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Retarded U.S. media reporting Egypt protest news censored in China

No doubt many of us on HH have been paying attention to the Egypt news. But what caught my eyes recently is a slew of news reports accusing China of censoring the Egypt news (Time, WSJ, and Wired).

However, when I (and other bilingual readers) searched for news on Egypt in China – we discover it is not censored. Baidu, Tudou, Sina, CCTV all are carrying this story. Here’re some netter comments:

[Time] Jim: What rubbish. I live and work in China – am from America – and read about this every day ! The continued demonization of China is pathetic but worse filled with hyperbole and lies like this posting by a supplosedly legitimate news source. What crap.

[WSJ] Lei Chen: Ugh, I just saw Egypt protests being reported on Chinese TV (Shanghai DongFang TV, which broadcasts nationally in China) at noon, Beijing time, 1/31/2011. It was in two segments, one reporting about arranged flights for Chinese nationals out of Egypt, and second segment covered the actual protest (Tahrir square, Mohamed ElBaradei, tanks and aircraft, Mubarak meeting, etc…) The reporting is not anything unlike what you would see on BBC or CNN.

[Wired] omeiemo: Do you really understand chinese, if donot, please go to learn it first and then google chinese website about “埃及”, chinese word for egypt, we have lots day reports about event in egypt. what we concern is just about the stability in that region, we also have business man or students in egypt, their safety is we really worry about, nothing more. why should chinese people feel nerves like some american people?

Below are search results on Baidu.com on “埃及” on February 2, 2011 with many results to news regarding the ongoing Egypt riot.

Search results on "埃及" from Baidu.com on Feb 2, 2011.

The bigger question is why does the Western media like TIME and WSJ pull silly stunts such as this? The answer is simple, actually. There is an on-going narrative in the West that the Chinese government is bad and fearful of “democracy.” There is an on-going truth about the general Western audience; they are too ignorant and incompetent to understand anything in the Chinese language. Propagating this silly narrative makes their readership feel “good” about themselves thinking they don’t live under such a “crazy” society.

Hence I have decided to provide the Baidu.com search results above, because the ignorant requires spoon-feeding.

And, damn, the misfortunes of the Egyptians get turned into a stab against the Chinese. Now, that’s skillful propaganda.

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  1. Charles Liu
    February 3rd, 2011 at 01:46 | #1

    Here’s the Baidu search results put thru Google Translator:


    So old school reporters may not be able to combine search engine and translation service, but what about new media types like Wired? What’s their excuse for not fact checking?

    Once again, this story is twist of fact, half truth sensationalized into an official narrative. Since when does “China” or the Chinese government have direct control over private media company’s moderation policy on a daily basis?

    Sina and Tencent was the only two companies singled out originally, then the story got blown out of proportion.

    Something probably happened for a short while (flawed alghrithm detecting search term frequency, wrong mouse click by moderator) but filtering Egypt is gone at these two company, and likely had nothing to do with the Chinese government.

  2. February 3rd, 2011 at 02:10 | #2

    If we look at censorship on one end as having the potential to wipe out ideas, then on the other extreme of continuous stupid narratives about our world is in itself a type of censorship too. Rational views and ideas about the world are going to be blocked by these narratives.

    America and the West actually need these kind of junk from the likes of WSJ and TIME censored.

  3. J
    February 3rd, 2011 at 03:11 | #3

    To be fair there is some level of information control concerning the Egyptian riot, at least on the Internet; for example most of the news has to be from Xinhua only and comments are mostly closed (eg here: http://news.163.com/11/0202/11/6RSQ3VA50001121M.html ). I personally think the government over-reacted to this; even if all the information is open most Chinese wouldn’t care too much of what is going on there, or linking the situation in China with that in Egypt or the whole of Middle East.

    But what makes me feel really good and secure about my own country (and its government) is the help they offered to the stranded tourists there. In total 8 planes were sent and over 1,800 Chinese citizens, including some from Taiwan, have all been safely taken back home in the past 4 days. And this happens to be in the period of Chinese New Year as well, when domestic flights are all full and empty planes difficult to allocate. In the mean time the BBC news in London reports that the first plane has just been sent from London to take back the British citizens stranded there. Mr Cameron should talk less about what Mubarak should do to its angry citizens, and think more about how to help his own citizens first.

