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Chinese Bloggers Stage Hoax 437

Posted by Zonk
from the riling-up-the-world dept.
Carl Bialik from WSJ writes "It seemed like the latest instance of a recurring story: Two Chinese blogs had shut down, apparently the victim of government censorship. 'Within hours, English-language bloggers and Western news media spread the word that the Chinese government had closed the sites,' the Wall Street Journal reports. The BBC spread the word, and its report was picked up by the French free-press group Reporters Without Borders. 'But in this case, it appears the Chinese government wasn't involved, the WSJ reports. 'By Thursday, a day after the shut-downs, the blogs were back up and running. In an interview, Beijing-based journalist Wang Xiaofeng of Massage Milk says he shut his blog down to make a point about freedom of speech -- just one directed at the West instead of at Beijing. He calls the Western press "irresponsible" and says that the hoax was designed "to give foreign media a lesson that Chinese affairs are not always the way you think." ' The BBC later corrected its story."
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Chinese Bloggers Stage Hoax

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  • by ktappe (747125) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:23PM (#14916443)
    When the Chinese government eventually DOES shut them down, I hope they don't expect much coverage in the Western media.

    -Kurt

    • by GoMMiX (748510) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:26PM (#14916481)
      And on the other-hand, how do we know the Chinese government didn't force them to say that?!?!

      *adjusts tinfoil hat*
      • by FooBarWidget (556006) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:44PM (#14916688)
        I'll probably get modded down because 99% of the Slashdotters are anti-Chinese, but someone has to say it.

        Your kind of posts is exactly what they're talking about. There is absolutely no strong evidence that the Chinese government is behind it. But even then, you're already speculating that the government is involved even when they say the government isn't. Your "they're guilty until proven innocent" is exactly the irresponsible behavior they mean.

        Yes I'm Chinese. My parents are Chinese. I was born in China. And no we don't live in China.
        Yet I still think all the mud throwing at the Chinese government is rediculous. Everybody here's making it sound like China is a hell in which you will be executed if you try to pronounce the 'd' of 'democracy'. China is not North Korea. While I think the Chinese government should be more open, they're not the Big Bad Stalinist Communist Overlords everybody claims they are.

        My dad - yes yes he does NOT live in China - has an even stronger opinion than I have. He firmly believes that people are getting paid by the US government to bash the Chinese government. When the Chinese government does something, everybody yells 'OMG those communist bastards are 3v1l!!!'. But when the US government does something, almost nobody says a word.

        Again, just to argue with you conspiracy theorists: NO we don't live in China. The Chinese government isn't forcing me to write this. I live in Europe.
        • by CaymanIslandCarpedie (868408) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:51PM (#14916765) Journal
          Maybe "they" are just making you say you live in Europe!

          Kidding ;-) Great post!

          • Serious Question (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Catskul (323619) *
            Does he/she live in Europe? Its a good question.
            Serious questions not meant as flamebait:

            In which country do you now live?
            Why does your family no longer live in China?

            • Re:Serious Question (Score:4, Informative)

              by FooBarWidget (556006) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @04:32PM (#14918807)
              "In which country do you now live?"

              Netherlands.

              "Why does your family no longer live in China?"


              For work. My dad came here because China was poor at the time (the late 1980s). I and my mother followed a few years later.
              See? No conspiracies.
        • by IAmTheDave (746256) <basenamedave-sd.yahoo@com> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:52PM (#14916777) Homepage Journal
          everybody yells 'OMG those communist bastards are 3v1l!!!'.

          With all due respect, communism is not high on the chart of things that get the benefit of the doubt. Even if the government did not shut down this particular blog, we know from hard evidence that Yahoo! has participated in identifying online dissidents as have other for-profit companies. We know from hard facts that the Chineese government does censor its web content, searches, and traffic, and we do know from hard evidence that they have shut down blogs and sites in the past.

          So while I'll give you that news agencies should really do some fact checking before picking up the latest blog chatter and reporting it as real news... It's not that far fetched that the Chinese government would be up to some of their pretty old, tried, and true techniques of squelching any information not explicitly approved for public consumption.

          • by heatdeath (217147) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:21PM (#14917090)
            With all due respect, communism is not high on the chart of things that get the benefit of the doubt.

            With all due respect, all governments should not be high on the chart of things that get the benefit of the doubt, but that doesn't justify irresponsible reporting.

