China: Citizen blogger treading new ground?

Wasn't the point of web 2.0 the hole it was to tear in monolithic traditional media, with bloggers crowding in to pick up the slack and make the story go viral? Like, the Reuters-backed venture which sought to revolutionize news media through open-source reporting, yet after months of hype is still asking itself what it wants to do.

Well, leave it to a young Hunanese vegetable farmer-blogger with social conscience and hunger for fame to throw down his basket, grab a camera and head off to any number of Chinese internet bars to blog one of the biggest news stories in China of 2007 and, by doing so, establish a precedent and a step-by-step guide for NewAssignment, Reuters and many others to follow. One just needs some sisu, thick skin, no hesitation in asking people for money and then spending it. No tax declarations or NGO status to worry about doesn't hurt either. And, in contradiction to an earlier blog post, Zola—one of the earliest contributors to China's latest blog buzz initiative—is not even China's first citizen reporter, he's just the first to bring it mainstream.


What's it take?
-a blog
-a digital camera
-map of all the netbars in the area
-a portable picasa account
-a twitter account
-even a live broadcast feed
-a ping-pong paddle and blogger friends all across the country

Picking up from his final nailhouse post, Zola takes a long look back at the two weeks he spent in Chongqing covering the Nailhouse, reflects on what his motivation is—getting famous is a large part of it—and starts making the first of several declarations to head home back to Hunan and the family vegetable stall. From his post dated April 3:


To sum it up, I see this as a perfect ending. Though the amount of long-repressed anger gave people the impression of this being a conflict between officials and the people, it actually all blew over quietly. And me, I did something many saw as risky, but then, with a stroke of luck, I finished up my reporting without the slightest bump and, having done my job and made a name for myself, pulled out. From now on, I'll have that many more social resources to work with. I must do better in selling vegetables, get working towards a career. I have a good eye for current events, hehe…


Those unfamiliar with me might think that I'm just a fenqing, an annoying angry young man, who happens to have a love for the limelight, but those who often read my blog wouldn't think so. This is why I'm not the least bit worried about the impact negative impact comments will have.

我的使命完成了,终于等到了建筑的拆迁,并且很高兴看到这一个和平的方式解决了开发商和拆迁户之间积累了几个的矛盾。我可以安稳的睡觉而不用担心错过有新闻价值的细节了,我用我的图片和视频为网友们提供了现场的信息,满足了部分人对此事的好奇心,还成功地体现了个人媒体在社会事件中的作用,把个人媒体这个词推向了中国新闻人的眼前,让他们不再忽略网络日志的个人媒体的作用。这证明在技术将带来新的传播手段和市场,也给企图”统一思想”的共产党带来新的挑战,也给普通平民带来新的传递自己的声音的机会。我这个中国网络日志作者的出现是技术发展后的必然,个人媒体必然参与社会事件,履行舆论监督的权利。但是,很不幸的,中国是一个利用新闻来宣传的国家,他不会允许个人拥有不受他们控制的强大的影响力,很巧合的是,当吴苹和开发商达成协商的当天,我的 weblog也无法在中国境内访问了。我无法在国内建立网站的原因是:如果我将网站放在国内,按照中国的法律制度,我必须备案登记,如果备案后网站主人写了与时政有关的内容,就会接到”通信管理局”的电话让我们删除相关文章,如果联系不上网站主人,”通信管理局”就会通知网络接入商(ISP)在主机上删除站点导致人们无法访问这个网站。所以,我拒绝备案登记并使用国内的主机。今天,我的weblog被屏蔽了,当人们访问我的网站里的weblog时,就会出现一个空白页面,如果是有经验的网民,他们知道,我的BLOG被GFWed了。我的影响力就从此不会在普通网民中扩大了。

My mission is complete, the building has finally been torn down, and I was happy to see a peaceful resolution to the built-up conflicts between the developer and the evicted. I can sleep peacefully without worrying about any newsworthy details having been missed. I use my photos and video to supply readers with on-the-scene information, easing the curiosity some people have regarding this incident, even successfully embodying the role that individual media can have in society, pushing the words citizen media before the eyes of Chinese media workers, making it impossible for them to continue overlooking the role that citizen blog journalism plays. This proves that as technology brings new means and markets for communication, it also presents a new challenge to the Communist Party's attempted “monolithic thinking,” and gives average citizens new opportunities to spread their own voices. Given technological development, the appearance of Chinese bloggers such as myself is inevitable, as is individual media's participation in social events and their right to act as watchdogs. But, unfortunately, China is a country which uses the news as state propaganda, and individuals not under their control are not allowed to gain great influence. And what's really a coincidence is that the day Wu Ping and the developer reached an agreement was the day that my blog became inaccessible inside China. The reason I cannot set up a website inside China is that if I have it hosted on the mainland, in accordance with China's legal system, I would be required to register. If, following registration the website carries content related to something political, just a phone call from the “communication administration” would see my posts deleted, and in the case the webmaster happens to be unreachable, the “communication administration” will notify the ISP to delete the website of the host server, render it unvisitable. So, I refuse to register and/or use mainland hosting services. Today, my blog has been blocked; when people go to visit the blog link on my website, only an empty page appears. Netizens with experience will know that my blog has been GFW‘d . For this reason, my influence among average netizens is unable to grow.


Originally, I'd planned to get into the entertainment industry after I made a name for myself, but with best writing on my website blocked, there's no way for most people to get to know me, or support me.

