Wandering China

An East/West pulse of China's fourth rise from down under.

Six arrested for online rumours of gunshots and a coup: China arrests slammed [The Age]

The signs had been there. Last year’s Jasmine revolution must have triggered alarm bells. No chance of an Arab Spring the Chinese must be thinking. No messing around with undermining the political structure.

Special attention has been paid on it to ensure usage of social media  in China harmonizes with the larger scheme of stability.

Not long after real name registration was announced (apparently Sina only got a 60% response rate by March 16 – indicative numbers of sentiment indeed), the hand sets out clenched to clearly defined out-of-bounds markers following rumours of a coup of the purged Bo Xilai. Coincidental or choreographed?

For some further perspectives:

Websites closed for spreading rumors (People’s Daily, March 31, 2012)

BEIJING, March 30 (Xinhua) — Chinese authorities closed 16 websites and detained six people responsible for “fabricating or disseminating online rumors,” the State Internet Information Office (SIIO) and Beijing police said Friday.

The websites, including meizhou.net, xn528.com and cndy.com.cn, were closed for spreading rumors of “military vehicles entering Beijing and something wrong going on in Beijing,” which were fabricated by some lawless people recently, said a spokesman with SIIO.

Weibo closed for comments as Beijing cleans ‘rumors’ (Want China Times, March 31, 2012)

From Saturday morning, many internet users found they were not able to post comments in reply to others’ entries on Sina Weibo, the largest microblogging service in the country, and rival platform Tencent Weibo. There are nearly 300 million users registered Weibo accounts in China.

Commenting on Sina and Tencent Weibo blocked, users react (Shanghaaist, April 1, 2012)

Even pop singer Faye Wong remarked on the ban — though she only discovered it when no one seemed to be commenting on a post of hers for a whole thirteen minutes. “What’s going on? Am I ‘sensitive’ all of a sudden?” she asked.

Weibo Comments Suspended in Coup Rumour Aftermath (Updated) (China Digital Times, published March 31, 2012)

 There was already widespread speculation of looming trouble for Sina Weibo over its perhaps half-hearted enforcement of government-mandated real name registration. Critics such as Chinese Human Rights Defenders had called the requirement’s announcement “the most alarming development in 2011″ in terms of online controls, but it appeared to have little immediate chilling effect, with apparent registration numbers well below the 60% Sina claimed to expect.

Zombie followers and fake re-tweets (Economist, March 17, 2012)

 Officials are attempting to make these tasks more manageable by requiring that users of the most prominent microblog service, Sina Weibo, register using their real name and identity-card number by March 16th. The other leading microblog, called Tencent Weibo, now also requires new users to register with their real name. Microbloggers can continue using nicknames as their online identities, as long as the weibo providers have their real-world identities on file.

– – –

China arrests slammed
by Philip Wen
Source – The Age, published April 2, 2012 

THE Chinese government has been accused of grossly overreacting when it arrested six people for internet rumours of gunshots and a coup over the weekend.

The six were held in Beijing for spreading ”rumours” on the net of military vehicles on the move and ”something wrong going on in Beijing”. An undisclosed number of others were admonished and ”repented”.

Over the weekend, China’s two most popular microblogging sites, Sina and Tencent Weibo, each with more than 300 million users, were ordered to disable the comment function on their service, used by netizens to debate with or respond to each other. The order is lifted tomorrow.

Li Datong, a media and censorship expert and the former managing editor of Freezing Point, a section of the China Youth Daily, said the government had grossly overreacted.

”Regarding the gunshot and army vehicle rumour, they could have easily solved it by having a press conference.”

The crackdown is seen as Beijing reacting to commentary on Communist Party infighting ahead of a once-in-a-decade leadership transition later this year.



Filed under: Australia, Beijing Consensus, Censorship, Charm Offensive, Corruption, Crime, Domestic Growth, Government & Policy, Great Firewall, Influence, Internet, Mapping Feelings, Media, Nationalism, Peaceful Development, Politics, Population, Public Diplomacy, Reform, Soft Power, Strategy, The Age, The Chinese Identity, The construction of Chinese and Non-Chinese identities

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