2011-03-07

Chinese Play With Words To Get Around Great Firewall

Chinese play with words to get around Great Firewall
 

BEIJING -- We've written a lot about China's Great Firewall, or Net Nanny. In the process, we've always tried to make the point about how straightforward it is for people here with wherewithal to circumvent the government's Internet controls.
But what really impresses us is how easily people here get around not just by using VPNs (virtual private networks) but by using the Chinese language.

Take the would-be Jasmine Revolution. Last weekend, an anonymous circular made the rounds on various Chinese sites run outside of China, calling for an uprising fashioned after those in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, and elsewhere. The note called on people to show up at designated locations in 13 cities to protest corruption and censorship and to demand a more democratic government. Since then, there have been calls for regular attempts to gather every Sunday.

The Chinese authorities responded immediately. In addition to rounding up the usual suspects of dissidents, lawyers, and other activists, the government cracked down on the Internet.

Searches for the word "jasmine" were blocked in online chat rooms and Chinese social networking sites like Sina.com's Weibo. (As with major Western social networking sites like Facebook and YouTube, Twitter is not accessible inside China.)
One report noted that it might be tough for officials to completely ban the word "jasmine" from online use, apparently because it's also the name of a Chinese folk song popular with the Communist Party leadership.

Regardless, plenty of folks have already come up with ingenious ways to get around the controls. New "codes" have been adopted to circumvent the Great Firewall and help spread the call for another round of protests.

Boxun.com, the website where the original call for China's "jasmine revolution" was issued, just put up a new post encouraging netizens to use the phrase "two sessions" as a substitute for "jasmine."  "Two sessions" here refers to the annual National People's Congress and Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, held in Beijing every March.

In this vein, the phrase "to protest at a square" becomes "to hold two sessions at a square."  This tactic would greatly embarrass the authorities if they tried to censor the phrase as they would need to delete anything related to their own Party events that will dominate China's media in fewer than two weeks.

Another example of playing around with language is the word "protest."  The act itself is now being represented by the phrase, "to take a stroll," when people want to discuss online mass demonstrations without being censored.

Of course, as we write this, searches for the name of U.S. ambassador to China, Jon Huntsman, Jr., is now a sensitive "term" on Chinese microblogs. See our earlier blog about Huntsman being spotted outside a McDonald's where some protests were coincidentally being held.

Wonder what great euphemism netizens might come up for him if that's the case


*************Comment**************

1.
Paduki
Tow the party line or be censored. It happens on these blogs too. Oppose pro-illegal alien activity and your blog might be deleted. Oppose gay marriage and the same thing could happen. China has no monopoly on what we don't learn from media sources. That's why many people, including me, have gone to offshore media sources.

1.1
Black.Knight-48
You are correct. We are not much better.

1.2
Spiddas
ALL news in the US is filtered. Left. Right. Whatever. It's all filtered. (Go read David Rockefeller's Memoirs... He blatantly admits there is control over the media, which he is part of.)
Most Americans are mindless sheep, eating at whichever feed trough suits them. And both troughs have the very same weak feed. The US is, in fact, no better...

1.3
Sifu-
Paduki, that has nothing to do with the POV. It has to do with bigots that write that crap violating terms of decency. They cannot express their POV without hate speech which happens to fail many standards of conduct.

1.4
Mark-423819
Since when is it "your" blog? Do you own the domain? Didn't you check a use agreement? It's a free market... blog sites can choose what content they will or won't allow.
If you operated your own website you could post whatever you want.

1.5
Joe M.-294004
Considering the phenomenon of "unintended consequences", the creation of the internet has done more to liberate captive nations than was ever anticipated by its creators. Considering recent events, it seems to be the greatest freedom-of-speech engine ever created to date.

1.6
nate 007
At least there's still free porn. That's something I enjoy every three and a half weeks.

2.
Renaissance-Man
Well, let's see if this comment gets deleted or censored:
I oppose illegal immigration, gay "marriage", human fetal abortion, the soon-to-be-dead Fairness Doctrine, socialism, communism, and other frames of entitlement thinking, as well as sympathy and justification for islam (which oppresses by default), and censorship of our freedom of speech and press.

2.1
Julie-401527
You fogot to add gun control :-)

2.2
allswell
I oppose illegal immigration, I am for gay marriage, I am pro-choice, I am against entitlement, I am against sympathy for Islam (understanding, yes, sympathy, no), I am for the censorship of press and speech within certain context (like Wiki-leaks)...to add more, I am against mandatory Union membership, and I am against the current fillibuster system.

2.3
nutgrape
And yet you feel entitled to publish your thoughts, as evidenced by your cries of censorship.
If you wish to write a blog, feel free. When you post on a forum, however, you are using a resource owned by others. You either follow their rules, what ever they may be, or get deleted.

