Censorship in China is not new. The Chinese government has mandated to install specific filtering software, Green Dam, on every computer sold in the country. Companies that want to sell computers in China shall pre-install Green Dam which is supposed to protect children from inappropriate internet content. Of course, the software can also be used for different purposes, giving the Chinese government the possibility to monitor personal computers; in addition to the already operating so-called Great Firewall of China. Green Dam does not merely control the computer’s data, it might also cause fatal errors as the software code does not fit to quality standards and offers rather poor parental control options. “Given the resulting poor quality of the product, the large negative security and stability effects on the Chinese computing infrastructure and the intense backlash against the product mandate, the mandate may result in less government control.” (OpenNet) It is probably for these reasons, that the mandate has temporarily been delayed to an unknown date. Even though, companies based in democratic countries already ship personal computers with the required software to China.
Regardless of the surveillance of the internet, Chinese internet users also found ways to avoid censorship. Chinese authorities do not tolerate officially inappropriate religious and political statements and want its citizens to behave according to national political correctness. Therefore, the language used in internet forums is monitored by Chinese agencies as vulgar expressions are not accepted. Creative users replace offensive language by similarly sounding expressions and mock official regulations. As a result, songs about the Grass Mud Horse (Chinese: cao ni ma) became amazingly popular on Chinese YouTube channels. The animal that has its natural habitat in the Gobi Desert (ge bi) is similarly pronounced as the very vulgar Chinese expression cao ni ma ge bi.
- OpenNet Initiative. “China’s Green Dam: The Implications of Government Control Encroaching on the Home PC“.
- Erich Lischka, Spiegel.de. “Kreative Chinesen verhöhnen die Zensoren.”
- Foto: Grass-Mud-Horse from Flickr.com