government’s growing censorship of local media.”
However, burgeoning Internet use in China, for example via Sina Weibo microblogs, renders censorship virtually impossible.
“The initiative seems bound to fail in the era of Weibo and social networks, where information and revelations from the foreign media circulate like wildfire,” the RWB report said. “But it could be used to justify new acts of censorship and could therefore have an impact on the Chinese media, which often quote international news agency reports in particular.”
Beijing journalist Gao Yu, two-time Courage in Journalism Award winner, and former deputy editor-in-chief for Economics Weekly, told the Sound of Hope Radio Network that the Internet has broken the Party’s censorship restrictions, and the move is further evidence of a crisis in officialdom.
“[News about] communist officials’ scandals, natural and mining disasters can be spread around the world in a few minutes or seconds,” Gao said.
“For years the Chinese media’s brainwashing propaganda has destroyed the Chinese people’s morality. With the development of the Internet, the brainwashing propaganda can no longer be sustained,” she added. “This is the Chinese regime’s crisis, and that’s why they are tightening control.”
The ban could have a big impact on domestic newspapers, as international agencies like Reuters provide most of their foreign coverage.
Bloggers responded strongly, particularly journalists. A Beijing journalist cited by citizen media website Global Voices said on his Weibo: “Public opinion supervision is essential for a healthy society. The scale of criticism is the scale of democracy–if criticism is not free, then praise is meaningless. The correct conclusion is from a wide range of voices, rather than what is chosen by the authority.”
Another Weibo user added: “What is harmful information? I think there’s only true and false information. The purpose of the news is to broadcast the truth, which is the basic need of a society. Most of the harmful information as defined by the propaganda department throughout the history of the Chinese republic proved to be accurate. Blocking information and opinions may be effective temporarily, but such a policy of self-denial won’t work in the long run.”
A third referred to a Chinese idiom, saying “The more one tries to hide, the more one is exposed.”
With research by Jane Lin.
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More in Chinese Regime
Tags: CCP, censorship, China, IT and Media, Society
By Epoch Times
Chinese mourned the passing of an unlikely hero Wednesday–a newspaper censor whose final regrets exposed some of the backstage machinations in the Chinese communist apparatus.
Zeng Li, the former in-house censor of Guangzhou’s Southern Weekly, died on April 3, only three days into his retirement. He was 61.
Zeng left behind a telling letter, written on March 28, which was shared thousands of times on Weibo, a Twitter-like microblog service, the day after his passing.
“Looking back on the last four years, I have made mistakes,” he wrote. “I killed reports that I shouldn’t have killed, I deleted content that I shouldn’t have deleted. But in the end, I woke up, preferring not to carry out a political mission and go against my conscience; I don’t want to go down as a criminal against history.”
“In the Southern Weekly New Year’s editorial incident, I stood up and spoke up out of a sense of justice,” he added. “I have a clear conscience, no regrets.”
Despite his role as “content examiner,” Zeng became well-known after the newspaper’s protest against censorship in January, when staff went on strike after Guangdong’s chief propagandist, Tuo Zhen, altered their 2013 New Year edition without consultation.
The greeting was written in support of respect for rule of law, and new Party leader Xi Jinping’s “dream of constitutionalism,” but was replaced with a pro-Party piece called “Seeking Dreams.”
Zeng’s job was to ensure the paper’s content adhered to censorship regulations laid down by provincial and central authorities. After the January incident, he explained in a blog post titled “Who Revised the New Year’s Greeting at Southern Weekly?” that he was employed to help the business avoid political risks, rather than to “strangle freedom of speech.”
He noted that the political environment became more sensitive last year after the ousting of Politburo official Bo Xilai, and the Party’s leadership change in November. Since the May 2012 appointment of Tuo Zhen, the provincial propaganda czar, the paper had been heavily censored, and all editorial had to be approved, Zeng added.
Tuo is a lapdog of ex-propaganda chief Li Changchun, a close ally of former Party leader Jiang Zemin. Analysts believe that Jiang’s faction is afraid Xi Jinping will use the propaganda of implementing the constitution to weaken Jiang’s power.
Former colleagues, writers, and other netizens reflected on Zeng’s life in online memorials. Chen Zhaohua, editor at sister newspaper Southern Metropolis Weekly, shared Zeng’s farewell letter, saying the outpouring of grief reflected the values he stood for.
Sociologist and history scholar Ma Yong at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences commented on his Weibo: “This letter is surely an important document in China’s history.”
