Notes on Intercultural Communication

Internet Censorship in China / The Golden Shield

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The Golden Shield

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jingjing-chacha chinese internet police

(retrieved 15.02.2014 at http://wagingnonviolence.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/03/jingjing-chacha.jpg)

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The Great Firewall

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Great Firewall of China

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(…) So basically the “Internet” has two Internets. One is the Internet, the other is the Chinanet.

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Chinese Webservices

(…)

In China, we have 500 million Internet users. That’s the biggest population of Netizens, Internet users, in the whole world. So even though China’s is a totally censored Internet, but still, Chinese Internet society is really booming. How to make it? It’s simple. You have Google, we have Baidu. You have Twitter, we have Weibo. You have Facebook, we have Renren. You have YouTube, we have Youku and Tudou. The Chinese government blocked every single international Web 2.0 service, and we Chinese copycat every one.

(…)

Sometimes this Chinese national Internet policy is very simple: Block and clone. On the one hand, he wants to satisfy people’s need of a social network, which is very important; people really love social networking. But on the other hand, they want to keep the server in Beijing so they can access the data any time they want. That’s also the reason Google was pulled out from China, because they can’t accept the fact that Chinese government wants to keep the server.

(…)

Sometimes the Arab dictators didn’t understand these two hands. For example, Mubarak, he shut down the Internet. He wanted to prevent the Netizens [from criticizing] him. But once Netizens can’t go online, they go in the street. And now the result is very simple. We all know Mubarak is technically dead. But also, Ben Ali, Tunisian president, didn’t follow the second rule. That means keep the server in your hands. He allowed Facebook, a U.S.-based service, to continue to stay on inside of Tunisia. So he can’t prevent it, his own citizens to post critical videos against his corruption. The same thing happend. He was the first to topple during the Arab Spring. But those two very smart international censorship policies didn’t prevent Chinese social media [from] becoming a really public sphere, a pathway of public opinion and the nightmare of Chinese officials. Because we have 300 million microbloggers in China. It’s the entire population of the United States.

(…)

But also, the Bo Xilai case recently, very big news, he’s a princeling. But from February to April this year (2012), Weibo really became a marketplace of rumors. You can almost joke everything about these princelings, everything! It’s almost like you’re living in the United States. But if you dare to retweet or mention any fake coup about Beijing, you definitely will be arrested. So this kind of freedom is a targeted and precise window.

(…)

But this technology is very new, but technically is very old. It was made famous by Chairman Mao, Mao Zedong, because he mobilized millions of Chinese people in the Cultural Revolution to destroy every local government. It’s very simple, because Chinese central government doesn’t need to even lead the public opinion. They just give them a target window to not censor people. Not censoring in China has become a political tool. 

(…)

So that’s the update about this game, cat-and-mouse. Social media changed Chinese mindset. More and more Chinese intend to embrace freedom of speech and human rights as their birthright, not some imported American privilege. But also, it gave the Chinese a national public sphere for people to, it’s like a training of their citizenship, preparing for future democracy. But it didn’t change the Chinese political system, and also the Chinese central government utilized this centralized server structure to strengthen its power to counter the local government and the different factions.

(…)

Cat and Mouse

(…)

So, what’s the future? After all, we are the mouse. Whatever the future is, we should fight against the [cat]. There is not only in China, but also in the United States there are some very small, cute but bad cats. SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, TPP and ITU. And also, like Facebook and Google, they claim they are friends of the mouse, but sometimes we see them dating the cats. So my conclusion is very simple. We Chinese fight for our freedom, you just watch your bad cats. Don’t let them hook [up] with the Chinese cats. Only in this way, in the future, we will achieve the dreams of the mouse: that we can tweet anytime, anywhere, without fear.

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Michael Anti

Behind the Great Firewall of China – Speech of Michael Anti (赵静, 趙靜, Jing Zhao) at TED in July 2012

Transcribed by Thu-Huong Ha
Reviewed by Jenny Zurawell

View video here, read the transcript online here or download pdf here.

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(received 01.06.2014 at http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_anti_behind_the_great_firewall_of_china/transcript – full video at http://www.ted.com/talks/michael_anti_behind_the_great_firewall_of_china)

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How Chinese Internet Censorship Works, Sometimes

(…) In a 2013 study of social media site Sina Weibo, researchers at Northeastern University found empirical evidence that censorship sometimes not only fails to quash discussion of sensitive topics on Chinese social media sites, but may even encourage it. Though numerous factors may be at play, the finding reinforces the popular notion that attempts to conceal information can backfire and even become a central part of a story—a phenomenon known as the Streisand Effect, for singer Barbra Streisand, whose attempts to suppress photographs of her multimillion dollar mansion caused photographs of the house to go viral.

Read the study online here or download as pdf here.

(…)

Whereas most censorship alerts the user to its presence with blunt error messages, attempting to instill a chilling effect, this subtler method gives users the mistaken impression of having shared their views with their online followers when, in fact, their messages are only visible on their own computers. Thus, authorities can shut down discussions without raising the specter of netizens outraged that their posts have been deleted.

(…)

One should not underestimate the ability of Chinese Internet users to dig up information authorities are trying to hide—especially when it directly affects them or when it relates to righting injustices. But one must also acknowledge that China’s censors often still have the will and the tools to manage online information effectively to suit the government’s needs.

JASON Q. NG 03.13.14 at ChinaFile

(retrieves 07.08.2014 at http://www.chinafile.com/How-Chinese-Internet-Censorship-Works-Sometimes)

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Grass Mud Horse: Chinese Puns to Climb the Great Firewall of China

baimao Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung(retrieved 15.02.2014 at http://www.tinkin.com/wp-content/uploads/baimao.jpg)

Kenneth Tin-Kin Hung (Chinese: 洪天健; pinyin: Hóng Tiānjiàn, born 1976) http://www.tinkin.com/

(…) The Chinese have played with homophones and near homophones (usually differing only by a tone) for a long time. (They’re a staple at the Chinese New Year.) More recently, this feature of Chinese has been particularly useful for evading the censors. When the authorities banned the phrase cào nǐ mā, or “fuck your mother”, from the Chinese internet, in the name of combating vulgarity, the Chinese were quick to coin an internet hero, the Grass Mud Horse, whose name is a near homophone: Cǎo Ní Mǎ. Maorilyn Maoroe can be seen with him above. He is an opponent of the River Crab, a pun on “harmonious”, the official description of the society censorship is meant to promote.

The Grass Mud Horse is just one of ten mythical creatures all designed to talk about naughty stuff through puns. Mr Hung includes a painting of another of them, the great French-Croatian Squid, whose Chinese name requires a little English to get the pun. He is Fǎ Kè Yóu, and wears a Mao jacket while blowing an inflationary bubble with chewing gum. (The vowel in ke is a sort of “uh” sound, so this sounds roughly like “fah-kuh you”.) (…)

Grass Mud Horse: Chinese Puns to Climb the Great Firewall of China

By Marice Sy On June 10, 2011

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(retrieved 25.02.2014 at http://old.provisionslibrary.com/?p=9618)

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Chinese Firewall Test

Test any website on availability in China: https://en.greatfire.org/

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Sensitive Sina Weibo Search Terms (Updating)

(…) The Grass-Mud Horse list includes the English translation of each blocked keyword, as well as link to the relevant Sensitive Words post and information on retests where available. The list will continue to expand so long as Weibo blocks search results. (…)

China Digital Times Sensitive Sina Weibo Search Terms (Updating)

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(reviewed 07.08.2014)

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