Internet Censorship Official Targeted By Chinese Netizens (Updatedx3)

Speaking about the power of the “human flesh search engine” of Chinese netizens, the following post “What kind of communist is Mr. Chen Hua?” is quickly becoming the next case.

(陈华),Deputy Director of the Internet News Management Department of the Beijing Internet Propaganda Management Office (北京市互联网宣传管理办公室网络新闻管理处副处长 ), is a familiar name for many Internet company executives because of his powerful position. His name is associated with the frequently-issued “censorship and propaganda” orders to online news portals such as Sina.com and Sohu.com. (See reports here and here, written by Reporters Sans Frontières (RSF) and Chinese Human Rights Defenders(CHRD).)

But in the post “What kind of communist is Mr. Chen Hua?” the anonymous author, who claims to be a veteran Xinhua journalist, alleges that there is another side of Mr. Chen. According to the post, the author’s daughter met Mr. Chen on more than one occasion, in a personal capacity. Many statements Chen allegedly made during these interactions are revealed in this post, including claims that he took bribes from websites he oversaw. The post also says Chen told the daughter: “The netizens’ freedom of expression is given by me [Chen Hua]. I give them as much as I please.”

Chinese netizens have reacted furiously to this post, spreading it far and wide. They have also posted Chen’s personal information, including his email address and cell phone number. Boxun, a website based outside China, has posted it as well.

Update (January 22, 2009 at 8:31 pm): Many of the related posts have already been removed inside China, and blog search engines are blocking searches that include Chen’s full name and government position. Still, many netizens continue to repost and comment on it, as well as spread this information through various online communication tools such as QQ, MSN, email and social networking services. For example, one blogger twittered that more then thirty people recommended this article through Google Reader. Another twittered more about this news, and some other blogger listed some major commercial websites under Mr. Chen Hua’s supervision: 中华(www.china.com)、西陆(www.xilu.com)、西祠(www.xici.net)、奇虎(www.qihoo.com)、搜房(www.soufun.com)、网易(www.163.com)、新浪(www.sina.com.cn)、搜狐(www.sohu.com)、TOM (www.tom.com)、大旗(www.daqi.com)、千龙(www.qianlong.com)、百度(www.baidu.com)、雅虎中国(www.yahoo.com.cn)、博客(www.bokee.com)、空中网(www.kong.net)、天天在线(www.116.com.cn)、猫扑(www.mop.com)、凤凰网(www.ifeng.com)、和讯(www.hexun.com)、金融界(www.jrj.com.cn)、中国搜索(www.zhongsou.com).

Here is another blogger who reposted this article with a title “The Chinese New Year Present To Those Hardworking Internet Censors.”

Update 2 (January 23, 2009 at 1:31 pm): For more about Chen Hua’s work, see David Bandurski’s post from China Media Project

When I saw a story reported at Berkeley’s China Digital Times today (thanks to ESWN for the link) about a Beijing internet censorship official who has become the latest target of a “flesh search” by angry Chinese netizens, this took me right back to September 2007, when I was prying into the role of the Beijing Association of Online Media (BAOM).

Update 3 (January 23, 2009 2:23 pm): China’s ‘Netizens’ Take On the Government, by Austin Ramzy of the Time Magazine:

This week an anonymous blog post accused a high-ranking Beijing official responsible for Web censorship of disparaging the country’s top leaders — President Hu Jintao and Prime Minister Wen Jiabao — and boasting that he alone decided what citizens could and couldn’t read online. (See pictures of China on the wild side.)

The allegations in the post, titled “What Kind of Communist Is Mr. Chen Hua?,” could very well be false; there has been no official response. Calls to the Beijing Municipal Government’s press office were not answered Friday afternoon.

But the post’s rapid spread on the Internet shows how difficult it can be to control freelance online investigations of officials, even by the very officials tasked with controlling the Internet.

[ABOVE: Postings on “What kind of party member is Chen Hua?” fill up a Baidu search page yesterday, photo from the China Media Project.]

January 22, 2009 3:17 PM
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