Compared to the thousands who have expressed their views through various protests that took place in China over the weekend, major Chinese internet websites seemed a lot quieter about the marches – but that's just on the surface.
Chinese media, including internet content service providers, are not allowed to publish reports on the marches.
QQ, one of the most popular instant messaging client in China, has added the word “march” (游行) to their list of banned words, preventing users from sending any messages that contains the prohibited word.
Despite the restrictions, hundreds of blog posts were able to make their way through to the internet, providing a range of information and opinions.
Many of them are eye-witness accounts of the marches in Shanghai, Ningbo,
Hangzhou and Shenzhen, with photos taken throughout the protests accompanying their posts.
They showed a sense of pride that they have done the right thing to speak out for justice that would leave a mark in history. That the people in Shanghai are also patriots and not just people who would money first as people from around the country alleged previously.
“Boycott Japanese goods and strengthened China” is the slogan used most throughout the protest in Shanghai, it was also the rationale behind the protest, one angry Anti-Japan blogger said in a blog post where he captured the most memorable moments and accomplishments of the protest.
He was most provoked when protesters tried to pass through the police line. “1, 2, 3! Patriotism is not a crime! Break the (police) protection line!”, he recalled.
Some talked about the window smashing and vandalism that they saw in Shanghai. But they also noted that the vandalism were done by a few emotionally-charged protesters while many other more rational protesters tried to stop them but without any success.
In Ding Yong Speaks, the blogger questioned why people are focusing on the violent behaviors by ten percent of the protesters and not the voices by ninety percent who are the majority. He thought that the outpour of strong emotions and violence in recent protests took place because people never had an outlet nor the experience to let the steam out publicly.
“Are protests useful? Are they necessary? Many people on the internet are debating [about these questions].” Fuiyi, a Chinese blogger wrote.
Already, some bloggers have raised the issue of economic damages that have been done to local businesses. Some called others to remain calm and rational when expressing their views. Some opined that not all protesters are partriots – that some people went for the sake of protesting against the government. Some continued to vent their anger on the text book issue and territorial disputes over Diaoyutai islands.
“I think marches is a strong and powerful behavior for ordinary citizen groups in the society to express themselves. Even though it is a bit useless and may be used for illegal purposes, but if you don't march, how are you going to express yourself?” Fuiyi concluded in his blog.
The views on the topic are wide-ranging and continue to evolve in the Chinese internet.
Update: Fon Tuinstra points out that: “When I read Andrea's overview I get the idea that not only traditional media sanatize reality to accomodate their audiences, Chinese bloggers show the same tendency.” It should be pointed out that it was the translator of this piece who neglected the racist remarks as I thought they have already been widely reported in the news. The Chinese blogger quoted in this piece did mention that “Japanese pigs” has the best rhythm. Whenever people shouted “Japanese pigs”, the rest of the protesters would shout “Leave! Leave! Leave!”.
Update 2: Some users reported that they could use the word “march” in QQ and the word is not censored.