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What’s the price of a Tweet?
As Twitter attempts to drum up another round of financing at the valuation of $3 billion, that’s what potential investors want to know.
But for 46 year-old Chinese woman, Cheng Jianping, aka @wangyi09, the price of a Tweet is valued at one year in a labor camp.
Last month, Cheng RT’ed a message (see above) originally posted by her fiance, Hua Chunhui, satirically suggesting that young Chinese nationalists who had been staging recent anti-Japanese rallies should attack the Japanese pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo. They were both arrested not long after on the day they were to be married; Hua was released five days later. That Cheng was sentenced to a year of hard labor without a trial while Hua was not may have to do with the fact that Cheng has gotten into trouble for her social media activity in the past. From the NY Times:
Widely known by the online name Wang Yi, Ms. Cheng is avidly followed by a small coterie of Chinese intellectuals who subscribe to Twitter, which is blocked in China but can be reached by those willing to burrow beneath the government’s firewall. Most recently Ms. Cheng sent out messages praising the decision to award the Nobel Peace Prize to the imprisoned rights activist Liu Xiaobo. Last August, she was briefly detained after expressing sympathy for a detained democracy advocate, Liu Xianbin.
While Chinese users of Twitter are subjected to a 140 character-limit like the rest of us, in Chinese, one character equals one word, so the limit roughly translates to 140 words. For this reason, Twitter has become popular in China among political activists.
Counting spaces and punctuation, the Tweet that landed Cheng in a labor camp for a year was 79 characters, which roughly translates to 4.6 days of imprisonment per word.
Filed under: @wangyi09, Cheng Jianping, China, China and Twitter, China Censorship, Chinese Labor Camps, Chinese Nationalists, Chinese Re-education Camps, Chinese Twitter Users, Free Cheng Jianping, Fucked Up Shit, Hua Chunhui, Human Rights, Injustices, Microblogging, Political Satire, Price of a Tweet, Satire, Social Media, Social Networking, The Politics of Social Media, This is Bullshit, Tweets, Twitter, Watch Your Words, What Price Twitter?, Woman Sentenced to Hard Labor for Tweet in China
For the fifth time since March 23, young children have been attacked at school in China, this time leaving 7 children and 2 adults dead. The attack occurred Wednesday in northern Shaanxi Province, and the perpetrator, Wu Huanming, 48–who killed his victims with a kitchen cleaver before killing himself–was, like the other assailants, a middle-aged man acting alone. This rampage is the deadliest one of the five to date; eight children were left dead after the first attack in Fujian Province, but all 33 children who were either stabbed or beaten with a hammer in the other attacks, which took place over three consecutive days in late April, survived.
People in China are trying to make sense of these horrific copycat crimes, with experts citing everything from rampant untreated mental illness to rapid social change to anger at the government, the NY Times reports. Well, some people in China are trying to make sense of this, anyway. Huang Hung, a columnist for China Daily who also blogs on sina.com and for The Daily Beast, wrote after the fourth attack that there has also been a great deal of silence on the subject. While supporting the government’s tightened control of the reporting on the attacks in order to prevent more copycat crimes, Ms. Huang was critical of what she perceived to be a general desire to sweep these events under the rug:
A lot of people agree with the government that incidents like these should be swept under the rug and forgotten; they believe in a kind of selective memory that only allows the past to be remembered in a glorious way. The fact that we do not publicly light a candle to remember the children who were murdered is not just wrong for moral reasons; it is a fundamental denial of the problems in our society.
But can you really have it both ways? That is, how can you expect the Chinese people to begin to understand why this is happening and deal if the government is restricting the flow of information on the attacks? That’s a little bit too much like the “Do as I say, not as I do” parenting model, which has been proven to never work. And when there’s a trend of mass murder of schoolchildren–attempted and otherwise–going on in your country, the government is, in essence, the parent, and it has to take the lead–by shunning shame and silence on the matter–in order to protect its children.
Filed under: 7 Children Hacked to Death in Chinese Kindergarten, 7 Chinese Schoolchildren Dead, Attack on Chinese Kindergarten, Attack on Chinese Schoolchildren, China, China Censorship, Copycat Crimes, Copycat Murders, Fifth Attack on Chinese Schoolchildren, The Chinese Government, WTF?
