Listening to Netizens? – The Talk and Practice of Shaanxi Province Officials

The following excerpt is from the Shaanxi government official website CNWest.com, December 30, 2007:

When asked by a reporter to say a few words to four million Internet users of Shaanxi Province, Yuan Chunqing, governer of the province, had a grin on his face: “I too care about netizens’ attitude a lot. I believe the Internet has greatly strengthened people’s social, economic and political participation. Speaking from a government position, we need to use the Internet channels to listen to people’s voices better, and also build better interactive relations by including those voices into the decision-making process. I hope our netizens pay more attention to the government, support the government, and give the government constructive suggestions as well as criticism.”

Some netizens pointed out the following notice which contrasts with Governor Yuan’s words, translated by CDT:

A notice from the manager of China Railway Forum, an online discussion group on December 25, 2007:

Dear Railway colleagues:

Happy holidays.

Recently, forum managers have received almost daily phone calls about deleting posts from the Shaanxi Propaganda Department and Shaanxi Public Security Bureau. Those posts either related to political issues or negative news, and were therefore identified as harmful and illegal information by relevant authorities, who demanded that we not only delete them but also keep a record. This afternoon, the propaganda department of Shaanxi province again called the website manager to give us a serious warning since multiple times they have discovered harmful information in our forum. In order to protect the forum, we will no longer accept any posts relating to current affairs or politics, and we urge you not to posts such contents any more, so you won’t waste your efforts. This restriction does not include entertainment and sports news posts.

Please trust us, we regret this as much as you. But it is not for us to decide what counts as harmful information. We have no choice but to do this.

(The forum has already revised this notice, here is the original text before revision:

中国铁道论坛关于暂停 时事政治类 帖子审核的通知。
广大的铁路同仁:

大家节日好。首先向您致以节日的问候,祝您圣诞快乐!

最近一段时间,论坛管理员几乎每天都接到陕西省委宣传部和陕西省公安厅要求删除帖子的电话。这些帖子或者涉及某些政治问题,或者涉及某些负面新闻,从而被有关部门认定为有害非法信息,要求删除,并且已经记录在案。今天下午,陕西省委宣传部再次打电话给网站管理员,因铁道论坛多次发现有害信息问题对我们提出了严重警告。为了顾全大局,确保论坛安全,我们只好暂停 时事政治类 帖子的审核,也请您不要再发此类帖子,以避免不必要的劳动。娱乐、体育类新闻帖子不在此次限制之列。

请您相信,对于此事,我们和您一样遗憾,但是,是否认定为有害信息,不由我们决定,有些事情,确实很无奈。 )

January 21, 2008 9:19 PM
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