            What if an arab-american blogger posted to his blog saying that he'd been arrested for "reasons that we're all familiar with", and then it turns out he'd been arrested for shoplifting? I'm sure a similar situation would have arisen, and made future articles about US mistreatment of arabs would look more like conspiracy theories than they would have previously.

            Yes, it was irresponsible of the bloggers to do what they did (and an obvious attempt to increase readership), but it was also irresponsible for news agencies to report on it without having any facts. It's very tabloidesque.
          • by xnot (824277) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:03PM (#14917531)
            It's not that far fetched that the Chinese government would be up to some of their pretty old, tried, and true techniques of squelching any information not explicitly approved for public consumption.

            Or, you could choose to hear and understand the argument being made that people immediately jump to conclusions as far as the Chinese government is concerned, and that doing so is irresponsible. The awareness of that point was the purpose of the action, and the message that is supposed to be taken from it. What the Chinese government did in the past or what they may do in the future is irrelvant to the purpose of the story.

            The re-iteration of your viewpoint, regardless of facts which have nothing to do with it, brings up an interesting memory of mine. There's an important idea I learned while studying the history of science in collage.

            ALL scientific truths go through exactly three phases.

            1. They are ridiculed
            2. They are violently opposed
            3. They are accepted as self-evident.

            I find this applies to almost everything people believe. We reach some point where we accept certain things as being set in stone. Then what happens is we refuse to accept any new information which disrupts what we believe. The unfortunately thing in doing so is we waste years applying the wrong information, when such a struggle was unnecessary.

            Teach yourself to be able to accept evidence which may contradict your current viewpoint, no matter how strongly you believe in it. The world is full of polarity. Just because there is evidence to the contrary of what you believe doesn't mean you have to change your belief. But be open to doing so if the evidence should prove overwhelming.

            Getting back to the current issue, the point to take is that automatically damning ANYTHING is a bad idea. Don't accuse people of evil before they actually do it. As the US should have learned from the post 9/11 hell-hole that is Iraq, demonizing people just makes them hate you more. It doesn't solve any problem.

            • I find this applies to almost everything people believe. We reach some point where we accept certain things as being set in stone. Then what happens is we refuse to accept any new information which disrupts what we believe.

              I am not trying to start a flame war here, but this idea that any entity - person, government, etc., will just suddenly turn heel and become the complete opposite of what they've been for years, without some outside force acting upon it, is rediculous. Further, when you look at the wei

        • by Anonymous Coward
          Your "they're guilty until proven innocent" is exactly the irresponsible behavior they mean

          Innocent until proven guilty is a right of the people, not of the government(s).
          • by NemoX (630771)
            Innocent until proven guilty is a right of the people, not of the government(s).

            Exactly. And to expand up this with regards to questioning the Chinese government's viability, let's apply an extra layer as put forth by the US' founding fathers writings and readings...

            "Question your government at all times."

            So essentially, assuming the worst of your government, is a duty of its citizens.
        • by bombadier_beetle (871107) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:57PM (#14916835)
          But when the US government does something, almost nobody says a word.

          You must be new here.
        • by Wescotte (732385) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:59PM (#14916864)
          My dad - yes yes he does NOT live in China - has an even stronger opinion than I have. He firmly believes that people are getting paid by the US government to bash the Chinese government. When the Chinese government does something, everybody yells 'OMG those communist bastards are 3v1l!!!'. But when the US government does something, almost nobody says a word.

          If he ever finds the agency paying these people to bash China (or any country) tell him to let me know.. Not that I have anything against China I just could use the money.

          Thanks
          Eric
        • Yet I still think all the mud throwing at the Chinese government is rediculous. Everybody here's making it sound like China is a hell in which you will be executed if you try to pronounce the 'd' of 'democracy'. China is not North Korea. While I think the Chinese government should be more open, they're not the Big Bad Stalinist Communist Overlords everybody claims they are.

          Give me a fucking break. The Chinese government was willing to send FUCKING TANKS against unarmed students. And the Western Media are t

          • Two words: Kent State.
            • by Stargoat (658863)
              And the US has been condeming, and singing songs, and calling Kent State a massacre ever since. The Chinese Govermment is still hiding from its own people what happened at Tiananmen. Do a Google image search of Kent State [google.com], and let me know what you get. Then do a Google image search of Tianamen [google.cn] and let me know what you get.

              How do you tell when a Communist is lying? His lips are moving. And it's perfectly true. Remember what Marxism really is:
              Step 1 - Revolt
              Step 2 - Appoint a dictator
              Step 3 - ???
              • by opencity (582224) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @03:59PM (#14918551) Homepage
                If you do a little reading you will see that Marx never advocated a Communist state - his was a 19th century theory of history.