好了,我的网站总算被屏蔽了,我早知道有这么一天,来得也不算太早,网络日志被屏蔽也意味着我终于成名了,至少引起GFW的注意了,这是我的荣耀。还有四份报纸和国外的媒体采访我,我竟然真的实现”一夜成名”了!我就说我猪年”诸”事顺利,心想事成嘛。你看,有《南方都市报》、《湘声报社》、《21世纪经济报道》、《潇湘晨报》、《杭州都市快报》、美国《新闻周刊》、美联社、法新社、伦敦BBC、江西都市频道、台湾中国时报、中天电视这些传统媒体的记者联系过我,至少有四份报纸出版提到了我,其中有《南方都市报》、《潇湘晨报》、《杭州都市快报》、《21世纪经济报道》,其中《21世纪经济报道》将在明天有卖,我今天在重庆已经买到了,配的图是hidecloud拍的,文字是吴红缨写的,写得不错,网上 有电子版,新浪财经 有转载,不过,她在说我的手指受伤的事来娱乐大众的事时,可能没仔细看链接里的图片下的文字,我已经说明是接电话时手插错了口袋才划伤的,那个电话是《湘声报社》的谭君打的,我回湖南再找她算帐去。很高兴的是,吴红缨转达了我的观点:”出名不是坏事,只要在公益事业和商业益之间找到平衡。”虽然吴红缨不写关注 BLOG,但她这篇文章写得还是不错的。

Okay, so my website's been blocked. I always knew this day would come, and it could have come earlier. Having my blog blocked just means I've finally become famous. At least I've got the GFW's attention. This is my honor. There were also many newspapers and foreign media outlets which interviewed me. I've actually become “famous overnight”! I'm one lucky pig this Year of the Pig, everything I'd wanted is happening. You see, there's Southern Metropolis Daily, The Voice of Hunan, 21st Century Economic Herald, Xiao River Morning Post, Hangzhou Metro Express, American Newsweek, Associated Press, Agence France-Presse, BBC, Jiangxi Metro TV, Taiwan China Times, Zhongtian TV: reporters from all these traditional media have all contacted me, and at least four newspapers have mentioned me: Southern Metropolis Daily, Xiao River Morning Post, Hangzhou Metro Express, 21st Century Economic Herald, the last of which, 21st C, will be on the stands tomorrow. I was already able to buy it here in Chongqing. Accompanying the story is a photo taken by hidecloud, the story itself was written by Wu Hongying. It's not bad. There's an online version, and Sina Finance has copied the story. Though, when she says that I'd hurt my hand, to amuse everyone, she might not have looked carefully enough at the text beneath the photo, where I say clearly that I'd only cut my hand when I put it in the wrong pocket as I went to answer the phone. That phone call was actually from The Voice of Hunan's Tan Jun, when I get back to Hunan I'll have a bone to pick with her. What made me the happiest was seeing Wu Hongying had reprinted this one line: “getting famous isn't a bad thing, just as long as one finds a balance between working for the private good and working for private gain.” Though Wu Hongying didn't write about blogs, this piece of hers was actually well-written.



I'm about to leave Chongqing to go back to my little village and continue on with my life. I'm sick of city life. Really, these last few days I've been unable to eat or sleep, sleeping on average no more than five hours each night. I try to sleep and I can't. After I head back to the countryside, I'll be sleeping sixteen worry-free hours every night again.

Do I really have ideals? Do I really have no ideals? I don't know either. I guess the occasional attention I get now is pretty sweet, but if I can get back into the quiet life I'll be able to maintain my passion, moving between the tense city and the relaxed country. This way life will be that much more brilliant.

No qualms about loving the limelight, and a healthy lack of fear of repercussions, as seen in Zola's April 4 post following an interview with Voice of America:

对方的录音在这, 这里的22点的时候有我的录音,我听人家说的。

My phone number can be found on the internet, anyone can find me quite conveniently. VOA did, and I agreed to be interviewed. Later someone told me that talking to VOA is a political crime. I though: could something like that happen in today's day and age? As if they'd try and frame me with their interview, would they? They didn't tell me they were recording the interview, and I didn't tell them I was recording it too. Yesterday when the BBC phoned me, I knew they were speaking to me from the recording studio, but I forgot to make a recording. Their recording can be found here.

By this point, the Zola celebrity citizen blogger cross-country tour is well on its way. His next stop? Guiyang, capital of central China's impoverished Guizhou province.


We sigh at just great trust is between bloggers. We might just give rise to a big blogger alliance. Local bloggers would just need to be in charge of introducing hostels and organizing entertainment activities, and there we'd have face-to-face interaction. I'll tell you, the best thing my could be used for might just be friend and marriage match-ups.

And be it for pent-up frustration, too many hours hunched over a keyboard, or your blog having just been blocked, Zola shows us the leisure game of choice for the hardcore blogger:

Speaking of which, leisure time aside, there are those things that happen to Chinese bloggers who blog too much:


Corresponding strategy for having been GFW‘d:

1. 经查实,我的网站里只被GFW屏蔽了这个URL,也就是说, 任何含有 的请求在路过中国的GFW的边境线的时候都会被Reset,连这样的URL都被RESET:

1. Following verification, the GFW has only blocked the url and not my whole website. In other words, any requests for will be reset as they pass through the borderlines of China's GFW. Even URLS like this will be reset:

2. 很多人发现GFW影响Google Reader用户订阅我的FEED( 1、 2),有朋友被迫退订了我的BLOG的FEED,HideCloud告诉我一个办法:”在reader里使用All items可以解决zola日志被GFW的情况”,还有一个办法就是改用https:

2. Many people have noticed that the GFW affects their Google Reader subscriptions to my RSS feed. Friends are hounding me for ways to subscribe to my blog's feed now, and HideCloud tells me one method: “in Google Reader, using ‘All Items’ can resolve the issue of Zola's blog having been GFW'd.” Another way would be to change to httpS:

3. 我用R-mail.org的邮件定阅将邮件订阅到,然后转发到,这样就把我的最新日志放到了这个任何人可加入的讨论组中,然后任何人加入这个讨论组即可实现订阅我的网络日志,如果你觉得这样的订阅方式适合你的话;

3. I use an e-mail subscription to subscribe to, and forward everything to This allows my latest blog posts to appear at , a discussion group which anyone can join. Anyone who joins this discussion group will then be able to subscribe to my blog, if you feel this kind of subscription method suits you that is.

