May 19 – As China began three days of national mourning for the victims of Sichuan’s catastrophic Wenchuan earthquake, media across the country opted for black-and-white layouts. Major web portals temporarily suspended online entertainment activities, and online game services were stopped. In addition, online search services were suspended for entertainment content, including online entertainment videos (娱乐视频), and most online advertisements related to entertainment were temporarily pulled. [More from Danwei.org, “A Nation Mourns in Black and White.”]
May 23 – The Beijing News, one of China’s leading commercial newspapers, ran an editorial by Peking University professor Zhang Qianfan (张千帆) arguing that “local democracy is the root of rebuilding after the [earthquake] disaster.” Addressing the question of how China can avoid occurrences of local corruption such as that evidenced in the collapse of shoddily constructed school buildings, Zhang wrote that while the direct intervention of central authorities like the Ministry of Housing (MOHURD), Ministry of Education (MOE) and Ministry of Supervision (MOS) might be able to address the problem of local school construction in Sichuan, it cannot deal effectively with similar problems nationwide. “If we only apply the top-down supervision of central authorities,” Zhang wrote, “even if we resolve problems in Wenchuan, problems in other areas will go unaddressed, and when disasters come again in the future, we will only see the replay of Wenchuan’s tragedy elsewhere.” The solution, said Zhang, was to implement the elective system (选举制度) mandated by China’s constitution.
May 20 – In the latest example of so-called “online violence” in China, a teenager from Liaoning province became the target of Internet rage after a video appeared in which she launches into a sulky tirade showing little sympathy for earthquake victims in Sichuan province. Within hours of the video’s posting, Web users had reportedly tracked down the teenager’s telephone number, address and other personal information.