打黑 + 薄 (smash the black / dǎhēi + the surname for Bo Xilai / bó) is a reference to Bo Xilai’s 2009-2011 campaign to rid the city of Chongqing of organized crime. In Chinese, it’s known as “重庆打黑除恶专项行动” (literally, Chongqing’s fight against illegal activities and elimination of evil forces special operation) and it’s also referred to as the Chongqing gang trials in English.
Why it is blocked: Chongqing is a sprawling major city in China’s interior, home to nearly 30 million people in an area the size of South Carolina. Before Bo Xilai’s arrival in Chongqing as party secretary (the de facto head of the city), organized crime was endemic in the city, with gangs running illegal underground activity and bribing police and government officials at all levels.
When Bo took office, he vowed to tackle organized crime and corruption and gave his police chief, Wang Lijun great latitude in attacking the problem.Thousands were arrested and Bo was celebrated for his seemingly successful triad busting. However, numerous questions have arisen about the way those arrests and convictions were made, with the most notorious being the case of Li Zhuang. Li, a much respected lawyer, defended some of those arrested in the crackdown, earning the wrath of authorities. One of whose clients was forced to falsely testify against him in an obvious frameup, and Li was convicted and imprisoned.
Since then of course, Bo and his police chief have experienced a spectacular fall from grace and the afterglow of busting the triads has been lost amid stories about tortured witnesses and false confessions. It was claimed that Bo and his associates even extorted rivals by threatening to target them next. Bo was recently convicted and sentenced to life in prison for numerous crimes, including those related to his handling of the crackdown in Chongqing, and Wang Lijun was sentenced to 15 years for abuse of power in his role in the campaign.
Note: Searching for 大黑 or 薄 on its own is ok, but if you have both words in your search query, it will be blocked. (The plus is not necessary.)
Why it is blocked: While publicly questioning the conclusions of colleagues, who are prone to political and police pressure, in the case of a student’s death is sensitive enough, westernmediaemphasizedthefact that she had also criticized the government’s findings in a much more high-profile death: that of British businessman Neil Heywood. While Chinese courts convicted Gu Kailai, the wife of Bo Xilai, for poisoning Heywood with cyanide drops, Wang contested this account, declaring in Sept 2012 that based on her review of public documents that Heywood’s death was not consistent with a cyanide poisoning, and that he was perhaps killed for his secret dealings with the Bo family.
Though folks speculated that despite the fact that Wang cited the Ma Yue case as triggering her resignation, the timing of her announcement—just days before the start of Bo Xilai’s trial—may have been intentional and designed to further publicize her doubts regarding Heywood’s death.
According to my tests, Wang’s name was unblocked as recently as Aug 17 (it was the only keyword from the China Chats list to have been found newly blocked between Aug and Sept 2013), and according to GreatFire, it was first detected to be blocked on Aug 30. While it is tempting to attribute the blocking of her name to the lightning rod that is Bo Xilai, an excellent piece from Tea Leaf Nation notes how the Ma Yue case resonated with Weibo users, who applauded Wang for fighting back against yet another apparent medical cover-up, a hot topic especially after the July beating death of a Hunan watermelon seller by chengguan that was officially declared to be caused by a heart attack outraged netizens. The article also notes Wang’s history of casting doubt on official accounts, and her past role as a source of integrity and skeptic of the system no doubt caused her name to be placed on the China Chats sensitive keyword list in the first place.
This post isn’t in my book Blocked on Weibo, which documents the kinds of keywords suppressed on social media in China, but 150 others like it are. You can order online now at your favoriteonlinestore or pick it up at your local bookstore. Thanks again for supporting this blog!
政变 (coup d’état / zhèngbiàn) is a sudden, illegal overthrow of a government.
Why it is blocked: The search ban is a recent one, first noticed on Twitter on Tuesday, March 20 at 8:13 PM (Beijing time) (though inklings of potential censorship were hinted at as early as Monday night). This of course is in reaction to the wild rumors that a coup was taking place in Beijing, with the military intervening on Bo Xilai’s behalf to arrest Hu Jintao and Wen Jiabao. Of course, the rumors were just that, rumors. The L.A. Times noted that last week Beijing had ordered 3,300 party cadres home for ideological retraining, thus perhaps explaining the heightened military presence in Beijing these past few days. Chinese history is no stranger to coups; recent examples include the 1927 Communist purge by Chiang Kai-shek and the resolution to the Hundred Days’ Reform in 1898. h/t to an American sinologist living in Beijing. [Status - 3/22/12: blocked]
Also of note: The CCP pulled out all the stops to smear Chen, including branding him as “corrupt and decadent.” Newspapers intimated that he had a taste for “entertaining young female television presenters,” and it later came out that he cavorted about with a mistress who was 15 years old. A thinly-veiled roman à clef entitled The Wrath of Heaven about Chen was released then quickly banned in 1997.