Wang Dan gets blog on Sina.com
China's most prominent Tiananmen Square student dissident has managed to open weblogs on popular mainland portals to have 'direct communication' with netizens in the past six months, despite tightened control over the internet ahead of the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on democracy protesters.
Wang Dan, who served five years in prison before being released on medical parole in 1998 and going to the US, quietly opened a blog on Sina.com on September 12.
He used the pen name Xingzi. It lasted for exactly six months before it was shut down. But he opened another blog on Sina.com two days later, with an article explaining the shutting down of the first blog and his intention to continue blogging.
The blog is still accessible and has been visited by more than 3,000 netizens in the past few days.
The internet has been closely monitored this year because of official sensitivities about two anniversaries concerning Tibet, which have already passed, as well as the approaching Tiananmen anniversary on June 4 and the 60th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic on October 1.
One netizen described the blog as more like a 'private place for a depressed overseas student to tell about his study experiences and his feelings of homesickness in a deliberately low-key fashion, with very few mentions of the June 4 incident or his identity'.
Mr Wang said his blog had been visited and 'carefully protected' by 60,000 netizens.
'My purpose in opening a blog on Sina.com was to have more communication with friends on the mainland, and Sina.com was the most-visited website,' Mr Wang said yesterday from London, where he now lives. 'Nowadays in this internet era, even though I'm banned from returning to China, I want to prove that through cyber-power, I can still be active in the motherland.
'I chose to be low-profile because I didn't want it shut down too quickly or to alert the authorities at the beginning. Also, the blog is just a communication platform; I don't want to make it a political place for massive gatherings or planned activities.'
Mr Wang said his last blog was probably shut down because a Web censor finally targeted it, 'but it also proved impossible for the party authorities to control all the content in the Chinese cyberworld with so many bloggers'.
Another prominent student dissident, Wuer Kaixi, opened a blog on 163.com on February 11 using his real name, but it was shut down within a day. He has been trying again.
He said he preferred to be more straightforward to test the authorities' tolerance of internet freedom.
'It proves there is no press freedom, but the battle never ends, with enormous numbers of netizens using proxies to get past the blocks to my Taiwan-based blog, with many of my politically sensitive articles,' Mr Wuer said from Taiwan.
Wen Yunchao, a blogger and internet analyst, said 'the survival of Mr Wang's blog doesn't mean the authorities are loosening control'.
'But it's a good thing to prove it's getting harder for the authorities to control the internet media due to technological difficulties and the possible disloyalty or neglect of Web censors,' he said.