Conversation

04.18.18

A Ban on Gay Content, Stopped in Its Tracks

Siodhbhra Parkin, Steven Jiang & more
On April 13, China’s major microblogging platform Sina Weibo announced that, in order to create “a sunny and harmonious” environment, it would remove videos and comics “with pornographic implications, promoting bloody violence, or related to...

Media

03.08.18

Weibo Whack-a-Mole

King-wa Fu, Channing Huang & more from Weiboscope
China might be the world’s second-largest economy, and have more Internet users than any other country, but each year it is ranked as the nation that enjoys the least Internet freedom among the 65 sample nations scored by the U.S.-based Freedom...

China's Social Media Giants Want Their Users to Help out with the Crushing Burden of Censorship

Quartz
China’s social media giants are ramping up efforts to get their users to turn in people circulating taboo content, as the Communist Party further tightens its grip on the country’s internet.

Eye-Catching China Activist Super Vulgar Butcher ‘Admits Wrongdoing’

Reuters
A human rights activist best known as “Super Vulgar Butcher” who rose to prominence by harnessing social media to mobilize public support admitted in a closed-door trial that his actions “violated the law”, a Chinese court said on Monday.

Viewpoint

07.31.17

Ping Pong Fury

Ma Tianjie from Chublic Opinion
The match was scheduled for 7:40 p.m. on June 23. Thousands of viewers were eagerly anticipating Chinese Ping Pong superstar Ma Long to face off against his Japanese challenger Yuya Oshima at the China Open, held in the southwestern city of Chengdu...

Chinese Student’s Commencement Speech in U.S. Isn’t Going over Well in China

NPR
A Chinese student who praised the “fresh air of free speech” in the U.S. during her commencement address at the University of Maryland is facing an online backlash from classmates and from people in China who say she insulted her own country.

Sinica Podcast

05.12.17

What It Takes to Be a Good China-Watcher

Kaiser Kuo & Bill Bishop from Sinica Podcast
China-watching isn’t what it used to be. Not too long ago, the field of international China studies was dominated by a few male Westerners with an encyclopedic knowledge of China, but with surprisingly little experience living in the country or...

Trump’s Feminist Critics Gagged by Chinese Internet Giant Weibo

Tom Phillips
Guardian
Chinese feminists have hit out at their country’s answer to Twitter after it gagged one of their movement’s most visible social media accounts in an apparent bid to stifle criticism of U.S. president Donald Trump.

China Welcomes Stephen Hawking on Weibo with Awe

BBC
The British astrophysicist amassed two million followers within hours of launching his account on Tuesday.

Sinica Podcast

04.27.15

Nationalism and Censorship

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Christopher Cairns joins the hosts of Sinica for a discussion of his forthcoming paper, co-authored with Allen Carlson, scheduled for publication in China Quarterly. Why are we so interested in this topic? Because Cairns and his colleagues at...

Viewpoint

09.18.14

More Exploitation, More Happiness

Kevin Slaten
It was one of the deadliest industrial disasters in recent Chinese history. On August 2, a massive metal dust explosion killed 75 workers and injured another 186 at a factory in Kunshan, in Jiangsu province, that supplied wheels to General Motors...

Chinese Blogger Jailed For ‘Rumor-Mongering’

Rakyat Post
A Chinese blogger known for criticizing the ruling Communist Party was sentenced on Wednesday to six-and-a-half years in jail, state media said, as authorities pursue a crackdown on online “rumors”.

Caixin Media

05.27.14

Threats to Anonymous Sources Shake Chinese Journalism

Courts in the capital are mulling over what's being described as the first legal attack against the use of anonymous sources in news reports published by the Chinese media.The charges leveled against the Guangzhou-based Southern Weekend...

Media

03.26.14

A Wrinkle to Those Hot Chinese Tech IPOs

Investors, ready your wallets. In the past week, Sina Weibo, China’s massive microblogging platform with 280 million users, and Alibaba, the operator of China’s largest online marketplace which generated $1.84 billion in revenue in the fourth...

Chinese Social Media Giant Sina Weibo Seeks U.S. Stock Market Listing

Clifford Coonan
Hollywood Reporter
The Twitter-like company is looking to raise around $500 million from the listing, which would give it a valuation of $8 billion.

Caixin Media

03.03.14

Kunming Attack Is ‘China’s 9/11,’ State Media Says

In the days after a major terror attack in Kunming, state media outlets are calling for a united front to combat terror and warning against excusing the attackers or criticizing the government’s policies on minorities.On the evening of March 1, a...

