What China is Censoring This Week

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[Update May 6 17:00: added information on the context within China’s overall internet censorship.]

The thing about censorship is that, when done well, no one really knows what’s being censored. This is why last week’s leaked documents from Baidu, the largest Chinese-langauge search engine and blogging site, are so titillating. Maybe someone screwed up bad, or maybe someone on the inside had an attack of transparency; whatever the reason, we now have a huge pile of documents detailing Baidu’s censorship policy during the period from November 2008 to March 2009. 

Whee!

The documents, now safely ensconed in a permanent home on Wikileaks, reveal for the first time a detailed inventory of the Chinese government’s priorities for, er, harmonization. There is a blacklist of 798 specific URLs, most of which seem to be recent news articles and discussion forum posts on sites both inside and outside of China. Far more interesting is a long list of sensitive keywords. Included policy documents suggest that the appearance of any of these terms in a blog post triggers a manual review by the staff of Baidu’s censorship team — whose names are listed in another of the leaked documents! While some of these topics have long been outright censored, such as “Tiananmen Square,” others are more general categories to be watched. Taken together, these sensitive terms are a fascinating portrait of China’s institutional paranoia.

Some categories are obvious, such as “Taiwan” and “naked chat”. Other areas are shockingly broad, such as “power” and “tyranny.”  Certain media outlets such as Voice of America are considered unacceptable, and “SMS the answer” is forbidden within the “exam information” section. Also, China does not have any ketamine, AIDS, or ethnic conflict, and frowns upon one night stands. The main document of interest begins,

近期重点监控信息

中办发 国办发 温州 鬼村 段桂清 四川广安 广安事件
中组部前部长直言 动物园 集会 涿州 饲养基地 中石油国家电网倒数 张文中 华闻 王政
假冒 记签 校园改造工程 雍战胜 死刑现场 冯巩 陶虹 高勤荣

And I can’t read that either, so below is an automated translation, via The Dark Visitor who clearly used something more formidable than Google Translate. Still, machine translation really doesn’t work as well as one might like, or perhaps “electric chicken” makes perfect sense in context.

To put this all in the larger view, I recommend Rebecca MacKinnon’s excellent research on Chinese blog censorship, where she shows how each blog company implements its own self-censorship regime. The results are very non-uniform, with individual posts allowed or deleted seemingly at random, and certain blog sites censoring much more than others. This is one part of the overall Chinese internet censorship strategy which includes URL keyword blocks, email scanning, shutdowns of certain sites during political events, and of course the Great Firewall which prevents Chinese citizens from accessing Wikipedia, among many other things. (Baidu also runs an equivalent encyclopedia service called Baike which is no doubt heavily sanitized.) It’s not possible to get a complete picture of China’s internet censorship regime from just this one leak, however extensive it might be. Instead, what we have is a narrow but deep window into a previously opaque process.

Note that the 798 blacklisted URLs cannot be considered comprehensive by any means; even Australia has an 1100 URL blacklist, and the 798 URLs seem to be missing porn entirely. The sensitive keyword list likewise cannot be considered definitive; for example, it does not include “Charter 08” in reference to last year’s pro-democracy manifesto. Hopefully, we will soon have good translations of the leaked policy and personnel documents which will give us a better idea of how these keywords are applied.

More on the leak at the China Digital Times. (And yes, the lead image to this post really does concern censorship in China; see here, or watch the video.)

Without further ado, the leaked list of sensitive keywords, in machine translation with a few manual cleanups.