4. 我在宣传我的国内镜像BLOG 虽然这个站的界面不符我意,页面代码和URL很乱,但总比让那些偶然知道我的人搜索 周曙光后什么也看不到要好,技术细节不便透露,让网监们去费心猜吧。我知道网监的大叔们可能在关注我,并且可能认得我,他们
已经给我照顾了,没有完全封掉我的域名,我也许应该感谢他们;还要感谢 罗永浩为我提供国内镜像服务;

4. I'm currently promoting my mainland mirror blog Though this site's interface is not to my liking and the code and url are messed, overall it's better than having nothing at all show up for those who search for my name online. I'll hold off revealing the technical details for now, let the net nanny try and guess. I know the big brother net nanny might be watching me, and might even know me, but they've already done a bit for me in not completely blocking my domain name. Maybe I ought to thank them. And thank Luo Yonghao for providing me with this mainland mirror service.

5. 我弄了一个 来避免的封锁,国内的人们应该还能用这个来看我的BLOG,这个URL是临时的,我不会舍弃我的这个目录的PR值和反向链接,我还期待着有一天网监的人会解除封锁,因为我相信共产党会越来越开明,除非共产党敢于反对全球一体化进程,并且不打算办2008的运动会了;

5. I came up with to get around's being blocked. People inside China should still be able to use this to view my blog. This url is temporary, I won't abandon….I expect that one day the net nanny will undo the block, because I believe that the Communist Party will continue to become more easy-going; unless, say, the Communist Party dares go against globalization, cancelling the 2008 Olympics and whatnot.

6. 感谢网监也看我的BLOG,欢迎继续看,希望你们能认识到你们的工作不仅仅是为了养家糊口,而且是有价值的像我一样可以回家向父母炫耀功劳的劳动;

6. Thank you to the net nannies for reading my blog, and you're welcome to continue reading it. I hope you can realize that your work not only feeds your families, but like me it's an achievement you can go home and show off your parents.

7. 谢谢所有为我提供软件和服务的公司和个人,我会像你们一样去帮助真正需要帮助的人。

7. Thank you to all the companies and individuals who have provided me with software and services. Like you, I will go to help those who truly need help.

8. 谢谢所有为我提供精神支持和物质支持的公司和个人,我会像你们一样去为其他人提供精神支持和力所能及的物质支持。

8. Thank you to all the companies and individuals who provide me with emotional and material support. Like you, I will go and do all I can to provide emotional and material support to others.

By this point it's the May Day week-long national holiday in China, and Zola heads home to Hunan to reflect on what his motivations are:

回家一个多星期了,我也想安守本分,可是有人告诉我应该进一步炒作让自己成为名人才会更安全,也有人告诉我如果硬是要努力成为”维权”分子的话,那只有一句话送给我:”维权有风险,投身请慎重”,我也在想啊,我要成名其实也简单,我去北京找找木子美聊聊性自由,找FRJJ聊聊审美自由,找二月丫头聊聊精神自由,找大纪元聊聊信仰自由,然后再找丧祖德签下生死壮,搞一场自由博击,顺便搞稿全程网络直播, 然后再找找许戈辉、陈鲁豫聊聊天,我就可以正式进入娱乐圈了,成名得利之后,我就有更多的机会与黑社会的老大老二们打交道了。

I've been back home for over a week and I just want to get back to my duties. Somebody told me I should play myself up more, make myself famous and this way I'll be safest. Others tell me that if I work hard at becoming a “rights defender”, they've just one thing to say to me: “defending rights is risky, proceed with caution getting involved”. I've been thinking: wanting to get famous—as I do—is actually quite simple. I just need to go to Beijing and talk sexual freedom with Muzi Mei, aesthetic freedom with Furong Jiejie, emotional freedom with February Girl, freedom of religion with Epoch Times, and then sell my soul to Song Zude, start up a freedom blog, broadcast everything directly onto the internet, then try looking for Xu Gehui and Chen Luyu for a chat, and then I could make it properly into the entertainment circle. And once I hit it big, I'll have all the more chances to deal directly with the big bosses in the criminal underworld.


I don't want to be a free spokesperson for those evicted to make way for new development. And I don't want to let ‘rights defending’ become the dominant narrative of my life, nor do I want to let my own casual blog become a front for rights defenders. But, things in the public interest still need to be done, and those done for profit can still be done business as normal. If I succeed in helping someone in upholding their rights, I'll still receive payment. Upholding citizen rights is something the government ought to be doing; as an individual there's no obligation for me to be doing this. And I definitely won't be so deadly stupid as the Shenzhen-based singer Cong Fei and trying doing something heroic when I'm anything but. Nobody's forcing me to be a hero. You have to fight for your own interests; rights come from being conscious and aware: no hero would want be responsible for someone else's rights.

Is Zola someone worth investing in? Compared to the booming Chinese stock market? In any case, Zola has quickly worked out exactly which direction he hopes to take his citizen journalism-blogging gig:



With this “overnight fame” having been achieved, purely the result of average-little-citizen-me's guidance, one person's familiarity with use of internet technology, use of the contact network I've made in my three years of blogging towards cooking up a name for myself. There are no behind-the-scenes groups supporting me. If it's to be said that I have supporters, it's the support sent by the countless net-friends both familiar and strangers to me.

I think there's a need to explain why I went to Chongqing, what I did there, what technology and products I used, so I've written the following:


1. 我鄙视传统媒体很久了。他们步调一致,同进共退,受”相关部门”的要挟,能报道什么,不能报道什么,他们听命于人,据说他们是被”道德总局”胁迫的。当我看到新浪的一个某房地产中介弄的一个滚动报道重庆的BLOG被删除后,又看到网易的关于钉子户的专题报道被删除后,我意识到这是一个敏感新闻,传统媒体没有获得”道德总局”的许可而不能报道。我是不属于体制内的中国公民,没有公职,我不怕打压报复,我去报道这些事情是完全没有风险的,于是我去了;
2. 很想出风头很久了。我从小就知道我不是普通人,我爱出风头,善于出风头,不相信权威,特立独行,坚定信仰个人自由,信奉”未被禁止的就是许可的”的规则,反对极权主义下的”未被允许的就是禁止的”的规则,相信 哈耶克自由主义,认定社会不需要一个独裁者来帮助每一个人进行对错的判断,反对政府对人们的精神世界进行”宏观调控”,在众多麻木的声称不谈政治的人中间,我显然是一个异类,所以我早就准备了一个”周曙光全球官方网”,以便让陌生人相信我是一个已经有很多很多Fans的大明星;
3. 我没有职务,也没有老婆孩子,和父母分开住,没人管我,没有工作,唯一的工作就是卖菜,我做任何事都没有后顾之忧,我的卖菜计划搁置了好久了,我有时间去重庆玩,我本来是打算当成一个Flash Mob的,计划到杨武的房顶上自拍一张就算完成任务。

Why did I go to Chongqing?

