Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Censorship and Creativity on China's 6-4th National Day

Today, October 1, is the National Day of the People's Republic of China. For many in China the public holiday means 7 days off work. For many others in China it means working to serve the seas of Chinese travelers. For my hotel in Zhuhai it means doubling the rate of my room.

China is celebrating this notable holiday for the 64th time.

64 ...

6 4 ...

6-4 ...

6-4 is also notable in China. On that date in 1989 civilian protesters in Beijing's Tiananmen Square were the target of a violent crackdown. Mentions of the date are often censored in China, and it is not uncommon for it to be obliquely referenced with terms such as "May 35". As the South China Morning Post reports (via China Digital Times), some saw today's 64th National Day as opportunity for another indirect reference.
Bloggers jumped at the rare chance to mention and discuss the word “64”, referring to June 4th, allowed by online censors though still strictly monitored, by paying condolences to the students and civilians who died in the 1989 incident.

“64, hard to forget,” a Zhejiang blogger wrote, posting a photo of what looked like an official flower display featuring the number “64” and the Chinese words “hard to forget”.
It wasn't long before the post and reposts were censored. However, the photo made its way from Sina Weibo to online services outside of China were it will not be censored:

I doubt most people in China saw these posts or are thinking about Tiananmen Square today. Nonetheless, the attempt to leverage this holiday to call attention to another day reminds me of a comment by Hu Yong, an associate professor at Peking University's School of Journalism and Communication: "Censorship warps us in many ways, but it is also the mother of creativity".

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