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LinkAsia | Feb 22
"Can a search engine succeed if you have no concept of the free flow of information?" That was the question posed by former Google China head Kai-F...
It's widely acknowledged that China's internet censors often delete microblog posts that are critical of government officials. But the censorship apparently doesn't protect former officials, including Bo Xilai. Bo is the former Communist Party Chief from Chongqing who was stripped from his position after being accused of corruption, abuse of power and involvement in the murder of a British businessman. Now that Bo has been officially expelled from the party, microbloggers are being allowed to vent online. Here's our Beijing contributor Nicole Sy with more.
When the Bo Xilai story broke back in February, the internet was heavily censored and searching for key words on Sina Weibo yielded "no results". These results included Bo Xilai's name, and others associated with him - like his wife's name, and the city of Chongqing, even coded terms like Chongqing hotpot, or King of the Southwest, were blocked on Weibo.
Now, after two trials and Bo's dismissal from the communist party, the Chinese internet has been relatively free of censorship. Bo's name was even the number one search term for a while on Weibo.
Netizens commented on the irony of some of Bo Xilai's quotes about honesty and integrity.
One user writes, "How ironic. The king of the silver screen, Bo Xilai has a list of sayings: (we) must take a clear stand against corruption. In the end, honesty is a kind of happiness. Cadres at each level must earnestly take responsibility, must manage themselves well, and must also manage well the cadre who stands above them."
While many others commented on how Bo's crimes began early on in his political career but are only being brought to light now:
"What we should be thinking about is how at every step along the road, he violated discipline. How did he climb the political ladder so high? We should consider problems within the system." While another reads: "Unsupervised authority inevitably increases evil desires in one's heart, either you take enormous bribes, or have sexual relationships with a number of women, they act under the cover of authority and do whatever they please. When the time comes to check on the cage of those that wield power, it is the people, not the authorities who are in the cage."
Bo Xilai's son, Bo Guagua has issued a statement on the blogging platform Tumblr in defense of his father. However, while screenshots of the webpage still float freely around Weibo, a search for the actual link on the actual Tumblr site are blocked in China. He said it was hard to believe the allegations against his father. He went on, "although the policies enacted by my father are open to debate, the father I know is upright in his beliefs and devoted to duty."
Bo Guagua's statement seems to indicate that his father was persecuted by political enemies and expelled because of his policies and not of his personal life. For LinkAsia, I'm Nicole Sy in Beijing.
News of Bo's expulsion and criminal charges was released on the eve of a big holiday weekend in the hope that few people would notice. The practice of putting out bad or embarrassing news late on a Friday afternoon, when reporters and editors are looking forward to the weekend, is a common practice here in the US, where it's known as document dumping.
And about that big holiday in China? It's called the mid-autumn festival, and it's much like Thanksgiving here: a time for visiting the family back home. Last Monday was also known as National Day, and celebrates the anniversary of the communist party's takeover.
Hundreds of millions of people piled into airplanes, trains, buses and cars.
Traffic jams were terrible, and they were exacerbated by authorities waiving tolls on the highways coming out of Beijing and other cities. But some people dealt with the gridlock by getting creative. Tennis anyone? These people decided to take a nice stroll along the highway. And these folks took the opportunity to walk their dog. Apparently for some people, walking just wasn't going to cut it. By Monday, most cars were gone. But signs of their passage were everywhere. I wonder what the fine for littering is in China? If think you know the answer, tweet us @LinkAsiaNews.