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Chinese Social Websites Go Under "Maintenance"

timothy posted more than 5 years ago | from the culture-of-repression dept.

Censorship 84

Shastri writes "After blocking several prominent social websites like Twitter, Youtube ahead of Tiananmen anniversary, by the great firewall of China, some popular social sites in China have also gone under 'maintenance'. While it is anybody's guess as to whether these events are related or purely coincidental, the announced maintenance come mostly unscheduled and last for several days might give a hint. A spreadsheet (in Chinese) is being maintained enumerating the sites that have gone down for a maintenance."

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84 comments

Obviously... (5, Insightful)

el3mentary (1349033) | more than 5 years ago | (#28202593)

They don't want any organised protests.

Re:Obviously... (2, Funny)

arogier (1250960) | more than 5 years ago | (#28202927)

Facebook groups lead to action?

Re:Obviously... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28203201)

Facebook is good for organising a rickroll, but probably not ideal for revolution.

Re:Obviously... (2, Insightful)

compro01 (777531) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204315)

Outside of theory, nothing is ideal for anything. Use what you've got.

Re:Obviously... (1, Troll)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204535)

Last saturday in South Carolina a facebook group organized a 200 person strong group of teenagers to go out attack a store clerk and pull out and beat up a family in a car.

Re:Obviously... (1)

antiseptic_poetry (1022107) | more than 5 years ago | (#28207457)

interesting - source?

Re:Obviously... (2, Informative)

The Archon V2.0 (782634) | more than 5 years ago | (#28210823)

Last saturday in South Carolina a facebook group organized a 200 person strong group of teenagers to go out attack a store clerk and pull out and beat up a family in a car.

Really? Tragic, horrible, an abomination. Surely a 200 person mob attacking innocent victims must have made the news by Sunday, which would be the 31st. I know that a +2 Interesting mod means it MUST be true, but let's check....

Google news tells me the only stories for the 30th and 31st containing "South", "Carolina" and "clerk" are:
* Adult Books for High School Students
* Symposium celebrates SC women through the ages
* Waiting on death row: In 7 brutal cases, killers deserve sentences ...
* Incompetence, indifference leave St. Paul couple snarled in ...
* TV Movies for the week of May 31
* Cyber security plan
* Bearing witness to kindness and care
* Two arrested for murder

The murder ones are all deaths that happened weeks or years ago. The couple is the standard "lost home to medical bills" story. Ones containing "South", "Carolina" and "Facebook" are even fewer and more mundane. Thus, this post is either mistaken, trolling, or trying to be funny.

Mods, PLEASE check facts before modding. I know you can't verify a post relating to the details of quantum chromodynamics, but if the answer is literally one Google search away....

It was in Philly (1)

linzeal (197905) | more than 5 years ago | (#28214171)

Sorry, just got off my sister from South Carolina. Her friend was in the car that was mentioned in this story [philly.com] .

Re:Obviously... (1)

Jurily (900488) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203119)

They don't want any organised protests.

They just want to install their own plugin to the databases.

Re:Obviously... (1)

spyder-implee (864295) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204441)

Do Chinese civilians have the right to peaceful protest?

Re:Obviously... (3, Informative)

anarche (1525323) | more than 5 years ago | (#28206597)

AFAIK Chinese civilians do not have any rights.

Right to peaceful protest: No.
Right to choice of political persuation: No.
Right to choice of religion: No.
Right to have children: No.

Re:Obviously... (1)

Kaiwen (123401) | more than 5 years ago | (#28220119)

+3 Informative? Puh-LEASE!

Right to peaceful protest: There are hundreds of peaceful protests a year throughout China, ranging in size from single individuals up to groups of hundreds. While I'm no legal expert, it seems to me the relevant differences between Chinese and, say, US laws governing peaceful assembly are that the Chinese government can be a bit more nebulous in denying permits, and that protests espousing illegal activities or undermining social harmony are not tolerated. Now, one might (and probably could) argue that the government has abused loopholes in the laws. But the right to peaceful protest is enshrined in the Chinese constitution.

Right to choice of religion: Again, the right is constitutionally guaranteed. I am a practicing Catholic who attends Mass weekly here in Shanghai. If I wanted to, I could become Hindu, Buddhist, Muslim, or one of hundreds of persuasions of Protestant, all without government interference. I'm even free to proselytize.

Yes China has laws governing the limits and nature of permissible religious activities. So does the US. Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, have found themselves in US court over refusal on religious grounds of medical treatment for their children. American religious and charitable groups are required to register with the government (currently only for tax purposes) and their right to freedom speech is curtailed: ask an American pastor or priest to endorse a particular political candidate (or even party) next election cycle, and watch how fast the government comes down on his church. How is this substantively different from China? While you or I may not like where China draws its lines, the fact remains every country draws lines.