                How many Marxists does it take to change a lightbulb? None. The staff at the library change them.

                Bakunin, a contemporary of Marx, correctly predicted the failures of the Soviet Union and Maoism.

                >Communism has been responsible for more pain and suffering than any other form of government in the history of men.

                The breakup of Africa was done by the colonial powers, the destabilization of China was done by the British. The wholesale slaughter of 'native' North Americans was done by mother nature with a helping hand from the Europeans. The slaughter of the indians in Guatemala was bought and paid for by United Fruit Company. Not to defend the Stalinist scumbags (or insane Maoists), but history has enough blood to go around. Ronald Reagan, for instance, sent death squads into Central America to rape nuns. And he was fighting 'Communism'.

              • The situation is far more complicated there than 'Maoist bad' etc. The Maoist rebels need to be considered in relation to what they stand in opposition to - the brutal dictatorship under the current king of Nepal. It's no coincidence that at this point, the major political parties in Nepal are siding with the Maoists.

                Furthermore, the death toll analysis is not very reliable. For example, much of the death in the GLF was from incompetence and lack of control, rather than authoritarian actions. The Cultural R
        • When the Chinese government does something, everybody yells 'OMG those communist bastards are 3v1l!!!'. But when the US government does something, almost nobody says a word.

          When China does something, the US complains. When the US does something, everyone in Europe complains. When Europe does something... Well, I guess that's probably the US complaining again. And Russia maybe.

          It's the circle of life.

        • by Vellmont (569020) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:03PM (#14916900)
          I'm sorry if we're all a little skeptical about how great the Chinese government is, but Tianamen Square [wikipedia.org] was only 16 1/2 years ago, and this guy [wikipedia.org] only died 30 years ago. Supression of Falun Gong [wikipedia.org] followers continues today.

          Anyway, you're making too much from one paranoid post by one person. China is certainly better than it was during Mao, and it's no Soviet Russia. But it's not a free country either.
          • by Quinn (4474) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:37PM (#14917249) Homepage
            I'm against any and all censorship. However, I must interject a possible non-sequitur: Falun Gong is a rung away from Scientology on the crazy ladder to spiritual enlightenment.
            • by Vellmont (569020) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:44PM (#14917313)

              Falun Gong is a rung away from Scientology on the crazy ladder to spiritual enlightenment.


              I don't doubt you're right, though I don't really know much about Falun Gong. It doesn't really matter though, since religious repression is religious opression no matter how crazy the religion is. It's funny you mention Scientology though, since they're involved in trying to squelch criticism of their religion through threatening lawsuits against anyone that is critical of them.
            • Falun Gong is a rung away from Scientology on the crazy ladder to spiritual enlightenment.

              Yep, yep. Something that frustrates me when I look at US college campuses are all these Falun Gong groups. And people openly doing Falun Gong meditation. It's one thing to denounce a government for oppression (that's fine). But it's another to embrace this kooky idea as a result; I am willing to wager that if these people had found out about Falun Gong and if the Chinese government didn't try to shut it down, they

            • Falun Gong is a rung away from Scientology on the crazy ladder to spiritual enlightenment.

              It was also both officially and unofficially endorsed [wikipedia.org] by the Chinese government. Then at some point they changed their minds (likely because it was becomes too powerful of a religion), and started a disinformation campaign against them.

              I'm not a supporter of Falun Gong, but I have known a few practitioners who have escaped China. They are certainly no Church of Scientology, and they definitely don't represent such a si
        • by Kennon (683628)
          Hmmm....obviously you are NOT one of those Chinese folks we have show up here in San Francisco/Port of Oakland on a regular basis packed into cargo container with 40 others who have lived in their own and other's fecal matter for over a week just so that they can get out of China. Yeah I am sure China is a pretty cool place. I mean heck, it is probably a lot like Cuba, I mean people there just thrown their own children onto rafts made of tires and cardboard and hope that they sail the right direction toward
          • You're a bit behinds the times.

            It is no longer difficult to arrange oversea trips or immigration AS LONG AS YOU HAVE SOME MONEY.
            Those hiding in the container cargo are doing so because they could not get a legal visa to enter the USA!