Media

01.31.14

Closing Time? China’s Social Media Crackdown Has Hit Weibo Hard

Findings by East China Normal University (ECNU), a research university in Shanghai, commissioned by respected U.K. outlet The Telegraph and released January 30, lodges concrete data behind what frequent users and analysts of Chinese social media...

Books

10.24.13

The Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon

Liz Carter and Anonymous, Edited by Anne Henochowicz
Over the years, China Digital Times (CDT) has collected hundreds of words and turns of phrase invented by China’s citizens of the Internet, its “netizenry.” Playfully evading online censors, netizens have created a world of “grass-mud horses” and “river crabs,” forever locked in battle in the “Mahler Desert.” CDT’s Grass-Mud Horse Lexicon is a collection of politically-charged terms which represent netizen resistance discourse. This eBook includes a selection of “classic” terms which have endured beyond the events which generated them. They are arranged by category, and indices in alphabetical order by both English and pinyin are included. This is the netizen language you need to know to understand China’s Internet. —China Digital Times{chop} 

Busting China’s Bloggers

Murong Xuecun
New York Times
The vast state censorship apparatus works hard to keep Chinese social media’s most influential bloggers down. But posts race through Weibo so quickly that it’s difficult to control them with technology. Hence, the government is resorting to...

Caixin Media

10.21.13

Is Freedom of Thought in China Just a Dream?

The Shanghai Free Trade Zone was recently launched. The measure is commonly regarded as an attempt by the leadership of the Communist Party to further economic reform, which has slowed over the past decade. It is also part of what policymakers call...

‘Where Are the Riots?’: China Watches the Shutdown

Jiayang Fan
New Yorker
In China’s social media - what amounts to China’s largest and most liberal classroom - microbloggers are taking the opportunity to teach one another the difference between federal and local authority in America and the protections, and perils, of...

Sina C.E.O. Charles Chao on How Weibo Is Changing China

Liz Gannes
All Things Digital
“Before, if anything happened, any accident or disaster, the information can be withheld or contaminated by government media control; but now it’s impossible, almost, to withhold information,” Chao said at the Stanford University China 2.0...

Some of China’s Prominent Internet Voices

Chris Buckley
New York Times
A run-down of some of Sina Weibo’s most followed figures, complete with background information, a sampling of posts, and the type of content you ought to expect from them, from irreverant property developers to optimistic high-tech investors.

Sinica Podcast

09.20.13

Chinese Twitter and the Big-V Takedown

Kaiser Kuo, Jeremy Goldkorn & more from Sinica Podcast
Joining Kaiser and Jeremy this week are David Wertime and Rachel Lu from Tea Leaf Nation, along with Paul Mozur from The Wall Street Journal. And our topic? None other than the firestorm that has engulfed Sina Weibo following China’s effective...

Crackdown on Bloggers Is Mounted by China

Chris Buckley
New York Times
Worried about its hold on public opinion, the Chinese government has pursued a propaganda and police offensive against what it calls malicious rumor-mongering online.  

Books

09.12.13

Blocked on Weibo

Jason Q. Ng
Though often described with foreboding buzzwords such as “The Great Firewall” and the “censorship regime,” Internet regulation in China is rarely either obvious or straightforward. This was the  inspiration for China specialist Jason Q. Ng to write an innovative computer script that would make it possible to deduce just which  terms are  suppressed on  China’s most important social media site, Sina Weibo. The  remarkable and groundbreaking result is Blocked on Weibo, which began as a highly  praised blog and has been expanded here  to list over 150 forbidden keywords, as well as offer possible explanations why the Chinese government would find these terms sensitive.As Ng explains, Weibo (roughly the equivalent of Twitter), with over 500 million registered accounts, censors hundreds of words and phrases, ranging from fairly obvious terms, including “tank” (a reference to the “Tank Man” who stared down the Chinese army in Tiananmen Square) and  the names of top government officials (if they can’t be found online, they can’t be criticized), to deeply obscure references, including “hairy bacon” (a coded insult referring to Mao’s embalmed body).With dozens of phrases that could get a Chinese Internet user invited  to the  local  police station “for a cup of tea” (a euphemism for being detained by the  authorities), Blocked  on Weibo offers an invaluable guide to sensitive topics in modern-day China as well as a fascinating tour of recent Chinese history.  —The New Press{chop}

Tweeting Rumors in China Can Now Land You 3 Years in Jail

Charlie Custer
Tech in Asia
The latest barrage from the government in China’s ongoing war on rumors is a Supreme Court document that announces any post “clicked and viewed more than 5000 times, or reposted more than 500 times” will be considered...