Right to have children: Without intending to start a protracted debate over China's one-child policy, it is not illegal in China for couples to have multiple children; the national average is currently two, statistically identical to the US. It is true that the government attempts to dissuade multiple children through a(n often heavy-handed) system of positive and negative incentives, such as fines, denials of government assistance, and lump-sum retirement payments to compliant couples. It is also true that the policy has always been ripe for abuse by corrupt (an endemic problem in China) or overzealous local officials, most notoriously through incidences of forced abortion and sterilization (both of which are illegal; http://www.mahalo.com/china-forced-abortions [mahalo.com] ) in rural areas. But that hardly equates to accusations of systematic government policy, and your assertion that Chinese couples have no right to have children is plain silly. In any case, the government is slated to scrap the one-child policy completely in the near future http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/china/article3451974.ece [timesonline.co.uk] .

Right to choice of political persuasion: depends on what you mean. Yeah, there's only one legal political party in China (and yet, CP membership, which is in decline, barely keeps pace with the US Democratic party). And yes publicly advocating contrary to the "party line" can get you in a boatload of trouble. However, I am free to personally believe any politics I wish, as long as I don't make myself a public nuisance in the process. You may not like that, and you may consider that a violation of free speech (personally, I don't and I do). I just wanted to clarify that the Chinese government doesn't give a rat's petutti what my political opinions are as long as I don't go around disturbing social harmony.

OK, flame away. But flame me for what I'm saying, not what I'm not: don't accuse me of being some pro-China apologist who thinks China has no human rights problems (even Beijing admits it does; see its 2009-2010 "National Human Rights Action Plan"). What I am arguing is that most human rights issues (there are glaring exceptions, such as Beijing's official Tibetan policy) in China are traceable not to a lack of legal protection, but a failure of enforcement, and the main culprits are systemic corruption and Beijing's obsession with face. The pandemic of local political corruption, an open secret even amongst Chinese, severely hampers the central government's attempts at reform, and its paranoia over losing face leads to an almost schizophrenic approach to nearly every problem: does the government address it openly, or sweep it under the proverbial rug? I see this almost daily even in the local press: official news reports delicately trumpeting some new anti-corruption policy or a successful crackdown all without actually admitting there is a corruption problem at all. See this: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1615936,00.html [time.com] for what I think is a pretty fair assessment of the problem. Lee Kaiwen, Shanghai, China

Re:Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204497)

I despise a fascist government as much as the next guy... but is there any evidence that this is orchestrated by the party, or is this a for of silent protest by the websites in question? I would prefer to think that it is the latter.

I, for one, welcome our idiocy-blocking overlords (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28202657)

After blocking several prominent social websites like Twitter

Thank you!

Freedom is so overrated.

Re:I, for one, welcome our idiocy-blocking overlor (3, Interesting)

melikamp (631205) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204263)

Babelfish + http://bbs.linyueru.com/ [linyueru.com]

You have no right to carry on the current operation, because this possible below one of reasons to create

The great Great Wall starts to assume an awe-inspiring pose, closes the forum to lie low until something blows over temporarily.

Re:I, for one, welcome our idiocy-blocking overlor (2, Interesting)

MMC Monster (602931) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204271)

To quote Kris Kristofferson and Fred Foster, "Freedom's just another word for nothing left to lose".

While China is economically prosperous, I wonder how many people in China are doing better now than they were 10 years ago. If the majority aren't doing better, they are in serious trouble. Maybe not tomorrow, but soon enough.

Re:I, for one, welcome our idiocy-blocking overlor (1)

morgan_greywolf (835522) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204717)

While China is economically prosperous

I wouldn't call it "economically properous". I would call it "in recovery [blogspot.com] ".

Why is there always some hidden assumption that China must be economically prosperous? The downside of an economy of heavily dependent on exports is when the rest of the world's economy melts down, your buyers suddenly disappear.

Re:I, for one, welcome our idiocy-blocking overlor (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28205207)

Well, from 1958-61, an estimated 20-40 million people starved to death. Those events are still firmly in many people's memories. So while "prosperous" might not be the best word to describe most people, anybody middle aged or older has seen some fairly large improvements, materially, in their lives, and generally feel that the younger generation has an even brighter future.

Re:I, for one, welcome our idiocy-blocking overlor (1)

microbox (704317) | more than 5 years ago | (#28207519)

Didn't the communists have a part to play in causing the famine? As part of a war effort? One chinese communist supporter at the time lost heart in the revolution, describing her government as a bunch of armed thugs.

There is a social contract between the government and the people that the government will return increasing prosperity to the people. The present growth of China /must/ end, because of the laws of nature (economists be damned). When that happens, will we see a loosening of government censorship in China? Seems unlikely.

