China's Social Media Suppress China's Nobel Prize Winner Announcement
It seems the Norwegian Nobel Committee is controversial no matter who they select to win the Nobel Peace Prize. Last year, it was U.S. President Barack Obama for lack of international experience and this year it's Liu Xiaobo, an imprisoned Chinese dissident. Igniting a fury amongst Chinese politicos, the award was criticized harshly for what the Chinese view as a violation the Committees' core principles in honoring "a criminal."
Xiaobo, who played a role in the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989, and helped to draft a call for human rights initiatives in 2008 was sentenced to an 11-year term based on subversive charges. According to the Committee to Protect Journalists, news of the award is almost non-existent in any China's media and has been blacked out from international news broadcasts on the BBC and CNN. Here is an ITN News video released in London.
Restrictions from appearing on any of China's major commercial Internet news portals, dissidents are taking great risks to disseminate the news through social media Web sites including Twitter. Wang Zhongxia, a friend of the Xiaobo family issued the following tweet that celebrated the decision made by the Nobel Committee.
Translated, this message reads: "Norway is badass [牛逼], I’m crying in
the car right now [on the way to visit Liu Xiaobo's wife]." Hundreds of
similar tweets were dispersed into the Twitterstream over the course of
the last few days, since the announcement was formally made on Friday,
The announcement quickly became a trending topic also on Sina Weibo's, the Chinese version of Twitter, although according to a ChinaGeeks report, it was quickly deleted from the microblogging site. And in Beijing, text messages with the name "Liu Xiaobo" in Chinese were blocked on Chinese mobile phones.
These protests mirror a similar reaction to the Chinese government's Big Brother control of social media and news outlets when the authorities expelled journalists and six Hong Kong broadcasters from Tibet in 2008.
According to the Chinese ministry's Web site, Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu announced the following: "This is an obscenity against the peace prize. Liu's actions are diametrically opposed to the aims of the Nobel Prize. Nobel's behest was that the Nobel Peace Prize be awarded to somebody who promoted peace between peoples, promoted international friendship and disarmament."
In the West, several Facebook pages have been established. A few are in Chinese titled "劉曉波 Liu Xiaobo (刘晓波)" and "Free Liu Xiaobo! 釋放刘晓波!" and one established on October 9, 2010 has already attracted 2500+ followers and includes such status updates as "Thank you so much for your support. I will make sure Liu gets to see this page."
From an AP press release, it appears that Xiaobo has not learned of the honor that was bestowed on him by the Norwegian Nobel committee. Authorities escorted Liu's wife from Beijing to the northeastern city where he is imprisoned but will not let her see him to deliver the news until Sunday, October 10 a family member said.
China's human right violations in the eyes of international communities is viewed as archaic, yet the government refuses to waver, Even though the Tiananmen Square massacre has set back relations with peoples from around the world, the Chinese censorship of social media and news outlets appears to be firmly in place - and unfortunately when reminders like this surface - the Chinese government seem to dig their heels in even more so.
It's a travesty that the majority of people on mainland China are still not privy to the award or when they eventually do learn cannot celebrate in the acknowledgement that one of their native sons is the recipient - in fear of reprisal from their government.