The Global Times Phenomenon

China Change has translated a blog post by former Southern Metropolis Daily commentator Song Zhibiao on the growing influence of nationalist tabloid Global Times, in its Chinese edition.

Even though it is laughed at as a joke, I have noticed that the Global Times is mentioned in more and more of my friends’ articles. This is like embedding a commercial for the Global Times in the text of a column. In the liberal-leaning discussion of media transformation, it will be picked out as an example to explain how the system is so barbaric, indicative how much deeper it has intruded and how ubiquitous it has become.

On just about all of China’s hot stories, the Global Times is not afraid to display its crude opinions: Chen Guangcheng, the Southern Weekend incident, Pu Zhiqiang, Hong Kong’s “Occupy Central,” Taiwan’s Sunflower Student Movement – the list is long. It never uses complicated arguments and does not care about logic, and some of its sentences don’t even make grammatical sense. Its points are easy to pick apart, but this in no way implies that it is easy to defeat.

[…] The evil is not overcome but overtaken. The most practical way to deal with it is to not talk about it. After writing this column, I will not mention it again. It’s like a virus thriving in a particular political eco-system, if we cannot stop it, we must then quarantine it. If we cannot quarantine the crowd, we can at least quarantine ourselves. That way, we will not become its carriers and unintended promulgators. [Source]

The “Muddled Shit Times” and its editor-in-chief “Frisbee” Hu Xijin have become the pantomime villains of China’s news media, but a Cornell University study in 2012 suggested that its reputation for hardline nationalism was not invariably deserved. Its English-language incarnation is characterized by idiosyncratic translations such as “mincing rascal,” and the occasional appearance of frank, if sometimes short-lived, reports on topics like censorship alongside its liberal-baiting editorials. On Sunday, it noted the growth of VPN use in China as Internet restrictions tighten, prominently featuring the founder of anti-censorship site GreatFire.org. From Liang Chen:

In recent years, more and more Chinese Net users are forced to seek alternatives to surf the Internet outside of the Great Firewall (GFW), China’s Internet infrastructure, by using mirror websites that show blocked Google search results, or by using VPNs.

[…] Along with the growth of VPN services, GreatFire.org has also been boosting its services relating to mirrored sites. The organization has set up more mirror sites to make blocked content available to all Chinese without the need of a VPN. On Twitter, it has attracted over 13,000 followers and its Freeweibo account, which shows banned Weibo posts, has 23,000 followers, most of whom are Chinese.

[…] “We ask our users to fight against the GFW by reposting mirror sites, censored content or complaining to the government directly,” said Alpha, who believes that the fight against the firewall has been heating up. [Source]