In the eyes of the government, stamping on freedom is about saving face and rationalised as being for the public good.

Re:I, for one, welcome our idiocy-blocking overlor (1)

Kaiwen (123401) | more than 5 years ago | (#28220289)

I don't have figures for ten years ago, but since the institution of economic reforms in 1978, by most estimates some 54 percent of the Chinese population has been lifted out of poverty (64% in 1978 vs. 10% in 2004). In fact, recent World Bank revised estimates (http://eapblog.worldbank.org/content/new-ppps-reveal-china-has-had-more-poverty-reduction-than-we-thought [worldbank.org] ) push the '78 poverty rate up to 69%. making the reduction even greater. According to this Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Poverty_in_China [wikipedia.org] ), China has had the world's fastest growing economy for the past quarter century, with a resultant "huge increase in standards of living".

Lee Kaiwen, Shanghai, China

Re:I, for one, welcome our idiocy-blocking overlor (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28231193)

After blocking several prominent social websites like Twitter

Thank you!

Freedom is so overrated.

Indeed. And that spreadsheet should soon go to maintenance mode. It's out of date after all.

Solidarity? (3, Insightful)

DeadDecoy (877617) | more than 5 years ago | (#28202661)

Interesting. At first, in reading the summary, I thought this was the governments attempt to censor various sites. However, the article seems to imply that this is some passive aggressive form at protesting the censorship by major social websites. It's kinda like having an enemy go on a hunger strike to protest killing his people. It sounds interesting, in the current environment, it'll probably have the same effect as online petitions.

Re:Solidarity? (4, Interesting)

Darkness404 (1287218) | more than 5 years ago | (#28202839)

...Or it could be saving the creator's rears if the Chinese government detects a major protest on these sites and the sites owners were unaware and didn't stop it they might be held accountable and executed also. However, what you say may be true for some of the sites that aren't based out of China.

Re:Solidarity? (1)

LS (57954) | more than 5 years ago | (#28206103)

What the grandparent says is true. For example, you can look at this link from the spreadsheet:

http://www.oncoding.net/64.jpg [oncoding.net]

It is clearly a message of solidarity. As someone who lives in China, I can tell you it's also a CYA thing of course, but the grandparent is spot on.

LS

Re:Solidarity? (1)

Kaiwen (123401) | more than 5 years ago | (#28221381)

It is clearly a message of solidarity.

An article in the Wall Street Journal (http://blogs.wsj.com/chinajournal/2009/06/02/twitter-goes-down-in-china/ [wsj.com] ) says, "A Twitter spokeswoman didn't have an immediate comment and couldn't confirm whether the service was blocked in China." while Australian news media (http://www.news.com.au/dailytelegraph/story/0,22049,25581519-5001028,00.html [news.com.au] ) report, "A Microsoft official said Tuesday its Bing.com, Live.com and Hotmail.com sites were among several to have been blocked for customers in China."

Doesn't sound like the block is self-imposed. But would that make sense in any case? Self-imposed censorship in the name of free speech?

As someone who lives in China

As someone who also lives in China, my attempts to load Twitter bear the usual Great Firewall earmarks: "The connection was reset" errors with easy circumvention via anonymous proxy. Note that as of this writing (June 5, 9 PM local time), MSN, LiveMail and HotMail are accessible in Shanghai; Twitter and YouTube are not.

Lee Kaiwen, Shanghai, Chine

Coincidence? (1)

reidiq (1434945) | more than 5 years ago | (#28202673)

Coincidence? I think not.

Interesting what happens (2, Interesting)

aaandre (526056) | more than 5 years ago | (#28202685)

...when governments realize that the truth of what they are actually doing will shock, disgust, appall their people.

IMHO free flowing information is what ultimately caused taking down the Berlin wall.

Now, that we know that our governments torture, steal, abuse their power, serve the money-printing oligarchy instead of serving us, what are we going to do?

I guess... http://www.flickr.com/photos/andreinla/235687297/ [flickr.com]

and

http://www.flickr.com/photos/andreinla/3135176066/ [flickr.com]

Re:Interesting what happens (4, Insightful)

Alt_Cognito (462081) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204111)

Actually, going bankrupt is what brought the wall down.

Re:Interesting what happens (4, Interesting)

Celeste R (1002377) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204471)

Generally, people don't mind so much if it's only an idea 'out there', instead of a concrete idea that they're dealing with.

Now, that we know that our governments torture, steal, abuse their power, serve the money-printing oligarchy instead of serving us, what are we going to do?

It's historically only been the observant people who protest, and oddly enough, they're also the first people who are silenced. Consider extortion, fear of material security, censorship, etc.

