New Tactics to Rally Around Blind Activist Lawyer

For months, netizens, journalists and ‘adventure tourists’ have been trying to visit blind lawyer and human rights activist Chen Guangcheng, who has been detained at his home at Linyi, Shandong province since late 2010. Not a single one of them have succeeded in breaking the defense held up by local officials, police and thugs, who are not shy to use brutal violence.

But Beijing netizen and experienced ‘grass mud horse’ Xiao Cuo (twitter: @zokio) does not think this is a dead end. Quite the contrary, he encourages netizens to use their imagination and design new tactics to rally around Chen’s cause. He sees Chen’s case as an opportunity to nurture the civil society and citizenship concepts in China.

On 27 November, he blogged about (as expected, the original is being deleted) his experience of distributing and putting up notices about Chen Guangcheng’s cause around Linyi city and Chen’s village. Rather than trying to approach him, they attached notices to electric poles, village house walls and even notice boards in Linyi University. These notices have attracted attention from students and local villagers. Perhaps the thugs responsible for holding up Chen are amongst them?

Xiao Cuo dubbed his project “Operation Old Military Doctor”. Back in the 1980s, roving doctors in China often boasted themselves as experienced “military doctors” who could cure many diseases in advertisements they put up on electric poles and street walls.

He thinks that violence should be avoided, and a new mode of operation is needed. Reaching Chen should no longer be the movement’s aim. Rather, netizens should extend the battle zone to a wider area, and raise the awareness of local villagers and the very people involved in the crime. Here are Xiao Cuo’s thoughts in his own words (translated):

  1. From the perspective of citizenship education and strengthening of the civil society, no lesson is better than the one offered by Chen Guangcheng, which is pure, simple, low-risk and sustainable. Whether legally, rationally or emotionally speaking, our opponent is in a disadvantaged position. Rogue is all they are left with. Chen has sacrificed himself for us. We should not waste the lesson offered by him.
  2. Let us not focus our attention on cases like Little Yueyue which have no sustainability. What Chen Guangcheng’s enemy hope for is victory by the passage of time. If we are distracted by other buzz and let the temperature on Chen cools down, we let our enemy’s wish comes true.
  3. Some people portray Chen with a weak image of being insulted and hurt. This is a misinterpretation. As a blind individual, he is giving the central and local governments, which have mobilized hundreds of people and millions of dollars, sleepless nights. Can we find another blind man as brave?
  4. Some people think that Chen’s situation is a dead end without solution. Wrong! Whether there is a solution depends on Chen himself. Now Chen does not want to let the government off the hook, thus creating this dead end. Chen shouts: “Open fire on me!” So brave. Those who think that Chen is being harassed and persecuted are wrong.
  5. Unless constrained by time, or physical or financial reasons, every grass mud horse should at least go there once, even if you only pass by there on a car. This is the bottom line of being a grass mud horse, if you regard yourself as one.
  6. I admire those who went there and endured violence. Their heroic behaviour started this battle. But we should put an end to violence because it is not sustainable. Not every one has the courage to endure being beaten up. This will scare away new comers, and affect the morale of the participants and audience alike. Civic actions should proceed along sustainable paths, which are low-cost, low-risk and fun.
  7. Chen’s village is now a formidable castle. We cannot hope for breakthroughs by direct confrontation. Entering Chen’s village should no longer be our aim. We need to extend the battle field to surrounding areas, and replace fists with pens. Only by raising the awareness of local villagers can we exert moral and public pressures on the thugs.

Tactically speaking, he advises netizens to adopt a low-profile, be swift in action, dress as locals and avoid going in large groups. Having a well-planned route is also important. To sustain public attention, he suggests disclosing operational results bit by bit first, before publishing a complete record. Sharing the route taken is also a good idea, so that others can plan different ones. Of course, his idea is only one possibility among many. He challenges netizens to use their imagination and implement even more brilliant plans.

Update: Xiao Cuo was subsequently questioned by the police for his action. This is extracted from the daily briefing by Chinese Human Rights Defenders (CHRD) for November 28-29:

Beijing netizen Xiao Cuo (小撮) was questioned for seven hours, from the late evening of November 28 to early the next morning, about advocacy efforts made for activist and lawyer Chen Guangcheng (陈光诚), who lives with his family under house arrest in Shandong Province. Officers from the Dongsheng Police Station interrogated Xiao after netizens, including Xiao, pasted materials about Chen around the periphery of Dongshigu Village on November 19, and just after Xiao posted information and suggestions online about a “new method” for going to see Chen. Taken away by two police officers, was told to agree to not to post further about Chen’s situation, an order he reportedly refused.

