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Ladies and Gentlemen, China's Netizen Day…

Rebecca MacKinnon

Just after the government announces a crackdown on Internet smut.

Yesterday, they announced plans for "Netizen Day" on September 14th, which apparently marks 15 years since the first e-mail message was sent from China in 1987.

China's Netizen Day Website - Click to Enlarge
Source: wangminjie.cn
The new celebratory day (I don't think it's an official holiday) was unveiled at an official ceremony presided over by Chinese government officials and Internet execs, many of whose companies — including Google, Sina, and Sohu, who were named in the smut crackdown just 24 hours before. They also unveiled a very bling-bling website.

Wang Xiu Jun of the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology gave a speech. Her remarks are a good illustration of how the Chinese government is putting an increasing amount of energy into trying to shape and guide the Chinese Internet's development in a "harmonious" direction. She spoke of how, in 2008, Chinese netizens provided support and comfort to disaster victims, and how they showed their patriotism. She emphasized President Hu Jintao's remarks last summer, in which he said that the Party and government place great importance on the opinions of netizens. She said there are three main aims (I paraphrase heavily, this is not a translation):

First, to build a "healthy and green online environment," which will serve the national economy and social development, creating a new platform for public service and providing a new space for the people's healthy spiritual civilization (and of course combat porn and smut)… ;

Second, to improve the management of internet culture with the "spirit of innovation," raise the service quality of Internet cultural products, foster a healthy forward-looking Internet culture, serve netizens with modern cultural brands and cultural services… ;

Third, develop good governance of Internet culture, because the Internet's development has brought some "security problems" such as the spread of spam, grasping Internet development in one hand and Internet management in the other, protecting the legal rights of netizens to experience a healthy and safe Internet without fear.

Fourth, fulfill the potential of various Internet industry associations which will enter into "self discipline" pledges, etc.

The comments posted by random netizens at the bottom of this news item about the Netizen Day show a great deal of cynicism. A sampling:

914 就要死! ?这不是诅咒我们网民吗
(This person points out that 914 sounds like the words for "just going to die" in Mandarin and asks "aren't they putting a curse on us netizens?")

精 神 病 纪 念 日
("insanity day")

中国的节庆太少,按照目前需求,还缺少很多节日,比如老虎节、性工节、大学生节、五毛节、人肉节。所以我赞同网友节。
(China doesn't have enough celebratory days. According to current needs, we lack a lot of holidays such as Tiger Day, Sex Worker Day, University Student Day, "Fifty Cent" Day [for the "fifty cent party" Internet propagandists], "Human Flesh" Day [for "human flesh" cyber-mobs]. So I support Netizen Day.)

就那么几家网络媒体,而且基本没人知道有这么回事。他们有什么资格评选网民节?真TM-GouShi
(Just those few internet media, pretty much nobody knew about this. What right do they have to decide Netizen Day? [followed by commonly used codes for expletives])

Somehow, no such comments could be found over at the official Netizen Day BBS site

By Rebecca MacKinnon, Journalist and activist; Co-founder, Global Voices Online
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Re: Ladies and Gentlemen, China's Netizen Day… Fergie  –  Jan 09, 2009 12:51 AM PDT

Toon of The Day: Chinese Netizens on 'Netizens' Day'

http://3.bp.blogspot.com/_BYX14125JUQ/SWbgeZGBx7I/AAAAAAAAI84/dCbBSyvBBdQ/s1600-h/Chinese_Netizens_Day_Toon.jpg

Translation:

(1) “September 14 is now Netizens’ Day. We netizens finally have our own celebratory day, Yeah!”

(2) “How should we netizens celebrate this day?”

(3) “Take a day off! I guarantee everyone will be happy.”
“But netizens are from all different walks of life, how can they take the same day off?”

(4) “I mean, let the comrades who are policing the Internet to take that day off…”

Via China Digital Times.

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