Banned in China! Bo Xilai Blogs & Comments

Let’s talk about Bo Xilai. Because in Mainland China, most cannot.

Yesterday Internet censors worked overtime to block out commentary about the Bo Xilai case. (See my post yesterday.) Removed were any posts mentioning his nickname – or that of his wife. She’s in prison facing possible execution for her role in the murder of Neil Heywood.

Bo meanwhile has been stripped of all his titles and duties, and was even removed from the Communist party. Seriously – even Icarus had a softer landing. Amazingly even notes of sympathy were removed.

What weren’t taken off-line were the supportive posts praising the government for its bold action. One blogger said the whole affair was going to cost taxpayers a lot of money – how else could you explain Weibo posts praising President Hu Jintao if not through paid commentary?

What’s mystifying is how the “facts” as presented this week bear a striking resemblance to the Internet rumours that circulated last month. One netizen said she would no longer doubt rumours. Another wondered if the facts were presented to match the rumours – and then asked what facts were withheld.

Overall it’s been a frenetic month for on-line news in China. It’s destabilising for the government that critical political information is in the hands of the many. The Communist Party had its hands on the mouthpiece for so long it’s unwilling to cede control.

In one of my training courses on social media I call the writers and bloggers and on-line activists “the publishers formerly known as audience.” This is meant to be a pithy way to explain the widespread influence of social media.

Today the citizens of China are taking over the role previously played by government. Strict information control is a thing of the past. Now information is flowing free and fast – and sometimes it stays one step ahead of the censors.

Sadly, this blog is not available in China. Almost all Western blogs are blocked. I hope to hear from a reader there to prove me wrong.

7 thoughts on “Banned in China! Bo Xilai Blogs & Comments

  1. Bo Xilai’s was one of the few popular political figures in China. When I say popular, he used the media to build his popularity and a cult following (as politicians do in the United States and this was frowned on), most of his followers were Maoists. Within the Party, there was fear that he would bring about a revival of Maoism and a return to the Cultural Revolution. This was revealed in a recent speech by China’s Premier Wn Jiabao.

    I don’t recall the exact date, but in either 2010 or 2011, many of Mao’s supporters in the Party (mostly people from rural China) went to the metro area that Bo Xilai was Party boss of and urged him to lead the Maoist wing of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) back into power.

    Although the Party always puts forth a face that seems to be one voice, the CCP has political factions just like the Republican and Democratic parties in America have different political factions with different political agendas and beliefs inside each party.

    However, in China, not because of the CCP but because they are Chinese, it is not the cultural thing to do to let everyone else see and watch the debates and arguments that take place within the party. Instead, the CCP does all it can to hide that divisiveness. It is not politically correct in China to let everyone know what you think or what is going on.

    Of course, there are a few voices inside China and many outside China that want China to conduct its political business as we do in the U.S., but historically and culturally that is not the Chinese way.

    Since being married to a Chinese woman and being part of her family, I’ve seen this same dynamic take place within her family. You don’t show the world your dirty laundry, which the West calls a lack of transparency when it comes to the CCP without any show of understanding that this behavior is more cultural than having anything to do with being the CCP.

    Bo stepped outside that Chinese politically correct cultural behavior and was very transparent (probably promoted by his publicists) and was the closest thing to a popular political rock star in China — sort of like a Kennedy.

    As far as the charges that have been leveled at him and his family that they are corrupt and may be murderers, etc., we will never know if that is true or trumped up to pull him down so the majority consensus that runs the CCP will not have to contend with a more powerful Bo Xilai that may want to bring back elements of Mao’s Cultural Revolution.

    There are still elements within the CCP that believe Deng Xiaoping and those that continue his legacy are traitors to Mao’s vision and want to return to the insanity of the Cultural Revolution and throw out the capitalist economy that exists in China today.

  2. two points:
    I’m reading this blog in China so it’s not banned and Bo Xilai has’nt lost his Party membership yet

  3. Wally,

    My WordPress Blog is also not banned in China. I’ve read in the Western media that China banned all WordPress Blogs, which is what I have, but I’ve been told by the few people that read my Blog in China that they have no problems logging on and do not need to go through a proxy server to get out.

    In fact, if someone in China wants to read a Blog or Website that is banned in China, all they have to do is find a proxy server. I know a few expatriates that live in China that use proxy servers all the time to reach sites that are blocked by the censors in China. At its worst, it seems to be only an annoyance such as a fly or mosquito that won’t go away.

    I see the futile attempt at censorship in China as a way to provide jobs for people. While in Shanghai, I’ve seen busy intersections during rush hour that have several uniformed crossing guards. At one intersection in front of a major subway station, I counted a dozen. If you aren’t not staying in a hotel but stay with a family in China, you may wake up early in the morning to the sound of brooms as people are paid to go out and sweep the lane/street/alley clean each day to earn a few yuan. Most of the work in China is done by people and not machines as in the US. Where one gas-fed street machine will be driven by one person to clean many streets in the US, in China, a hundred or a thousand people will be getting paid a small sum to do the job that machine could do. I’m not saying China doesn’t have street cleaning machines. They probably do but I haven’t seen any yet. What I’ve seen are people with brooms.

    China’s attempt to censor the Internet is a leaky bucket that is not as efficient as the Western media makes it seem and the Chinese people, for the most part, are very opinioned and break the rules as often as possible and mostly get away with it. Americans, by comparison, seem easy to manipulate through the media and most Americans that keep breaking the rules usually end up in prison, which is why the US has more people in prison than any country in the world but China is ranked way down the list for locking people up.

    When we compare all of the countries in the world, the US is ranked number one for locking people up but China is ranked more than 100 on that list of about 200 countries.

    In China, it is common to believe the opposite of what the government reports in the media that is owned by the CCP. If Xinhua says one thing, most of the people will think the truth is the opposite. It is very difficult to fool the majority in China and there are more Blogs in China than any other country and they are not shy to express their opinions on any topic they are interested in. I’ve read and heard that when a political topic goes viral on China’s Blogosphere, the government has reversed new laws and/or policies that millions of Chinese have protested. In one southern coastal city, building a chemical plant that might pollute the air was cancelled when millions of Chinese in that city that first protested through their Blogs took to the streets. The CCP has thousands of people that are hired just to monitor public opinion through Blogs on any given political topic and these opinions have led to policy changes to calm things down.

    The last thing the CCP wants is a rebellious and violent population. Consider that China is a country with56 minorities and each minority has its own spoken language. Someone that grew up in Southwest China would not understand the language spoken by someone in southeast or northeast or northwest or central China. The only language they have in common is the written one.

    To understand what this means, imagine driving from Los Angeles to San Francisco (only a few hundred miles) and you couldn’t understand the spoken language in San Francisco when you arrived, which explains why TV programs and movies in China all have subtitles in Mandarin. Traveling through China with a hired interpreter could be a waste of time. The only thing the person could do as you went from city to city and province to province is translate the written Mandarin on signs as I doubt if there is anyone that speaks all the languages in China.

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