As an observant person also, I see people pulling strings. A chinese proverb comes to mind (paraphrased): when the government becomes corrupt or unstable, go to the mountains. It makes sense when you think about it, because the insular safety and security of a remote location is an ideal thing for a family lineage.

Granted, the possibility of us doing so is much smaller, because we (as an intellectual group of people) tend to stick to the population centers. However, we can move. We -can- move out of the nation to find political stability. We -can- have a hand not in fighting a system going downhill, but in building a system going uphill.

Maintenance of... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28202751)

the Communist state and political ideology. Noone could seriously think that the Communist party would not use any available tool to keep power.

Re:Maintenance of... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28203275)

The crazy thing is the party is relatively popular in China now. Not exceedingly popular, but a heck of a lot better than it was back in '89. There's still plenty of corruption to be found but at least they seem to be trying to fight it, with some high profile cases of corruption resulting in executions.

It seems nuts that they are still scared of the public's reaction to something that happened 20 years ago.

Re:Maintenance of... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28203687)

What do you mean? Nothing happened there 20 years ago. There was no protest and there were no tanks.

I don't know where you are getting your information from, but the Chinese government ensures me that nothing of note has ever taken place in Tianamen square.

Re:Maintenance of... (3, Funny)

Kotoku (1531373) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203899)

Brian: Wait, the whole section from 1942 to 1945 is blank, what the hell? What about the invasion of Poland? The Nazis sending the Jews to death camps?

Tour Guide: NOTHING HAPPENED! EVERYONE WAS ON VACATION! WE WERE INVITED TO POLAND!

Re:Maintenance of... (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 5 years ago | (#28207231)

We have always been at war with East-Asia.

Xiaonei censorship (4, Informative)

Dracil (732975) | more than 5 years ago | (#28202875)

So I was hoping to announce this to my Chinese friends, but looks like on Xiaonei, you're not allowed to write http://www.danwei.org/net_nanny_follies/chinese_websites_under_mainten.php [danwei.org] , äå½ç½'ç(TM)çæS, tiananmen, or the link to the spreadsheet. If you do, it gives you the following error: "èäè¦å'åfæ"æææYå...å®ãèæf...å...å®ãåäsåå'Sæ-å...ä-äæå½"å...å®" (no politically sensitive stuff, porn, or ads, etc.)

Re:Xiaonei censorship (1)

Dracil (732975) | more than 5 years ago | (#28202919)

Urk, looks like I can't get Chinese characters onto Slashdot. The first word says "Chinese Internet Maintenance Day" from the article, while I basically said what the second one said.

Re:Xiaonei censorship (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28203067)

Yea, good luck getting Chinese characters to work. Apparently they are still using iso-8859-1 encoding, uggh.

Re:Xiaonei censorship (1)

skuzzlebutt (177224) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205249)

"Chinese Internet Maintenance Day"???

Man, they celebrate weird holidays, don't they?

Seriously, though, that would make a good passive-aggressive protest t-shirt (a la Free Tibet).

Re:Xiaonei censorship (3, Interesting)

vampire_baozi (1270720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204151)

Just tried it too, same error. "Please don't post anything related to politics, etc....."

Also, Xiaonei is definitely experiencing other problems- many of my friends have reported problems with the "sharing" feature, and most also know the reason why sample response: "Oh, that's because its today, didn't you know?"

So, I think most Chinese know, or they can guess the reason why.

I'd try posting a few other things as experiments on XIaonei and Tudou, but I'd rather not risk getting my visa revoked, thanks.

Re:Xiaonei censorship (1)

Dracil (732975) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205983)

So May 35 also gets blocked. Interestingly enough, 06041989 did get past the censors on Xiaonei.

When in doubt.... (1)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203311)

....make sure you use scare quotes. That's the only way to "communicate" a trivial "fact" can call it "news".

Are the Chinese bwing counterproductive here? (3, Interesting)

Tycho (11893) | more than 5 years ago | (#28203653)

At a certain point, does shutting down various websites and muzzling the press have the opposite effect than intended? Will anger over shutdown websites have those not in the know to ask what happened on this day, and is this something worth clamping down on by the government? In other words does a government working too hard to suppress knowledge and direct opinions go too far and have the opposite effect and cause unfavorable results? Also, there are many Chinese factory workers that make all sorts of nice, legitimate products that they can't afford because they would need three months of their wages to buy it. Wouldn't it make you a bit angry, especially if you worked 60 hours a week, with few other benefits?