Reactionary
Communist Party
Producing party
Anti-communist
Anti-G
CPC
Brainwashing
GCD
CCP
GONG Party
Network Special
Tyranny
Dictatorship
China will
Power
Public property party
Voice of America
Free Asia
ddgcd
World War III
Puppet government
Pseudo-big
独夫民贼
Taiwan
A total of X Party
Communist
Do not like party
The demise of socialism
Out a total of
Do not do personnel
Communism sleep
Network blocking
Now the police
Hemosiderosis division
Now the Communist Party
Opposition
The present Government
Shanghai
Today’s society
Land alone
gong chan dang
Total independence
Commemoration of the Cultural Revolution
40th anniversary of the Cultural Revolution
Internet police
National Unification Council
Waste Commission
Guidelines for National Unification
Taiwan du
Taiwan independence
China’s human rights
Suppress
The children of the list of senior cadres
Chiang Kai-shek Memorial Song
Chiang Kai-shek
Human rights protection
Democracy dictatorship
Taiwan independence
Shanghai independence
Beijing independence
Hong Kong Independent
Return to Mongolia
The party now
Zhang Zhixin
China
Hate China
One-party power
Government incompetence
Weak diplomacy
One-party interests
One-party dictatorship
Quit
Dictatorship
Freedom of expression
Olympic outsiders
Capital
Alliance party
Bandits
A total of thieves
Chinese Party
The second capital
Death of the party
Administration
Public Order now
Anti-party
Anti-socialist
Total death
The party now
Hao Xin years
Who is the New China
Anti-party
Min pig
Aparine, as   

Information on various types of human rights petition
Procession
Demonstration
Petition
Assembly
Rights
Strike
Buyout
Aggregation
Of demobilized army officers
Letters
Rebel
Land
Off
Demolition
Investors
AIDS
Sit –
Riots
Democratic
Demobilization
Impact on the masses
Clashes with police
Collective protest
Violence, assaulting a police officer
The use of force to suppress
Armed repression
Dai Jing
Ryan incident
8.18
9.12 events
Yuan Weimin
Migrant workers
Wei said
Forcing people to rebel
Criminal and Law Enforcement
A cops and robbers
A gang officer
Guangan
School burglary action
Everlasting Regret laid-off workers

64 events
Tiananmen Square
HE Xin
Atrocities
Riots
Unrest
The massacre of students
The suppression of students
Zhao Ziyang
89 years
Square incident
Demeanor of blood
17 years ago
89 events
89’s
Goddess of democracy
Bloodshed
tiananmen
2089
The killing of student
Student
Student leaders
89
Events
1989
In a matter
The wounds of history
24 events
64
6 4
Four events
6.4
6 d
4 events
89 storm
liusi
8964
8964
Pro-democracy movement
xuechao
Political turmoil
Beijing storm
tusha
Xidan Democracy Wall
Ziyang
TAM
64 period
Lu IV
CAI Ling
I Fall to open the West
Kaixi
Rivers of Sorrow
Kaixi

Falun Gong and the cult
Eastern Lightning
Li Hong Zhi
Act in a reactive
Made of
flg
Gong FL
Gong wheels
Act X-Gong
Act On
Since the fen
Falun
9 ping
9ping
Lee Hong-X
Possession of stone words
Self-immolation
Cult
LHZ
falun
With nine
Nine Commentaries
9 Comments
Fa Lun
Fa-lun
囵fat
Fat theory
Law theory
fa round
Law lun
Law L
Fallon
9 Ping
Act O-gong
Law 0 Zhigong
The Epoch Times
Big brothel
DJY
DONG Yuan-chen
Falun Gong
Xiao-Ying Li
In reactive
Gong Chinese health puzzle
Zhang Hong Bao
Zhang Hongbao
Shadow government
jiuping
李洪智
Li wheels
zifen
Gao Zhisheng
FL Dafa
Law Lun Gong
Dafa disciples
XX Gong
Li Hong hemorrhoids
Fat round
Cart Lun Law
Unbounded
Free community
Free gate
9 impeach
Sujiatun
Free gate
Check kidney in vivo
Lee x

Relatives of national leaders and important
Hu Jintao
Wu Bangguo
Wen Jiabao
Jia Qinglin
Zeng Qinghong
Huang Ju
Wu
Li Changchun
Luo Gan
Liu
Zhou Yongkang
He Guoqiang
Wang Gang
Xu Caihou
He Yong
Wang
Wang
Hui Liangyu
Liu Qi
Wu Yi
Zhang
Zhang
Chen Liangyu
Yu Zhengsheng
Guo
Cao
Zeng
Deng dog
xiaoping
Tang Dwarfs
Deng Xiaoping
Hu
Ma Ying-jeou
Hu Yaobang
Hu Yaobang
Jiang pig
Lee Teng-hui
刘亚洲
History Jiuwu
Hu Haiqing
Gu Yue Tao金帛

