Jason NG: What a Beautiful Sensitive Word

Jason Ng (伍嘉贤) is a Beijing based well-known technology blogger and founder of kenenba.com. He just published a blog post entitled “What a Beautiful Sensitive Word” [1], translated by CDT:

My last blog entry was written on January 25th. Today is February 21st, so I guess you could say that this is a “menstrual post” [2].

I was very shocked and pleased by yesterday’s (the 20th of February) Chinese version of “the Jasmine Revolution.” I was shocked by how influential the event was; I was pleased to see the Chinese authorities become the proverbial ants in the hot wok.

There’s probably a lot of people who don’t know what happened yesterday, so let me provide a basic timeline:

1. An anonymous person used the public Twitter account name of Shudong (the account is now cleared) to post a Tweet announcing that at 2:00 p.m. on February 20th, every large city in China would be conducting a Jasmine Revolution, the details of which would later be posted on a certain website.

2. Not many people took a less-than-140-character microblog post seriously; however, those with a guilty conscience are always afraid something will happen.

3. Thereafter, the person who used the name Shudong was pursued by the police who requested the logs of the server hoping they could ferret out who it was that used the Shudong account to post the information. Currently, the person [who used the Shudong account] has made the account protected [3].

4. Thereafter, on February 19th, Ran Yunfei, Teng Biao, Pu Fei and other dissidents were “invited to tea” or put under house arrest.

5. Thereafter, on February 20th, more dissidents were prevented from venturing out. [Agents from] the Domestic Security Department even threatened to rape the wife of You Jingyou.

6. The Chinese authorities were on a high level of alert. There were reports that the military had prepared live ammunition.

7. On the 19th and 20th of February, a large number of people who were likely members of the fifty cent party registered on Twitter and immediately started calling on people to not participate in the Jasmine Revolution, that the Jasmine Revolution was a secret plot by the Americans, and that participating in the Jasmine Revolution was against the law. As of now, I have detected over fifty people who are likely members of the fifty cent party. I have placed their names on this list here.

8. On February 19th, Renren.com designated the word “tomorrow” as a sensitive word.

9. On February 20th, Renren.com designated the word “today” as a sensitive word.

10. At 2:00 p.m. on February 20th, a large number of people gathered in front of the McDonalds in the Wangfujing area of Beijing. What is certain is that a lot of people didn’t even know what was going on. There were even people who thought that a big movie star had arrived. The large number of armed police and plainclothes officers made passersby curious. They hurriedly pulled out their cell phones to take pictures which they then posted on microblogs.

11. A large number of foreign journalists gathered in front of the Wangfujing McDonalds waiting to see what would happen.

12. On the afternoon of February 20th, Xinlang’s microblog suspended its search function, suspended users’ ability to post photographs, and suspended users’ ability to forward posts. [Xinlang’s microblog] also designated “Jasmine Revolution” as a sensitive word.

13. There were people at the scene who were carried away by the police. Attached are two pictures from the scene.

To be honest, when Shudong posted the call to protest, I felt absolutely certain that it was a joke. Even now I still feel like it was a joke. Not only do I feel this way, but a lot of people also feel this way.

If the government hadn’t had such a big reaction, I believe that not so many people would have participated in the Jasmine Revolution.

Unfortunately, for those who have guilty consciences, at a certain point, demons can be heard in the sound of the midnight wind.

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[1] The title is a reference to the word “jasmine” which has become a “sensitive word”.

[2] A “menstrual post” is a recurring, unwanted internet post. The term refers to the regularity with which these posts appear (because, for example, certain netizens who write these posts only have time on the weekends or evenings.) See here. (Chinese).

[3] Twitter accounts are either public or protected. Public accounts have profile pages that are visible to everyone, while protected accounts manually approve those who view its Tweets.

See also Next Media Animation’s take on the Jasmine Revolution:

February 22, 2011 10:38 AM
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