Covering China from Cyberspace in 2014: Excerpts

Covering China from Cyberspace in 2014: Excerpts

Two publications have published excerpts from the new CDT eBook, “Covering China from Cyberspace in 2014,” a yearbook of major events as seen through the eyes of Chinese censors and the netizens who are brave enough to defy them. The book looks at a number of news events and trends in China in 2014 and compiles online reactions, from both Internet users and government propaganda authorities.

The World Post published an adapted version of the introduction to the book:

While suppressing speech, the government also took advantage of Chinese Internet users’ affinity for social media to polish Xi Jinping’s image and post photos of him interacting with common citizens in everyday situations. But Xi’s foray into social media soon became the subject of netizen scorn when he publicly praised a nationalistic and factually-challenged blogger. A post linking the blogger, Zhou Xiaoping, to Xi’s image-crafting campaign, and mocking them both, was one of the most popular posts on CDT Chinese in 2014, showing the tenacity of online public opinion even in a censored environment.

[…] Some stories elicit a significant amount of insightful commentary; for others, propaganda officials issue directives and lists of sensitive keywords to filter before public opinion has a chance to jell online. The stark contrast between these two dominant voices on the Chinese Internet was felt especially acutely this past year in the midst of Xi’s ongoing crackdown on speech. [Source]

And at the Los Angeles Review of Books blog, editors published an excerpt of the chapter on the protest movement in Hong Kong, and placed it in the context of the global discussion about freedom of expression in the wake of the deadly attack on Charlie Hebdo magazine in Paris:

The Beijing government worked very hard to control the narrative of the protests for mainland viewers and to censor media coverage through a series of directives. As the protests surged in response to police brutality, propaganda officials instructed:

All websites must immediately clear away information about Hong Kong students violently assaulting the government and about “Occupy Central.” Promptly report any issues. Strictly manage interactive channels, and resolutely delete harmful information. This [directive] must be followed precisely. (September 28, 2014)

[…] For many mainland Chinese, the censorship efforts worked. In media interviews, mainlanders acknowledged knowing little or only having a negative opinion of the Hong Kong protests. Yet others found ways to express solidarity online. When a letter from a Shenzhen high school student urging his peers to abandon the protests was published in the Global Times, netizens quickly jumped on factual inconsistencies in the letter and quoted Chilean artist and free spirit Alejandro Jodorowsky: “Birds born in a cage think flying is an illness.” The quotation quickly became a meme…

“Covering China from Cyberspace in 2014” is now available for download from Google Play, Amazon, and iTunes. See also previous CDT eBooks, including “Decoding the Chinese Internet: A Glossary of Political Slang” and “Crazy Crab’s Chinese Dream: Political Cartoons 2012-2013”.

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