Writer Li Chengpeng described Zeng as “entangled,” but said “justice always dominated his heart,” on his Weibo. “When this happened some time ago, he behaved very well. Now that he’s gone, he will continue to edit this country in heaven.”
Oian Gang, once a managing editor at the Weekly, blogged: “He showed the sincere strength of character typical of a Southern Weekly journalist and stuck to the bottom line,” adding: “Everyone has a choice.”
Tags: CCP, censorship, China, human rights, persecution of dissidents, Society
Coming across the message “this page cannot be displayed” while browsing the Internet is a common experience for Chinese netizens, and is often a sign the content was removed by Internet censors. The practice is known as “post-deleting,” and a recent inside account reveals how the industry has boomed.
Like most things in China, the dubious practice of deleting posts straddles both business and officialdom, according the report in Beijing-based Century Weekly on Feb. 18. This gray economy is controlled by public relations companies, website managers, and Party officials tasked with monitoring the Internet.
Also known as “Internet crisis public relations companies,” post-deleting firms serve private businesses as well as officials. One such company, Beijing Qihang Internet Public Relations, explains on its website that certain online posts must be deleted because “many well-known enterprises spend large amounts of money on establishing their corporate images. If they do not take action to remove negative articles, they could find themselves in a deadly crisis.”
Beijing Qihang is able to remove any online article that can be found using Baidu, China’s largest search engine, as well as cached screenshots of the offending webpages stored on Baidu servers.
Deleting an article costs up to tens of thousands of yuan, and blocking a search term can cost up to 1 million yuan (US$160,000), according to Century Weekly.
However, with many anonymous netizens now using the Internet as a platform to report acts of corruption, Chinese officials have become the main clients for these censorship companies.
Web-scrubbing company Yage Time Advertising Ltd. said in the report that 60 percent of its revenue came from officials in small- and medium-sized cities, most of whom were police chiefs and county governors.
Gu Tengda, Yage Time’s founder, reportedly told his salesmen during a training session, “Each of your business deals should be worth at least 500,000 yuan (US$80,000).” A former high-ranking manager disclosed that the company turned a profit of 50 million yuan (US$8 million) in 2011.
Mr. Zhang, an employee at a business in the same industry, 306 Internet Brand Consulting, said in an interview with the Chinese International Business Times that the company provides long-term services for its customers. “Prices depend on the difficulty of the job. It’s not difficult to delete news from most news sites, but deleting news or posts from financial news websites and forums often costs more. We also offer the service of modifying the original news and releasing positive information on our customers,” Zhang said.
According to Zhang, the post-deleting business began to boom in 2007 and peaked in 2010, but has since slowed down. “This industry is still profitable. It is really competitive in large cities such as Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, and Guangzhou. However, the market is also bright in small- and medium-sized cities.”
Research by Howard Feng. Translation by Hsin-Yi Lin. Written in English by Tan Shu Yan.
Tags: CCP, censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, persecution of dissidents, Society
Strike and protest follow China’s Southern Weekly censorship
Scores of protesters amassed in front of the headquarters of the Guangdong-based Southern Weekend to support media freedom after it emerged that the prominent publication’s New Year’s editorial was doctored by a local Chinese Communist official.
Some experts believe it is one of the most important incidents to raise public awareness about China’s beleaguered media environment in some time.
“Get rid of censorship. The Chinese people want freedom,” wrote one user on Twitter.
The protest came after the Southern Weekend’s editorial staff went on strike over the weekend, a rare public demonstration in support of media freedom in China, one of the most tightly censored countries in the world.
The South China Morning Post reported that the editorial staff went on strike–the first such strike at a major newspaper in several decades.
The decision to strike was made after the paper’s management took control over the editorial department’s microblog account, and said that its New Year’s statement was written by staff and not the provincial propaganda chief Tuo Zhen, who formerly headed Xinhua. Reports emerged over the weekend that Tuo Zhen made the changes without editorial consent, drawing condemnation from reporters, commentators, and numerous Chinese academics.
“The statement [on the official microblog] does not represent the opinion of the editorial staff. It is a result of pressure applied by the authorities on the … management,” reads a statement from Southern Weekly staff members on another microblog, according to the Morning Post. “The editorial staff will fight against the falsified statement … Until the issue is resolved, we will not do any editorial work.”
The original editorial touched on reviving constitutionalism in China, but the new one apparently authored by Tuo removed sensitive topics and praised the Communist Party.
All media organizations–state-run and private–are subject to the Communist Party’s censorship and oftentimes remove content that is deemed sensitive or contrary to its propaganda line. China is consistently ranked as one of the world’s worst press freedom violators in the world by watchdogs.
