CENSORSHIP
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Occupy Central

Heavily-censored, Weibo users show support for Hong Kong's Occupy protests in satire

PUBLISHED : Monday, 06 October, 2014, 4:20pm
UPDATED : Monday, 06 October, 2014, 4:36pm

On China’s microblogging platform Weibo, where pro-Occupy Central comments are strictly censored, defiant bloggers use jokes and satire to express their support for Hong Kong’s student movement.

Ever since the Occupy Central protests appealing for “genuine” universal suffrage in the election for chief executive in 2017 officially kicked-off over a week ago, the government in Beijing has been censoring all non-official information regarding to movement, leaving only rigorously critical official narratives.

But some defiant users are resorting humour and irony to get round the government-dictated agenda.

Novelist Xia Shang, for example, commented on University of Hong Kong’s President Peter Mathieson’s open letter condemning the police decision to use tear gas. “How dare HKU’s president write such letter? It is only because: there is no party committee [in the school],” he wrote in a posting, referring to the organ attached to every university across the mainland that answers directly to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP).

Another user with the non-verified account ‘Youth League Committee of Zhejiang University's Department of Philosphy’ wrote: “Student movements before 1949 [the year when the People’s Republic of China was founded] … were all patriotic, but since 1949 they have all incited by overseas forces,” referring apparently to a commonly-used phrase in official narratives to label the source of unwelcome protests.

“I wonder, why have students turned bad since the nation [PRC] was founded?” the blogger quipped. This veiled satire was, however, removed along with the entire blog account on Thursday morning.

And Mo Jiaqing, a consultant at a Hunan-based think tank, made fun of CCP propaganda that frequently trumpets China’s “advanced” society.

“If nearly 1.4 billion people in China mainland are benefiting from the world’s best society … then why not share it with Hong Kong’s seven million and Taiwan’s 23 million residents, instead of letting them suffer in the capitalist world under the ‘one country, two systems’ principle?”

Another blogger, posting under the alias ‘Ying Tai Shuo Shi’ satirised alleged threats made by an elderly official critical of Occupy Central that claimed: “If [Hong Kong is] not obeying central government and disturbing social disorder, [Beijing] can simply cut its water supply, leaving them to drink sea-water.”

The blogger wrote: “Reply: Watch out, Hong Kong may cut off your grandson’s milk formula” referring to the situation over the last few years where mainlanders have flocked to buy milk powder from Hong Kong as a result of increasing food safety concerns at home.

Censorship on Weibo reached a new record this year. The number of posts that could not be accessed increased five-fold on the weekend following the beginning of the Occupy Central protests, according to Weiboscope, a censorship monitoring project at the University of Hong Kong’s Journalism and Media Studies Centre.

As of Monday Weibo’s built-in search engine still does not allow users to search for blog postings with keywords like “Occupy Central” or “Student Movement”, citing “relevant law and policy”.