Category Archives: Internet

Translation: “A Record of the Ancient Dove’s Migration”

On March 27th, the Chongqing Evening News published a remarkable story. Defying the direct orders of official government bureaus forbidding Chinese media to hype the Google fiasco, the Chongqing Evening News ran a story about a mythical bird whose name sounds just like the Chinese word for Google and whose story sounds, well, familiar. You may have seen this story in brief on EastSouthWestNorth, but we wanted to translate it in full because we found it so remarkable that something this brazen was published in a mainstream newspaper. We imagine some heads at the Chongqing Evening News will roll because of this.

Translation

We have translated this somewhat loosely in the hopes of conveying more clearly the parallels with the real Google story, but readers of Chinese should read the Chinese for the full, pun-tastic effect. We also moved one sentence from the middle of the text to the beginning because it read oddly in English otherwise.

The “Ancient Dove” [sounds like “Google”] is clearly very close to extinction within China, it is a bird hard to find when one “searches” […] It is held that this bird is the forbear of all modern birds, so it is called “Ancient Dove”.

This species originated in North America according to biologists, who believe the bird to have come from the area of present-day Santa Clara. By the turn of the century, the bird could be found everywhere. After March 23, 2010, the species began a large-scale costal migration in China, towards a southern port, and vanished from China.

Google - the "Ancient Pigeon"
Google: the Ancient Dove
Ecologists suspect the bird’s odd behavior is connected to the extreme climate changes happening in recent years, especially the ecological, environmental, climate and geological calamities in China. When met with adversity, the Ancient Dove cannot persevere as tenaciously as the Grass Mud Horse, so it raised the flag of retreat, attracting the disdain of some of the world’s animal lovers.

Special Characteristics

Its shoulders are draped with blue, yellow, red, and green feathers, and it is a bit bigger than the common dove. Its call sounds like the English word “googol”; Native Americans believe that this sound represents an “unbelievable number”. Mathematicians performed rigorous calculations and believe this number is probably ten to the hundredth power.

Environment

The Ancient Dove has an extremely strong capacity for adaptation, and can evolve quickly to become a new, indigenous subspecies. For example, at present there are large populations of American Ancient Doves, Japanese Ancient Doves, British Ancient Doves, and other subspecies. Because archaeology has proven the original Ancient Dove came from America, we often refer to the American Ancient Dove as “Ancient Dove”, and attach the name of the country they are located in to identify other subspecies.

The story in the Chongqing Evening News
Early research has shown that the Ancient Dove’s leaving may give rise [to the dominance] of another, long-clawed bird that looks just like the Ancient Dove but is actually a bird of prey: the “Paidu Bird” [sounds like “Baidu”, Google’s chief domestic competition]. The numbers of this ancient legendary domestic bird are presently expanding explosively. Now, Chinese people can only use this poisonous, ferocious bird, whose calls are in Chinese and who loves only money to fulfill the Ancient Dove’s function.

Habits

Living in groups, the subspecies in each country may excel at different things. The Ancient Dove eats anything with words on it, and can naturally estimate the relative worth of food. It performs advanced calculations to decide the proper sequence [in which to eat].

As you know, its mortal enemies are the “River Crabs” [sounds like “harmony”, a reference to government censorship], the “Wenzuo Crabs” [sounds like “the Chinese Writer’s Association“, which is also associated with censorship], and other types of Chinese crabs.

Current Population

In the world, there are an estimated 120 billion Ancient Doves, but they have already mostly disappeared from the Chinese mainland. What were once Chinese Ancient Doves have migrated to Hong Kong, so there is a downward trend in the worldwide population.

Many animal lovers went to the Beijing Ancient Dove santuary before March 23, 2010, to express their grief.

Our Thoughts

It is fascinating that the talking-about-it-without-talking-about-it approach to discussing politics in China has spilled over from the internet and into the real world. This is, of course, not the first time, but it is the latest example of a kind of “news” that could never have been written or understood anywhere but China, where it seems sometimes a true story can be told only mythologizing and anthropomorphizing it. Could it also be the beginning of a trend, or will the censors head it off at the pass by making an example of the folks at the Chongqing Evening News? What will happen to them remains to be seen. But their having the guts to publish a story like this in the face of harsh warnings not to address the Google issue sympathetically shows a spirit that I think the now-exiled Ancient Doves would be proud of.