1. I've long despised traditional media. They all act walk the same step at the same pace; receiving coercion from “the related departments”, what can they report on? They're dictated to, threatened and harassed by the “morality administration”, so they say. When I saw a report on Sina about a rumble some real estate company had stirred up had been deleted, and when I saw that the Netease section on Nailhouses had been deleted, I realized that this was some sensitive news and that traditional media hadn't been given approval to report on it by the “morality administration”. I'm a Chinese citizen who's not inside the system, I have no government job. I'm not afraid of being beaten or sought for revenge. Going to report on this incident was completely risk-free, so I went.
2. I've wanted to be famous for a long time. Since I was a kid I've known I wasn't just some ordinary person. I love the limelight and I play it well. I don't believe in authority. I'm a principled and independent thinker. I firmly believe in individual freedom, and I believe in the rule “that which hasn't been prohibited is thus allowed,” I'm opposed to totalitarianism's “that which hasn't been permitted is thus prohibited.” I believe in Hayek Liberalism, and I maintain that society does not need a dictator to come help every person, that this is a mistaken judgement. I'm opposed to the government's use of macroeconomic controls of people's inner worlds. As people are numbed to politics, proclaiming they don't discuss it with others, I seem to be a different species, so for this reason I've long had prepared a “Zola Global Official Website”, to let strangers believe that I'm a celebrity already with many fans.
3. I have no profession, no wife or kids. I don't live with my parents, nobody watches over my affairs. I have no job in that my only work is in selling vegetables. In everything I do I have no fear of what might come later. My vegetable-selling plan has been set aside for quite some time, so I had some time to come have fun in Chongqing. My original plan was to start a flash mob, planning to go to the roof of Yang Wu's house and leave it at that.


1. 和路人讨论吴苹的房子为什么没有拆;
2. 每天拍摄房子的样子;
3. 看工地附近的记者们在干些什么,听他们问些什么;
4. 听外地闻风而来的拆迁维权者们的故事 ;
5. 上网吧发布视频、图片和文字;
6. 坐轻轨看重庆这城市的风景;
7. 网友见面,见到了传说中的 hidecloud;
8. 去解放碑附近的小吃城吃东西,去坐《疯狂的石头》里的那个过江索道,去美术学院吃东西 ;
9. 鼓励并教别人如何成为独立Blogger,例:
10. 搞搞网友聊天直播,学明星大腕装逼开粉丝见面会,与网友互动,结果互动没搞成,我的站就被封了,接着当天晚上就拆吴苹的房子,弄得我手忙脚乱,还算拍到了不少 精彩照片;
11. 去久仰的重庆邮电大学参观;
12. 在火车站广场遭遇撕钱角的小快餐店,他们企图将我的大面值钞票调包,故意将我给的小面值的钞票的角撕掉一角来逼我换成大钞,我怒了,于是居高临下拍了很多他们的照片,希望更多路过重庆火车站的人不要上当受骗

What did I do in Chongqing?

1. Talked with passerby about why Wu Ping's house hadn't been torn down.
2. Taking daily photos of the condition of the nailhouse.
3. Watching what reporters near the work site were up to, listening to the questions they asked.
4. Listened to the stories of other evictees who came after hearing the news.
5. Went to the internet bar to post my video, photos and reports.
6. Took the lightrail to see Chongqing's scenery.
7. Met with net friends, met the legendary hidecloud.
8. Went to eat at the snack city near the Liberation monument, took the cross-river cablecar seen in Crazy Stone, went to the Art Academy to eat something.
9. Encouraged and taught people how to become independent bloggers, for example.
10. Held a live chat with netfriends, held a classy, pretentious fan meeting just like a movie star, usuccessfully interacted with netfriends as my site was blocked. The night Wu Ping's house was torn down I scrambled over and took many spectacular photos.
11. Went to check out the Chongqing Post and Telecommunications University I'd heard so much about.
12. Ran into a scam at the fast-food restaurant at the train station: they tried to give me small bills with ripped corners [making them invalid] in exchange for my large bill. I got pissed off and gave up, but then took a lot of their photos. I hope more people don't end up getting ripped off while passing through Chongqing train station.


What IT technology and products did I use?
Websites (the American server Dreamhost, 20Gs of space, 2TB of bandwidth/month, and blogging platform WordPress)
A laptop computer
A digital camera
A mobile phone
A memory stick
A Gmail account
Video sharing websites ( first, then Yukou)
Photo sharing websites ( for storage, Picasa for convenient editing)
Net bars (Chongqing net bars don't need you to show any ID)
A blog
An RSS feed (see ”” on, for feed delivery)
Chat tools (MSN/SKYPE/Gtalk/QQ)


Who have I received donations from?