Protesters in front of the Southern Weekend’s office brought chrysanthemum flowers and chanted “for democracy, press freedom, and human rights,” according to John Kennedy of the South China Morning Post. He also said that middle school students came out to show support. There were minor scuffles between police officers and protesters.
“End press censorship. The Chinese people want freedom!” another Chinese protester said.
“I feel that the ordinary people must awaken,” protester Yuan Fengchu, told The Associated Press via telephone. “The people are starting to realize that their rights have been taken away by the Communist Party and they are feeling that they are being constantly oppressed.”
David Bandurski of Hong Kong University’s China Media Project said the incident “is without a doubt one of the most important we will witness in China this year.”
According to the China Media Project, editorial staff at a Southern Weekend meeting demanded the formation of an investigative team to look into the New Year’s editorial incident and produce a public report. However, editorial board chief Huang Can said that there “there would be no settling of scores and that the censorship process would be ‘returned to normal,’” according to the Media Project.
Tags: CCP, censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, persecution of dissidents, Society
The Chinese regime has become more restrictive in controlling what its citizens see on the Internet in the past year and commits the most violations of user’s rights in the world, a new report from Freedom House has found.
“Chinese authorities further enhanced an already sophisticated and multilayered system for censoring, monitoring, and manipulating activities on the Internet, while abducting or imprisoning dozens of activists, lawyers, and bloggers,” the report states, noting that China’s score on restricting Internet freedoms increased by two points from 2010 to 2011. This means that China, alongside Iran and Cuba, is the most restrictive country in the world.
In 2011, Chinese authorities arrested dozens of bloggers and activists and detained them for weeks, with some receiving prison sentences, the report said.
Freedom House noted that Chinese netizens have become increasingly inventive in circumventing the regime’s censors, pointing out that microblogging sites including Sina Weibo have allowed netizens “to outpace censors, draw attention to incipient scandals, and mount online campaigns on various topics.”
In the past several months, one notable example of Chinese Internet users outflanking the censors was when a gruesome photo of a woman whom local Chinese Communist authorities forced to have an abortion went viral on Weibo.
As a result of Weibo and other microblogging sites’ popularity, Chinese “authorities responded with tightened controls on such services, including intensified censorship and real-name registration requirements, although the new restrictions’ full effect on online discourse remains to be seen,” according to the report.
It noted that ordinary Chinese still face a litany of obstacles to full and free access to the Internet such as “centralized control over international gateways, a notable urban-rural gap, and sporadic,
localized shutdowns of Internet access at sites of protest.”
Recently, in several areas in Tibet and neighboring Sichuan Province, Chinese censors have reportedly cut off the Internet in order to prevent the spread of information regarding a spate of self-immolations carried out by monks and others over harsh communist rule in the region.
Similarly, censors blocked Internet access in parts of the Xinjiang region from July 2009 to May 2010 after protests erupted over Chinese rule over the area, which triggered a crackdown on dissent, the report said.
Freedom House also criticized the Chinese regime’s cyberattacks on overseas websites that are critical of the ruling Communist Party, including websites belonging to Falun Gong, a form of meditation practice that has been suppressed since 1999.
“The Chinese government has vigorously denied any involvement in these attacks. Such denials were undermined by archive footage aired on a state-run television program in July 2011, which included a demonstration of software designed by the Chinese military being used to carry out an attack on a Falun Gong-related website in the United States,” according to the report.
China is also being used as a model for other repressive regimes around the world, it added.
“China’s influence as an incubator for sophisticated restrictions was felt across the globe, with governments such as Belarus, Uzbekistan, and Iran using China as a model for their own new Internet controls,” the report said. Uzbekistan and Iran scored in the top five on Freedom House’s “not free” list.
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Tags: CCP, censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, organ harvesting, persecution of dissidents, Society
Freedom House recently reported that the Chinese regime has in the past year intensified its efforts to block the Internet. But in the past two weeks, those efforts have become even more vigorous.
Many mainland Chinese who have used software to “climb the wall,” referring to breaking the Internet blockade by the regime’s “great firewall,” have encountered a very slow Internet and difficulty accessing the websites that allow them to surf the Internet freely.
Several things have happened recently in China that might make the regime want to restrict access to the World Wide Web. Xi Jinping disappeared for two weeks, and speculation about that was suppressed.
The controversy over the Senkaku Islands—the Diaoyu Islands as they are known in China—needs to be carefully handled so that the protests instigated by Party officials don’t blow out of control.