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Nanjing Publishes Real Pollution Data on Weibo, Then Deletes It

Beijing residents are probably familiar with the Twitter account @BeijingAir, which is run by the US Embassy and runs real-time updates on the air quality in Beijing. The reason this is necessary is that Beijing — and indeed China as a whole — does not publish data about PM2.5 particles in the air.

PM — which stands for Particulate Matter — is a way of measuring the amount of particles in the air. The number after PM indicates the size of the particles in micrometers. From the EPA’s official site:

Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) pose a health concern because they can be inhaled into and accumulate in the respiratory system. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) are referred to as “fine” particles and are believed to pose the greatest health risks. Because of their small size (approximately 1/30th the average width of a human hair), fine particles can lodge deeply into the lungs.

The Chinese government doesn’t publish PM2.5 numbers because they are pretty horrific, as Beijing residents who recall the #crazybad incident (or this year’s “beyond index” postings) are well aware. In fact, the US Embassy’s real-time posting of PM2.5 data so irked the Chinese government that they requested the Embassy find some way to ensure only Americans could see the tweets, according to Wikileaks cables. (The Embassy declined, and soon after Twitter was blocked in China and it became something of a moot point).

Anyway, earlier this week, a Chinese city did publish PM2.5 data publicly on it’s official Sina Weibo account. It just wasn’t on purpose. (Thanks to @kinablog for finding this link). The following is a partial translation of this article from Southern Metropolis Daily. I’ve left out bits that are non-essential or redundant given the explanation above.

Translation

At 7 AM on 11/14, the official Nanjing Weather microblog account posted a weather forecast as it always does, but this time for the first time ever they included PM2.5 [pollution] data from the day before. This is the first time PM2.5 data has ever been published by a city on the mainland. Shortly after, the microblog post was reposted by the Nanjing City Propaganda Committee official microblog account, but right after that the post was deleted, and the person who made the “Nanjing Weather” account post was sought for investigation. A representative for the Nanjing Meteorological Office [which runs the Nanjing Weather microblog] said that the Nanjing Meteorological Department does not have the right to publish PM2.5 data, and should not be tweeting it on microblogs.

That day, the Nanjing Weather tweet with the weather forecast said this:

In recent days, the atmosphere has been stable, but although the weather is clear, the air has been murky. A city probe found that visibility was under 8km and that PM2.5 levels were above 75ug/m^3, which is higher than usual.

When reposting this message, the Nanjing Propaganda Committee’s microblog account specifically added the warning “Please pay attention and protect yourself [i.e. protect your health].”

[…]

In accordance with the measuring standards of the US Embassy in Beijing [which uses the EPA standards used in the US], Nanjing’s 75ug/m^3 reading for PM2.5 corresponds to 156 on the Air Pollution Index, which is classified as Unhealthy. This level of pollution carries the warning: “individuals with breathing or heart problems should reduce outdoor exercise.” [Although it’s worth noting that in Hong Kong, the same exact level of pollution is classified as “Very High” and the warning notes that healthy people may also experience discomfort].

After Nanjing Weather posted the PM2.5 data, it was rapidly reposted and noticed by netizens […] but the post in question was soon deleted from the Nanjing Weather and Nanjing Announcements accounts.

A spokesperson for the Nanjing Meteorological Department said that they do not have the right to post PM2.5 numbers publicly, according to a Nanjing Longhu Net report. The spokesman said that the microblog post should have have been sent out, and that they quickly handled the situation by deleting the post and finding the person responsible. The spokesman also confirmed that the Nanjing Meteorological Department does have two instruments that monitor PM2.5 levels, but that data is not public, and is only used for research. The spokesman said that as far as publishing PM2.5 levels goes, “that would be a good thing for most of the common people but from the Meteorological Department’s perspective it’s an instance of breaking a regulation, and that now is not the right time to publish these numbers. In the future, we will work together with the environmental protection bureau to publish them.”

The vice-department head of Beijing’s Environmental Protection Department was asked in an interview on ChinaNews on November 11 whether China had plans to begin publishing PM2.5 data, and he responded that Beijing would take the lead on this front, saying “Beijing is the capital, so perhaps it will move a bit faster [than other cities].”