3.
alext8769
Paduki and Black.Knight-48 I have to respectfully disagree.  I'm an American teaching in Shanghai and you don't know how lucky you are.  There are hundreds of accessible sites in America whose authors oppose illegal immigration and gay marriage.  If the gov't here in China remotely disagrees with any content on a site its blocked. Freakin IMDB is blocked along with Facebook, Youtube etc.   You guys even have an entire  network news organization which supports your point of view.  Wake up and enjoy your freedom.

4.
Sichuan
Actually, the founding fathers were quite liberal in their thinking. The majority of colonists fled to America to escape the conservative governments of Europe and the aristocracies and plutocracies they were forced to live under.
Our current Republican politicians are the epitome of "crude and insensitive".

4.1
Jim_H
Sichuan I agree with you whole heartily. MAYBE more posters ought to go back and re-read their US history before posting how the liberals are ruining the nation. I think that the lessons will always be lost on them. Forgive them their stupidity, Oh Lord, for they have come under the evil spell of hate mongers on the widely available media. Lead them not into that land of hate for they shall never again see the true light of intelligent thought.

4.2
Lanikai Ron
Sichuan, I believe our founding fathers were very smart and forward thinking folk. But I bet they never envisioned what liberals have done to make the lives of our citizens so dependent on big government. I bet they never envisioned that only 50% of this country's citizens would prop up our government with their hard earned money. Republicans, like them or not, are tackling our budget problems head on as opposed to the Democrats who are talking about doing it in the future when things get better. The most popular fix we see touted by Democrats is raising taxes for the rich while shielding their supporters from loss of benefits they have bought votes with for many years. The longer we wait, the harder it will be on all of us. Raise taxes for everyone across the board now instead of pitting class against class. At the same time, our leaders should be cutting budgets whenever and wherever possible. It will only get harder with time.

5.
overlord002
What we need to do is stop looking at the problems overseas and start some protesting of our own. For instance, we NEED to protest this stupid raise in gasoline prices or we will see $5 per gallon by August.

5.1
jackjr
Bush's fault?

6.
Heath-2931968
Indeed.  A time where only the top educated socially and fiscally elite ran things, the ignorant weren't welcomed to the "party", only white male land owners could vote, the cure for any illness was a good bleed, women were viewed as property, it was ok to own slaves, debtors could be imprisoned, and the Democratic-Republican party was the party of choice.  Oh, to go back to the founding roots of the country.

6.1
jackjr
Except for the slave part it sounds good to me. LOL

7.
Freedom4Everyone
The only censorship I ever see here is, for derailments of topics and name calling. Avoid that, and you dont get censored. And rightly so. Using mature discussion is something you agree to when you sign up. And derailments are used to get people off topic. Its a form of manipulation. Keep people from talking about something. So that cant be allowed either.
Hate speech is something I fully endorse being illegal and/or censored. Im glad that where I live, it is. Groups like the West Burrough Baptist church cant operate their garbage here.

7.1
jackjr
Who decides what hate speech is?

7.2
kedbob
Hate speech is the most necessary to protect. Kill that speech and it's just a matter of time before any speech is labeled as hate speech. It is not wrong to hate evil. Hate speech is only speech. The problem is when action is taken. I hate your opinion and think you weaken peace.

7.3
RandomB
Progress is the key. The point of free discussion and exchange of opinion is to create something better; whether that be a better government, or new smart phone. Hate speech is also free speech, but qualifies as hate speech because it impedes progress.

8.
wrkrb49
Enough!
If we really want to "get back to the country as it was founded," we need to come to grips with the fact that we'd have NO standing Army or Navy, the currency of the realm would be gold or silver, most of us would be either poor or slaves, and you'd have no vote if you didn't own property. White males only.
Washington warned against "foreign entanglements," so we'd have a much lower footprint. But slavery would also never have been dealt with. It's a crime that Americans don't know their own history, or choose to ignore it.

9.
qiang_guo
95% of Chinese have no idea what the Jasmine revolution is.

10.
Andrew-1977897
To channel Reagan:
China, Take Down That (Fire)Wall!

11.
Yearning
In my country, we also have government censorship. It is still possible to find the censored information, but you must be persistent and knowledgeable about the internet.
People are bitterly divided about whether or not the government should be able to control the internet, though they frame the debate in terms of punishing the miscreants who stole government secrets and turned them over to the press.
Back in Richard Nixon's day, the press was protected by the rule of law, and even though the information about him and his administration was stolen and published without his consent , all he could do was complain, he could not move against the press. He was forced from office and barely escaped prison.
Today, the government is more powerful and able to censor whatever they wish.
Just as in China, a large segment of the population here is very happy with the government being able to control private industry and the internet.
It seems that we have police state liberals and law and order conservatives working together to assure the government that it has just power to control what gets published.

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