Additionally, mainstream historians are currently of the opinion that what ended communist governments in Eastern Europe had little to do with Ronald Reagan's bluster. Instead, the current theory roughly goes that instead the citizens just got tired of the government became discontented, and found less overt ways to protest or rebel and eventually the unrest and general lack of popular support caused the government to collapse. Sorry, Reagan is God fans and libertarians, but large scale armed resistance or large scale protests will probably not happen in China and the final result will not be a libertarian paradise.

Re:Are the Chinese bwing counterproductive here? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28205635)

Instead, the current theory roughly goes that instead the citizens just got tired of the government became discontented, and found less overt ways to protest or rebel and eventually the unrest and general lack of popular support caused the government to collapse. Sorry, Reagan is God fans and libertarians, but large scale armed resistance or large scale protests will probably not happen in China and the final result will not be a libertarian paradise.

(Emphasis added)

You do realize you've just described the plot of Atlas Shrugged, don't you? One by one, the people actually doing the productive work (whether they be long-winded inventors or just the maintaining the switches at the railyard for a paragraph or two), quit.

stop doing business (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28203785)

If the rest of the world stops doing business with China (who slaughter their own people and suppress political freedom) and the USA (who slaughters other nations' people and kills and tortures civilians) then these nations will wither and be unable to continue their courses of action.

It is up to the world to cut them off until their behaviour has become more acceptable by international norms. But I suppose the allure of those cheap Chinese goods and Hollywood films is worth more than people's lives, so that will never happen.

Re:stop doing business (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204047)

If the rest of the world stops doing business with China (who slaughter their own people and suppress political freedom) and the USA (who slaughters other nations' people and kills and tortures civilians) then these nations will wither and be unable to continue their courses of action.

It sounds good, but forbidding trade hasn't brought down the governments of North Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Syria, Libya, or Iran, so why we should think it would work against China?

Re:stop doing business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28205963)

Indeed. When the standard of living improves, freedom and liberalization will follow. Embargoes only hurt the ordinary people of the target nation.

Re:stop doing business (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204605)

I guess it's "flamebait" because what the USA does in Iraq is so much better than what China does in China.

Re:stop doing business (2, Interesting)

Haeleth (414428) | more than 5 years ago | (#28206655)

Well, yes, actually. Certainly US forces have done some terrible things in Iraq, murdering innocent civilians and torturing prisoners and so on, and that's clearly bad and very damaging.

But there are two big differences between that and what the Chinese do.

One is that the US military has consistently admitted its errors and prosecuted those responsible for crimes against the people of Iraq, while China continues to pretend that nothing bad has ever happened there.

The other is that most of the bad things done by US forces in Iraq have been in violation of US policy, while most of the bad things done in China have the full support and approval of their government.

Go ahead and let CCP censor the whole world. . . (2, Interesting)

LostInTaiwan (837924) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204177)

This may not be a bad thing. Every June 4th we mount an all out vigil for the Tienanmen Square massacre. We add it to our website, add it to every message and email we send out on that day. Maybe the "middle class" Chinese, the ones most likely to make a difference, the ones with the education and financial resources to access the web and interact with the rest of the world will notice something amiss within their "harmonious" society when every June 4th their Internet goes blank.

You are confusing facts with attitudes. (3, Insightful)

megaditto (982598) | more than 5 years ago | (#28206315)

Your mistake here is thinking that these "middle class" Chinese people are not aware of Tiananmen/June 04. Indeed they all know about it, and are still supportive of the government's action. These people are voluntarily chosing to supress dissent and bring down their own blogs to support their government. They are being "patriotic" and that is the attitude, which you have to work to change.

The whole thing is kind of similar to the Iraq War issue over here. My liberal friends think that none of the war supporters are aware of the "Missing WMDs" and related issues. They brandish these as some kind of a trump card, thinking that the moment they mention "missing WMD," any supporter will change their mind. Of course that never actually happens as the other side sees these facts as no big deal. We all agree on the facts, it's just that we disagree on their meaning and context. (Another example: Clinton blowjob/impeachment. We all got the same facts, yet there is a wide disagreement about their significance.)

Or consider forced abortions in China. While injecting formaldehyde into a fetus is highly objectionable to most people in the West, a typical Chinese person will find it a "regrettable" yet appropriate means for population control. They would tell you that the parents were to blame for an unauthorized conception, and the abortion was needed to maintain peace, prosperity, equality, whatever. You need to help the Chinese place knowledge into its proper context, not simply "add it to every message."

Re:You are confusing facts with attitudes. (3, Informative)

asdf7890 (1518587) | more than 5 years ago | (#28207239)

Your mistake here is thinking that these "middle class" Chinese people are not aware of Tiananmen/June 04. Indeed they all know about it, and are still supportive of the government's action.