The internetz is spazzing out today over a bomb Obama dropped Sunday at a town hall meeting of university students in Shanghai, the third stop on his Asia tour. When asked if the Chinese should be able to “use Twitter freely”–Twitter and Facebook are both blocked in China–our president, who has 2.6 million followers on the social networking platform, said:
Well, first of all, let me say that I have never used Twitter. I noticed that young people — they’re very busy with all these electronics. My thumbs are too clumsy to type in things on the phone.
Obama also addressed those little matters of censorship and human rights, calling freedom of expression and religion “universal rights” before the Chinese government-selected crowd, but never mind that.
The takeaway here, OBVS, is that Obama has never used Twitter. Because all the blogs are talking about it, it’s become, like, this big internet meme overnight, and it’s one of the hottest trending topics on Twitter at the moment, right up there with “bad romance,” the Lady Gaga single, and “Stephen Jackson,” a recently-traded basketball player.
You know, like the stuff that really matters?
Filed under: China, China Censorship, China Human Rights, Important Stuff, Obama Asia Tour, Obama I Have Never Used Twitter, Obama in China, Obama Shanghai Town Hall, President Barack Obama, Social Networking, Trending Topics, Twitter
A day after the New York Times wrote a story about the grass-mud horse video that’s become a subversive protest of censorship and authoritarianism in China, the original video, which had garnered 1.4 million hits, was removed from YouTube. If you click on the url for the video, you get the standard YouTube removal message: “This video has been removed by the user.” Of course, since we’re talking about a video that fucks with the Chinese government, you can’t help but worry that “the user,” too, has been “removed,” in the way that the Tibetan Panchen Lama was removed and has not been seen nor heard from in the last 14 years since he was named successor to the Dalai Lama.
But the beauty of the internet is that it functions like a Hydra. If you cut off one of its heads, two will spring back in its place. As soon as the original grass-mud horse video was taken down, three more were uploaded right back onto YouTube. YouTube is owned by Google, which has been accused–along with Microsoft and Yahoo!–of aiding the Chinese government with online censorship, but how long can that last when The People keep finding new ways to be heard?
Remember when you first learned to cuss and how great that felt? I can still recall the exact conversation I had with my friend Carolyn when we were 10, when we brainstormed every bad word we knew, and what I did after. I hopped on my red Schwinn bicycle–that I had nicknamed “Little Red Corvette”–and rode around my small-town neighborhood, which was surrounded by piney woods where you could often find petrified wood and, on occasion, an armadillo, yelling “fuck fuck fuck” into the wind. It was like a door being opened to a secret universe, a first taste of freedom on the tongue.
I didn’t learn how to properly curse in Mandarin until I went to China to teach English after college. One of my students, “Doug”–they were all given Anglo names freshman year–didn’t care a whit about the writing class I taught, but he did want to know how to throw down in English, and in exchange, he taught me a few insulting Chinese phrases. The worst was “Cao ni ma” or “Fuck your mother,” which Doug advised me never to use (and I still haven’t).
In January of this year, a video about the “cao ni ma,” or “grass-mud horse,” an alpaca-like creature, accompanied by an excruciatingly catchy “It’s a Small World”-type children’s song appeared on a Chinese web page and found its way onto YouTube. Of course the word for grass-mud horse has different tonal inflections than the insult, but the effect is the same:
But this is China we’re talking about, so the video isn’t just funny, punny wordplay. And since its appearance on the internet, the grass-mud horse has become a national symbol of resistance to authority and censorship. The NY Times reported Wednesday:
The grass-mud horse is an example of something that, in China’s authoritarian system, passes as subversive behavior. Conceived as an impish protest against censorship, the foul-named little horse has not merely made government censors look ridiculous, although it has surely done that.
It has also raised real questions about China’s ability to stanch the flow of information over the Internet — a project on which the Chinese government already has expended untold riches, and written countless software algorithms to weed deviant thought from the world’s largest cyber-community.
I also love the double entendre of “Fuck your mother.” Fuck your mother, Fuck your mother country, Fuck your mother ship. So what better time is there for me to finally bust out my nastiest Mandarin?
Hey Chinese government!
Cao ni ma!
Ahhh. The first taste of freedom on the tongue.
UPDATE: The original video is removed from YouTube.
Filed under: Cao Ni Ma, Censoring the Internet, China, China Censorship, Curse Words, Cursing, Cussing, Double Entendres, Double Meanings, Fuck Your Mother, Grass Mud Horse, Protests, Rise Up My People