Author: CMP Staff

No Holiday for Censors

China’s National Day holiday is meant to be a time for celebration — and also for a good deal of propaganda about the glories of the Chinese Communist Party, the unity of the people, and all-around prosperity, equality and good feeling. It is perhaps not surprising, then, that censors on popular social media platforms like Weibo worked around the clock to ensure that dissenting voices, or just plaintive ones, were tucked out of view.
The following post by Weibo user Wen Jinrang was available for more than a day before being cut down by censors on the platform. It remarks on reports that some local authorities in China have ordered the National Day holiday, often referred to as “golden week,” shortened in order to prepare for the upcoming 19th National Congress of the CCP.
Reports this week have said that the National Day holiday was cancelled altogether China’s northwestern region of Xinjiang, reportedly out of fears that residents might use the break from school and work to launch protests ahead of next month’s congress.

USER: Wen Jinrang (汶金让)
DATE OF POST: September 30, 2017, 12:28:44
APPROXIMATE TIME OF REMOVAL: October 1, 2017, 15:14:37
CONTENT: 
For the eight-day National Day holiday, some places have issued certain orders and notices saying that only five days of holiday are permitted. . . This is just the way things are in China. A legally set holiday, and local [authorities] can just eliminate it with a single word. That’s the National Day holiday! What a great National Day, one long lament! [hurt]
国庆8天假,某地某办发通知,只准休5天,最后3天精准扶贫!中国的事情就是这样,法定假日,地方一句话就可以废了,这就是国情!好好的国庆,一片哀叹![伤心] ​

 

An image of the Gate of Heavenly Peace in Beijing and the words, “Happy National Day on October 1.”
 
 
 
 

All Hands for Cybersecurity

This cartoon, called “Joint Protection” (共同守护), was created by Xu Jun (徐骏) for China’s official Xinhua News Agency, and posted on September 20, 2017, to commemorate the national China Cybersecurity Week. The cartoon shows hands representing a number of different parties surrounding the internet, represented by the smiling “@” symbol (the internet being delighted, of course, to receive such positive restraint on its chaotic tendencies).
This laying on of hands around the internet creates a bright white zone labelled “cybersecurity.” The hands are labelled, clockwise from left, as “government,” “social organizations,” “internet masses” and “enterprises.”
Here is a brief excerpt of the text accompanying the cartoon:

Since the 18th National Congress of the CCP, under the leadership of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs, our country has formulated and implemented the Cybersecurity Law, striking repeated blows to chaos in cyberspace, adhering to management of the internet in accord with the law and comprehensive governance, etc., fully erecting a dike of security in the protection of the cybersecurity of individuals and of the nation.  Of course, cybersecurity is not just about top-end design at the national level [NOTE: this refers to changing governance structures institutionally], but even more requires that the people come together to protect it. Therefore, “for the people” and “relying on the people” [NOTE: This is the theme of this year’s Cybersecurity Week] are the two central axes of cybersecurity . . .

Front Page: September 19, 2017

This week is China Cybersecurity Week, an occasion for Party and government officials across the country to mobilize the population on a range of cyber issues — and, importantly, for them to demonstrate that they are falling into line in implementing the policy drives conceived at the top. So media everywhere are placing Cybersecurity Week on their front pages, highlighting their local ceremonies, and signaling the importance of President Xi’s related utterances.
Here is the front page from today’s Guangzhou Daily, the official mouthpiece of the Guangzhou Party Committee:

Ren Xuefeng Tours Cybersecurity Technology and Achievements Exhibition: Deeply Implementing General Secretary Xi Jinping’s Internet Power Strategic Ideas
Guangzhou Daily (Multimedia reporters Bi Zheng and Jing Huaiqiao, correspondent Yue Zong) — Yesterday, the opening ceremony of the Fourth Guangdong Cybersecurity Propaganda Week and the 2017 Cybersecurity Technology and Achievements Exhibition were held in the No. 3. Hall of Guangzhou’s Poly World Exhibition Center. Deputy provincial secretary, Guangzhou Party Secretary, and provincial deputy director of the Central Leading Group for Cyberspace Affairs, Ren Xuefeng (任学锋) was in attendance. . .