A lot of the people who know about it only know a sanitised version of events ("a bunch of students tried to incite a violent dangerous and unjust revolution and the army valiantly stopped their attempt to damage society" or some such), not the whole truth. Many will guess that there was more to it, many will know there is (through information sources not controlled by the government), but many more will not or will not let themselves be interested enough to enquire in case such an enquiry gets them marked as a troublesome individual.

Re:You are confusing facts with attitudes. (1)

LostInTaiwan (837924) | more than 5 years ago | (#28213907)

Regardless of whether the "middle class" Chinese don't know, or don't know the details, or simply don't care is debatable. There really is nothing we can do about people's mentality. However, like I've mentioned before, if the Chinese government wants to indiscriminately censor all material related to the Tienanmen Square massacre, we use China's own censors to sent Chinese people a message.

Sure you can argue what kind of message will a blank screen send, probably not much but at least it will serve as an involuntary "net" holiday for the Chinese internet users on June 4th. Whether they want to ask "why" internet goes blank on June 4th is entire up to them but that's something we, on the outside, can do with very little cost.

I really don't have problem with any type of government or religion as long if dissenting views are allowed. Like you've mentioned, we all interpret "facts" differently, however, as we've seen in the last few year, a consensus on the "facts" leading up to the Iraq war is forming and no matter how Cheney spins his story, more and more people are starting to doubt his version of the "facts" and I consider myself to be a more hawkish Republican. None of this will be possible if people do not have the option of dissent and free press.

This is more like a silent protest (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204239)

This "maintenance' was done by the webmasters themselves. When you look at the spreadsheet most websites are not that popular and created by hobbyists. Furthermore they stated that they participated voluntarily. Some of the messages are really interesting:

thequietsnow.com:
Due to a reason we all know this site is presently under maintenannce.
The site will be under non-technical maintenance from 3. Juin to 6. Juin
[...]
For a harmonious environment, to make an appeal to create a harmonious sociaty, I advice all webmasters and internet users to do the following during maintenance period;
1. Go out for a walk, get some fresh air, due to the hot weather, please wear a white t-shirt
2. Since the current internet is extremely unharmonious, in order to create a healty and harmonious internet environment, please put all your websites into "maintenance state", in oder to provide a better net environment
3. If you don't want to put your site into "maintenance state", please change your site into black and white colors, in oder to provide a better net environment
4. Please put your site onto the maintenance spreedsheat.

whenn.net:
Long live the harmony~~~
Due to a reason we all know
In order to supress my extremely unharmonious thoughts
this blog voluntarily will go under "technical and non-technical maintenance"

passcd.com
Just says "20" on the page

So really, this "maintenance day" is a good sign. It makes a lot of net users aware of the event, since a lot of young Chinese haven't been confronted with this event a lot. This hopefully makes them to think more...

On xiaonei, many statuses get blocked, too, with the warning not to post "politically sensitive" content. Being in Tsinghua as an international student, I've seen Chinese students testing and changing their statuses with messages like "Democracy, Freedom, CCP, ..." It was shortly after midnight that Xiaonei.com even crashed for a while due to the massive status changes. But it seems to me the young generation sees this testing more as a game and really doesn't grasp the seriousness.

What really striked me was that one status saying "In memory of 8^2 5!/3! years" got deleted on xiaonei... (You math and comp sci nerds can figure the hidden message out ;) )

Another thing I've noted is how pointless it is to talk with Chinese about their politics. They are extremely sensitive and immediately get defensive. A hong kong girl was talking about this event with a mainland student and she became very agitated. The chinese guy was absolutely overwhelmed by the critics, didn't know how to react (he was the only chinese in a group of international students) and immediately started to defend the government's action, saying things like sometimes politics has to use violence to achieve it's goal... (basically implying that they did the right thing)

Anyway, I just hope that, untill China finally faces this event correctly, people in other countries will do all their efforts not to let it become forgotten.

Re:This is more like a silent protest (2, Interesting)

steelfood (895457) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205437)

It's the 20th anniversary of a certain event. I had expected something fairly flashy to originate from the online communities. You can think of this a moment of silence, if you'd like.

Re:This is more like a silent protest (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205463)

Did you tell him "welcome to Guantanamo"? While the Chinese have historically been awful about quelling even polite and peaceful protest, they're hardly the only ones to use violence against untried, possibly innocent people for political reasons.

Re:This is more like a silent protest (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28206133)

Only on slashdot does chinese censorship remind you of just how evil the USA is.

Re:This is more like a silent protest (0, Troll)

csartanis (863147) | more than 5 years ago | (#28211277)

Evil isn't less evil based on geographical location.

