What China's Talking About Today: Hitting Back Against Online Censorship

Race car driver and author Han Han says the recent censorship of Weibo comments isn't about rumor-spreading as much as Beijing showing muscle.

hanhan april3 p.jpg

Han Han Reuters

Beijing recently censored the comments feature on micro-blogs like Sina Weibo, declaring a three-day timeout after a flood of rumors about a coup in Beijing, following the ouster of Party frontrunner Bo Xilai. The feature was restored at 8:00am on Tuesday.

Commenting on the comments ban, popular author Han Han wrote the following micro-blog two hours later:

By taking away comments for three days, the government is showing that you can lose your micro-blogs forever. If people in this country often fall victim to rumors, that's because our officials educate us to believe everything we see, listen to all we hear, and not ask for anything more or think about things on another level. The result is that we are all susceptible to rumor-spreading.

Chinese media-watchers have reported that the post was distributed on Sina about 70 thousand times before it was deleted. But it's still running strong, even now.

Han Han's sensitive micro-blog may have already hit a nerve with Sina censors, but a copy on Sohu.com has been distributed nearly 80 thousand times and running.

In a display of solidarity, many of the comments beneath the entry read only "Re-blogged," or the Chinese equivalent of "re-Tweeted."

Screen shots of the original Sina Weibo publication are circulating on Chinese search engines such as Baidu.com. A screen shot taken of the Weibo app is featured below, in case that Web page disappears.

Hanhan.jpg

Sina stocks have seen a sharp descent in the past couple of days since comments were blocked, showing that this isn't only about a restriction of expression -- there is a tangible financial toll for upsetting Beijing censors.

Presented by

Massoud Hayoun is a digital-news producer for Al Jazeera America.

Why Is Google Making Human Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors at a world-class life sciences lab are trying to change the way people think about their health.

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus

Videos

Why Is Google Making Skin?

Hidden away on Google’s campus, doctors are changing the way people think about health.

Video

How to Build a Tornado

A Canadian inventor believes his tornado machine could solve the world's energy crisis.

Video

A New York City Minute, Frozen in Time

This short film takes you on a whirling tour of the Big Apple

Video

What Happened to the Milky Way?

Light pollution has taken away our ability to see the stars. Can we save the night sky?

Video

The Pentagon's $1.5 Trillion Mistake

The F-35 fighter jet was supposed to do everything. Instead, it can barely do anything.

More in Global

Just In