Conclusion

This matters because, unpleasant smell aside, PM pollution is no joke. Check it:

The results of the 2002 follow-up study showed significant associations between PM2.5 and elevated risks for cardiopulmonary and lung cancer mortality. The study found that each 10-microgram per-cubic-meter increase in long-term average PM2.5 concentrations was associated with approximately a 4% increased risk of death from all natural causes, a 6% increased risk of death from cardiopulmonary disease, and an 8% increased risk of death from lung cancer. Associations were also found with sulfur-containing air pollution but not other gaseous pollutants. On the other hand, measures of coarse particles were not consistently associated with mortality.

As the study researchers indicated in the press release for this study, the lung cancer risk associated with exposure to fine particulate matter is comparable to that faced by nonsmokers who live with smokers, and are exposed long term to secondhand cigarette smoke.

So, if each 10 ug/m^3 results in a 6% increased risk for cardiopulmonary disease and an 8% increased risk for cancer, then Nanjing’s 75 ug/m^3 air means that (assuming the air remained around that level most of the time) long term exposure would give Nanjing denizens a 45% increased risk of dying from cardiopulmonary disease and a 60% increased risk of dying from lung cancer, compared to a person who’s breathing clean air.

I don’t even want to think about what those numbers might look like for Beijing.

In the midst of China’s political problems, it’s good to remember that although the oppression is cruel and frustrating, pollution is an equally dire threat that affects literally everyone with functional lungs.

Well, everyone except government officials, who get access to special purified air along with their special organic food.

Coal Mining in China By The Numbers

This morning I came across this story on Twitter about China’s most recent coal mining disaster, with forty miners trapped. Coal mining accidents are common here, so common in fact that this is not even the first major accident of this month. A cave-in in Henan trapped 45 miners underground a few days ago, although luckily thanks to a daring rescue only eight people died.

That and the ensuing discussion led me to this post, which cites that between 2001-2011, 47,676 coal miners died in accidents in China. That number is striking, especially given that few among us is likely to be able to recall many of the specifics or details of any of these mining disasters.

As an experiment in comparisons, I decided to try to create an infographic that compared the death toll from coal mining accidents in China over the last decade to events that, at least for Westerners, probably stick more solidly in our memories.

Now, a few disclaimers:

  • Yes, obviously I am aware that coal mining accidents are not the same as any of the other events I use here, for a plethora of reasons. This is a comparison of relative numbers, period.
  • I’m not an expert in coal mining or disasters, but I understand this is getting better, although obviously not nearly fast enough.
  • Shut up, I’m not a graphic designer, and I did this on a computer without Photoshop!
  • If you’re going to repost this, please at least link to ChinaGeeks!

infographic

Puts things in a slightly different perspective, doesn’t it? Somehow, we glaze over these mine accidents, but something tells me if there had been 1,288 Ted Bendys running around over the past decade, we’d be pretty aware of that.

UPDATE: A way better infographic on coal mining in China.

How to: Post to Twitter via SMS in China

This isn’t the sort of thing I’d normally post here at ChinaGeeks, but I figured this was useful enough to be worth sharing with everyone.

What we’re doing: Setting it up so that when you send text messages to a specific number in China, those messages are automatically posted to your Twitter account (note: this will only work from the specific mobile phone you set it up with).

Why do this:

  • Because it’s cool to be able to update your Twitter without needing to get around the GFW or having wifi or 3G access.
  • Because it’s good to be able to easily inform people of your whereabouts in case of emergency. If you’re in a rural area and get into some kind of trouble, you likely won’t have any net access, but you may still have mobile service, and this will allow you to inform all your followers of your situation.

So, how can you update your Twitter account quickly via SMS (text messages) from China? At present, Twitter doesn’t support SMS updating in China, although I’ve heard that some people did set this up years ago and appear to be “grandfathered in”, so some people may have this capability. But if you haven’t already set it up, you can’t now.

There are a number of other ways floating around the net. The upside to this one is that it is easy and doesn’t require any tech saavy, or really even much knowledge of Chinese. Here’s a step-by-step guide.

Step One: Register for a Fanfou Account

You’ve probably heard of Weibo, but you may not remember Fanfou, the original Chinese microblogging service. It got axed in the wake of the Lhasa riots ((Or maybe the Urumqi riots, I don’t recall which it was…)), and by the time it was allowed back into the market again, Sina had a big head start.

Anyway, click here to visit Fanfou and then click the register button, as illustrated below:

register

Once you’ve clicked that, you’ll be taken to the registration page. Fill in the info as indicated:

register2

When you’re done, click that big green arrow button on the bottom. The next screen invites you to search for your friends on Fanfou. Probably, you don’t care about this, so click the skip button down on the bottom:

register3

Unless you want to follow people on Fanfou, click skip again on the next screen as well:

register4

Congrats! You’re now a registered Fanfou user!