Re:This is more like a silent protest (1)

SquirrelsUnite (1179759) | more than 5 years ago | (#28206431)

Another thing I've noted is how pointless it is to talk with Chinese about their politics. They are extremely sensitive and immediately get defensive. A hong kong girl was talking about this event with a mainland student and she became very agitated. The chinese guy was absolutely overwhelmed by the critics, didn't know how to react (he was the only chinese in a group of international students) and immediately started to defend the government's action, saying things like sometimes politics has to use violence to achieve it's goal... (basically implying that they did the right thing)

Did this happen in China? If yes, did you consider the possibility that he simply didn't consider it safe to say what he really thought?

Re:This is more like a silent protest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28211249)

Yes. But it happened behind closed doors in an international dormitory. It's more like a reflex reaction that whenever something critical is being said, they find reasons to defend why the government did it, but seem completely unable to think the other way round. I don't believe it was a matter of not saying what he really thought, he just didn't know what he should think.

Re:This is more like a silent protest (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28207849)

1. I'm impressed; what subtle, elegant subterfuge. How very Chinese :) The "wear a white t-shirt" is genius :D

2. Don't be an asshole, don't gang up on an individual unless you want to be proud of your fascism. Treating other people well does not negate your point of view, done right it can make it much stronger (learn from point 1 above).

Re:This is more like a silent protest (1)

lilyneao (1574051) | more than 5 years ago | (#28284799)

I'm the webmaster of "the quietsnow.com".This is a "interesting" activity for some of webmasters.

Purely Coincidental. (5, Interesting)

vampire_baozi (1270720) | more than 5 years ago | (#28204269)

Not.

Chinese internet users aren't stupid, they know what is going on. In many cases, all it does is call attention to the anniversary, perhaps more than would have been paid otherwise.

In any case, most Chinese I know seem fairly cynical about it. A translated conversation from Xiaonei, in response to a blog post by a friend about the economic crisis:

AAA: Well written!! But why can't I share it? (think Facebook sharing, posting a link to it on your own homepage)
BBB: Yeah, I can't share it either. Must be because it's today!
000(the author): Well, I can post it, you guys should be able to share it....
CCC: (a few comments about the actual content of the article)
DDD: I guess Xiaonei is having problems recently. Anything with numbers seems to run into problems.
AAA: Anything with certain numbers runs into problems around this time of year....
EEE: I'm sure this maintenance is perfectly normal, as it is for all other Chinese websites right now.(sarcasm)
BBB: There is no spoon~~! (this in English)
FFF: Wow, nice word choice guys.
Bad translation, there was a good pun or two in there I couldn't figure out how to translate. In any case, they're masters at not using any words censors would find suspicious. But they're all at least aware of it, even if its a minor annoyance.

And it will probably remain just that: A minor annoyance for most, perhaps making them remember, but they don't care that much. The ones that really want to protest will just use text messages or IM anyway, and even they hardcore democracy types know where the line is drawn. For the most part, it seems really unnecessary. If they really wanted to organize protests, they'd have been organized long before the 3 days before the anniversary, and then use texting or cells or IM to expand. I doubt there will be any protests to speak of anyway- the Chinese sort of have a silent agreement here, they know where to draw the line.

Nerd cue Tiananmen (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28204613)

"Under maintenance" is obviously a message coded in anagram.

Re:Nerd cue Tiananmen (1)

fractoid (1076465) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205659)

Aha! They're really trying to say: "An indecent manure".

Voluntary downtime as a silent protest (1)

gzipped_tar (1151931) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205309)

or they could just copy the Slashdot way and put the messages in HTTP respond headers.

Parallels to the US (2, Interesting)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205379)

Amazingly, there remain people, who would argue, that the US is either "the same" or "not much better", and deny, that China's human rights record is particularly bad.

I mean, just imagine, the US government shutting down Twitter [marketingvox.com] or any Leftist web-site at around, say, Iraq-invasion anniversary...

Re:Parallels to the US (3, Insightful)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205477)

Unfortunately, I can imagine it, although not as a federal political action. Take a good look at what happened to Cult Awareness Network for a stunning example of political censorship.

Re:Parallels to the US (1)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#28226817)

Take a good look at what happened to Cult Awareness Network for a stunning example of political censorship.

Which aspect of Cult Awareness Network [wikipedia.org] 's history do you consider "a stunning example of political censorship"? I skimmed the article briefly, but could not find anything particularly outrageous in what happened to them...

Re:Parallels to the US (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28229019)

The Scientologists hated Cult Awareness Network with good reason: CAN had good documentation and support to help families with people who'd been sucked into it, and put them in contact with former members who could explain how things really worked. The Scientologists filed literally hundreds of lawsuits to drive CAN into bankruptcy and destroy them, eventually succeed with a lawsuit where the plaintiff (not a scientologist) was represented by a Scientology senior lawyer and former leading member of the Guardian's Office, Kendrick Moxon. Look him up as well, and the case, it's fascinating material. This wasn't direct censorship, come to think about it. It _was_ SLAPP, Strategic Lawsuits Against Public Participation, to stop CAN from their legal and justified activities. And in the end the cult managed to buy the trademarks and phone numbers of CAN. So when you call CAN now, your call is answered by a scientologist. Guess who they now steer you towards? Apologists for the very cults they used to help people avoid.