            While it used to be the case where many graduate students from China choose to stay in the US. Now a days, there are many who have returned to China due to greater work opportunities. Of course, this applies to those with applicable education or a head for business. Those wh
        • But when the US government does something, almost nobody says a word.
          Is it still September 12, 2001 where you live? Give me a break! The left and most of Europe resumed its USA-bashing long ago.
        • Everybody here's making it sound like China is a hell in which you will be executed if you try to pronounce the 'd' of 'democracy'.

          So several thousand people were not executed after the Tiananmen Square attempt at democracy? Really?

          Please, at least leave the attempt at historical revisionism to the government shrills paid to do so. China has a nasty government clinging to power using any tool it can. They will kill if necessary - and they have done so. They have done nothing in the intervening years sin

          • by Rei (128717) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:26PM (#14917137) Homepage
            Not by the normal definition of "executed", no. Also, the percentage of protesters killed at Tiananmen was smaller than the ratio of protesters killed at Kent State (the scale was just much larger). Not to mention many police and army members were injured and killed. Also, most estimates of protester casualties aren't in the thousands, including the US government's own; I suggest you read the wikipedia article on the subject, it's full of references.

            Even the famous "tank guy" wasn't run over, contrary to popular perception. He stood there for a long time and the tanks held their ground. Eventually he even climbed *on top of the bloody tank* (can you imagine what a US tank gunner would do if someone taking part in a protest that had turned violent climbed on *top* of one of our tanks would do?), and they still didn't shoot him. A person in the crowd freaked out when they saw this, grabbed him and pulled him away from the tanks. Thus ended that standoff.
        • There is absolutely no strong evidence that the Chinese government is behind it. But even then, you're already speculating that the government is involved even when they say the government isn't.

          Under what other circumstances (other than a hoax) would a major website have a page titled 'Due to unavoidable reasons with which everyone is familiar, this blog is temporarily closed.'? Well? I assume 'everyone' means everyone that visits the site (which in this case is a large number of people). What on earth c

        • by Lord_Pain (165272) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @02:36PM (#14917845)
          Let me start off by saying that I am Chinese. Let me further clarify that I am a Nationalist Chinese.

          So I have no problem believing that the Communist government of China would force anyone into saying something. I also have no trouble believing that this group and this farce was supported by the State.

          All the hubbub is not mudslinging. It's fact. Ask a Tibetian about how benign this government is. Ask the Heroes of Tiananmen Square Democracy movement how distressing it is that the State is getting a bad rap.

          And your point about evil government: Yes, the Communist government of China is systematically evil. The Democratic government of the USA is far from perfect and has had a checkered past. But the bottom line the US's past behavior does not lessen the crimes commited against millions by the Communist government of China.

      • by Tackhead (54550) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:45PM (#14916697)
        > And on the other-hand, how do we know the Chinese government didn't force them to say that?!?!
        > *adjusts tinfoil hat*

        And on the third hand, how do we know they weren't working for the Chinese government all along, as part of a psyops plan to discredit Chinese bloggers who oppose the government?

        *adjusts tinfoil hat with fourth hand and requests immediate beamout; the humans are onto me for some reason!*

    • by CRC'99 (96526) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:31PM (#14916543) Homepage
      When the Chinese government eventually DOES shut them down, I hope they don't expect much coverage in the Western media.

      But it also makes you wonder if reporters these days actually have reliable sources - and if they even bother to verify them. I'm tipping this is a classic example of a big "NO" on both accounts.

      I wonder how much other news is in this catagory?
    • by sethaw (598206) <sethaw@yahoo.com> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:33PM (#14916568)
      When the Chinese government eventually DOES shut them down, I hope they don't expect much coverage in the Western media.

      They didn't cry wolf. According to the article, the web page only said

      "Due to unavoidable reasons with which everyone is familiar, this blog is temporarily closed."

      Crying wolf would be for them to post a message saying the Chinese government shut them down. According to the article, it was the BBC who did a bad job of journalism of blaming the Chinese government without actually asking anyone of the circumstances of the shutdown. He had a very good point in that "They are not just supposed to report based on their own perceptions". They should be reporting based on facts. The BBC had a knee jerk reaction just as the blogger suspected they would.
      • by slavemowgli (585321) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:52PM (#14916768) Homepage
        It still is crying wolf, though. You don't actually have to *say* "this blog was closed due to the evil Chinese government censor" to be lying; if you *deliberately* put up information that you *know* will lead the observer to reaching a wrong conclusion, you're lying, too.

