In the past decade or so, the condition of freedom of speech in China has improved remarkably. But if any credit is due the government, it's due to its
In the Internet age, the Chinese government learns new technology and techniques every day. It has set up a thesaurus for sensitive words, adopted the most
advanced firewall technology, and hired a huge number of anonymous people to defend it. It has blocked numerous foreign websites, including Facebook,
Google, and Twitter. It has purged websites in the names of sweeping pornography and attacking rumors. Not long ago the comment function on the most
influential Sina and QQ microblogs were shut down.
But while these means are very powerful and frightening, the government appears powerless when faced with the even more powerful Internet technology. Like
an old, broken lawn mower, every time it cuts a weed's leaf, several new leaves grow.
In the gap between technology and regulatory instruments, the Chinese people are finally able to hear some free words and to read some true facts that the
government has not yet had time to block. The high-speed train accident, the Wukan anti-government protests, the Chen Guangcheng incident, and many other
incidents and events all set off huge waves on the Internet before a ban was imposed. More and more people joined in to make comments and publicize facts
online, on blogs and microblogs.
It reminds me of what an ancient Chinese wise man said: Blocked words are like a flood: they will one day make the dam collapse.
You can't imagine how much wisdom and energy the Chinese people have to expend on their choice of words. On the Internet, people call Falun Gong "wheel".
The year 1989 has become "the year before 1990" June 4 is now "May 35", tank is called "tractor". Deputy mayor Wang Lijun, who recently caused a sensation,
is cleverly called "head nurse Wang Lijuan".
Speakers and listeners understand these words: censors pretend not to understand them. In this way, a harmonious society comes into being.
On April 22, 2011, a Chongqing netizen named Fang Hong passed a joke online: When Bo Xilai asked Wang Lijun to eat his shit, Wang Lijun asked the
procurator to eat it, who then asked Li Zhuang to eat it. Li Zhuang said: whoever shit it should eat it.
Two days later, Fang Hong was arrested by the Chongqing police and was sentenced to one year of re-education through labor.
Bo Xilai has left Chongqing, Fang Hong's whereabouts are unknown. But the "pile of shit" case has universal significance and symbolism. It's like the moral
of a typical Chinese fable: You have the freedom to take a shit, and you have the freedom to eat it. But you don't have the freedom to casually comment on