On Friday, China’s great firewall came crashing down allowing access to a number of web sites generally unavailable to Chinese internet users. Unfortunately the excitement was short lived as the firewall was up and running again on Saturday.
The number of social networking sites available while the firewall was down is unknown. What is known is that a large number of Chinese netizens used their short-lived access to the World Wide Web to bombard President Obama’s Google+
Google+ is the internet giant’s social networking service which offers a feature similar to Facebook’s “like” button. Users can press the +1 to support or like a topic. Comments on the president’s blog ranged from humorous, to political, to pleas for the president to intervene in matters concerning China’s limited civil liberties.
In a translation provided by Chinasmack
, a Chinese blog for westerners, 王志永
, wrote, “President, respect human rights! You freed Iraq and, freed Libya, shouldn’t you also free us?!!” the message was written
to President Obama via his official Google+
social networking page.
Clearly enjoying the newly discovered access, Joepo Ding wrote, “Is this what freedom tastes like?”
Must occupy Google+! Capture the White House!
While many of the comments ranged from clever, to lighthearted or downright silly, showing little difference in how Americans and Chinese people express their views online, messages pouring in to the president’s blog also showed a deep desire for freedom of speech and unrestricted Internet use in China.
Another user wrote , “Hello Mr. President, I am Chinese. I hope that when you are dealing with the Chinese government that you won’t only focus on economic interests. The people here also need freedom and democracy. We need a free internet and a safeguarded life that is not too hard. Hope you can do your best to help us, thank you,” Paloschi Alberto said. (Translation provided by Chinasmack.com)
Some Internet users used the opportunity to chastize President Obama for other political issues, like the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. 吴佳斌 wrote: ” Obama, you do not contribute to world peace, but earlier get the Nobel peace prize, do not you feel ridiculous? You to attack terrorists without the permission of a sovereign state without authorization to send troops into the country, and the manslaughter of a few 60 people in this country, and finally, only say “We regret that”. Please tell me what is your human rights?” (
via President Obama’s Google+
COATTAIL WA wrote, “We Chinese seldom have the chance to connected with the world’s famous websites including U2B,FACEBOOK, TWITTER,WIKI. g+ opened several days ago and Chinese is so exited and our “occupy” is friendly, We love America and world value!”
While Chinese Internet users relished the opportunity to voice their opinions, this could pose a potential problem for them since Internet use is heavily guarded by the People’s Republic of China. Internet users could be sentenced to serve time in Reeducation through labor
camps for speaking too freely online. Sentences are usually administered without trial by local police authority. Two years ago, a woman was sentenced to a year of reeducation for “disturbing social order” after re-tweeting a satirical comment (source, Amnesty.org