Recently, the mayor of Nagoya, Japan, foolishly denied the Nanjing massacre of 1937. Considering the strained relationship of China and Japan, a denial of one of the greatest affronts against Chinese citizens by the Japanese army during World War II hardly seems an advisable idea. The denial fanned the flames under micro-loggers all around China, who compared it to Mahmoud Ahmadijenad’s denial of a Holocaust at the UN meeting. Sinaweibo was afire with the insulted thoughts of Chinese citizen. Many even called for a cease of relations with Nagoya (which happens to be the sister city to Nanjing).
To read the full article, click here. (Bloomberg 8 March 2012)
Although not a particularly well-covered topic in the west, this situation illuminates the way that Chinese netizens can take an event to heart and blog to their heart’s content. It seems their internet culture is as equally rapid and evolving as that of Western nations. It would be interesting to see how long the outrage continues.
“Researchers in Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Computer Science analyzed millions of Chinese microblogs, or “weibos,” to uncover a set of politically sensitive terms that draw the attention of Chinese censors. Individual messages containing the terms were often deleted at rates that could vary based on current events or geography.
The study is the first large-scale analysis of political content censorship in social media. The analysis found that the level of online censorship varied between different provinces. The phenomenon was particularly notable in Tibet, a hotbed of political unrest, where up to 53 percent of locally generated microblogs were deleted.”
China’s most popular search engine Baidu has taken what could be a big leap forward in making search more social.
In an official blog post, the company announced that it would be including posts from the country’s wildly popular microblogging service Sina Weibo in its search posts.
According to the company, “Baidu will now return up-to-date Sina Weibo content that matches keyword searches for breaking news or popular trending topics”.
China’s got the numbers. It’s got the eager users. It’s developed its own social networking technology. And now China is well on it’s way to outdistancing the US by more than 2-1 in 2014. However, this doesn’t mean that China is the top user in the world, Brazil takes the bag in that category. Nevertheless, China is well on its way to being top dog in the cyber world of friendship.
Xiao Qiang, an adjunct professor at the Graduate School of Journalism of the University of California–Berkeley argues that since the internet era started in China, the government has gradually becoming more transparent. He believes “the Internet has become a training ground for citizen participation in public affairs.” In the sense that people become more informed and more engaged with governments as well as its politics.
Qiang sees that “the current government is learning to adapt to these new circumstances and becoming more responsive. Already we are starting to see compromise, negotiation, and rule-changing behavior in the regime’s response to this challenge, indicating the possibility of better governance with greater citizen participation. From this perspective, the Internet is not just a contested space, but a catalyst for social and political transformation.”
After reading the following article, to some extent I share the same thought with Qiang. It was the netizens who discovered that the search term “Zhao Ziyang” appears in Baidu Encyclopedia, a web-based Chinese encyclopedia. It is a heavily self-censored site. But when the politically sensitive search terms “Zhao Ziyang” or “June Fourth” are entered into Baidu search engine, more than one million results show up.
A volunteer from Tianwang Human Rights Center said that the event doesn’t represent any decreasing whatsoever of the China’s Internet censorship. He believes it was only a technical adjustment and soon will be blocked.
Well, both arguments still need to be tested. Will the Chinese government will compromise on its censorship policy or else? Only time will tell. You can read the article here.
Although with all the unfriendly policies on the China’s internet, e.g. real-name registration requirements, ID requirements, filtering and censorship, the netizens still love the Weibo. It has become part of Chinese online culture, and even with challenges in the freedom of use and of information, this is a nation of Internet users who love to micro-blog.
Vanity Fair calls Weibo services the “Twitter of the East.” It attracts not only the Chinese people but also westerners. After Tom Cruise, Britney Spears and Jeremy Lin, we might be expecting other celebrities to join Weibo.
According to this article, “Weibo currently has about 250 million users, and is gaining 10 million more each month, and the country has about 550 million Weibo accounts distributed across various microblogging services. Who says censorship can prevent an online service from reaching this massive scale? 🙂
This article also showcases the kinds of users hooked on Weibo, from 10-year old kids to civil servants, from college users to senior citizens, they all still wanting to keep abreast of trends. Read the article for more.
Some Chinese Internet users have this week been able to access blocked websites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter, relishing the newfound freedom although the reason for the breach in China’s Great Firewall of censorship was a mystery.
China blocks most foreign social networking sites (SNS) out of fear that unfettered access would lead to instability. Chinese SNS firms have filled the void by offering similar products that censor topics the government may find sensitive.
Internet users including students on university campuses reported that they were able to access YouTube, Facebook and Twitter on their mobile phones and desktops in the afternoon and evening on Monday and Tuesday.
It is unclear what caused the crack in China’s Great Firewall, as the blocking of websites and censoring of search results for politically sensitive terms is known, or how widespread it was.
On Wednesday, access to Facebook, YouTube and Twitter was again blocked.
Some users in China pay for a virtual private network (VPN) to bypass the blocking of websites and censoring of searches.
Over the weekend, Chinese users also gained access to Google Inc’s social networking site, Google+ and flooded U.S. President Barack Obama’s page on the site with calls for greater freedom in the world’s most populous country.