China‘s Communist Party Urges Popular Sina Weibo Users to Think of ’National Interests‘

Brian Spegele
Wall Street Journal
The recent uptick in government pressure on popular online pundits was evident as the Communist Party’s mouthpiece People’s Daily weighed in with a sharply worded commentary demanding users with huge followings act in the “national interest.”&...

Censorship, Sex, and the Bo Xilai Trial

Jiayang Fan
New Yorker
By allowing the ousted politician to have a say at all, and by releasing portions of the daily transcript the Party has highlighted its progressiveness and successfully deflected attention from the theatrical nature of a masterfully choreographed...

Billionaire Jack Ma Makes About-Face, Praises Chinese Government

Oiwan Lam
Global Voices
Prominent Chinese Internet entrepreneur Jack Ma has in the eyes of some shattered his independent image during a recent newspaper interview in which he applauded China for its online censorship and brutal, strong-arm tactics. 

Censoring the News Before It Happens

Perry Link
New York Review of Books
Chinese censors number in the hundreds-of-thousands. Their duties are to not only block stories they disapprove of, but to alter and obscure details in published stories, and promote stories that cast the Party in a good light.

Online Furor as Prosecutors Recommend ‘Leniency’ for Chinese Rail Boss

Liz Carter
Over the past 24 hours, the most viral post on Sina Weibo, has been a revelation that prosecutors advised that Liu Zhijun be given a “lenient sentence,” despite his admitted accumulation of 374 houses and over US$100...

Soul-Searching Former Red Guard Won Praises on Weibo

Jing Gao
Ministry of Tofu
Liu Boqin’s public apology for his acts during the Cultural Revolution received widespread accolates from Chinese netizens. On Sina Weibo, the Chinese Twitter, an overwhelming majority of commentors applauded him while saying, other Red Guards...

In China, Second Thoughts About ‘Dishonest Americans’ Column

Didi Kristen Tatlow
New York Times
The column, launched in March, has provoked a backlash among ordinary Chinese at this targeting of the morals of another nation in the party’s flagship media.  

Chinese Hold Online Protest Against Child Predators, Say #GetARoomWithMe Instead

Lotus Yuen
In response to a recent alleged rape, Chinese citizens have waged a unique form of protest online, using memes and social networking to further a cause to draw attention and comment on the issue. 

Chinese Suggestions For Improving Internet Disappear

Adam Minter
Bloomberg
Thriving microblogging culture has become China’s de facto town square. But as more alleged rumors and critical commenters are quieted or deleted this center of civil society becomes a less interesting place to visit. 

Censorship Feeds Criticism of Poisoning Case

Adam Minter
Bloomberg
For a Chinese government determined to corral public opinion in its favor, the failed attempt to shut down the debate about a once-obscure 19-year old poisoing case is nothing short of a spectacular public-relations failure. 

Why Iron Man Robert Downey Jr. Is On Weibo But Not Twitter

Gwynn Guilford
Quartz
Notable is the recent aggressive outreach to Chinese audiences by Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr. Not only did he visit China for the first time in his life to talk up the film, but Downey also set up a personal account on Sina Weibo. 

Alibaba Buys Stake In Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter

Michael J. De La Merced
Deal Book
Alibaba and Sina also agreed to cooperate in improving ways to marry social networking with e-commerce, as microblogging services like Sina’s continue to grow in popularity.

Conversation

05.07.13

Why Is a 1995 Poisoning Case the Top Topic on Chinese Social Media?

Rachel Lu, Andrew J. Nathan & more
With a population base of 1.3 billion people, China has no shortage of strange and gruesome crimes, but the attempted murder of Zhu Ling by thallium poisoning in 1995 is burning up China’s social media long after the trails have gone cold. Zhu, a...

In Earthquake Aftermath, China Turns To The Web

Jiayang Fan
New Yorker
No matter what the Chinese may think of the disaster-relief efforts of the new leadership, its online contingent seems relieved to find both solace and resources in their new frontier: “I remember in 2008 when there wasn’t Weibo yet. Now...

China’s Social Media Gurus Face Off In The Weibo/WeChat Debate

Adam Pasick
Quartz
In China’s rapidly expanding social media sphere, most of the buzz is split between Tencent’s WeChat, a text and voicemail service and Sina Weibo, a microblogging service where users post unfiltered snippets of news in a...

PLA Officer Calls H7N9 Virus A U.S. ‘Bio-Psychological Weapon’

Patrick Boehler
South China Morning Post
A senior military official has caused an outrage among netizens for calling the current avian flu outbreak in mainland China an American conspiracy and belittling a string of deaths from the virus.   

