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Yaxue Cao, December 5, 2018     If you have been with Twitter’s simplified Chinese community long enough, you know it’s nothing new that handles disappear and in some cases the persons behind them go to jail – it’s a freedom tunnel that the Chinese Communist regime is leery of. But over the last few months, and still ongoing, we keep hearing mainland tweeps reporting that they have been summoned by police who ordered them to delete tweets or accounts altogether. AFP’s Eva Xiao and Human Rights Watch’s Yaqiu Wang reported on the trend early on.  I myself reported one particular instance – the deletion of Wu Gan (吴淦)’s account. As of today, I collected 42 tweets from users themselves tweeting about what had happened […]


Yaxue Cao, November 11, 2018       Around 10:10 pm eastern time on Nov. 8, as I was browsing my Twitter timeline and taking a breaking from editing a website post, a tweet by Wu Gan (吴淦) jumped into my vision. Even though he has gone for three years and a half, his avatar immediately stood out. It’s an auto-generated tweet that reads: “I just activated @Tweet_Delete on my account to automatically delete my old tweets (is.gd/delete)!” Instinctively, I pressed the “prt src” key: It was 11 am on Nov. 9, Beijing Time. Wu Gan, better known as the “Super Vulgar Butcher,” is serving an eight-year sentence in a prison somewhere in the mountains on the border of Fujian and Jiangxi provinces. He was […]


China Change, November 21, 2016   Zhang Haitao (张海涛) is a 45-year-old Han Chinese man living in Urumqi, the capital of the Xinjiang Uighur Autonomous Region. He is originally from Henan Province, and relocated to Xinjiang after being laid off from state employment in the 1990s. Since 2009 he’s been an active participant in rights defense activities and subsequently became a “sensitive” person who was harassed by police. Zhang was detained on June 27, 2015, in Urumqi, indicted on December 25, 2015, and tried in January 11, 2016. Based on 69 WeChat posts, 205 Twitter posts, and interviews by Voice of America and Radio Free Asia during the period from 2010 to 2015, a court in Urumqi found Zhang guilty of “inciting subversion of state […]


By Yaxue Cao, April 17, 2016 This story has been updated.    On Thursday, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey announced the new managing director of Twitter for the Greater China region. By Saturday the news had excited a fierce reaction among Twitter users in China. It’s well known that Twitter, YouTube, Google and other major social media networks are banned in mainland China. While there aren’t many users of Twitter in the mainland (one estimate has it that there are roughly 10,000 active users), those who do use it are among the most ardent believers in internet freedom, and have a special love for Twitter. A large number are IT experts who migrated from Fanfou (a Chinese social media site) in 2009 and became almost religious […]


China Change, March 24, 2016. In no particular order and with a couple of exceptions, we sample Chinese netizens’ thoughts on March 21, 2016, Twitter’s 10th anniversary. We don’t know who else will be touched by this, but we certainly are. – The Editors   乌鸦哥哥 ‏@wuyagege : Twitter is like a small cafe that never closes. People come and go, connecting with each other in ways both lasting and fleeting. You can exchange a few words if you feel the urge, otherwise everyone goes about their own business. After these many years, I have so many friends from all over, both old and new. Some have faded away, others are still around. Still others have been made to vanish. I somehow manage to continue on. I […]


China Change, March 23, 2016 Social media is by nature subversive in a country like China, where totalitarian rule depends on monopolizing the narrative and suppressing free speech. The Chinese Communist Party is well aware, and worried: state propaganda calls social media an “opposing sphere of opinion,” and hawkish PLA generals refer to it as battleground where life and death are at stake. On Monday, in an essay “laced with wartime imagery,” the chief editor of the People’s Daily warned of a “historic mistake” if China (meaning the Party) loses grip on new media. The war has been a daily affair for years now, despite the censorship, and despite the fact that netizens are thrown in jail for what they post. Another round of pushback against […]


By China Change, published: February 27, 2016 After someone dug up an old People’s Daily post from last year, Chinese netizens seized upon it to mock the Party and its recent ideological crackdown, particularly taking a dig at the Party for its recent Cultural Revolution-style crusade against the real estate tycoon Ren Zhiqiang.  After 20,000 repostings and 10,000 comments, the People’s Daily deleted the original post. The CCP is right to worry about the “two opposing spheres of opinion” (its own and that of the people), a stark reality that is shown by this reaction.  — The Editors     “What’s this vegetable called where you’re from?” the Sina Weibo account of the newspaper asked on May 15, 2015, alongside a picture of two clean […]


