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Chinese blogger says discussions on Weibo ‘dying’ due to censorship, post gets deleted

The original post was deleted, but a screen shot of it was put up.

Matthias Ang | June 12, 12:49 pm

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A blogger on Weibo, a Chinese microblogging platform, believes that censorship by China authorities is lowering the level of intellectual discourse.

The blogger, known as Vocarious2020 (V2), chose to make his point on Weibo itself, according to independent news site What’s on Weibo, which is an English language platform to make content on China hosted on Weibo more accessible.

Hot button issues have become unspeakable

In his post, V2 used the idiom of the “elephant in the room” to voice his dissatisfaction to his followers, numbering over 12,000.

He felt that various hot button issues on China, such as Taiwan’s future, IP theft, and the ongoing trade war with the United States could not be openly discussed without being censored.

This created a sense of dissonance whereby Weibo users were detached from trending issues of the day.

He added that this peaked on June 4, when Tiananmen was discussed globally, but the top trending topic within China was a Chinese reality show instead.

He further alleged that while some people including himself were being silenced, others were busy discussing topics like celebrity love lives.

Censorship lowers intellectual discussions on Weibo

V2 believed that as a result of such censorship, the quality of intellectual discussions on Weibo has been lowered.

He highlighted that globally, intellectuals such as scholars and economists have begun to focus on issues concerning China.

However, it seemed like the only topics allowed to be discussed within China itself were non-controversial ones like celebrity gossip.

On top of that, the Chinese government had allegedly begun shutting out overseas IP addresses.

V2 added that the space for discussion on the Weibo platform is akin to the space in a snail’s shell — crowded.

Translation of post

Here is his post:

Source: Vocarious2020 Weibo

And here is the translation of his post in English, according to What’s on Weibo:

“The intellectual density on Weibo is getting lower and lower. Scrolling through my timeline has already become somewhat worthless. One reason for that is temporary. This month they started to close down on overseas IP addresses, for example. Another reason is more long term.

Intellectuals around the world are increasingly focusing on China issues, from international relations scholars to economists to lawyers. There are already enough discussions about China to fill entire libraries with, and it’s rapidly increasing; this period is a happy time for China watchers, with new reports and comments coming out every day.

But all these hot issues (including the Belt & Road Initiative, the modernisation of the army, the future of Taiwan, IP theft, and the China-US trade war) are like an elephant in the room on Weibo. We can’t watch them, we can’t discuss them. But because this elephant is getting bigger and bigger, ignoring its presence in this room is getting increasingly strange.

This strange feeling reached a peak these days (addressing June 4th, the commemoration of Tiananmen). The whole world was discussing China, but China was like a tranquil lake. The top trending topic here was Produce Camp 2019 (a Chinese reality show).

Some people, including me, were silenced, while the rest was excited to talk about celebrities smoking, getting married, getting divorced or cheating – pretending that these topics are really worth discussing. The truth is, that these are the only topics that are allowed to be discussed.

Reviewing the parallel world of billions of people, Weibo has become a crowded place within a tiny snail shell.”

Post went viral before being deleted

As of June 10, the post had been shared over 22,500 times, received more than 15,000 likes, and commented upon about 4,000 times.

However, it was subsequently deleted, only to be re-posted again on the morning of June 11 in the form a screenshot taken from an iPhone.

What’s on Weibo claimed that “hundreds” of netizens voiced their agreement with Vocarious2020 on the initial post.

Several netizens stated that people wanted to discuss issues involving China, but could not do so since new sources were blocked.

However, other netizens opined that Vocarious2020’s expectations of Weibo were too high, given that it was a platform meant primarily for entertainment rather than news.

Supportive comments on new post

As for the new post, netizens seemed to adopt a far more sarcastic and pointed tone towards the government, highlighting that the government was only adding pressure on the people and showing signs of insecurity.

Screenshot from Weibo

“Those who genuinely want to fix society’s problems will first be taken care of. Are they forcing the people to take revenge on society?”

Screenshot from Weibo

“404 (Error code) is the best indicator of one’s confidence”

One netizen also pointed out the irony of the world showing more concern for China than their own country.

Screenshot from Weibo

“The whole world is more concerned for our people’s freedom than ourselves… and here we are leading a lonely existence.”

Top image from Sina Weibo Facebook and Flickr

About Matthias Ang

Matthias is that annoying guy whose laughter overshadows the joke.

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