Re:Parallels to the US (1)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#28247877)

The Scientologists hated Cult Awareness Network with good reason [...]

So, you seriously consider law-suits brought against a private entity by another private entity to be comparable to government shutting down web-sites to minimize anti-government protests?!..

Re:Parallels to the US (1)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | more than 5 years ago | (#28259035)

Absolutely. It was done as an illegal campaign to silence speech. Their scale and means were as awful as any federal censorship of which I'm aware. The purpose of such lawsuits is not necessarily to win, but to silence opposition.

Re:Parallels to the US (1)

oreaq (817314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28208709)

Some might argue that the real atrocity is the beating and killing of peaceful, unarmed students. Or the raping, beating and killing of some random prisoners in some foreign country that one has no business to be in in the first place.

But you're right. When it comes to the important stuff like using Twitter and watching Britney's twat then the good old U.S.A. is still way ahead of the communist bastards from China.

Re:Parallels to the US (1)

mi (197448) | more than 5 years ago | (#28226923)

Some might argue that the real atrocity is the beating and killing of peaceful, unarmed students. [...]

Changing the topic, eh?..

When it comes to the important stuff like using Twitter and watching Britney's twat [...] U.S.A. is still way ahead of the communist bastards from China.

Twitter is used by anti-government protesters and yet the government does not attempt to close it, not even during the spikes of protests (such as around Iraq-invasion date). Chinese web-sites, which might be used to organize a protest are being shut down proactively. In this respect we are (and always have been) way ahead China's communist bastards, yes.

Re:Parallels to the US (1)

oreaq (817314) | more than 5 years ago | (#28236907)

Changing the topic, eh?

No. "China's human rights record" and how it compares to US' was what you were talking about, remember? I just provided some more data points.

Twitter is used by anti-government protesters and yet the government does not attempt to close it, not even during the spikes of protests.

Maybe the difference is that the Chinese government is still afraid of their people. Or that swiftboating when done well can be just as effective and is the preferred method in the "free" world.

And just for the record: I of course do not think that America is in anyway as bad as China. I just have the feeling that the situation is constantly getting worse. Same goes for Europe.

If anyone is wondering about the real reason... (2, Informative)

sethstorm (512897) | more than 5 years ago | (#28205421)

This is why [wikipedia.org]

In short, a massacre followed by a cover-up of the events.

People are still discussing it. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28205683)

People who knows about it are using May 35th, Red Square, something Twen0 (use Chinese character for two and digit or litter O for zero) etc. Unfortunately, many teenagers don't know about, so they cannot understand what's Twen0 means, students abroad don't believe it, they think that was because US Gov lying to Chinese and want Chinese people "kill" their own Gov by themselves. Even people from elsewhere but not Beijing aged 40 or 50 (They were students at that time, and joined the event) cannot believe what happened in Beijing, they questioned my family, was that ture? Damn it we were about dying that time but they don't believe it.

We Left Hong Kong (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28205957)

Because we are afraid of censorship.

I'm truly glad the media in Hong Kong are reporting this truthfully.

Can't even read the first sentence (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28206205)

Good Lord, the first sentence of this post is so dreadfully worded that I had to read it three times. Can *anybody* tell me that this sentence structure makes sense?

"After blocking several prominent social websites like Twitter, Youtube ahead of Tiananmen anniversary, by the great firewall of China, some popular social sites in China have also gone under 'maintenance'."

obligatory (1)

Headcase88 (828620) | more than 5 years ago | (#28212873)

It's nearly acceptable if you replace "by" with "with".

Oh, and you must be new here.

Anonymous Coward (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#28207351)

A bit like the cameras in london go "down for maintenance" whenever there is a protest. the maintenance even follows protests from street to street - amazing!!!

Re:Anonymous Coward (1)

Headcase88 (828620) | more than 5 years ago | (#28213317)

Clearly the protesters are emitting some sort of electromagnetic interference, probably from some sort of terrorist super-weapon, and must be detained. Problem solved!

Nothing to see here... (1)

happy_place (632005) | more than 5 years ago | (#28207899)

Tieneman Square was also just maintenance...

China Anniversary (1)

Headcase88 (828620) | more than 5 years ago | (#28213153)

I'll tell you what's actually coincidental (though it was inevitable): this is the China Anniversary [chiff.com] of the massacre.
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