王博 捐赠 100.00(支付宝未付款)
刘衡 一路平安 16.88
刘小超 支持一下 10.00
王焕晓 盒饭 10.00
邱英涛 支持你 50.00
马斌 赞助一下 10.00
彭超 声援钉子户 10.00
刘正东 钉子户事件调查赞助 20.00
陈伯乐 赞助 100.00
夏炎 支持zola 100.00
张海鹰 支持你的报道 50.00
林广涛 赞助地铁费2元 2.00
金大虾 区区20元,不成敬意,喝杯茶 20.00
张晓刚 支持 20.00
尹秉汇 正义感 100.00
everesthiker 赞助重庆报道 100.00
伍新平 eeeeeee 39.00
高月霞 绵薄之力,支持顿饭钱 20.00
刘淼 支持 50.00
钱洲扬 Donation 50.00

Wang Bo, RMB 100
Liu Heng, RMB 16.88
Liu Xiaochao, 10
Wang Huanxiao, 10
Qiu Yingtao, 50
Ma Bin, 10
Peng Chao, 10
Liu Zhengdong, 20
Chen Bole, 100
Herock, 100
Zhang Haiying, 50
Lin Guangtao, 2 (subway fare)
Jin Daxia, 20
Zhang Xiaogang, 20
Yin Binghui, 100
everesthiker, 100
Wu Xinping, 39
Gao Yuexia, 20
Qian Zhouyang, 50
Mr. Zhan, Beijing, 1000
Mr. Zhou, America, 2000
Mr. Zhu, Beijing, 3000 (used to buy a digital camera)
Mr. Feng Yan, Germany, 60
Chen Hanwei, 10
Mr. Chen, Chongqing resident, 100
Mr. Bai Dehua, Taiwan, 100
Shenzhen netfriend, recharged mobile by 100
Changsha netfriend MM, recharged mobile by 50
Yi Zhou, recharged mobile by 100

共计得到7287.88元赞助。如果谁发现上列款项没有列出你的名字,请给我Email: 或留言通知于我。.

Total received donations: RMB 7, 287.88. If anyone notices their name has been left off the list, please e-mail me at or leave a comment.


1. 火车票:湖南到重庆:17+51+53
2. 电话费:250元+4欧元SKYPE电话费
3. 上网费;不记得多少了,每天至少四小时吧,约八块钱
4. 住宿费:共住了一个星期,珠海陈风强先生赞助四天住宿,另三天住宿自己付了180元
5. 买数码相机:2850元

How much have I spent?

1. Train tickets: Hunan to Chongqing: 17+51+53
2. Phone costs: RMB 250+ EURO 4 (Skype)
3. Internet fees: Not clear. At least four hours a day, so around RMB 8 in total.
4. Accomodation: A week total. Zhuhai's Mr. Chen Fengqiang contributed four nights’ stay, and the other three days came to RMB 180
5. Purchase of a digital camera: RMB 2,850

Zola in the news is almost its own category on his blog. In his next two posts, Zola meditates on mainstream media, being in it, and why he thinks he can do it better. He also follows up on some stories of other rights infringement cases in and around Chongqing, and even releases another interview he did at the time: internet video to which he's himself added subtitles. Any takers on the English crossover version?


I've decided for the next half year I won't sell any more vegetables, instead deciding to go and study the related laws, and help evicted and displaced persons set up their own blogs, provide them with legal support. I also want to work hard in taking part in various sorts of eye-catching entertainment activities, and work hard in hyping myself up enough to become a crossover star in the entertainment and IT worlds. Only if I get famous will I then be able to live peacefully in this kind of “harmonious society,” and if can get both fame and fortune, why shouldn't I enjoy it? Maybe starting from now I'll never go back to selling vegetables, but I hope I can live just like Forrest Gump, never forgetting my dreams and what I set out to do. I just hope I won't be lonely.

From the next post, dated April 19:

我接到来自全国各地十多个家园破碎的难民(拆迁受害者)的投诉电话,他们以为我能帮到他们,他们都遭遇了暴力拆迁和黑社会和”白社会”的威胁和迫害,黑社会给他们的待遇就是拳打脚踢,白社会的穿制服的人给他们的待遇就是以”防碍公务罪”拘留。这些白道的人可以” 根据目测为危房”就可以达到拆的目的。这社会黑。大共产党是好人,可是基层的小共产党都是坏蛋。

I've gotten complaint phone calls from crushed displaced persons (victims of being evicted) from over ten places across the country. They think I can help them. They've been faced with violent evictions and threats and persecution from the criminal underworld and the “overworld.” The treatment they get from the underworld comes in punches and kicks, and from those in the uniformed overworld via arrest for the crime of “obstructing public affairs.” These overworld people determine houses to be unsafe to inhabit as means of achieving their goal of seeing them torn down. This mafia. The larger Communist Party is good, but down at the local levels, it's the small Communist Party [local officials] that are the scoundrels.

Backing up this talk are photos from Chongqing blogger Hidecloud's own blog reports on violent tactics being used to intimidate homeowners in that city:




What is a sense of social responsibility? Speaking for other people, that's what! We can do no good by withdrawing from the world, being overly cautious. We can't be apathetic. But we can pay attention! We can also make comments, if you have a blog that is.

From here Zola sets off, first to Changsha, capital of Hunan province, meeting up with bloggers, finding the blogging movement alive and well, strengthening it at the same time. On the way, he plugs into one of the more successful civil society initiatives in China today, 1kg More: “It runs behind the idea of travelers bringing 1kg of inexpensive educational materials in addition to their package to give away to some one that needs it along their journey, e.g. kids that cannot even afford a pencil rubber.“:

我也要向安猪学习,我也有旅游的机会了,全国各地不断有人邀请我去参观难民的生存状态–对不起,我要解释一下,我把家园破碎的非法拆迁受害者称呼为难民– 我也要多背一公斤的书给他们,是法律书,我帮助他们维权和安猪帮助孩子们同样有意义吧,至少同样算是旅行:)当然,我也像安猪一样呼吁更多的 Blogger来记录身边的社会新闻。

I'd like to do more like Andrew Yu. I have a lot of chances to travel; people from all over the country keep inviting me to come see how refugees [难民] live. Sorry, I need to explain: people who have had their homes illegally smashed and then are evicted, I call them refugees. I too want to carry one kilogram more of books to give them: law books. My helping them this way is just as significant as Andrew Yu's helping of children. Anyways, I'll still be travelling :) Of course, also like Andrew Yu, I'd like to call for more bloggers to record the social news happening around them.

1kg's Flickr site.