Ethnic issues
Anti-Japanese
Indonesia
屠华
Visit
Japanese
Siege
Yasukuni
A boycott of Japanese goods
Out on
Honker Union
Shina
Tragedy
98 China
Tibet
Xinjiang
Islamic
East Turkistan
Ethnic issues
Whip Man
Return to Mongolia
Ethnic conflict
Back to Han conflict
North Campus BBS
Poor people
Inferior peoples
Jihad
Tibetan shooting

Military secrets
Seven military
7 Military
Navy deployment
Army deployment
Air force deployment
Compiled with the base
Stand and tasks
8023 units
Forces
Army
Fleet Four
Exam Information
Too easy
SMS the answer
Leakage problem
46
Stealth headphones
Volume density test
Cheating in Examinations
Voice transmission
Wireless Headset
The answer examinations
6 answers
Paul had
Help test
Actinoplanes
Generation of test
Send answer
Class answer
Smooth over
4 answers
Test
Gunman
CET
Three answer
Join Us
After the payment test
Packets have been
Test answer
Provide answers
The sale of the answer
With test
Scott
Judicial Examination
Writing paper
Title charge
Fake diploma

The sale of organs
Compensated renal
Transplant
Contributions paid
Kidney health
卖肾
Buy kidney
Kidney Source
For renal
Cornea
The sale of organs
The sale of kidneys
Blood
Paid blood donors

Illegal information
Listening device
One-night stand
Surrogacy
Triazolam
Poppy seeds
Smuggled vehicles
Accreditation
ONS
Ketamine
Slot machine
Ecstasy
On behalf of the development of votes
Selling guns
买枪
Ether
Lonely woman
So bomb
Agency documents
Simulation-like
仿真枪
Electric dog
Gas dog
Electric Chicken
Mass suicide
Employment killer
切腹
Counterfeit money
The sale of guns
Recruitment plan
K powder
Ice
Heroin
Ecstasy
The recruitment of men
Pregnancy to help people
Firearms
Electric baton
To recruit younger
Boy collection
Thanks brother
Social mix
Listener
Recruit people to help
Monitor phone
迷药
嗑药
To buy genuine
Steal qq
Steal password
Stolen card number
Ones
Second-generation ID card
Bank Card
国办发
Made in the Office
The acquisition of antiquities
Unlock
ID cards for sale
蒙汗药

Sex information
Gregaria
Sex
Wife Swap
包养
Sexual partners
Services
Oral sex
屁眼
Milk delivery
肉棒
Vagina
Labia
Bestiality
Dogs pay
Base pay
Evening bag
Full pay
富婆
富姐
Breast
Foam Friends
Mother and son incest
No Code
A night of passion
Sexual intercourse
Dunem force
Show women
Toilet slave
Taiwan do
Paid services
Sexual partners
You pay
See JJ
Passion telephone
Passion Personals
Phone Dating
Nude chat
Slaves
Male slave
Million overnight
Prostitution
Ms. services
口淫
Of interest
Aphrodisiac
Husband and wife exchange
Looking for female
Find M
开苞
Sex
Small film
h Man
h map
陪聊

13 thoughts on “What China is Censoring This Week”

  1. I used google.com’s translator. I fixed a couple of things in the translation but left things like “electric chicken”, which means something like Trojan Horse program.

    -jumper

  2. This is utter rubbish – I have just tied a dozen of those URL’s and NOT ONE was blocked [Shenzhen]

    who is funding you?

  3. That is very interesting. Which URLs did you try? Are you seriously suggesting that there isn’t internet censorship in China?

    Also, this list was published last summer. The list of blocked sites changes constantly, and is different in different parts of the country.

    No one funds me — not for the work on my blog, anyway.

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