Today is a day just like any other in China, especially because memories of the events 20 years ago have been edited, lost, or never existed especially among younger Chinese who have no way of finding out about the incident.
“Today is the day of site maintenance in China”
Perhaps more indicative of the true nature of internet censorship is the large number of licensed, domestic Chinese websites that are “undergoing maintenance.” Tangos Chan highlights the fact that numerous sites, including VeryCD, Fanfou, Xiaonei, and PPLive, have social features disabled or in most cases, the entire site disabled for “maintenance.”
“Today is the day of site maintenance in China,” writes Tangos at China Web 2.0 Review.
WSJ: China Journal’s Sky Canaves highlights the plausible deniability of this kind of censorship:
When sites become inaccessible to users in China, it’s tough to tell whether they have been purposely blocked by Chinese authorities, if other technical problems are to blame, or if services are blocked just in local areas. Government officials don’t address the blocking of specific Web sites, and when Internet companies take themselves offline, authorities can plausibly say that these are private business decisions that have nothing to do with them.
But Internet users who are keeping tabs on such things note the amazing coincidence of so many sites becoming suddenly unavailable at the same time. The Chinese media blog Danwei posted a link to this Google spreadsheet that lists dozens of sites that are currently either inaccessible or under maintenance.
Chinese Netizens identify 393 sites undergoing “site maintenance!”
I pulled up the Chinese Site Maintenance Google Spreadsheet and counted 393 sites that were undergoing “site maintenance.” Screenshots of this spreadsheet convey a sense of how these “precautionary measures” are impacting Chinese netizens:
Rebecca MacKinnon has written and spoken extensively about the Chinese censorship foreigners don’t see (and that censorship goes beyond the Great Firewall). Well, here it is. Inside the Great Firewall, Net Nannies at private companies are at work protecting the people. At least some of these Net Nannies Danwei highlights dictionary Wordku “whose message thanks the support of their users, are also calling the period the “Chinese Internet Maintenance Day” (中国网站维护日), probably mockingly.” WSJ: China Journal brings to our attention Wuqing.org, whose page simply says: 我也维护了！(“I too am under maintenance!”).
My small hope for China
I hope that in 20 years (and hopefully sooner), people in China will have forgotten the era that a national “Internet Maintenance Day” was created to protect the people from dangers real, and imagined, and that there will be no more fear of the historical record haunting the present.