Google Search Now Blocked in China

via Shanghaiist
In case you haven’t already heard, Google searches (on Google.com and Google.com.hk, according to reports on Twitter) now all return a reset connection, i.e., they have been blocked by China’s net nanny.

However, the good news is that many people (we saw it on Kaiser Kuo’s Twitter, among others) are reporting they can still use Google via the search bar in their browsers or through GMail. And others have speculated that at least Google.com.hk is blocked only because its search URLs include “&gs_rfai=”. RFA, or Radio Free Asia, is an American pro-democracy and anti-CCP radio station and searches for RFA are blocked, so it’s likely that if that is the reason for the block, Google could undo it by changing the URLs that their searches result in.

Still, all of this is secondhand knowledge. We’ll wait on Chinayouren for the official report as Julen is the master GFW tester, but we’d love to hear four things from you in the comments:

  1. Where you are.
  2. Whether search works for you on Google.com.hk
  3. Whether search works for you on Google.com.
  4. Whether Google search works for you via a browser search bar, GMail search bar, or some other means.

Whatever the ultimate result of this Google block, you can be sure the media firestorm is coming. To keep track of all the sides and how they’re spinning things, Imagethief has got a handy chart for you!

On a small housekeeping note, you will notice we have returned the ability to rate posts. Enjoy!

UPDATE: Good news! Google has confirmed that the “rfa” in its search results URLs was what was triggering the block, so Google searches in China should be restored soon.

Ran Yunfei: “Domestic Microblogs Exist to Die in Battle”

The following is a translation of a recent blog post from oft-censored activist Ran Yunfei. Having had his blogs on Tianya and Niubo shut down by web administrators for discussion of sensitive topics, Ran has taken to setting up as many blogs as possible (including an English-language blog, ‘Collection of a Gangster’s Words’) in a constant effort to stay one step ahead of the censors.

In this post, Ran talks about his feelings on microblogging, with a particular focus on the relationship between Twitter and the increasingly numerous Chinese microblogging services. He explains how the two can be used together to “demolish the tower of lies”.

Photo from shizhao (http://www.flickr.com/photos/shizhao/)

Translation

Ran begins by summarising the short history of microblogging in China:

Since the birth of ‘web 2.0’ age broadcasting tools like Twitter, the Chinese internet, which lacks creativity but has a definite ability for imitation, has rolled out Jiwai, Taotao, Zuosha and other such cloned products, and has put a lot of hard work into the rapid dissemination of all sorts of information […]. During the “Xinjiang July 5th matter” [when racial tensions caused rioting in the northwestern province], Fanfou’s broadcasting function suddenly exploded, and was met with the strong fist of repression, and died an honourable death, signifying that a re-shuffling of Chinese microblogging had arrived. The authorities’ repression of Fanfou made the internet latecomers […] realise the collective power of the popularity of microblogging. So, […] Sina, Sougou, QQ, Netease, People’s Daily Online and others rolled out their own microblogging services, and they all took a share of the spoils.

He goes on to identify the difficulties faced by domestic microblogs in comparison to Twitter:

[…] The stream of users on the BBS of each big website is gradually being split up by blogs and microblogs, the reason being that blogs and microblogs allow more freedom, and a bolder scale of expression. But following the arrival of the cold stream of total control of the Chinese internet, complete control and screening has caused the scale of speech and expression to suffer deep repression. Twitter’s biggest difference to domestic microblogging services lies in its lack of auditing [by any organisation other than itself], its [policy of] not deleting any posts, its real freedom of speech and multi-faceted opening up; it has realised unobstructed broadcasting to the utmost. When compared with Twitter, domestic blogging services don’t seem like web 2.0 age broadcasting tools; they can only be seen as deformities of the web 2.0 age.