But who's calling Zola? From his post May 7 post, ‘I volunteer to continue recording society's news‘:


面对这许多的事,我想冷漠也不行了。我只好做一些力所能及的事。法律程序是肯定要走的,我也鼓励他们在家中放一些 石灰或滑石粉来预防被黑社会袭击,有社会关系也要尽量用,有钱的话连烂仔也要请来看家。我呢,就趁机搞搞全国旅游好了,还可以借机拜访各界知名人士,还可以跟人家聊聊OpenID、个人媒体、 web2.0这些概念呢。


One person in Guangzhou who's been evicted got in touch with me, he used his own money to hire some thugs to stand watch over his house—upon which he's already hoisted a Chinese flag—to stop the “mafia” from coming and making trouble. One auntie in Putuo district in Zhejiang province‘s Zhoushan city called me asking me to come check out the site of 730 mu of farmland in her village which was expropriated. A refugee in Fuzhou, Fujian province sent me a long article discribing what he's been facing. Chen Jianbo of Shenzhen was concerned that his relatives back home in Wangcheng county might be in danger, hoped I'd go and take a look—today those relatives of his were finally beaten by “the mafia”, but I'd already arrived in Zhoushan, so I could only give him the phone number of one journalist at the Xiao River Morning Post so he can let the newspaper know.

I've been through so many things, but apathy is out of the question. I can just do my best at a few things. Legal procedures must be followed, but I'm also encouraging people stuck in their homes to prepare some lime and talcum powder to protect themselves from “the mafia's” attacks, to throw it in their eyes if necessary, and to do their best to make use of any power connections they might have. If they have money, they could even hire some thugs to watch their house. Me? I'm just enjoying this chance to tour the county, and visit famous places and people while I'm at it, even talking to people about concepts like real-name registration, web 2.0, things like these.

PS This post was written in Zhoushan. At dawn I took a boat to Xuhui district in Shanghai. If I have time I'll stop by's offices and check it out. I'm a VIP wealink user, hey. They sent me a VIP card. Any comrades in Shanghai who want to treat me to a meal? A few days later and I'll be going to Guangzhou: are there any friends in Guangzhou who'd like to chat with me? Or are there any friends in Shanghai who need me to take something to Guangzhou for them? If there are, then give me a call [+086] 134 67668 333.

From a post dated May 8:

昨天我到达浙江省舟山市普陀区蒲东村。当地居民在杭州的《都市快报》上看到关于我的报道后,于是上网搜索到我的电话号码,于是他们多次邀请我到舟山玩。先给我寄了600元路费,然后昨天他们跟我聊了一下,原来他们村的732亩基本农田全被政府卖光了,还要求他们迁移,要把他们的房子拆掉让他们住进房地产商建的房子,他们不愿意让出重要位置不说,他们还不乐意住别人的房子还要交租交管理费,他们宁愿自己另找一块地自己建房子。更重要的是,村里的730 亩农田被村里全卖了用来建商品楼,有村民认为,政府的行为涉嫌违反了《土地管理法》和《基本农田保护法》。可是他们内部不团结,不敢和政府撕破脸皮对着干,也担心别人叛变投降,也担心被迫害,所以他们决定暂不让我报道这些。而我只好建议他们写BLOG来记录自己的事情,假如以后事情闹大了,政府要强拆剩余的6户房子,别的新闻记者就可以直接引用他们的BLOG的内容,我还建议让他们让上大学的孩子把自己的BLOG翻译成英文,我呢,就提供技术支持,帮他们买一个域名弄一个BLOG。今天早上,我就离开了普陀区,临走时,他们给了我1000元,我毫不迟疑的接下了,我答应帮他们弄一个网站,虽然成本远低于 1000元,但收1000元也不算太贵,我收钱跟兰成长们的创收行为还是有区别的。

Yesterday I arrived at Pudong village in Putuo district, Zhoushan, Zhejiang province. Local residents saw a story about me in the Hangzhou Express, looked up my phone number off the internet and sent many invitations for me to come to Zhoushan. First they sent me 600 yuan for travel costs, and then yesterday we chatted for a bit. Turns out their village's 732 mu of farmland have been completely sold off and then they were made to move off the land. Their houses were to be torn down for them to move into houses built by the developer. They weren't willing to move off such an important area, nor were they willing to move into someone else's residence and pay rent and management fees. They'd prefer to find another piece of land and build houses for themselves. What's most important is that the village's 730 mu of farmland has all been sold off by the village government to build a commercial building. Some villagers suspect the government's behavior violates land administration and basic farmland protection laws. Yet they haven't organized themselves, not daring to take on the government, as well as worrying that other villages will betray them and sell out, as well as worrying about getting hurt. This is why they'd decided for the moment not to let me report on all this. All I could do was suggest they set up their own blog and record their own situations, in the event things blow up later. The government wants to forcefully tear down the remaining six houses; other journalists could directly quote their blog. I also recommended they get their children in university to translate their blog into English. Me? I'd supply technical support, help them buy a domain name for their blog. This morning I left Putuo district, and as I was leaving, they gave me 1000 yuan. I accepted it without any hesitation, promising to help them create a website. Although the costs are much lower than 1000 yuan, that's still not a lot to give. Receiving money for me is a lot different than it is for those who actually grew up with some.

In his next post, Zola writes of going to Shanghai at the invitation of one Chen Jialiang, one of several homeowners in Xuhui district whose properties were levelled before they had a chance to move out, an interesting illustration of what life is like for those facing losing their family homes. Zola's first post from Shanghai:

我是一个浪迹天涯的浪子,昨天到达了上海,和曾在重庆九龙坡遇到的上海徐汇区的被拆迁的难民陈家良等人接上了头,陈家良热情接待了我。他们十多户人家的房子 在家具都没有搬出的情况下被突袭铲平。他们被政府安置住在徐汇区三江路68号锦江之星,陈家良昨天让我跟他睡一个房间,他的房间有两张床,但另一个曾开玩笑说要把在清华读大学的校花女儿嫁给我的阿姨就坚持让我和她老公睡一个房间,她就和她的漂亮女儿睡一间房去了。对了,她女儿不是清华的,早就在工作好几年了。

They've been relocated by the government to #68 Sanjiang Lu in Xuhui district. Yesterday Chen Jialiang let me sleep in the same room as him. There are two beds in the room, but his wife, who once joked she'd marry her daughter now studying at Tsinghua off to me, insisted that I share a room with him and she'd sleep with her beautiful daughter. Oh, right, her daughter isn't at Tsinghua now, but has been out working for several years now…

There's a brief interlude as Zola writes of meeting up with some old college friends for a bout of Counter-Strike, later meeting up with some more of the biggest names in China's blogsphere.