Step 2: Connect Your Fanfou Account to Your Twitter Account

First, be sure you’re properly logged into Twitter with the account you want to connect. Then click the settings button (as illustrated below) to head into your control panel, which is where we’ll be doing the rest of the work.

settings1

Then you’ll need to click on the “sync” section to connect other accounts to your Fanfou account:

settings2

From there, you’ll want to click on the Twitter section, as illustrated below:

settings3

This will take you to Twitter, where you’ll want to authorize the app connection. You should then be forwarded back to Fanfou, where you’ll want to re-enter the control panel (if you aren’t taken directly there) for your next step.

If you have successfully synced Fanfou to your Twitter account, your “Sync” screen will now look like what you see below. Do not click the button next to the Twitter logo again; if you do, it will cancel the Twitter connection and you’ll have to restart this step.

diditright

Step 3: Connect your mobile phone to Fanfou

In the control panel, click on the “mobile phone” button to begin setting up your mobile connection. Be sure you have your phone handy, as you’ll need it in a second.

cell1

Then, fill in your phone number and click save, as illustrated below:

cell2

Then follow the directions below; send the authentication code (four english letters) to the number provided (1069 0029 3152) from the phone number you entered previously.

cell3

If you’ve done this right, you’ll get a text message from that number. The message basically says that you’ve set things up correctly and in the future, anything you text to that number will be automatically posted to your Fanfou account. Since you’ve already connected your Fanfou account to your Twitter account, it will automatically update your Twitter account as well.

Save the number you got the text from in your contacts. In the future, as long as you’ve got cell service you can update your Fanfou/Twitter by texting messages less than 160 characters to that number.

Step 4: Secure your Fanfou Account (optional)

So, at this point you’re all set, but if you want to be extra careful, you can take some steps to lock down your Fanfou account so as not to attract unwanted attention. This is probably unnecessary, but personally I opted to take this step anyway because I didn’t want to attract attention to my Fanfou account, which I’ll never actually be checking. If you want to do the same, click this button from the control panel to tweak your privacy settings:

privacy1

Then, tweak your privacy settings as you see fit:

privacy2

Click that blue button at the bottom to save whatever settings you’ve chosen.

You’re done!

Fire some test messages to be sure, but your accounts should now be connected and any texts you send to the Fanfou number should appear on your Twitter quite quickly (in my tests, most appeared within a minute or two).

Based on my tests, hashtags seem to work OK, so it seems you can use those if you’d like.

A few downsides:

  • Messages with @ don’t work: At least based on my tests, it doesn’t seem to support any messages directed at other users, so if you put @username into your text, that won’t go through. Perhaps there’s a workaround for this, or it’s just delayed, but I haven’t been able to get a text with @ in it to go through as yet.
  • You can’t see your stream or replies. Obviously, this is a very one way system. It will help you post to Twitter but you won’t be able to see any replies or anyone else’s Tweets without a Twitter app and a VPN, or some other kind of setup. Still, it’s better than nothing.
  • No character counter. This is also obvious, but with texts you don’t have any obvious indicator of how many characters you’ve entered. The Twitter limit is 140. So if you’re not sure play it safe and keep messages short.

So, that’s basically it! This is intended to be a step-by-step guide, but I’ve had quite a bit more scotch this evening than I usually partake in when blogging, so it’s possible I’ve skipped a step in here somewhere. If so, please let me know. If not, happy tweeting!

Two notes

1. Obviously, I am not the first person to figure this out, nor is this a new method. However, I haven’t seen it discussed in many places and it would be a bit tough to navigate without basic Chinese reading skills, so I thought I’d throw this guide together anyway. If you already knew about this method, good for you!

2. I am indebted to @melissakchan for both illustrating why this sort of functionality is useful (follow her for a few weeks, you’ll see what I mean) and for inspiring me to sit down and figure this out. This isn’t the way that she tweets her updates, but if we hadn’t been discussing it the other night I would never have thought to sit down and search for alternative methods, so all props to her for the inspiration!

Wen Yunchao: An Open Letter to the Investors of Sina

Note: Below is a translation of an open letter written by Wen Yunchao (twitter: @wenyunchao), an outspoken blogger and free speech activist on the Chinese Internet. It is addressed to the investors of Sina Corp, and explores the censorship practices and implications of the corporate structure of the company, which runs the most popular microblogging service in China. If you are not familiar with Wen Yunchao, the recent New York Times feature about him, Where an Internet Joke is Not Just a Joke, is strongly recommended. For an extensive discussion of the methods used by Sina to censor its micro-blogging service, be sure to read the blog post by Jason Ng at Kenengba. The post is in Chinese, but William Farris has provided a helpful English summary.