        Of course it's true that these things shouldn't have been reported without some further investigation, but then, who says the BBC didn't do that? Suppose that a blog actually *is* shut down by the Chinese government - do you think that if the local BBC correspondent phones them, they'll say "oh, yes, right, we closed that one in the latest crackdown because it contained words like "democracy" and "falun gong", and the author has been sent to a labour camp for the next ten years"?

        I'd expect them to just say "we can't comment on that" - no matter whether the story is actually true or not. After all, what interest does the Chinese government have in having western media report about impingements on human rights (freedom of expression and opinion *is* a human right - look it up)?

        I myself have little sympathy for these pranksters. I'm not sure whether they acted out of a misguided sense of patriotism/brainwashing, or whether the whole thing really is a black op to undermine the trust people in western nations place in the media (at least when it comes to reporting about China), but they did lie, and if they should get shut down for real, don't expect too much sympathy from me, either.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:38PM (#14916629)
      "Due to unavoidable reasons with which everyone is familiar, this blog is temporarily closed."

      He obviously intended the results he got. So instead of demonstrating anything about "irresponsible" freedom of speech in the West, he managed to demonstrate that his blog is unreliable and that he is, ultimately, irresponsible. Good show.

      That's one more small step towards insuring the Chinese will never have to worry about irresponsible freedom of speech in their own country.
    • by JordanL (886154)
      No Kidding. What was the point of this? To further decrease the trust in western media of ANY news that comes out of China?

      Who exactly did this heart/teach anything to?
    • Last week China responded [usatoday.com] to US criticism of their human rights record. My guess is the blog incident this is part of a planned strategy of pushing back in the human rights debate. Not very convincing or effective. I expect more from the communist party propaganda machine.

      • Actually despite the large amounts of effort that Communist governments spend on propaganda, they don't seem to do a terribly good job. Although most of the Cold War occured without me paying a whole lot of attention, I recall my parents making much mirth of the various Soviet "Five-Year Plans," which seemed to always come out 3 or 4 years after the last one had. The perception wasn't of a well-oiled machine, but of chaos and disorganization.

        In any case, the point is that these "vast Communist propaganda ma
  • China? (Score:3, Funny)

    by Alex P Keaton in da (882660) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:24PM (#14916449) Homepage
    As long as they don't shut down the plastic flower pot manufacturer's sites...
    But who knew that the 7th most popular non adult web search in China is Plastic flowerpot manufacturer...
    http://www.accoona.com/about/press/press_release_2 [accoona.com] 005_03_29_001.jsp
    Yes, it ranks above emmigration!!!!
    • Looks like a search engine portal to me, man...
    • correct link
      http://www.accoona.com/about/press/press_re l ease_2005_03_29_001.jsp
      For some reason, you have to copy and paste it into your browser:
      Top 25 Search Results from Winter 2005 Reveal What Chinese Internet Users Are Searching For New York, NY March 29, 2005 A recent study and whitepaper by Accoona Corporation (http://www.accoona.com/ [accoona.com] an industry leader in Artificial Intelligence (AI) search technology and one of the most prominent search engines in China, reveals that while geographical and cultu
  • by Martin Blank (154261) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:25PM (#14916465) Journal
    This post has been removed by the United States Department of Homeland Security. Revelation of its original contents is a violation of DHS regulations. Violators will be fined, imprisoned, or both.
  • BBC (Score:5, Interesting)

    by frodo from middle ea (602941) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:25PM (#14916468) Homepage
    This is not the first time that BBC has been caught doing this. One incident that comes to mind, is when babri mosque was destroyed in india, BBC claimed to show live footage , which later turned out to be a destruction of some building in bosnia.

  • Within hours, English-language bloggers and Western news media spread the word that the Chinese government had closed the sites.

    This makes it sound like all the major news outlets were up in arms about it. In fact, a quick check of Google news for "Massage Milk", sorted by date, shows that there was the BBC story on the 8th, then numerous reports about it being a hoax the next day.

    The BBC article states:
    Now, Mr Wang's high profile seems to have attracted the disapproval of the Chinese government, which administers the most sophisticated system of internet censorship and control anywhere in the world.

    A note on his site reads simply but pointedly: "Because of unavoidable reasons, this blog is now temporarily closed."

    (Emphasis mine.)

    The WSJ article claims that the BBC updated its article, but it doesn't make clear what was updated. The few blogs that picked up the story seem to support the text I quoted above. Meaning, that the BBC was not unreasonable in its report, even if it did assume the worst.

    As far as I can tell, the only irresponsible party here is the blogger himself. He created a situation that directly insinutated government shutdown, then tried to play the matter up as "irresponsible western journalism." He's proved nothing except to do damage to the free speech movement in China.
    • He created a situation that directly insinutated government shutdown, then tried to play the matter up as "irresponsible western journalism."