  4. Charles Liu
    February 3rd, 2011 at 08:31 | #4

    J, I’d be ecstatic if our media were more fair and reported “some level of information control”. Look how boring, uninspiring “some level of media control” sounds, compared to the over-simplified, emotional narrative that Egypt news is censored.

    Doesn’t this pattern of China reporting by our media also demonstrate some level of information control? Try to find a media outlet that botherd to develop this story, after their readership pointed out the inaccuracy.

  5. r v
    February 3rd, 2011 at 08:45 | #5

    Right on, Charles,

    Information control includes information pollution.

    Let’s put it this way.

    Fact checking and censorship are necessary for information quality control.

    Information pollution, that’s just poisoning the well that everyone drinks from.

  6. February 3rd, 2011 at 12:54 | #6

    People are linking to this post right now. Here, at reddit.com, some discussions have started. I thought it was rather funny, actually. It’s like we have two universes.

    AntiNSA 1 point 5 hours ago*
    I live in China for nealry ten years. What the Chinese people see in Egypt about the Egyptian protests is very similiar to what the egyptians see on their state television. 8 out of ten Chinese people will have no idea about it. Right now is the End of The Chinese New YEar. Most are blind to the outside world at this time. 9 out of 10 bloggers/commenters which say different ware working for the man. No joke. Take it FWIW. Aljazeera English is blocked today. I have been watching it everyday. Today it is now blocked.

    tonde [S] 0 points 5 hours ago
    Thanks, it sounded a bit too much to be true.

    Harsiesis 1 point 3 hours ago
    Aljazeera English is blocked today. I have been watching it everyday. Today it is now blocked.
    As I replied to you in your submission, you should wait and see (I’m not sure which of these came first, your comment here or your submission claiming it was blocked?).
    AJE has been giving people issues for days now, and people were reporting what you were from all over the world. In some places it worked fine, in others all it did was timing out.
    It was a routing problem. If you still can’t access it then open up a command shell (I assume you’re in windows) and type ipconfig /flushdns.
    You’ll find it loading just fine.

    AntiNSA 2 points 3 hours ago
    I dont think you understand. It is only accessable per proxy from China. ITs clearly being blocked . I dont know if you live here or not, but everyone here knows it is.

    Harsiesis 1 point 3 hours ago
    It was a routing problem, I’m here in China right now. It was the same problem that was appearing to several blocks of the net/regions all over the world.
    I also was unable to access it, and I checked from outside China as well and saw it was also having problems.
    This: (english.aljazeera.net.att-idns.net) was probably what you were connecting to (and what wasn’t responding), that was a problem for many.
    This: (english.aljazeerait.net.c.itmdb.net) is what you should be routing to now. And if you’re not, then your dns hasn’t updated yet.
    It is and was not blocked.

    AntiNSA 1 point 2 hours ago
    Different regions in China are always blocked differently. I dont have time to check the ips, BUT, its pretty simple, if you can do it with a proxy but without a proxy= blocked. Different internet safety control centers are divided across multiple regions. What is blocked for you, may not for me, etc.

    Harsiesis 1 point 2 hours ago
    That’s… no. When there is a dns issue, or a route taken to a server has issues then whether you can connect to it through a proxy (using a different route) is not something you can use as proof that it is blocked.
    Whole regions of the world can go ‘invisible’ when popular routes/links taken have issues. What exactly happened here or caused the issue, I don’t know – but it was global. Several ISPs in America, Europe, the Nordic countries were having problems. Not just China. And it was information available here (they were posting it here while you were).
    Flush your dns cache.
    I was having the exact same issue from China Telecom. The dns has been updated, it’s not an issue any longer. (but it probably will be again; AJE has – as has been said for days now – been having sporadic problems for many people, regions, isps, etc. due in large (probably) to the insane traffic they’re getting now.