And sometime in the next month the 18th Party Congress is expected to take place, at which the once-in-a-decade introduction of the new Party leadership will take place.
But the strengthening of the Internet blockade is most likely related to United Nations’ 21st session of the Human Rights Council at the Palais des Nations in Geneva, Switzerland.
The Human Rights Council met from Sept. 10 to 28, and the atrocity of forced, live organ harvesting became a hot topic at the meeting.
Meetings in Geneva
On Sept. 18, two non-governmental organizations at the Human Rights Council presented reports on the crime of live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners in China and asked that the United Nations immediately investigate.
On Sept. 19, Free China: The Courage to Believe and Between Life and Death, two award-winning films that tell of the persecution of Falun Gong practitioners and the live harvesting of their organs for profit, were shown at the venue.
Representatives from a number of countries as well as representatives of non-governmental organizations watched the films and joined discussion after the show.
On Sept. 21, the two films were shown again at the General Assembly of the United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva during a film show hosted by the Worldwide Organization for Women.
Members of the Human Rights Council and representatives of the NGOs that were present were excited that the atrocity of live organ harvesting of Falun Gong practitioners has finally been discussed for the first time at the General Assembly of the U.N. Human Rights Council.
Many of those present in Geneva said that in order to pressure the U.N. and the international community to go into China to investigate, more activities exposing the atrocity should be held around the world.
Saving the Party
Meanwhile, the exposing of its crime at the international human rights council to over 200 countries is certainly a blow to the Chinese regime. The high levels of the CCP have no idea what the response of the international community will be.
Various analysts have pointed out that the persecution of Falun Gong is core issue facing the CCP leadership. The forced, live organ harvesting is the cruelest crime used against the Falun Gong practitioners.
The individuals who were recently the most powerful men in China—former Party head Jiang Zemin and members of his faction, including Zhou Yongkang, Zeng Qinghong, Luo Gan, Bo Xilai, and Liu Qi—are implicated in the atrocity, as well as the military, local hospitals, and the public security system.
The involvement of the top Party officials in the forced, live organ harvesting poses a danger to the Party itself.
Ever since the Chongqing police chief Wang Lijun attempted to defect to the United States, a battle for supremacy has raged within the CCP between Jiang’s faction and the current head of the Party, Hu Jintao, Premier Wen Jiabao, presumptive next head of the Party Xi Jinping, and their various supporters.
Although Hu, Wen, and Xi have gradually gained the upper hand, they have chosen not to hold Jiang’s faction accountable for organ harvesting. They realized that exposing the atrocity would also forever sink the Party’s chance of ruling China. The Chinese people would discard the CCP.
Hu, Wen, and Xi have chosen to save the Party. We have thus seen lenient sentences given to Bo Xilai’s wife Gu Kailai for the murder to the British businessman Neil Heywood and to Wang Lijun for his attempted defection and other crimes. Neither was charged with their involvement in organ harvesting, which was far-reaching.
Similarly, domestic security czar Zhou Yongkang is still free to speak as he likes on television and to visit foreign countries, even though Zhou’s security forces are deeply implicated in the organ harvesting and he is believed to have plotted to seize power in a coup.
The two factions have reached a compromise to save the Party amid their struggle.
The recent increase in Internet censorship is part of the deal between the factions to hide the organ harvesting.
However, Internet censorship can only go so far, and nothing can stay hidden forever.
With the continuous development of new software that breaks the Internet blockade, more and more people in China will discover the truth. And as the international community becomes more aware of the CCP’s atrocity of live organ harvesting, the CCP will face pressures as it never has before.
Read the original Chinese article.
Tags: CCP, censorship, China
A progressive Chinese media outlet has published a report on the Great Famine under former Communist leader Mao Zedong, a part of China’s history that has been tightly covered up for the past 50 years.
Based on Chinese Communist Party archives, an estimated 45 million Chinese starved to death nationwide between 1958 and 1962 as a result of Mao’s “Great Leap Forward” policies that required peasants to abandon their fields and work in steel production.
The report, published by Guangzhou-based Southern People Weekly on May 18, was titled “Remembering the Great Famine with Honesty and Conscience: Memories of the Great Famine of 1959-1961.” It said: “A disaster like the Great Famine, so rarely seen in human history, yet it was neither properly recorded nor properly understood … that fact, like the disaster itself, is a mistake mankind should never have committed.”
Southern People Weekly is owned by Southern Media Group in Guangdong Province and is considered by many to be China’s most liberal and outspoken paper. An investigative report of the Great Famine, a topic long considered taboo by Chinese media, not only reflects the Chinese public’s desire to understand their tumultuous history of the past 60 years under communist rule, but could also be an indication of political reform.