十点左右的时候我告别了何凌和猛禽回到了三江路的锦江之星酒店,我到阿姨的8261房拿电脑,然后去找陈家良,结果挂掉了我的电脑,再上三楼的 8331找陈家良时,被另一个白发老人拦住,说你昨天睡哪里今天就睡哪里,语气很重很不友善,我心都凉了,我不知道我做错什么事了,我不知道给他们添什么麻烦了。我下楼再敲8261的门时,一分钟前还有三个人在的房间居然没有应答了。我感觉我似乎突然不被信任了,我不知道是不是我做错了什么事,是不是我给他们添麻烦了,我很郁闷,但我没有生气。我在过道里想了几分钟,决定再去三楼找陈家良,再打电话给他一直是关机,我确信他们是在回避我了。我也确信他们在房间里,我相信他们听得到我在门外说的话,我隔着门告诉他们:”你们要我走,我没意见,但我想知道究竟发生了什么,请当面告诉我。”我敲了一会儿8331 的门,始终没有人开门,那个白发老人又出来了,赶我走,让我找8261的人,我告诉他们,我不是要找你们蹭吃蹭住,我只想知道发生了什么。后来他的语气缓和了些,告诉我楼下的8261的两夫妻不是东西,是叛徒,他们影响团结,造谣生事。在老人开始说的时候,我把我的手机的录音功能打开了,录下了他对 8261的两夫妻的指责,具体内容请听这个录音。

Around ten o'clock I said goodbye to those guys and returned to the hotel on Sanjiang Lu. I went to Auntie's room 8261 to get my computer and then went looking for Chen Jianliang. I turned my computer off and when I went up to 8331 on the third floor to find Chen, my way was blocked by one white-haired senior. Wherever you slept yesterday you can sleep there again today. His tone was very, very unfriendly, I was shocked. I didn't know what I'd done wrong, if I'd created some problems for them. I went back down to 8621 and knocked on the door. Just a minute earlier there were three people in the room but now they weren't answering. I felt like suddenly I wasn't being trusted, but I didn't know what I might have done wrong. I was bummed, but I didn't get angry. I stood in the hall and thought for a few minutes, then decided to go back to the third floor to find Chen Jialiang. I phoned his cell phone but it was closed. I was sure they were avoiding me. I was also sure that they were in the room. Thinking they must be able to hear me from the hall, from outside the door I told them: “if you want me to leave, I have no problem with that, but I'd just like to know what's happened, and please tell me to my face.” I knocked again on the door to 8331, but nobody would open. The white-haired senior appeared again, made me leave and go look for the people in 8261. I told him, I'm not here to mooch for food or a place to sleep, I'd just like to know what happened. Then his tone was a bit nicer, and he told me the husband and wife down in 8621 aren't even humans, that they're traitors. They've disturbed the group, spreading rumors and creating problems. As the old man was speaking, I turned on my cell phone's recording function and recorded his accusations against the couple in 8261. Please listen for more details.

Auntie on the right

Podcast translation voice-overs, anyone?
shanghai.amr 08-May-2007 13:12 184K
shanghai.wav 08-May-2007 13:12 4.4M

Going on, Zola writes:

我无奈的离开锦江之星,走在空荡的街上,又一次想到了流浪这个词。 我穿上外套,吹着晚风,想着这些破事。我才开始准备做社会新闻就遇到这么复杂且古怪的事,说不定以后更精彩更离奇呢。我于是决定不找住宿的地方了,我去网吧记录这些事情。

明天去上海静安区昌化路找传说中的上海最牛钉子户,再找老板娘合一个影我又可以娱乐 一回。

Thus I left the hotel, walking on the deserted road, reminded not for the first time of the word vagrant. Wearing a jacket, in the brisk evening wind, I think over these damned events. I'm prepared for all the complicated and strange things I'll see in social news work, but who knows how colorful and strange the things to come will be. I decided to find my own places to stay from now on, and then I went to the net bar to write all these things down.

Tomorrow I'm going to Shanghai's Jingan district, Changhua Lu, to find the legendary Shanghai's coolest nailhouse and find the lady-owner to take a picture with me, have some fun for a change.

In the next post the next day, Zola goes to find Shanghai's coolest nailhousenailhouse?—only to discover it has already been torn down.


Next he goes to Foshan in southern Guangdong province to investigate the Liao Zusheng case. As with the many of the other stories he investigates and blogs, Zola's filmed an interview with the key figure in the matter; in this case, the dead boy's father. It's a clip just begging for someone to give it English subtitles.

From there, Zola hops over to Guangzhou to blog another two nailhouses, one on the east side in Huangpu district, that of a woman he met in Chongqing whose home is having a subway line built beneath it, and one on the east side in Guangzhou's old city, Liwan district, an elderly man whose main tactic in fending off the “mafia” coming to evict him from his home and then demolish it is to huddle himself against the propane tanks he uses for cooking and hold a lighter in one hand, threatening to blow himself up if they force their way in. These photos and more at Zola's Picasa page. The man's photo from within his traditional-style home:


Disclaimer: this blogger spent an afternoon last week with Zola and made a donation.

Suicide bomber tenancy rights activists? If that sounds far out there, Zola keeps it real by often keeping the narrative—and the photos—centered around himself.