    AntiNSA 1 point 1 hour ago
    I find many problems today visiting various sites. Git, Sourcefourge, MSNBC, Google News… Like the typical times when things are under heavy blocking. Also you can notice many articles on the front of Chinadaily have, or atleast had today “0” comments…. when everything is on zero commenst all day, and things start needing a proxy that dont normally use proxies, and 3g starts working a little better than adsl… you dont have to be a weather man…

    tonde [S] 1 point 5 hours ago
    Does anyone have any more info on this? Surely Time etc. can’t have made it all up without any basis at all?

    Harsiesis 1 point 3 hours ago*
    They basically did (make it all up). It was all based on the same tidbit (and each article using various literary paths to reach the old “look how horrible they are!” conclusion) about a tag being censored on one microblogging site.
    There were discussions at lengths here on reddit about it (but the articles kept coming in, all based on the same piece of data).

    chinalover1 1 point 2 hours ago
    anything about chinese or jews will be downvoted on reddit
    just look at this post
    btw its true, they are lies just like last months “chinese ban of skype”

    AntiNSA 1 point 5 hours ago
    Also, dont misunderstand me. I love China….

    PandaBearShenyu 1 point 29 minutes ago
    Apparently they tried to search for Egypt on Red Twitter. Instead of on Baidu which gives back millions of results…
    Who the FUCK searches for news on Twitter? It’s only been up for like 2 months (red twitter, that is).

  7. jxie
    February 3rd, 2011 at 14:04 | #7

    The meme of China’s censorship (which does exist) has blocked the search of keyword “Egypt”, can be traced back to this AP news blurb quote by thestar.com without a journalist’s name: http://www.thestar.com/news/world/article/930284–china-blocks-egypt-on-microblogging-service. I have servers in & out of China, and have not been able to repeat what’s claimed by it.

    Sina is a private site, so its admins are entitled to do whatever they please on their site, though it seems like they haven’t done what was described. A more “devastating” news piece is that Sina’s PR spokeswoman Ma Taotao (马桃桃) admitted that the blocking of search of keyword “Egypt”, which can’t be independently verified, was not Sina’s own decision but rather ‘following the “relevant Chinese laws and regulations.”’ The origin of that meme was http://www.voanews.com/english/news/asia/China-Blocks-Some-Internet-Reports-on-Egypt-Protests-114925514.html. BTW, this is also piped to AP as well. The new piece also has its Chinese version.

    Here is an interesting finding: search for “Sina ‘Ma Taotao’ -egypt “, or “新浪 公关 马桃桃 -埃及” yield no result showing Ma Taotao working for Sina even exists, other than corroborating to the story told by Stephanie Ho working for VOA.

  8. r v
    February 3rd, 2011 at 16:49 | #8

    I’m putting up my own Great Firewall of WTFC (Who The F* Cares) on Western Media.

    From now on, I’m going to be like a typical American, I will only get my news from my own favorite channels.

  9. jxie
    February 3rd, 2011 at 17:22 | #9

    Upon more searching this is getting even better. There is actually a PR spokesman working for Sina named “Mao Taotao” (毛涛涛). If you search by “‘mao taotao’ +egypt” in English or Chinese, it yields nothing — you will need to do an advanced search with a timeframe limit in Chinese search.

    So let me get this straight. Stephanie Ho working for VOA has this exclusive knowledge from Mr. Mao about why Sina blocked the search of keyword “Egypt” (which it’s not verifiable by others), yet she spelled his surname wrong, twice.

    Folks, another case of creative journalism.

  10. February 3rd, 2011 at 17:47 | #10

    Creative propaganda.

  11. Dan
    February 3rd, 2011 at 23:20 | #11

    Figures, I knew the “censoring Egypt” headlines sounded funny when I first read them. Journalists not doing their homework? Surprise.

  12. r v
    February 4th, 2011 at 05:47 | #12

    Even funnier headline: “Violence in Egypt against Journalists Makes Accurate Reporting Difficult.”