Rage, Smelly Socks and Stolen Wine in China’s Skies

Adam Minter
Bloomberg
A look at the recent high volume of unruly behavior from flight passengers, and how it reflects on the “national character" of the Chinese people...

Media

03.04.13

‘Zombies’ and ‘Reincarnation’

Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, announced on February 20 that it had surpassed half a billion users—more people than live in South America, and approximately the population of North America. Thickly-settled Europe edges out Weibo by...

After Ang Lee’s Oscar Win, China Imagines Cinema Beyond Censors

Abby
Global Voices
A look at the various reactions on Chinese social media to Lee's Oscar victory , as well as the censorship-related conversation it sparked...

Pollution Data A ‘State Secret?’ State Media Cry Foul

Lilian Lin
Wall Street Journal
This marks the second time in less than two months that state media have come out swinging against the government over environmental issues.

Media

11.21.12

Official Online Poll: Chinese Want Democracy

With China’s new leadership now set, Chinese Web users have turned their attention to answering the key question: “What’s next?” In concert with the 18th Party Congress, the website of Communist Party-sanctioned Peoples’s Daily hosted an...

Protests in China Get a Boost From Social Media

Christina Larson
Bloomberg
The city of Ningbo—a prosperous port of 3.4 million people, near Shanghai—is hardly one of China’s cancer villages, of the kind contributing to the thousands of pollution-related protests that happen each year in China. And the mostly middle-class...

Clubs and Cameras: Stability Preservation in the Age of Weibo

David Bandurski
China Media Project
Many images and video posted to Chinese social media from the scene in Ningbo have already been deleted — and some users reported Sunday that Ningbo-based users were unable to post content. But Sina Weibo and other platforms remain the primary...

Media

10.26.12

Myanmar Envy

Bi Cheng
Chinese netizens’ reactions to tentative democratic reforms in neighboring Myanmar, including to the recent repeal of censorship rules for private publishers by the Southeast Asian nation’s reformist government, reflect just how closely it’s...

Mistresses and Corruption

Adam Minter
Bloomberg
Which came first? The corruption or the mistresses? In China, they most often go together. The stories abound: from the corrupt official in Fujian who, in 2002, held the first (and only) annual competition to judge which...

What’s Really Trending on China’s Twitter: The Voice of China

LIz Carter
Coverage of China in Western media tilts toward the political and economic, so it might surprise some to learn that the top trending terms this summer on Sina Weibo, China’s Twitter, have mostly related to the season’s top television hit: ...

Sensitive Words: Bo Xilai’s Expulsion

Anne Henochowicz
China Digital Times
Since Bo Xilai’s expulsion from the Communist Party and announcement that he would face criminal charges, a number of Sina Weibo terms related to Bo which were previously blocked from search results are now live once again...

Prominent Chinese Writer: I Am a Traitor

Sijia Song
Li Chengpeng, an influential writer and social commentator, has published an article on his blog denouncing the boycott of Japanese goods and the violent anti-Japan sentiment currently sweeping China as the two wrangle over the Diaoyu Islands,...

Anti-Japan Protests in China Turn Violent, Cooler Heads Prevail Online

Jimmy
On Saturday protestors in dozens of Chinese cities took to the streets to voice their anger at the Japanese government’s nationalization of the Diaoyu Islands (Senkaku Islands in Japanese) in the East China Sea as a flagrant violation of Chinese...

Media

09.16.12

What Microblogs Aren’t Telling You About China

Amy Qin
In China, where notions of freedom of speech and freedom of expression are seen by the government as secondary to the all-important ideal of social stability, there is little space, if any, for truly open and unmediated public conversation...

Web Posts Spur Free-Speech Debate in China

Austin Ramzy
Time
With his thin frame, shabby suit and graying hair, Chen Pingfu, who played his violin for handouts on the streets of the northwestern Chinese city of Lanzhou, hardly seemed to be a threat to anyone. But after he wrote a series of online essays...

Where’s Xi? Using New Code Words, China’s Netizens Speculate by the Thousands

Rachel Lu
It’s a cat and mouse game for netizens who are interested in Mr. Xi’s coming and goings. Certain code words for Mr. Xi, such as “Crown Prince (太子)” or XJP, are blocked search terms on Sina Weibo. However, netizens have invented others, such as heir...

What "911" Means in Chinese

Liz Carter
Even in Chinese, “911” is shorthand for September 11 and the events that transpired 11 years ago today. Web users in China have taken to social media to mark the anniversary, some waxing philosophical about the passage of time and the elusiveness of...