No, not Bruce Lee. The new regulations set to hit Chinese video sharing websites later this month could be regarded as strictly a censorship move, but then there's the fact that most of these sites can't even get properly licensed. Or the hundreds of clips of violence and porn uploaded each day that please anachronistic regulatory bodies to no end.
The inescapable blog story this week, however, and perhaps related, is that of 13 year-old Zhang Shufan, who was interviewed on CCTV late last month for a report supportive of the new regulations, in which Zhang talks of a recent online experience of having a website pop up showing something she describes as both erotic and violent. ‘Websites pop themselves up?’ wondered some, as others began speculating on the possible mainstream culprits. True or exaggerated or a line fed to her, her choice of words have seen many bloggers responding with mockery and even malice, making her the victim of what some have concluded addresses an even larger and uglier problem, represented in this case by state mouthpiece CCTV‘s reporting techniques; all sorts of her personal details were dug up by netizens and posted online, prompting her father to respond in kind with an open letter, translated by Roland Soong at EastSouthWestNorth:
I am the father of Shufan. During the past few days, people have been giving Shufan funny looks. Then I found out that this was the result of the Internet activities. When I got on the Internet and read the posts, I found it impossible to tolerate. You people are really going too far. Shufan is just a child. Her world and personal views are not fully developed, and she might have said something inappropriate. But does it justify your wilfully attacking and insulting her? Not only did you use vicious language to insult Shufan, you even used Photoshop pornographic cartoons to debase her character. Do you know how much mental anguish your have caused Shufan? Meanwhile, will the person who created the Photoshop cartoon dare to stand out and identify himself/herself? I don't know if you people know what conscience is anymore.
I don't think that Shufan said anything wrong. You have started a so-called human search to locate Shufan. I can tell you that we live in Wanshou Road, Haidian District, Beijing City. You are welcome to visit us anytime. At the same time, I am warning you (especially those who did the Photoshop cartoons) that I will use the law to defend the legal rights and human dignity of Shufan and myself!
Comments characteristic of the sort being directed at Zhang can be found in English here, and this spoof video is quite tame in comparison to a lot of what's out there:
MSN Live Spaces blogger Li Lin Psy1982 sums up quite well the response to the bullying in her January 8 post, ‘CCTV might have no shame, but certain mobsters definitely have no shame~~’:
This is classic Chinese netizen mob behavior…on lockdown under the Great Firewall, with freedom of expression restricted, most of the morons online (which is not to say everyone) for the most part aren't that angry, but this goes back to the government's behavior, and resentment sprung from feeling something is owed, or having a master: so when the laborer gets a beating from the landlord, he goes home and takes it out on his wife. This kind of behavior can only be attributed to excessively low IQ…
Which bears mention of this institution CCTV, which on IQ also scores quite low—which is why it wastes so much of taxpayers’ money, and unable to make itself any nicer, able only to come up with one very entertaining survey, and declaring itself the news network the whole country likes to watch—so with regard to IQ level, that all the morons on the internet also watch CCTV, there couldn't be a more appropriate assembly strategy…
And the countless malicious attacks I found through Google, at first glance made it hard to imagine that there could actually be so many people so zealous in launching abuse at a child—their reasoning for the abuse being that this little kid ought to have chosen ‘to die rather than surrender’ to CCTV's intimidation or enticements, which is bullshit….drop the last letter in Mop and you get Mob[…]
Peng Yi at iZaoBao writes:
With the issue of pornographic and violent content, this ought to be handled by a classification system. For a law-abiding citizen, choosing what to view is his freedom. But the minute this sanctimonious state mouthpiece launched an attack on this kind of freedom in the guise of what a naive little girl says, it all becomes ridiculous and silly. I believe the target of these netizens in by no means this little kid, but the incident itself. Put another way, “we've been made fools of for far too long.”
Cultural critic Wang Xiaofeng, who refers to all his readers as chimpanzees, despite his irreverent tone has a background in law. In Zhang's case Wang takes a position similar to the one he blogged a few days ago with regard to the steamed bun non-hoax, that some regulation is warranted. To that on January 4 he wrote:
The people who rose up to attack the National Standards Bureau are imbeciles;
The Chinese people are ignorant when it comes to the issue of standardization;
Those who link standardization with political centralization have water on the brain;
China has a widespread mass base in the counterfeit, bunk and shafted;
Yet we never stop to think just how our rights end up violated;
McDonald's’ hamburgers can be standardized, so why can't the steamed buns in the snack shops?
In his Jan. 8 post on Zhang Shufan, ‘Just who is very yellow, very violent?’, after apologizing to readers he might have offended with the frequently vulgar language he uses on his blog, and admonishing them if they don't like it not to come back, Wang writes:
The discussion has gone semantic over at Bullog, with web veteran Beifeng defending the check-and-balance role Chinese netizens have come to play in Chinese society, arguing that netizens should be using Zhang and her phrase to say a thing or two, and about who or what that actually is, he writes, everyone is perfectly clear: at thirteen years old, she is old and capable enough to know not to lie about something like this, and to know that one only finds erotic and violent websites if one is looking for them (assuming she wasn't referring to “Skinhua”). He states, however, that this can't be taken too far, adding that it already has:
What's most messed up about this is her father. If Zhang Shufan had been encouraged to lie, her father and his excuse of calling for others to be silent about this because she's a “minor”, would that be any different from Ouyang Zhiyuan‘s “insulted” argument? First off, he should represent his daughter in telling the truth, and then make a public apology.
As I see it, people accusing netizens of being “beasts” in this with the reasoning that she's a “minor”, are no different from Ouyang Zhiyuan.
The “beasts” comment he refers to comes from humorist Wang Pei, who on January 7 wrote a post “Beasts, be nice!”, since changed to read “Non-beasts, be nice!”:
Regarding this incident, I'm furious! Minors have the freedom to be protected from being subject to pornographic and violent content; even in the West you yearn so much to worship, this is the case.
I'm not a moralist, and I'll admit that I'm more “yellow” than any of you; if I had the money, I'd buy a double-core 8 terabyte server and fill it full of porn videos.
I also don't condone crackdowns on internet pornography, and I oppose all regulations which hurt freedom of expression and freedom to browse.
But this is not the same as you being allowed to do that whatsoever you desire, or that there is no bottom line!