Mobile phone and Dissent 2.0Written by Julen Madariaga on August 24th, 2009
One more from the fantastic world of China mobile.
These last weeks I have encountered what has to be the weirdest form of political activism ever tried in China. It has happened twice, each time on a Sunday afternoon. It comes in the form of a phone call from an inexistent number. A very professional recording, with the same neutral feminine voice of all China mobile announcements.
First it gives some news about China, the kind you wouldn’t see on Xinhua. Both times I was walking on noisy streets and couldn’t get all of it, but I did understand well the following item, which gives you a general idea: ”A rock has been found in the province of Guizhou that bears some ancient natural marks ressembling the characters “gongchandangwan” (the CPC is finished???)”
The funniest part is the end of the recording, where the voice gives you the typical voice menu that goes exactly like this (sorry for the pinyin, the characters would get me blocked again).
- Nin xiang tuichu gongchangdang qing an yi.
- Nin xiang tuichu gongqingtuan qing an er.
- Nin xiang tuichu xianfengdui, qing an san.
Which is standard menunese for these 3 options: quit the CPC (press 1), quit the Communist Youth league (press 2), quit the Young pioneers (press 3).
It is very strange that I should receive such communications, as I am obviously not part of any of the 3 groups. The only explanation is, like usual, that I am too liberal with the use of my name card and I must have handed it to some friend in the resistance (unknown to me). Otherwise I can’t imagine how they got my number, which is not related in any way to this blog.
In any case, I must admit I was too nervous to press any of the 3 options, as images of a modern “hundred flowers” movement flashed through my mind. Later I have been asking around to my Chinese friends, and at least one of them confirmed she got similar calls to her landline in Shanghai, causing some minor panic scenes with her post-CR parents. We are still wondering what happens if you choose option 1, I don’t know of anyone who tried.
Anyone out there has experienced this? Have you tested the options? Is this, as I suspect, from the FLG?
In any case, I doubt very much these modern forms of dissent can be really effective. China Mobile are notoriouly bad at solving your problems on the telephone, and this 60 years old problem seems too large even for them to tackle. This does confirm, however, that China Mob has much less control over the content of sms/voice messages than I imagined. This campaign has been going on for at least 3 weeks, and I am sure the company wouldn’t approve.
I might go missing for a few days this week because I am headed to the Edinburgh festival with my old Shanghai friend Caz. If anyone is going to be around let me know. I will be back end of the month with more interesting stories.