Update: If you would like to sign the letter, you can send your name, country and occupation to wenyunchao@gmail.com.

Wen Yunchao: An Open Letter to the Investors of Sina

Dear Investors of Sina Corp,

We issue this open letter because Chinese Internet company Sina and its microblogging service, Sina Weibo, fully cooperate with the Chinese government to censor and suppress the free speech of online citizens, without regard to any principle. Their behavior is disgusting.

The blog “Kenengba”, which received the Best Chinese Blog award in the 6th Deutsche Welle Best of the Blogs (BOBs) competition in 2010, once published the article “Ten Impressions I’ve gotten from Sina Weibo”. The article summarizes the censorship tactics of Sina Weibo, including keyword screening and post deletion, unidirectional blocking, screening of posts, banning of speech, “The Little Secretary Helps You”, account deletion, blocking of re-registration, and blocking of IP. The article also uses the case of Sina’s plagiarism from the Google-focused website Guao (http://www.guao.hk/) to illustrate how Sina Weibo not only cooperates with the government on censorship, but also deletes users’ information on its free will. ((可能吧:新浪微博给我印象最深刻的10件事, http://www.kenengba.com/post/3019.html))

Beifeng, well-known Chinese blogger and winner of the 2010 annual award of the French National Consultative Commission on Human Rights, writes: “Sina not only cooperates with the authority to impose censorship, it also conforms to their requests to frame certain people.” The article highlights the practice of Sina to change the account name of a user so that others can use the original name to publish contents which can endanger that user with legal liabilities. ((北风:新浪配合“他们”作恶的明确证据, http://www.bullogger.com/blogs/wenyc1230/archives/383569.aspx))

Xiao Han, associate professor at the China University of Politics and Law, “protests against Sina’s account deletion through reincarnation.” In his article “Why I leave Sina Weibo”, he writes, “the outrageous behavior of the administrators (the banning of unused ID intended for reincarnation) is for all to see. They abuse their power to destroy other people. Although they only destroy IDs, their way of thinking is the same as the Communist Party.” Xiao Han’s blog, on which the article was published, has also been removed by Sina. ((萧瀚:我为什么离开新浪微博? http://news.jcwb.net/news_of_microblog/378.html))

Furthermore, a video on YouTube entitled “How Sina Weibo deceives its users” clearly shows how Sina Weibo limits the number of followers of some accounts. Ms Liu Ping is an indepedent candidate for the local people’s congress of Jiangxi province. Because of her candidateship, over 30,000 people follow her on Sina Weibo at some point. But then Sina Weibo uses deception to reduce her followings. When other users click to follow her on Weibo, the system will send a message showing that the operation is successful, when in fact it is not. Now, the number of followers of Liu Ping’s account has dropped to 20,000. ((Youtube:新浪微博是如何故意欺骗用户的? http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=543pH7uUd-g))

Chinese internet users cannot count on any legal remedies against the actions of Sina which go beyond the bottom line.

Chinese netizens have previously tried to sue Chinese Internet companies for their censorship practices. But none of the cases have ever received a trial. On 16 August 2007, Chinese human rights lawyer Liu Xiaoyuan went to the Beijing Haidian court to sue Internet services provider Sohu for hiding blog posts. The court accepted and filed the case on the same day. But on 12 September, the same court refused to accept the case, which was assigned the civil case number 23191. Liu appealed to no avail.

Some suggest to sue Sina in its place of registration or listing. However, according to publicly available information, what we normally refer to as the Sina portal is different from and has no subordinate relationship with the NASDAQ-listed Sina Corp.

The NASDAQ-listed Sina Corp is a holding company registered in the Cayman Islands. It has four subsidiaries, namely the Hong Kong Sina Co. Ltd. (which operates the Hong Kong Sina portal), Lifang (Hong Kong) Investment Co. Ltd., the California-registered Sina Online (which includes two Sina portals in North America and Taiwan), and the British Virgin Islands-registered Sina Limited.

In mainland China, Sina has registered several companies using the variable interest entities (VIEs) structure, including Beijing Sina Information Technology Co. Ltd., Sina Interactive Corp, Sitonglifang Software Corp, and Beijing MicroDream Creation Internet Technology Co. Ltd. Sina Information Technology operates the content part of the Sina portal, and holds the ICP, news publishing permit and other relevant licenses; MicroDream operates Sina Weibo and independently holds the ICP and other licenses.