      While I'm not advocating that he did, he does have a good point. The press is so bent up on being "The first one to break the story", their QA went down the toilet.
    • He's proved nothing except to do damage to the free speech movement in China.

      What makes you think that wasn't his goal from the very beginning?

      The only effect of this -- if it actually has any real effect, which I doubt -- would be to make Western reporters couch their statements with more uncertainties. So instead of "the Chinese government shut down xyz blog and dragged his family off to a re-education center," they'll say "xyz blog has been shut down, possibly by the Chinese government, and the author an
  • by TheWart (700842) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:30PM (#14916529)
    Yes, the "Western" media does get many issues wrong, so I am in no way defending their every aspect...but come on. I mean, if two Chinese-based blogs are "shut down," what does one usually think? I doubt you can just call Bejing and get a straight answer from the govt. people, so it does not seem wholly irresponsible in my view to assume that the govt. did in fact shut them down.

    Also, maybe I am an idiot, but I would rather have a (relatively) free press who get things wrong from time to time to a govt. which muzzles just about everything. Call me crazy I suppose. I wouldn't be surprised if the Chinese govt. backed this project in the first place.
    • Plus the message on the blog when the guy shut it down was obviously intended to cause a reader to draw the conclusion that it had been shut down by the government.

      It's kind of like faking being hit by a car and then when people run out to help you, jumping up and screaming "fooled you!" Okay, so nice job, you fooled us, but only because we gave you more credit for not being a dumbass than we probably should have.
  • by blueZhift (652272) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:30PM (#14916531) Homepage Journal
    Heh, heh, maybe the freedom to be irresponsible on occasion is part of the whole point (and risk) of a free press. After all, once the truth was known, the story was corrected. I'm not so sure that mistakes would be corrected with a less than free press. It's funny, many seem to think that freedom means making the right choices all of the time. But in fact most of the time it means screwing up and falling flat on your face whether that be choosing the wrong party or president to lead your country or just choosing an SUV with really bad gas mileage. What governments and societies around the world need to come to grips with is allowing people the freedom screw up. There can be no success without the risk of failure.
  • He calls the Western press "irresponsible" and says that the hoax was designed "to give foreign media a lesson..."

    So the next time we get a story like this, we will be twice as skeptical, and may not even believe it at all.
    Media today uses 'instant information' to formulate stories, and there is a race to be the first to report 'breaking news' - sometimes with little fact checking involved.
    With the tight restrictions from the Chinese media and the internet, it is easier to believe a hoax from Chin
  • Yes they are (Score:5, Interesting)

    by argoff (142580) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:31PM (#14916547)

    Chinese affairs are not always the way you think

    This is bullshit. Respect of the human dignity and free will of a Chineese person is just as important as the respect of human dignity and free will of an American one. The notion that rights are opinions and mutual agreements worked out with a government died over 200 years ago. Today it is widely understood that individuals have rights with or without government, and that those rights are inaliable, and that the puspose of government is to help secure those rights. If the government can't do it, then it is a failure - plain and simple. This isn't rocket science, the history of rights has been well tested out and is only misunderstood by those who would want to ignore it and abuse it.

    • First off "rights" are subjective.

      Second, if you think the USA is so peachy clean with respective rights I suggest you actually *read* a history text instead of summarizing the press kit.

      Third, fuck off. Media in the USA *is* censored for all intents and purposes. They make you fear what they want you to fear [immigrants, slackers, foreign beef, dignity] and they make you hear what they want you to hear [bipartisan bullshit, new freedom in distant lands, etc].

      Tom
  • It might do more to combat Chinese censorship than anything else if the current regime decides that maybe the Internet isn't *strictly* a propaganda tool aimed at overthrowing them.
  • by liangzai (837960) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:33PM (#14916574) Homepage
    I also submitted this story, linking to http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2006-03/1 4/content_534795.htm [chinadaily.com.cn] for further information.

    It just shows that Western media has a standard agenda of politicizing everything, and that checking sources is not honored by Western journalists (who really should set a good example on this to show Chinese journalists how to do it).

    Now the crowd here will come up with ingenious "what ifs" and other excuses, actually defending this bad journalism. It is Us and Them nomatter what, as usual.
    • His goal was to demonstrate that the Western press makes everything political. Perhaps he's right, but it seems to me that he's failed to demonstrate it. He posted a deliberately misleading message on his web site. If he wanted to post evidence, I'd rather see examples of how things he posted were taken out of context. The China Daily article doesn't give them.

