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China: Farewell, Bullog

In Associate Press’ report, Bullog is said to be an “edgy blog hosting site”, accommodating scores of social and political activists. It looks like a gun powder barrel in this way.  However, in the mind of millions of Chinese netizens, Bullog is far more than that, and its forced closing, whether temporary or permanent, is not only a sign of intensifying media crackdown in China, but a tragic end that breaks many's hope to the country.

It's quite emotionally charged. We are sad.

Bullog aggregates a group of shining bloggers, who are indeed influencing China with their opinions. Lian Yue 连岳, for example, is a columnist, also a public intellectual who has advocated the Xiamen PX protest in which people gathered and walked to silently protest a chemical project. He, with his witty insight into daily life, corresponds with readers on things from the most homely triviality to topics that more or less bear political significance.

If Lian-Yue belongs to the moderate, then, Ran Yunfei 冉云飞, on the other hand, is one of those progressive bloggers.

Ran might be the blogger who matches the word “edgy” the best. Calling himself a “bandit”, he has often fearlessly confronted injustice in the degenerating society. This is well illustrated in his many bold articles, like “It is a national shame to have such a government”, “How autarchy is made”, and his “weekly news commentary of Mr. Ran”. Though furious at times, he is patient. His motto is a persistent appeal: “a step every day, no hurry.” Where is the destination he is stepping to, if any? Only he knows.

He railed, criticized and impugned, calling out what people wish to but dare not say; But it's not hard to predict that such plain opinions are ill tolerated.  A few weeks before the bullog was shut down, Bullog was forced to remove him.

Luo Yonghao 罗永浩, the owner of Bullog, a guy intimately called “Corpulent Luo” by people, used to be an English teacher. I first know him because of his witty, cool and trenchant remarks that are compiled by some of his students and uploaded online. It seems that what he hates the most is 装B (pretend to be cool), and therefore he must be an unaffected and straightforward man. Later, he resigned from the institute and opened the Bullog.

And there are young writer Han Han, artist Ai, cynic and ironist ProState In Flame, independent blogger Bei Feng and many more. They, men of personalities, men of faith, together shape Bullog into a place of ideas exchange and sincere opinions, with true debates, though it has at times gone a little bit over-exited.

And it is making its way to be a public forum for free discussions and popular opinions. Such is rare, for that it might be thought compatible with neither cultural tradition nor the authoritarian circumstance. But it thrives, and as a collective blog, it opens a new gateway to see the China for many Chinese.

Bullog is rooted in people, hence we are actually affected by it, thanks partly to the “benevolent Great Firewall” (the national censorship network) that tolerates it for so long as two years. Thus it is more influential in spreading liberalism and democratic thinkings than various overseas democratic websites which are banned out of the Chinese internet. And it is associated closely with the current society that it doesn't give up any chance to present its ideas on what are happening on this land.

Bullog used to be a host of the blog named “I don't support Beijing Olympics”, when the government was preparing the Game at any cost; It has questioned why Yangjia, the man killed 6 cops,is sentenced to death without proper legal procedure; It organized a team to deliver relief to the struck areas when in March the earthquake claimed over 80000; it spreads Charter 08, a statement supporting a notable political reform…. All could be intolerable by those determined to shut it down.

Let the comment of scholar Xiao Han to conclude why Bullog matters:

2. 牛博网聚集了国内很多重要思考者,他们理性、严肃,有时犀利、尖锐,是当代中国社会心理中十分重要的清醒剂。牛博网同时也深具社会担当的能力,尤其在汶川大地震中,他们出了许多值得称道的救灾之力。

Bullog aggregates many important thinkers in China, who are reasonable, serious, and sometimes incisive and trenchant. They are a very critical cure to keep the modern Chinese society clear-headed. Meanwhile, Bullog takes a good share of the social responsibility it should have. Particularly, in Si-chuan Earthquake, they contributed a great deal to the relief effort.

The Bullog is shut down when an antismut campaign is sweeping across the Chinese internet. But on none of the shut-down lists revealed to the public could Bullog be found. It was assassinated.

Luo Yonghao, the host of Bullog, tells what has happened to the website:

2009年1月9日下午3时许,收到一封来自万网客服的邮件,内容如下:
您好!
北京市通管局下发北京市政府新闻办公室通知:www.bullog.cn站点大量登载时政类有害信息,已要求该网站整改,但该网站仍未采取有效整改措施。

On 3 pm, 2009.01.09, I received an email from the client service agent of Wan-net, saying:
Greetings!

The Beijing Communication Administration now passes on the statement from Beijing Information Office: because Bullog.cn carries a great deal of harmful political and topical information, it has been ordered to make adjustment. But the website makes no change.

That's the reason it is closed. No more explanation, sorry.

