GFW 1st July: Waiting for my Anonymous savioursWritten by Julen Madariaga on June 29th, 2009
So OK, I am censored, but why NOW?
I mean, I haven’t been writing anything for ages, is the Propaganda Department punishing me for being lazy? Has some big Chinese BBS linked to me recently, is Uln hot now? As I was looking around for an answer, I found out that the Peking Duck blog was blocked more or less at the same time as mine, and it was asking the same kind of questions.
That is when I got this idea of the LIST, which I wrote on their comments. Everyone knows that GFW is unpredictable, it starts and stops and nobody ever knows why, if you don’t believe me look at this funny chronology. But this random behaviour usually affects only some websites, and never touches others. So necessarily, the guys at the GFW Control Deck are working with a number of websites that have been shortlisted beforehand.
I am quite sure of the existence of this LIST, because I noticed very precisely the moment my blog was shortlisted. It happened earlier this year with that political post that was picked by the New York Times. Since then I had strange things happening, with miniblocks now and then, a perceived slower speed loading in China, and, of course that particular Chаrter 08 post has been blocked ever since (even as the rest of the blog remained open). Also, look at that weird comment in Chinese in that post, where the guy says I am interfering in China’s internal affairs… could be a troll. Or could be not.
Anyway, my guess is that this blog and the PKD’s block have probably nothing to do with our recent activity, but rather with the tense atmosphere in the censors office these last weeks, after the Green Dam fiasco and the Google affair. At some point someone must have said: “hey, let’s block some more sites”, and we were unfortunately the next names on the LIST. And, unlike Google, I am afraid sites speaking specifically of politics are blocked permanently, such as this one, or this one. I hardly imagine the censors taking the trouble to monitor our blogs every day to see if we are behaving better. So my guess is, both for me and for PKD, that the block is here to stay and there is no solution.
… or perhaps there is?
You might have seen this manifesto of the Anonymous Netizens, found on the RConversation blog. They promise some action on the 1st of July. I like the document, it is well written and, unlike other efforts, it is very clever in that it sticks to its objective and doesn’t try to change the World from zero. It doesn’t ring very Chinese to me though
Look at these 2 extracts (but if you got time read it all):
For the freedom of the Internet, for the advancement of Internetization, and for our rights, we are going to acquaint your censorship machine with systematic sabotage and show you just how weak the claws of your censorship really are … You are trying in vain to halt the wheels of history. Even with your technocratic reinforcements, you will not understand the Internet in the foreseeable future
NOBODY wants to topple your regime. We take no interest whatsoever in your archaic view of state power and your stale ideological teachings. You do not understand how your grand narrative dissipated in the face of Internetization. You do not understand why appealing to statism and nationalism no longer works. You cannot break free from your own ignorance of the Internet. Your regime is not our enemy. We are not affiliated in any way with any country or organization, and we are not waging this war on any country or organization, not even on you. YOU are waging this war on yourself. YOU are digging your own grave through corruption and antagonization.
Perhaps it is just this anarchist instinct of mine, but I find the discourse inspiring, and I hope it makes some noise in China and local netizens here get the message. Because it works well to defeat the old nationalistic shield of the Chinese government against outside critics.
Not that I think the Attack announced on the 1st July is going to change much. These guys are not really Chinese, they are the people at the 4chan bbs, you can read a bit more about them here. They have done some interesting actions before, in particular against the Scientologists, and I am curious to see what is coming on the 1st July.
But however smart the guys are in the West, I am afraid they don’t have a chance in China. It is a completely different playing ground, they have no popular support here and as far as I know their BBS in the West have no links to the Chinese ones here. I might be wrong, but I have the feeling that this is exclusively a Western initiative, perhaps with the participation of some overseas Chinese.
The thing with Western internet activists is that they seldom realize the massive size of the Chinese internet, and its limited connections with the outside World. We will speak about this some other day, but let me just say that the Chinese internet is an enormous island within the internet, an island that we all know is there and we all now it’s big, but we have no idea of what’s inside or how to get there. Something like Greenland, perhaps.
But I am digressing. I just meant to write: keep an eye on the Anonymous Netizens on the 1st July. They will not overturn the regime, they will not break the GFW or send the Nanny to the retirement home where she belongs. But they might -they just *might* - manage to ridicule the Chinese censors and expose them enough for all the Chinese to see what a bunch of incompetents they have in that Department. And how efficiently they are destroying the image of China in the World, and causing the country to loose face by the hectare.
And then perhaps someone in that office will decide that, after all, Chinayouren is not noxious for a harmonious society. Until then, I remain, blocked.
EDIT: self-harmonized my language to leave out the insults.