Hao Qun, 39, better known by his pen name Murong Xuecun, saw all of his weibos – Sina, Tencent, NetEase, and Sohu — deleted on Saturday. Successive attempts to re-register were quickly thwarted as well.
He lost 1.85 million followers, but it’s China and its ignoble band of fucking censors who have lost more: repute. Face. Or does that suddenly not matter?
Murong Xuecun spoke out in an essay published on Wednesday in the Guardian. The whole thing, translated by Helen Gao, is worth a read, but here are some highlights.
On a possible reason for his microblogs’ deletion:
Another possibility concerns the “He Bing incident.” He Bing is a professor at Chinese University of Political Science and Law, and has over 430,000 followers on Sina Weibo. According to an announcement issued by Xinhua on 10 May, he has been silenced by the State Internet Information Office for “purposely spreading rumours.” He wrote a statement responding to this accusation, arguing that the issuance of the punishment did not follow standard administrative procedure, and declaring that he was preparing to file a lawsuit. He asked me to help him retweet the statement. I tried five times, and saw the message censored each time. The next night, I posted a message on Weibo, asking the State Internet Information Office to answer the following questions: Who gives you the power to deprive citizens of their right to free speech? What are the relevant legal standards and procedures for identifying rumours? On what basis do you accuse He Bing of spreading rumours? Why do you repeatedly delete He’s statement? Why would you not allow him to defend himself? As one can imagine, the State Internet Information Office is not interested in answering my questions. In 20 minutes, all my Weibo accounts were deleted.
On the difficulty of “reincarnating” online:
My next reincarnation is going to be more difficult. The Chinese government makes sure its internet technology keeps pace with the times, which leaves me effectively no loophole to exploit. On the morning of 13 May, I attempted to re-register on Weibo, and after an hour of typing almost 30 versions of verification codes, I still couldn’t get registered. My IP address, which is static, has been blocked. Registering a new account would require a verification code to be sent to a mobile number. I have only one mobile phone, which has similarly been blocked.
And on what it feels like to be “silenced”:
“It’s as if you were chatting and laughing with friends in a brilliantly lit house, when you suddenly fell into a dark pit,” I told him. “You yell at the top of your lungs, but no one can hear you. You struggle to get out, but only sink deeper.” I also need to console those who love me, and let them know everything is fine. In this abyss, I am once again visited by the biting chill of uncertainty, of not knowing what will come next. I am not as prepared as I thought. I am still scared, but I will not stop struggling, because I believe my silence would only embolden those who are trampling on my rights, and will trample on the rights of others. I need to stand bold straight and tell those in the “relevant organs”: you can never take away my rights. This abyss, I believe, will not remain dark for ever. As long as I keep up my effort, I will eventually find a piece of flint and kindle a tiny spark to illuminate the square inch in front of my feet.
We’re used to hearing stories like this, and Murong, admittedly, was ready for his inevitable silencing — “I am mentally prepared,” he wrote. Yet it’s maddening all the same when it happens.
We’re glad Murong is continuing to speak out, and maybe now will feel more empowered to do so — at least in English media. What else would the government do, mm? (Note: we know what they can do, but would they?)
Chinese internet: ‘a new censorship campaign has commenced’ (The Guardian)