      Well, now he's attracted attention, and he gets the opportunity to do the demonstration he wanted, but the way he attracted the attention doesn't dem
  • by FreeUser (11483) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:33PM (#14916578)
    The western press isn't perfect at detecting liars. As a result, they should shut up and say nothing at all.

    What a bunch of bozos.

    Am I pissed at the western press for giving Bush a free pass for so many years, and still showing a suprising lack of backbone even today? You bet. Does that mean the press offers nothing of value (even on those subjects it slants in ways I disagree with)? No.

    So a couple of government-friendly bloggers decided to stage a hoax and mimic a shutdown so many bloggers have actually experienced at the hands of that same government, just to draw out the press and discredit their message that "censorship is wrong."

    Well, maybe they're congratulating themselves, but I'm not buying their criticism. The press is imperfect, and downright wrong from time to time. Reporters are often lazy, doing more googling and reprinting of press releases than actual research, and courage seems to be lacking from many news organizations (and others appear to be outright owned by supporters of the current conservative regimes in many places, including Australia and the USA).

    However, faking a blog shutdown in a way that mimics dozens of real shutdowns, then screaming 'ha ha! fooled you you dumb free speech westerners' is like staging your own kidnapping, hiding out, then going public with how stupid the news media is for reporting your disappearance and possible kidnapping. The media has plenty of faults, but not detecting every case of fraud and deliberate deception is hardly a reason to dismiss every news they report, particularly with respect to repressive regimes.

    Hell, if the media were able to detect hoaxes and lies so easilly, Bush, Blair, and their respective administrations would get a whole lot less airtime, and we wouldn't be busy fighting a war in Iraq instead of fighting the War on Terror we were supposed to be fighting in that other country, hundreds of miles to the east ... what was it called again? Oh yeah, Afghanistan.
  • You don't say? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by arakon (97351) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:33PM (#14916580) Homepage
    The media being irresponsible? NEVER! We have the highest quality of sensationalistic Journalism that money can buy!

    "Your Children are in danger of being sexually molested by crazed monkeys in certain areas. News at eleven that you can't afford to miss."
    • I've always loved the quote, "A common household item that you might be holding right now causes cancer, the full story at 10*."

      *I think this comes from Ellen Degeneres, but am not certain.
  • by MikeRT (947531) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:35PM (#14916598) Homepage
    Journalists today often do not fact check any more than the bloggers they denounce. That's why this lesson was necessary and will need to be repeated several more times. The "mainstream media" is not differentiating itself from bloggers because no one expects us to fact check every post and its references because we're amateurs. Calling bloggers "citizen journalists" is flattery that none of us deserve. When blogs do fact check, it's like a mechanic doing some engineering work, but the journalists are behaving like engineers who are too proud and lazy to actually do basic mechanical work on their own machines or software. You don't expect the mechanic to be able to partially redesign something to get it working better, but when they do, you respect that. However, you ought to expect an engineer to be able to maintain what they've built, and the media shows no signs of being willing to do professional grunt work as "lowly" as fact checking.

    Another important lesson here is that the media often doesn't do its job when it comes to presenting Americans with a deeper report on totalitarian governments and violence abroad. So far, no American newspaper has reprinted the Danish cartoons, allegedly out of respect for Muslims. Yet the New York Times will report on something as safe as "Piss Christ" which is significantly more of an attack on Christianity than those cartoons were on Islam. Why? Because then they'd have to worry about Islamists carbombing the NY Times. If they wrote scathing exposes of China, Syria, Libya and other states like those, they might have to worry about those countries' security and intel agencies killing their reporters abroad.
  • by Vellmont (569020) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:42PM (#14916675)
    I guess I fail to see the irony here. A Chinese blogger posts a vaguely worded story meant to imply that the government shut him down, and the media reports it, and corrects the error the next day. How is this "proving a point"? The news media get things terribly wrong without anyone helping them all the time. I guess this guy has never seen an episode of The Daily Show.

    As a media hoaxer, he really needs to learn a thing or two. There's been some very big media hoaxes over the years, though I can't remember anything recent. Everyone knows the War of the Worlds radio hoax by Orson Wells of course.
    • Everyone knows the War of the Worlds radio hoax by Orson Wells of course.