Luo goes on:

早晨醒来发现一口气睡了八个多小时,很久没连续这么睡过了,本来想给黄斌打个幼稚电话吹牛逼说我在牛博被关闭的当天夜里美美地睡足了八个小时,又怕这小子接电话的时候假装还没睡醒就比我更牛逼了,只好算了。拿起设成了静音的手机一看,有一大堆陌生人和老朋友的安慰短信,陌生人的一律回了个“谢谢”,老朋友的一律回了个“行了行了!都第四次了还这么大惊小怪的,该干嘛干嘛去。”

Waking up in the morning, I found myself having slept for over 8 hours, which was rare for me. I had thought to call Huang Bing (CTO of Bullog) to boast that I had a sound sleep for 8 hours right at the night Bullog was shut down. But at the second thought that the dude might be even more crazy as to pretend that he had not yet got up, I gave up the idea. Picking up the phone previously set to silent mode, I noticed a bunch of comfort messages from both strangers and old friends. I replied “thanks” to all the strangers, and “let it be! What to fuss? It has been the fourth time. Do what you should do and don't bother!” to the familiar.

高高兴兴地牛逼完了起床后,我又陷入了深深的忧虑和自责:没了牛博,从今天开始,人民看什么?!你要是不重开牛博,人民会答应吗?!你倒是睡得舒坦了,你有没有想过睡不着的人民怎么办?!怎么办?!!怎么办?!!!

But after getting up in a joy, I threw myself into deep worry and self-reproach: without Bullog, henceforth, what can people read? If you don't reopen Bullog, would people agree? You have a sound sleep, indeed, but have you considered those sleepless people? What to do??What to do?!

我在“怎么办”的回声中,带着浓浓的社会责任感毅然打开电脑,到百度和google的博客搜索里看了看网友的言论,发现关心牛博的朋友们的帖子里充斥着“哭泣”、“悲伤”、“悲愤”、“想哭”、“郁闷”、“痛心”、“祭牛博”、“黯然”、“泣告”、“伤感”、“so sad”之类的字眼

In the resonance of “what to do”, I turned on the computer with notable sense of social responsibility, and checked the comments left on Google and Baidu. The related posts were jumbled with words such as “cry”, “pathos” “indignation” “gloomy” “goodbye Bullog” “tell with tears” and “so sad” and so forth.

牛博肯定会重开,这个不用担心,实在不行我就开一个海外的牛博国际,国内换个名字再开一个,可以叫驴博网。这已经说过很多次了。我个人不会有事,我只不过是办了一个让删帖就删帖,让删评论就删评论,让删整个博客就删整个博客的网站而已,不可能出什么事,大家不用自己吓唬自己了。

It is assured that Bullog will be opened again. It is not worth worry. If it really doesn't work, I'll just open an international Bullog, and set up another one in China, with the name, perhaps, called DunkeyBlog. I personally will be safe. What I have done is just to open a website that defers to any order calling for post-delete and blog-delete. Nothing remarkable would happen. Don't freak yourself out!

Song Shinan 宋石男,one of the bullog bloggers, moaned with indignation

关吧,关得了这个春节,关不了整个春天。

Shut it down, just shut it down, you can close it for this Spring Festival, but not the entire spring.

Among the domestic meida, Southern Metro Daily(南方都市报) is the only paper that dares to report the closing of Bullog.cn

The history of Bullog in Wiki records the its growth and tribulation.

2007年8月18日,博客“北京奥运我不支持”关闭。
2007年10月19日(中共十七大期间)下午2:00,网站被强制关闭。
2008年11月24日,钱列宪博客被关闭,
2008年12月24日,冉云飞博客被关闭,此前冉云飞坚持每日发帖(日拱一卒,不期速成)。
009年1月9日下午,牛博网中国国内服务器被关闭,牛博国际目前也无法登陆,部分人士认为此次关闭牛博可能与近日的大规模整顿网络有关,也因为该网某些作者参与了Charter 08的联名签署,标志着中国政治气候向左转。

The troubles never stop.
2007.08.18 Blog “I don't support Beijing Olympics” is shut down
2007.10.19 (During the 17 Conference of CCP) Bullog is forced to shut down at 2 pm
2008.11.24 Blog ProState In Flame is shut down.
2008.12.24 Ran Yunfei's blog is shut down. Before that, he persisted on posting daily (one step every day, no hurry)
2009.01.09 The domestic server of Bullog is shut down, so is Bullog International inaccessible. Some people suggest it might be related to the sweeping antismut campaign in these days. But also it might be because that some of the bloggers signed the 08 Charter. This marked the Chinese political phenomenon has turned left.

2008年4月19日 BULLOG同志的家日PV访问首次突破百万。
2008年5月,汶川大地震后,BULLOG同志在短期内募集到上百万赈灾资金。交给父亲罗永浩同志亲自带队前往灾区赈灾。

But its achievement is amazing:
2008.04.19 Daily page view of Bullog exceed one million
2008.05 After Si-chuan earthquake, Bullog collected over one million on relief fund. Luo led the team himself to the disaster area for relief effort.

In Telescope 望远镜, Feng37 summarized a list of netizens’ reactions to the closing. The title of one post, ridiculing the so-called anti-vulgar campaign that erased Bullog, reads:
为牛博网默哀,为了这高贵的低俗

Moan for Bullog, for this noble “vulgar”.

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