    Seemed pretty difficult for journalists to do accurate reporting in the first place. I don’t see the violence making any significant impact to the inaccuracies.

    Again, WTFC!

  13. Thorun
    February 4th, 2011 at 16:53 | #13

    Thanks for the post. F*88! US media is a joke. It is the main reason I don’t pay for Cable television anymore… Got my internet, my PS3, and Netflix…

    That’s basics any ignorant fool needs to educate one’s self from eating the ignorant garbage being fed to population stupid…

    Corn and Soy Bred Ignorant Spoon-Fed Citizen of Planet Idiot-Ville

  14. Charles Liu
    February 7th, 2011 at 11:12 | #14


    This is but another example of controlled media in US. Remember the Langxiang Vocational School BS last year? It was also traced to a US government sponsored source, China Digital Times.

  15. r v
    February 10th, 2011 at 13:33 | #15

    The BS wagon from the Western Media ran out of stuff to throw around.

    But the PR engine of the US government is on full steam. Just steam, you understand, not really going anywhere.

    *Every day now, the US government chimes in on the Egypt situation, supporting this, advocating that, warning there, etc. Plenty of speeches with big words.

    But really, what is it doing? Nothing.

    What could it do about Egypt any how? Nothing. (Except perhaps halt the money gravy train to Egypt, and watch it collapse).

    *I wish for once, the US PR and Pundit machines would just shut the heck up! Quit manipulating yourselves to make yourselves feel good! (That sounded pretty dirty. Oh well. :))

  16. February 16th, 2011 at 00:36 | #16

    Pretty funny, the Economist reported Egypt news blocked too, and below are two of the highest recommended comments:

    TIME, The Economist, WSJ – the sooner they merge and lay off redundant reporting, the better off they will be.

    MANA1 wrote: Feb 3rd 2011 9:55 GMT

    That’s funny. I could’ve sworn that a search for Egyptian Riots in Baidu, China’s biggest search engine, yielded thousands of results.

    Yep. Still there. That’s funny. So it seems that search engines aren’t blocked afterall. But isn’t China trying to block all news? Maybe the censors just never heard of the biggest internet search engine in China?

    Oh well. I’m 100% positive that the Economist will not retract its statement, even though the story is factually wrong. Check it yourself in Baidu.

    Can you guys please take some time to CORRECT your printed news?


    X.D.L. wrote: Feb 3rd 2011 11:36 GMT

    These few days past, I haven’t been on China’s biggest microblog site (t.sina.com.cn), following someone named “Live from Egypt”, reading mini blog posts and looking at photos. I haven’t been arguing with someone named Ning Caishen about why he slandered the Chinese embassy in Cairo. I haven’t been discussing with others, still on the same site, about the dire fate of museums in Cairo. I haven’t been on forums big as Tianya and small as a password-secured little site and discussing with many what happened in Egypt. That’s it, I must have been hallucinated all this!! Well, if a “free” press from a “democratic” nation says I don’t know about what happened in Egypt, then it must be true! Everything I think I saw on Chinese websites about Egypt, all those people I think I shared conversations, they, they…. I know, they are like, images conjured up by the Matrix!!!

    You know, you can still report the truth and put your own spin on it? How about this: Though the evil communist party of China tries to censor news about Egypt by quietly manipulating search results, vibrant discussions about this world-shattering event still dominate Internet in China, especially in big forums and on social networking sites. Angry accusations of Chinese embassy’s inaction fly, and deep thoughts about implications for China abound. Perhaps, today’s Cairo will be tomorrow’s Beijing.

    See? You REALLY don’t have to LIE in order to spew out ideological bullshit. Because being evangelical about your holy “democracy” and “freedom” while lying just looks hypocritical. You can totally make it somewhat true, AND still spell out the rest of the crap you are so eager to sell. And people like me would have less materials to attack, right?

  17. r v
    February 16th, 2011 at 10:03 | #17

    To paraphrase someone,

    People of Democracy are “free to be ignorant”. (which is 1984 newspeak for being brainwashed, that being think they know something, when they know only lies).

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