A leak or a Sign of Loosen Censorship?

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.


How Much The Chinese Love To Weibo?

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.

Sina Weibo: A Dating Site Now?

Well, all the single ladies, now put your hands up! Beyonce’s song kind of linger when I read this news (I don’t whether we can call it a news though). As we know that social media(s) do change our culture and society. It’s now more about the quantity instead of the content wise.

“Sina Weibo continued its role as a catalyst for transforming Chinese culture and society last week by becoming the official dating channel for some of China’s single policemen.” That is the opening paragraph of the news. Now Weibo has extend its leverage. The news said that, “The micro-blogging network was used by the Chengdu Wuhou district police department’s official account (‘@Safe Wuhou’) to promote five single policemen to would-be partners. The police bureau’s deputy director, Shu Yi, told Chongqing’s Economic Times that they had launched a ‘help your single police officers’ program last week in a bid to help police officers ‘shed their single status’.” And now you can see how the Chengdu district advertise their single policemen on social media.

Hmm, that is a new and creative way of getting your significant others. Who said that old habits die hard? 🙂

Here’s for the complete story.

What You Can and Can Not Say On Weibo

“Social networking sites, founded on the promise of free expression, have run into political trouble in China.” As you might read from our blog that there are some things you should avoid to post, tweet or comment on Chinese social media.

“The social media landscape in China is strikingly different from the one most Western users inhabit. The Chinese government blocks all access to foreign sites it deems difficult to control; as of this writing, that list includes Google-owned YouTube as well as the social networking sites Facebook and Twitter. Only technically savvy users can access such sites, by slipping around China’s system of Internet controls, colloquially known as the Great Firewall. But most of the 450 million Internet users behind the wall don’t miss those American companies in the slightest, thanks to the numerous copycat services that have sprung up and evolved into uniquely Chinese entities. A variety of Facebook-like sites cater to different demographic groups, from white-collar professionals to rural workers. And one popular microblog service boasts features that go far beyond Twitter’s offerings.”

You may post or tweet anything as long as it’s not something that subvert state power or damage the honor of the state. Hmm, it somehow reminds me of an unleashed tiger but he’s kept in 30 sqm cage.

The complete article here.

Inside the Great Firewall’s Censorship

We might wonder, how do the Chinese government block the internet traffic? For a regular-not-an-internet-savvy person like me, it’s quite a mind boggling question. Well, you might have seen one of the video we posted here as an answer. And we also have Rebecca MacKinnon’s explanation in her book called Consent of the Network: The Worldwide Struggle For Internet Freedom, (again) it explains how those many layers of Internet censorship work in China.

So here how it works, according to her, basically the Chinese Internet has only 8 gateways to the global Internet connection. That is why they are easy to monitor, filter and control. At those gateways, as well as among all the different Internet service providers within China, Internet routers — the devices that move the data back and forth between different computer networks — are all configured to block long lists of website addresses and politically sensitive keywords.

But actually, if people know how to use anti-censorship software tools, they can easily circumvented the blocking system. And Rebecca MacKinnon wrote that it is believed likely that hundreds of thousands of Chinese Internet users deploy these tools to access Twitter and Facebook every day, but not enough to generate  a majority public opinion. And knowing that, the Chinese government provides plenty of social networking platforms and other delightfully entertaining and useful services to keep people occupied. There are only few companies authorized by the Chinese government, amongst them are Baidu (the homegrown search engine, enables people to locate all the content on the Chinese-language Internet that their government permits), RenRen and Kaixinwang (the social networking platforms substitute for Facebook), Sohu and Sina (the blog platforms). The later also runs a wildly popular Twitter-like microblogging service, Weibo.

After knowing that, my question now is how ‘hungry’ the Chinese people are to go beyond the China’s Great Firewall.

The article on Rebecca MacKinnon’s book is here.

Weibo and Humor

Humor, joke, comedy is something personal/communal and usually embedded with a specific cultural nuance. An Indonesian might not understand a Chinese, an American or an Indian joke and vice versa. Let me show you one joke from Sina Weibo which I think has a universal theme, here.

Did Chinese Twitter Assassinate Kim Jong-Un?

This post might not be related with the overall project. But it’s interesting to read worldwide coverage on a rumor spread from social media. I just can’t imagine there might be a special desk on each news station assigned to monitor selected news from social medias, do all the cross-check thing, analyze and report them.

And building from the previous post from Najia, here are another versions of the “assassination rumor”. I found several from Canadian National Post, ABC, BBC News Asia and Forbes. They all reported that the rumor is highly implausible (as I quoted from BBC). BBC even have to close at least two fake BBC twitter accounts since they were responsible for spreading the rumor. Quoted from Forbes: “What’s interesting is how in this era of social media, the rumors have taken on a life of their own.” Here are the links:

Canadian National Post

Canadian National Post

ABC News

BBC News Asia


I imagine that someday all the government agencies will have a new department–the social media monitoring unit.

Another Setback for Sina Weibo?

After a series of censorship, the China government will ‘impose’ another policy to its micro-blogging communities. The New Tang Dynasty Television reported that from now on all micro blogger have to register under their real name. In addition to saying goodbye to anonymity, Sina and other microblog companies are also to soon have Chinese Communist Party monitoring units established in their corporate structures. Click here for the story!

Where do Chinese teens hang out online?

There are more than 500 millions youth in China. For marketers, it’s a huge potential. But, have you wondered what do they use to hang out online? Hmm, Facebook? Twitter? MySpace? Nope! Well, I don’t know about you, but me, I’m not surprised to find out that those 500 millions use Chinese-based social media application instead of the mainstream ones. That is one thing from them to admire; their sense of belonging. To find out more about it, check this one!


On to the next!

Facebook and Twitter have become the must-have apps on today’s smart phones. With the same idea of its ‘rival’, Sina is rumoured to be launching an Android-based device that ties into its weibo service. So, I guess, we’re about to see another social media application on the future smart phones, designed and created in China. Sino Weibo on to the next!

The complete story here.

Posted in GFC