By Mo Zhixu, published: December 21, 2015 “Pu Zhiqiang has many facets to his character. He is a rights lawyer, an Internet opinion leader, and a dissident, in the broader sense of the word. His commitments and pursuits over the past 26 years help to explain how Pu has come to be so influential.”     On December 14, 2015, renowned human rights lawyer Pu Zhiqiang (浦志强) was tried by the Beijing Number Two People’s Court on charges of “provoking a serious disturbance” and “inciting ethnic hatred.” This case has been watched closely ever since Pu was first detained in May 2014. On the day of the trial hearing, diplomats from the United States, the European Union, and other foreign governments went to read statements […]


By Mo Zhixu, published: October 4, 2015 “[T]he existence of a relatively free, relaxed, and anonymous Internet for the regime is ‘the root of all evil.’”   August 5 was the last day that opinions were solicited by the government for its new Internet Security Law, meaning that in the near future the legislation will be formally unveiled. In draft form, many of its clauses have already attracted scrutiny: for example, the draft stresses that Internet sovereignty is the extension of state sovereignty into cyberspace; it also takes as its objective “protecting the sovereignty of cyberspace and national security,” granting almost unlimited powers to the administrative organs in charge of the Internet. Many think that the Chinese government is setting up a “national Intranet.” The […]


By @beidaijin, published: February 17, 2014 Total control that leaves no stone unturned.    In November, 2014, 163.com suddenly announced that it would close down its microblog service, or Weibo. Three months ago, qq.com announced that it would not add new features to its microblog service. It is unsure how long qq’s microblog will last before it also closes down. Sohu CEO Zhang Chaoyao (张朝阳) no longer uses his own Sohu microblog account to interact with users. Chen Tong (陈彤), Sina’s vice president, left Sina with a group of key personnel, and this was regarded as the fall of the biggest internet portal in China. “Big V” Ning Caishen (宁财神) announced that he would sell his account [with 6 million followers] for only 50 yuan, […]


By China Change, published: November 12, 2014     A 31-year-old Chinese IT professional named Xu Dong (许东, @onionhacker) was detained on November 4th by Beijing police for “picking quarrels and creating disturbances,” according to tweeted posted by Chinese activist Wu Gan (吴淦), better known by his online ID “Butcher” (屠夫). Xu Dong’s friends told Wu Gan that Xu Dong is currently being detained in Beijing First Detention Center, and that the police cited Xu Dong’s expressions of support for the umbrella movement in Hong Kong, but the police also said Xu Dong had committed crimes of developing software to help Chinese Internet users scale the Great Fire Wall of China, the Chinese communist government’s tool to prevent the Chinese people from obtaining free information mainly […]


By Mo Zhixu, published: July 3, 2014   China has severed Google services for several weeks now and there are no signs of service returning. Blocking Google has inconvenienced many people, among them Gmail users, teachers and students who use Google for academic research, and more. To this day, China has completely blocked the world’s four most visited websites: Google, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. For a long time, Chinese civil society saw the internet as the foundation for civil society development that would in turn help China’s transition to a democracy. The first ten plus years of the internet in China seemed to have attested to this hope to some extent. But as the regime has steadily escalated its censorship of the internet,  this expectation […]


By China Change, published: June 9, 2014   On Monday, June 9th, China’s state-run media outlet China News (中新网) reported that Beijing police had arrested a 22-year-old young female by the family name Zhao for posting an article on Twitter that teaches how to use a pseudo base station “to send illegal information.” According to the report, the Chinese internet security police formed a task force to solve the case as soon as they discovered this particular tweet, and a multi-agency investigation led to Zhao’s arrest and the confiscation of her “criminal tool” – a laptop computer. The news alarmed the Chinese Twitter community. Many of them recalled a tweet they had read before June 4th, the 25th anniversary of Tian’anmen democracy movement, by “赵你@RFITB” […]


 By Zhang Jialong, published: May 24, 2014   On May 20th, I was notified by the department head at Tencent that I was being suspended, citing radical expressions I made in my meeting with the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry earlier this year and the propaganda directives I publicized online. I was told that I would receive a final decision after Tencent coordinated with the propaganda authorities. On May 23rd, Tencent’s HR department notified me of the termination of my labor contract for “leaking business secrets and other confidential and sensitive information.” On the same day when I went back to collect my personal belongings, I found that my desktop had already been removed without my knowledge. Nor did anyone give me a reasonable […]


By Mo Zhixu, published: March 14, 2014   After 1992, as the old planned economy disintegrated in China, and as the USSR and the Eastern European bloc collapsed rapidly, the Chinese communist regime adopted market-oriented economic policies to further open up to the west, making economic development its foundation for maintaining power. “Joining tracks with the world” became a mainstream slogan of that era. It was a hard-to-reject temptation for the Chinese regime that was eager to overcome economic stagnation and political animosity in the aftermath of the Tian’anmen massacre in 1989. In the west, also in early 1990s, the emerging information highway was fermenting considerable excitement. On April 20, 1994, the National Computing and Networking Facility of China (NCFC) was connected to the National […]


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