      Except, of course, that the War of the Worlds radio broadcast was not a hoax, but a scheduled program of Orson Wells and the Mercury Theatre on the Air. The program was listed in the newspaper, and introduced on the air as such. There were also three announcements during the broadcast noting that it was fiction.
  • Feigning Death (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kaleco (801384) <greig...marshall2@@@btinternet...com> on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:46PM (#14916702)
    This bizarre hoax makes about as much sense as a Pinochet supporter disappearing and reappearing during his reign, to make a comment on the Western media's coverage of the 'disappearance' of many of his protesters. It amounts to nothing less than hide real injustices in a thick fog of doubt.
    • Apologies in advance for dire grammar. I should have pre-read my comment more thoroughly, but if Digg can manage a three-minute edit period...
  • Not to smart.... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by eander315 (448340) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:46PM (#14916713)
    He calls the Western press "irresponsible" and says that the hoax was designed "to give foreign media a lesson that Chinese affairs are not always the way you think."

    Yeah right. The guy intentionally feeds incorrect information to the outside world, then blames everyone for interpreting it incorrectly? Great logic skills, buddy.

    Given his statement, apparently all of those censorship and freedom of speech problems don't exist. Move along, nothing to see here.

    • by JFMulder (59706) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:07PM (#14916942)
      I don't agree. Reporting news is a serious issue and the facts should have been checked first, which clearly wasn't done. They made a very valid point.
      • by Jugalator (259273)
        This is true, but all he proved was that you can lie to media so they get fooled, not that they generalize that shut down Chinese blogs is automatically being censored or anything like that. His own lies destroyed that possibility.

        If all he made was show that journalism can be sloppy, then what's new here and why even bother? It's hard fact that in today's competition among newspapers, being out with news first is the only thing that counts. This has very little to do with free speech as well, so I don't re
  • I think that we may be seeing the echoes of European and American imperialism and racism here. Over the past few centuries, the West certainly has historically exploited and looked down upon the East, and I can only imagine that Western crowing about the virtue of Western style human rights must be a bitter pill for China to take, all the more so because in this case the West is right, or largely right.
  • by Weaselmancer (533834) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @12:49PM (#14916749)

    They're just ticked off because The Onion keeps fooling [danwei.org] them. [danwei.org]

    • That second link you give does not seem to have its sources in an onion article. They just seem to state that it could have been an onion article. It isn't that funny, though ;)
  • Wow (Score:2, Funny)

    by guru8376 (695028)
    [Sarcasm] Wow they fooled the Media. I never thought i'd see the day where the media would report some sensationlist news without checking the facts out. This is a sad day indeed. [/sarcasm]
  • How can we be sure that the Chinese government really didn't shut down the blog?

    Perhaps this was a planned political marketing ploy. They force Mr. Wang to take down the blog, and then force him to put it back up again, claiming he had the idea the whole time, and thus giving the idea that the Chinese government does not act like the Western world thinks it does. How can we be sure Mr. Wang is not under coercion (by money or by threat) from the Chinese government? Watch his blog posts over the next month or
  • by Jon Luckey (7563)
    HELP I am being held prisoner in a Chinese BLOG server room
  • ... Okay so now we don't know what to think any longer. It seemed pretty simple before with people writing things only to have them tracked down with the aid of Yahoo! and prosecuted. Now bloggers themselves pulling stunts attempting to make western media seem foolish?

    I don't get it. First of all, the media generally reports the facts as reported to them. If 100 people claim to have witnessed Godzilla walking along the beach in Japan and there are footprints there, the media will report those facts... n
  • "Western media" is irresponsible when not checking up lies like "Because of unavoidable reasons, this blog is now temporarily closed". If just a blog would've dissapeared, this would be far less likely to even have been covered. It's not like media fabricated this story on their own; he assisted in creating a plausible foundation for rumors and web chatter quite a bit as well.
  • by ebcdic (39948) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:14PM (#14917011)
    He's collaborating with those who try to suppress it.
  • by stubear (130454) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:20PM (#14917066)
    We have a fable about a little boy who cried wolf as a prak one too many times. When there really was a wolf and he was in need, no one believed him. When your site is really taken down by the Chinese Government, don't be surprised when we don't believe you.
  • by Captain Scurvy (818996) on Tuesday March 14, 2006 @01:54PM (#14917431) Homepage
    When you lie about something that could easily be true, and the person you're lieing about (the Chinese government) is unreliable, then people will oftentimes believe you. Granted, it is irresponsible to assume that something is true without proper verification, but that is the real "point" here, and isn't really related to "free speech."

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