He emphasized that [we] must deeply implement General Secretary Xi Jinping’s ideas strategic ideas on [China as an] internet power, adhering to the step-in-step progress of cybersecurity and cyber-development, accelerating the universalization of information services, advancing the building of smart cities, allowing the people to all enjoy the fruits of the development of informatization.
We must fully unleash the role of internet enterprises in research and development and innovation, greatly advancing strategic advances in core internet technologies, standing at the summit of innovation and development, injecting new vitality into economic and social development in Guangdong.
We must deeply develop the universalization of knowledge about cybersecurity, fully raising our capacity to protect the internet, prioritising information content and technical security, governing the internet in accord with the law, striking severe blows to illegal activities online, building a protective screen for cybersecurity, creating a favorable online environment for victoriously convening the 19th National Congress of the CCP.

Censor thyself

We are exactly one month away from the opening of the 19th National Congress of the CCP, the meeting during which key leadership decisions and agendas will be introduced to the public. But for now, the process of deliberating these decisions is cloaked in utmost secrecy. Even the date of the Congress was a mystery until a few short weeks ago.
The political and media atmosphere ahead of the Party’s national congresses, which are held once every five years, tends to be extremely tense. And that often means those exercising control over the media must be extra careful and extra diligent.
This fact may explain why social media posts based on an official news release from Xinhua News Agency yesterday — broadcast, no less, on the nightly official Xinwen Lianbo program on CCTV — are being deleted en masse from Weibo, despite the fact that the story remains on many, if not all, websites where it was originally posted. Here is the release at QQ.com. Here it is again at China News Service. At Caijing. On the Xinhua News Agency website itself.
The gist of the report is that the Politburo has met in preparation for the 19th National Congress, and has discussed draft amendments to the Party’s constitution. The report is nonspecific, but this probably signals changes to the constitution that would incorporate the ideas of President Xi Jinping, perhaps even elevating his leadership status.
So why would posts like this one simply regurgitating the official news report be removed from social media?

USER: Henan Traffic Radio 河南交通广播
DATE OF POST: September 18, 2017, 18:03:31
APPROXIMATE TIME OF REMOVAL: September 18, 2017, 19:25:13
CONTENT: 
FM 1041 News Brief [Appropriate Amendments to be Made to Party Constitution at 19th National Congress] CCP Politburo Conference: The Party’s 19th Congress will make appropriate amendments to the Party Constitution according to the new situation and new tasks. The important theories and viewpoints and important strategic ideas established by the 19th Congress must be written into the [CCP] Constitution.
#1041快讯#【党的十九大将对党章进行适当修改】中共中央政治局会议:党的十九大根据新形势新任务对党章进行适当修改。要把党的十九大报告确立的重大理论观点和重大战略思想写入党章。 ​
IMAGE:

The likely reason is that the authorities wish to put the brakes on any online discussion that might be prompted by the sharing of this news across social networks.
It’s an unfortunate Catch 22 for the Party. Those messages it would most like to make viral bear a certain risk of going viral with subtle modifications of meaning that could be detrimental to the message itself. The answer: push the messages through traditional media and officially sanctioned social media accounts while restraining them on social networks.
We can see the same paradox at work in the names of top Party leaders, which are often right at the top of lists of banned keywords in China.
 
 

Mention of 1933 truce deleted from Weibo

The following post making a seemingly casual reference to the Tanggu Truce of May 31, 1933, during which the Republic of China negotiated with Japanese representatives to end the conflict in Manchuria, was deleted from Sina Weibo just after midnight on September 5, 2017.
The post was made about two hours prior to its deletion by “Weiyue Qinyu” (巍岳钦禹), an account holder routinely posting about Chinese military history. “Weiyue Qinyu” currently has more than 6.8 million fans on Weibo, and also operates a WeChat public account.
It is not clear exactly what the authorities, or eager censors working within Weibo, saw as problematic about the post. But the deletion is a reminder of just how sensitive historical issues remain in mainland China.
The post simply read:

The signing of the Tanggu Truce.
《塘沽协定》签订现场

And the post included a black-and-white image of the signing, an image readily available on the internet outside China, including at the Wikipedia entry for the Tanggu Truce.


The image of the truce signing is available still on quite a number of websites inside China dealing with Chinese history, and as the China Daily noted in August 2011, the image appears in the exhibition at the “Road to Rejuvenation” exhibition at the National Museum of China — the same exhibit Xi Jinping visited in 2012 when he outlined his vision of the “Chinese dream.”