Wen Yunchao: The ‘Grass-Mud Horses’ Battling Internet Censors

Blogger Wen Yunchao is a website project manager, based in Guangzhou. He told reporters at France24:

“The video was sparked by a government campaign launched on January 5, which aims to eliminate all pornographic and vulgar content on the web. Lots of netizens fear that the government is actually using this as a pretext, so as to tighten controls on freedom of speech online. The video is made to ridicule the campaign and voice complaints. For the moment, it’s been completely wiped off all Chinese websites; YouTube was blocked for two days after the video was featured on the front page.

There’s no such thing as a ‘grass-mud horse’. The creature actually came into being several years ago along with several other ‘mythical creatures’ created by Chinese web users in skirting taboo words online. Those creatures have names that sound like something else when spoken. There are also other ways to avoid censorship, such as using the so-called ‘Mars words’, which are written like something else, using slightly different characters.

Personally, I don’t think the government campaign is going to do much harm to our online community. Firstly, the community is still expanding, with the total number of netizens already surpassing 300 million – there are plenty enough to keep producing content if some forums or sites are shut down. Secondly, Chinese netizens are increasingly self-conscious of their own moral responsibilities nowadays, and have started to play the role of social supervisors, as seen in the ‘Hide and Seek affair‘. Finally, internet technology is upgrading on a daily basis, so there’s always a way to penetrate the internet blockade set by the government.”

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Also read: Steven Leser: I too am a Grass Mud Horse – Cao Ni Ma!, From OEN:

Fighting for basic human rights is always a good thing. Marry that fight with humor and a cleverness that borders on genius and you may just create a phenomenon.

… The attack on censorship is three-pronged. First, it is an ‘in your face’ message to the Chinese government that whatever method they employ to censor, it can be defeated raising the question whether any of this effort is worth it to stop the propagation of words and ideas. Second, it encourages the population of China to ridicule the government’s efforts at censorship and join the opposition to it, and finally, it is an embarrassing (for the Chinese government) reminder to the rest of the world that China censors the contents of the internet that is available to its population.

An OEN Editor, Steven Leser specializes in Politics, Science & Health, and Entertainment topics. He has held positions within the Democratic Party including District Chair and Public Relations Chair within county organizations.

And from Times Online: Chinese fight internet censors with “Grass Mud Horse” cuddly toy:

The use of homonyms to bypass the Great Firewall of China is hardly new, but this cute new animal, the caonima, has achieved unprecedented success. It even boasts its own entry on the Chinese equivalent of Wikipedia.

The animal has even made its way into the state-run media. The Southern Metropolis Daily, one of the few more daring newspapers in China, this week ran a story detailing – in print – how two caonima toys have become hot items. Called Ma Le and Ge Bi, the cuddly animals were designed by five young people in southern Guangdong province as members of the caonima family. The first 150 went on sale online this week at 39.9 yuan (£4) each and demand has been high.

For more English news articles about the :Grass-Mud Horse”, please click here.

March 13, 2009 9:35 PM
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