Blocked on Weibo (book)
"This is a fascinating study with important implications for anyone who is interested in the intellectual and political climate of contemporary China. Highly recommended."
—Victor H. Mair, University of Pennsylvania
"What makes his blog—and the book it has now spawned—so attractive is Ng's wit and erudition. Some entries in this Devil's Dictionary for digital times are simply descriptive, but many open surprising windows onto the wonderfully creative strategies Chinese internet users employ to circumvent blocks."
—Times Literary Supplement (UK)
"[Blocked on Weibo] gives a real-time, constantly updated insight into what’s on the mind of a famously opaque regime. . . Blocked on Weibo is also an excellent guide to China’s official memory holes – historical incidents best left to official interpretation or suppression – and forbidden political concepts."
—The National (UAE)
"Enjoying Blocked On Weibo by @jasonqng which offers insights on why specific terms are blocked in China."
—Ethan Zuckerman, Director of the MIT Center for Civic Media
"It's an engaging new volume chock full of illuminating, sometimes amusing entries on temporarily or permanently banned terms."
—Jeff Wasserstrom, University of California, Irvine
Though often described with foreboding buzzwords such as "The Great Firewall" and the "censorship regime," Internet regulation in China is rarely either obvious or straightforward. This was the inspiration for China specialist Jason Q. Ng to write an innovative computer script that would make it possible to deduce just which terms are suppressed on China’s most important social media site, Sina Weibo. The remarkable and groundbreaking result is Blocked on Weibo, which began as a highly praised blog and has been expanded here to list over 150 forbidden keywords, as well as offer possible explanations why the Chinese government would find these terms sensitive.
Ranging from fairly obvious words, including “tank” (a reference to the “Tank Man” who stared down the Chinese army in Tiananmen Square) and the names of top government officials (if they can’t be mentioned they can’t be criticized), to deeply obscure words including the Chinese phrase for “The Four Gentlemen” (though it means a set of four traditional flowers, it can also refer to various quartets of dissidents) and “hairy bacon” (a coded insult for Mao’s embalmed body), Blocked on Weibo chronicles many of the phrases that could get a Chinese Internet user invited to the local police station “for a cup of tea”—a euphemism for being illegally detained by the authorities. An invaluable guide to sensitive topics in modern day China, Blocked on Weibo also exposes the fascinating fissures between the idealized society that Chinese authorities dream of having and the actual one that Chinese netizens are creating each day.