Sina Interactive is fully in charge of the advertising business on the Sina portal and Weibo, while Sitonglifang provides technical support to Sina Information Technology and MicroDream. Advertising and gaming revenues from the Sina portal and Weibo are shared to Sina Interactive through an agreement. For Sifanglitong, it receives revenues in the form of fees for technical support. In turn, profits from these two companies are transferred to a subsidiary fully owned by the listed Sina Corp through other agreements.

The Sina portal and Weibo cooperate with the Chinese government on censorship, and they are respectively operated by Beijing Sina Information Technology Co. Ltd. and Beijing MicroDream Creation Internet Technology Co. Ltd. These are purely Chinese entities which only have business and contract relationships but no direct affiliation with the listed Sina Corp. Therefore, it is impossible to force them to stop censorship by taking action in the place of registration or listing of Sina Corp.

In 2011, several New York residents tried to sue Baidu Corp in a US district court for “shielding” the information they published online. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu said that China’s management of the Internet is in line with international practices. This is an act of sovereignty which foreign courts have no jurisdiction under international law.

We know that China has severe restriction on public speech, and it is not realistic to request Sina to completely abandon censorship. However, in view of the reality that Chinese netizens have no effective channels to limit the behaviors of Sina, we believe that appealing to the investors of Sina Corp to reduce their shareholding could weaken Sina’s efforts in censorship. This can force Sina to follow clear censorship rules and ensure that users can seek judicial relief in China or third places.

According to Sina Corp’s 2011 second quarter financial report, although revenue has increased year on year, the net profit is down 60.3% to US$10 million. “The operating expense of the second quarter of 2011 is US$59.7 million, compared with US$32 million for the same period last year. The increase in operating expense is mainly related to Weibo marketing and human resources.” According to outside estimates, Sina employs nearly 1,000 people to censor Weibo. For some time in future, Sina Corp will continue to increase spending on marketing and staffing related to Weibo. We think that it is feasible to pressure Sina to reduce its censorship efforts by dumping Sina’s stocks.

The Chinese government’s policy on Weibo has a significant effect on the prospects of Sina. Holding the shares of Sina Corp entails tremendous uncertainty. On 20 September 2011, the share price of Sina dropped by 15.17% to US$92.76, the greatest daily drop since December 2008. Sina’s market capitalization has shrinked by US$1 billion to US$6 billion. Market commentators attribute this drop to concerns over regulatory risks. ((第一财经日报:微博监管风险重挫新浪股价 http://www.21cbh.com/HTML/2011-9-22/wMNDA3XzM2NzUwMg.html))

On 17 October 2011, Beijing Daily published an anonymous op-ed titled “Lack of credibility will mean the end of Weibo”, which calls for a real-name registration system for Weibo. ((北京日报:网络微博诚信缺失将无以立足, http://news.xinhuanet.com/politics/2011-10/17/c_122165528.htm)) The article criticizes the serious shortcomings which come with the rapid growth of Weibo. If left unchecked, these problems will threaten the society. It urges the government to purify the Internet through more comprehensive and targeted measures so that new media will be responsible for ensuring integrity. It suggests that the government should fully implement a real-name registration system for Weibo and an accountability system for online media. Guangdong’s Southern Metropolitan Daily thinks that “a strict real-name system may drive away users.” ((南方都市报:微博要搞实名制? http://gcontent.oeeee.com/6/9a/69a5b5995110b36a/Blog/9a1/4437ac.html))

In a recent interview with CCTV’s program Economic Half-hour, Sina CEO Charles Chao commented that Weibo will be the future driving force of Sina. ((曹国伟:微博将是新浪未来驱动力, http://finance.sina.com/bg/tech/sinacn/20110226/0635235624.html)) China’s regulatory policy towards Weibo will undoubtedly have a significant impact on the prospect of Sina. As social conflicts are becoming more acute, the government’s control on the society will tighten, and the space for free speech will shrink. In this context, Internet censorship will undoubtedly be strengthened, and the possibility of the Chinese government shutting down the microblogging services will always be with us.

Perpetrators and their collaborators should be punished. We hereby urge investors to reduce their shareholding in Sina based on both moral and rational judgments, thereby indirectly applying pressure to Sina and its microblogging service to get them onto censorship practices based on clear and transparent principles.

 

Written by: Beifeng
November 2011