Ran then lays out his method for avoiding censorship. He encourages Chinese microbloggers who are able to access Twitter to use it for the exchange and storage of information, and explains how domestic microblogs can be used to broadcast this information to the masses in China:

With Twitter being blocked [by the Chinese government], and domestic microblogs self-destructing, web 2.0-age broadcasting tools have suffered heavy difficulties, and people’s right to view online information freely has been greatly encroached upon. […] [Netizens’] method is to have a fixed Twitter account and, according to their own interests, publish and broadcast information to their hearts’ content, because it’s a headquarters for the retention of data and truth. At the same time, [netizens] apply for an account on a microblog on one of the many big [Chinese] websites, and send as many governmentally-blocked truths as possible onto a microblog that does not require them to scale the Great Firewall. They needn’t fear that [the truths] may be deleted by administrators, because they [also] have an account on the most stable place for the retention of truth. You could say that they can ‘attack by charging, defend by fleeing’ [a saying meaning ‘to have an advantageous position in battle’]. In theory, unless microblog administrators close down your IP, you can apply for domestic microblog services an unlimited number of times, resiliently continuing to broadcast the truth, putting your own effort into demolishing the tower of lies.

…he elaborates on the potential of this “trickle irrigation” method, and gives real-life examples of its successful use:

[…] Twitter and domestic microblogs do not broadcast in parallel, but are more like a sealed lake that is always full of water (sealed-off Twitter) trickling into dried-up earth (domestic microblogs) to irrigate it. If you open a little trickle, there will be a furious flood, and it will soon provoke restriction, which will lead to the crack being blocked. Of course, if only very few people ‘trickle-irrigate’, the [dried-up] earth is certain to crack up, so it’s necessary for more people to use all sorts of ways to broadcast all kinds of truth onto domestic microblogs, and to use the ‘trickle-irrigation’ method to allow the truth to remain on domestic microblogs for longer. This way, we can finally make all sorts of lies spun by [the government] collapse in on themselves. […] In my opinion, it would be best if we could amass popularity of domestic microblogs, and if we can’t amass popularity, netizens can make use of the ‘micro-power’ of this trickle-irrigation, and continue to send out all kinds of information that will benefit the truthful broadcasting of information.

[…] One evening around early March, many netizens found that any news sent about Ai Weiwei [an activist best known for compiling an independent investigation into the Sichuan earthquake death toll] relating to the earthquake was being deleted from Sina’s microblog service. So that night, a large group of netizens set up tens and hundreds of microblogs focussing on Ai Weiwei, and proceeded to publish blocked information, throwing the Sina microblog staff into panic for a while. […] At the March 19 Fuzhou public security authorities’ ‘premature ejaculation’ over the unbelievable ‘three netizens case’ [three netizens who published articles and video about the fatal rape of a young girl by police officers were accused of ‘false accusations against innocent parties’, but the trial was postponed because of demonstrations at the courthouse], some Twitterers went to the scene to publish instant news, and still more continued to re-tweet the news, and incessantly forwarded that information onto domestic microblogs, so that those ‘within the wall’ could understand the truth of this matter more clearly, and let more people know the unbelievable shamelessness of the Fuzhou public security authorities. When many “carriers” sent this information onto domestic microblogs, much was deleted or screened, and some [user accounts] were even closed because of those [messages] – death in battle. But even if your domestic microblog is lost in battle, you can apply for a new one, and continue to carry out a continual and tireless work of “freighting” from sealed-off Twitter to domestic microblogs. In my opinion, Twitter is a place for the broadcasting and storage of truth, and domestic microblogs are there to spread that truth, and to die in battle. The more times your blog account is lost, the greater your effort to spread the truth. […]

He concludes with a positive outlook on the future of interaction between Twitter and domestic microblog services, encouraging Chinese people to take advantage of the internet to transform society:

The internet is a big gift from God to the human race, especially to China, but it’s a shame that when confronted with this rich and multi-faceted gift, many people are at a loss as to what to do. Because Chinese people have never received such a good gift, it has made some people lose all curiosity for digging out the gift, [as well as] all exploratory spirit, and all creativity. That is to say, after being enslaved for a long time, they have even lost all desire, confidence, toughness and strength to cast off their rotten shackles. This is the Chinese people’s grief. When facing the constant progression of the internet, some people’s eyes are seeing just as ignorantly and as powerlessly as before. There’s no harm in cautiously believing that the transformative effect that the internet has brought to Chinese society has only just begun, and the curtain has only just opened on the interaction between Twitter and domestic blogs. The best scene is yet to come.