我继续做公民记者,专挑传统媒体不报道的新闻来报道,我是从《伶人往事》越禁越火得到启发,越是官方不让报道的事情越具新闻价值,会越让人好奇。对了,我的行踪在我的 Twitter有写,欢迎关注,欢迎广州的有Blog的朋友请我聊天吃饭:)欢迎提供各种形式的赞助,有朋友跟我说:

Levi: 如果你真的为了中国的民主化进程牺牲了 到时候给你献花~~怎么样?

Zola: 厚养薄葬吧,先把买花的钱捐给我:)

与其等我死了再给我献花不如再帮我手机充值:)我会开公每一个赞助者的名字和我的钱的来源和去向。除非有些朋友要求匿名。我有空的时候也许会再搞网上直播。欢迎收藏我的直播地址,,最好是另存直播网页到电脑上,我担心直播页面也有一天会被GFW屏蔽访问。我会在 Twitter上公布行踪,欢迎订阅我的Twitter的 RSS Feed。

I'll continue working as a citizen reporter, picking up the stories traditional media aren't allowed to report. I got my start when they banned “Past Stories of Peking Opera Stars“; the more officials disallowed reporting on it, the more pertinent of news it became, and the more curious people became. Right, my whereabouts are up on my Twitter, feel free to keep track. And Guangzhou bloggers, feel free to take me out for dinner :) Feel free to provide any sort of donation. One friend said to me:

Levi: If you really end up a martyr for the advancement of democracy in China, I'll lay you down some flowers, whaddya think?

Zola: Rich upbringing, poor burial. You can donate me the money for the flowers now. :)

If he's going to wait until I die to give me some flowers, he might as well put some money in my cellphone too :) I will publish the names of all donators, the sources of my money and where it goes. Unless some friends request anonymity. When I have free time I might try my hand at live online broadcasts. Feel free to save my live broadcast link. At best, save backups of the broadcasts on your computer. I'm worried the live broadcast page will one day be blocked by the GFW. I'll make all my whereabouts public on my Twitter, so please feel free to subscribe to my Twitter's RSS feed.

That would make some good Twitter for all its fans, if Zola ever gets picked up: ‘On my way to Hubei for an interview… Lots of police here at the train station… They're pointing at me… Three coming over now……’

From Guangzhou, Zola follows up on more nailhouse/rights infringement case scoops further south, first to Shenzhen:


Then down the coast to Zhuhai, blogging about it all the way. Zola's next post lists the way readers can support him:


* 写你看到的社会新闻,发到你的BLOG上,不仅仅是为我提供新闻,也让更多的人了解有新闻价值的新闻;
* 给我建议,网络技术方案或炒作操作方案,为我提供法律意见,帮我分析我报道的案例中的法律上的要点,顺便把当作通过案例来学习法律的课程,我相信有更多的人需要认真研究法律来保护自己的合法权益,因为没有上帝和英雄来拯救你,你需要自救;
* 帮助你身边的朋友学习使用BLOG,帮助他们学习使用RSS订阅,学习使用Tor;
* 给我发邮件,发到 ,提供更多的新闻线索;
* 给我发邮件,帮我收集我曾报道的新闻的相关新闻,让我更准确的获得反馈,上次有一个网友帮我收集了国内外各媒体的相关重庆最牛钉子户的新闻的URL和截图,给了我很大的帮助;
* 给我发短信,发到1346-7668-333 ,提供新闻线索;
* 请我吃饭(吃盒饭就行,别破费)陪我聊天,给我信心,给我多样观点,好让我更好的作出判断;
* 写你对公民记者的评论,帮助别人把有价值的文章翻译成英文,最好是ReView一下我,最好是把我的BLOG内容介绍给英文世界里的人;
* 给我的手机充值,为我加油;
* 给我的支付宝充值,为我加油,我的支付宝是 ,请不要给我捐助大额捐赠,最好是每个月有空的时候给我捐赠一元,直到我不再记录社会新闻为止。为什么我要这么说呢,并不是我虚伪,并不是我假惺惺地拒绝大额捐款,而是,关注我的BLOG远比给我捐助重要,也许你捐助一百元后觉得我写的BLOG越来越无趣了,也许我一下子得到大量的捐赠后觉得钱来得太容易而不珍惜,所以,我认为,一百个人共捐一百元给我比一个人捐一百元给我更能激励我认真负责的写好每一篇网络日志 ;
* 向我的招商银行卡里塞钱:0755-30718139
* 把我介绍给你认识的传统媒体的记者认识;
* 呐喊吧,为了一切值得你呐喊的。

过两天我去深圳,借朋友的信用卡把网站主机的费用续好,顺便采访一些好玩的人,然后转道去珠海 :-)


I need as much support now as possible, and the ways to support me are:
-write about the society news that you see on your blog. Not just to provide me with news, but also to let more people see news with news value.
-give me suggestions, internet technology or ways to hype myself up; provide legal advice, help me analyze the key legal points in my reports and, while you're at it, learn about some legal processes from these cases. I believe a lot of people need to seriously research the law to protect their own legal interests; there are no gods or heroes that will come save you, you need to save yourself.
-help the friends around you learn how to blog, help them learn how to use RSS feeds, how to use Tor.
-send me e-mails to, provide me with more news tips.
-send me e-mails and help me collect news articles of news that I've reported on in the past, help me get the most accurate feedback. Last time one netfriend helped me collect the urls and photos from news reports on the Chongqing nailhouse from inside and outside China, a huge help to me.
-send me SMSes to [+86] 1346-7668-333, provide me with news tips.
-treat me to a meal (doggie bags are fine, don't spend too much), have a chat with me, show me some confidence, give me some new perspectives, help me make the best judgements possible.
-write critiques of citizen journalism, help others translate worthy articles into English. At best, give me a review, or introduce the content on my blog to the English-speaking world.

And Zola's last two posts from this week bring us a closer look at the coolest nailhouse in Shenzhen, just on the border with Hong Kong, with photos and this video:

One notices quite a lot of nailhouse-related video on Youku—71 clips in total. A search for the Chinese word for nailhouse [钉子户] through some other video sights shows similar results:

Tudou: 44
YouTube: 57
6 Rooms: 102



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