December is just around the corner, and that generally means we can expect a wave of end-of-year media specials in China. What were the top ten news stories of 2012? And the top online memes?
These lists can sometimes get media into trouble. In 2010, Guangzhou’s Time Weekly published a list of 100 “most influential” people that included food safety activist Zhao Lianhai (赵连海) and several prominent academics and writers who had signed Charter 08, the political manifesto penned by jailed Peace Prize laureate Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波). Peng Xiaoyun (彭晓芸), the chief editor of Time Weekly‘s opinion section, who had been in charge of the list, was placed on involuntary leave.
The same year, planned lists by Tencent and Southern Weekly were killed by censors.
This week, Chinese internet users kicked off the best-of season with their own list of the “10 Most Horrid People of 2012.” The list was shared on Sina Weibo by “Weekly Commentary” (每周评论), an Anhui-based Weibo user with a strong following, but was deleted sometime before 12:05 p.m. yesterday, November 26, 2012.
The post shares an image strip of ten men, all academics, experts or pundits associated with nationalism and conservatism in China, and provides brief background. All ten men get what is apparently the top “horrid rating,” shown by red flags to the right with five stars.
“Weekly Commentary” currently has just under 75,000 followers, according to numbers from Sina Weibo. [More on deleted posts at the WeiboScope Search, by the Journalism and Media Studies Centre]
The post from “Weekly Commentary” accompanying the image read:
We’ve come to year’s end. The 10 Most Horrid People of 2012 have been chosen online. How many do you know? And do you know of their accomplishments? Do you support their selection to the list? Or do you have more of your own to add?
The Top Ten are listed out as follows, and we’ve provided partial translations of the introductions provided in the online post:
1. Sima Nan (司马南): Well-known Mao-style leftist called the “anti-American warrior.” He famously said that fighting America was his work, and going to America was a lifestyle choice.
2. Kong Qingdong (孔庆东): Professor at Peking University, with a rude, left-leaning mouth . . . He cursed the people of Hong Kong, saying they were dogs.
3. Han Deqiang (韩德强): Professor at Beihang University and a representative figure of China’s new left. During anti-Japanese protests in Beijing, an old man took issue with the use of the slogan “Mao Zedong, we believe in you,” and Han Deqiang slapped him.
4. Wu Danhong (吴丹红), a.k.a. Wu Fatian (吴法天): Professor at People’s University of China. This person frequently attacks people of conscience on the internet. Internet users have called him a representative figure of the “Fifty-Cent Party”.
5. Fang Binxing (方滨兴): Head of the Beijing University of Post and Communications. He was the chief architect of China’s Great Firewall (GFW) online censorship system, so is called by web users “the Father of China’s Great Firewall.”
6. Zhang Zhaozhong (张召忠): Professor at China National Defense University. He is also a special commentator on military affairs for China Central Television. As his points of view always show a high level of consonance with those of the authorities, he frequently appears on commentary programs. He said in a recent interview with a reporter: “For an excellent television news commentator, the most important thing is not knowledge, but the most important thing is rather one’s political character and moral fiber. Political character demands that you must without condition maintain unity with the central Party.”
7. Rui Chenggang (芮成钢): China Central Television reporter. He has a penchant for asking strange questions when covering world events . . . Attending the Davos Forum in Dalian in 2011, he asked U.S. Ambassador Gary Locke if he had flown coach as “a reminder that US owes China money”. He became a laughing stock online.
8. Fang Zhouzi (方舟子): An extremely complicated figure, he was first a manager for an overseas website, and after returning to China became a full-time anti-fake campaigner, being called an “anti-fake warrior” by the media. On the surface, he has made his reputation by questioning and criticizing public figures. In fact, he has willingly taken on a role for the authorities in suppressing religious activities and has received the appreciation of authorities.
9. Hu Xijin (胡锡进): Editor-in-chief of the Global Times newspaper. The Global Times is the mouthpiece of China’s left and has been dubbed by interest users as the “great encampment of China’s angry youth.”
10. Zhang Hongliang (张宏良): A leading theorist for the new left, and a frequent contributor to the Utopia (乌有之乡) website, that leftist encampment.
The original Chinese language post follows:
NOTE: All posts to The Anti-Social List are listed as “permission denied” in the Sina Weibo API, which means they were deleted by Weibo managers, not by users themselves.