Wang Yang, the reform-minded and recently re-elected party chief of Guangdong province, paid a visit to Southern Media Group’s press center when its reporters were covering the annual two meetings of the National People’s Congress and the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference earlier this year.
Wang’s visit is an indication of the close relationship between the liberal media company and the prominent pro-reform member of Hu Jintao’s faction. Wang is likely to be appointed to the nine-member Politburo Standing Committee this fall and will become one of the top cadres in the country.
Several other Chinese media have also recently reported on the Great Famine. In April, the Economic Observer ran a report titled “The Great Leap Elegy,” which was widely reposted by Chinese netizens and the major Chinese web portal, Tencent.
VOA noted that the three-year famine has become a hotly debated topic in the Internet war between leftists and liberals, as well as pro-Mao and anti-Mao netizens.
Read the original Chinese article.
Tags: CCP, censorship, China, human rights, IT and Media, persecution of dissidents
Beijing authorities have decided to carry out a sweeping campaign to close loopholes in China’s Internet blockade. It intends to block all free Web-based proxies throughout the country so netizens will no longer be able to access banned websites or cached information of blocked sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Gmail.
The statement, announced by the Internet monitoring department of Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau on May 8, said all computer Internet services in the nation must be examined, and any free or open Web-based proxy will be blocked immediately.
China’s Internet censorship system, known as the Great Firewall (GFW) or Golden Shield, blocks politically sensitive content and blacklisted foreign websites. The firewall also prohibits China’s Internet service providers (ISPs) from offering access to social networking websites, like Facebook and Twitter, under the pretext of maintaining social stability.
Despite a huge expenditure of money and personnel, the GFW is not difficult to circumvent. A Web-based proxy server is one popular solution to climb over the wall.
Open proxies are open to the public and widely used. When a user connects to the Internet, a Web-based proxy stands between the user and a website, communicating directly with both.
As such, the website only sees the proxy server; it doesn’t see the user’s real Internet Protocol (IP) address, and the user is seen as anonymous. This is known as “anonymous surfing.” It is a common way to bypass firewalls and unblock sites.
Through Web-based proxies, Chinese netizens can access cached information of blocked sites such as Facebook, YouTube, and Gmail.
The May 8 order means netizens will be unable to use open Web-based proxies to visit blocked websites or read banned media.
According to an earlier report this week, the regime recently spent over 10 million yuan ($1.58 million) in upgrading the firewall to further tighten control over foreign websites.
The upgraded technology includes a combination of software and hardware, including probe sniffers, backbone nodes matching, machine using manual test, and other auxiliary methods applied to attack blacklisted foreign websites such as The Epoch Times and Dynaweb.
Read original Chinese article
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Tags: CCP, censorship, China, Falun Gong, human rights, IT and Media, labor camps, persecution of dissidents
Chinese officials on Monday forced the shutdown of the English-language bureau of Al Jazeera in Beijing by denying the renewal of press credentials to its journalist in China and refusing to allow a replacement.
The decision was reportedly driven by Al Jazeera’s release of a documentary about slave labor camps in China in November last year.
The documentary prominently featured the story of Charles Lee, a Falun Gong practitioner who spent three years in a re-education through forced labor camp. “For a year they tried to brainwash me, trying to force me to give up my practice of Falun Gong,” Lee was quoted as saying.
Chinese authorities have persecuted Falun Gong, a popular spiritual practice, since 1999, and it is among the most strictly censored topics by officials.
Melissa Chan, the journalist whose renewal of credentials were denied, reported for Al Jazeera English since 2007 and has filed over 400 reports.
“The channel expressed its disappointment at the situation and said it would continue to request a presence in China,” according to a press release.
The Arabic language Al Jazeera service will continue reporting from China. The decision to expel Al Jazeera English was met with criticism and ridicule among Western journalists and bloggers.
Bob Dietz, the Asia program coordinator with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), stated that the refusal to renew Chan’s accreditation “marks a real deterioration in China’s media environment, and sends a message that international coverage is unwanted.”
According to CPJ’s research, anonymous hackers attempted to hack Chan’s computers, which is a common experience for foreign reporters in China.
“Surveillance and harassment are the norm for reporters on the China beat, and authorities will often delay visa approval or threaten to revoke it as part of an overall strategy of intimidation,” Dietz added.
The Foreign Correspondent’s Club of China said it was “appalled by the decision of the Chinese government to take this action.”
Alex Johnston contributed research.
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