Father of the GFW Fang Binxing pelted by Wuhan students

This story has certainly ignited a lot of joy on twitter:

The man known as the father of the so-called “Great Firewall of China” was pelted with eggs and shoes by a students protesting against China’s draconian online censorship regime, online reports in China claimed.

The attack on Fang Binxing – a figure popularly reviled by China’s young tech-savvy elite – caused instant uproar and delight on the Chinese internet after the students posted an account of their protest on micro-blogging platforms.

The unusually daring protest comes as China’s leaders move to tighten internet controls following the wave of Jasmine revolutions in the Middle East, and indicated the depths of frustration felt by some young Chinese towards the censorship.

Four students apparently sought out Mr Fang as he gave a talk at the Computer Sciences Department of Wuhan University in central China, pre-arming themselves with eggs purchased for the occasion at a nearby market, according to their own account on Twitter.

“I definitely hit Fang. As for whether there are pictures will depends on the two students,” read a post by one of the students, @hanunyi, “I came by myself. It was not difficult to hit with my shoes but a little bit harder to target him really successfully.” Two others, @zfangzhou and @yinhm, said the protest has been organised spontaneously after hearing word that Mr Fang was on the campus.

Could it have happened to a nicer guy? To the guy who earlier this week said foreign websites were blocked because they create extra costs for Chinese ISPs? The man behind the Great Firewall who, rather humporously, boasts that he uses no fewer than six VPNs?

So what does it all mean? I’m hesitant to say it indicates a wave of popular outrage over the GFW. It sounds like a bunch of computer science students took it on themselves, spontaneously, to show how they feel about the man most responsible for cutting China off from a sizable chunk of the Internet and making a lot of Web surfing there an exercise in torture. Computer Science students have a very special ax to grind when it comes to the GFW.

I wish it were a signal of a groundswell of outrage, and I hope it leads to more expressions of frustration/anger. But for now, I see it as simply generating a microburst of comments on twitter and weibo and Chinese web portals, many of which will probably soon vanish. For what it’s worth, all the Chinese people I know hate the GFW. None of them would have pelted Fang with shoes and eggs. Internet censorship is a favorite obsession with the chattering classes, but is usually taken in stride by the teeming masses.

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 18 Comments

My Chinese family and friends use Gmail and Skype and MSN to write and talk to me all the time, never had any email lost or they cannot access these services. What blockage are you talking about? No one in my friends or family had any trouble communicating with me.

May 20, 2011 @ 7:42 am | Comment

You’re right, Red Star, I take it all back — there’s no Internet censorship in China. Thanks for straightening that out. I guess the students just chose Fang Binxing at random and pelted him. I guess he’s called “the father of the Great Firewall” because people are too stupid to realize there is no Great Firewall.

You’ve earned your 50 mao.

May 20, 2011 @ 7:57 am | Comment

@ HongXing:

How often do you check their Facebook statuses? I guess whenever they Tweet a new update?

May 20, 2011 @ 11:56 am | Comment

Some students throwing eggs indicates there’s popular outrage? Explain why some students out of 1.3 billion people lead you to suggest “popular outrage”.

Typical Western report on China: some incident happens somewhere in China, and there’s twitter message, and suddenly it indicates popular outrage against some aspect of government.

In the mind of a Western reporter, every Chinese is just waiting to explode over something about the government, and the revolution is any second.

Can you not try something new?

May 21, 2011 @ 10:55 pm | Comment

Red Star, may I ask a personal question: Are you stupid?

Explain why some students out of 1.3 billion people lead you to suggest “popular outrage”

Here’s what I wrote:

I’m hesitant to say it indicates a wave of popular outrage…Internet censorship is a favorite obsession with the chattering classes, but is usually taken in stride by the teeming masses.

Can you read? I’m saying it is NOT a case of popular outrage. Your stupidity is equaled only by your hostility (with all due respect).

May 21, 2011 @ 11:20 pm | Comment

Yesterday, I saw an American being raped by a black man on the street in New York.

I’m hesitant to say it indicates that most Blacks are criminals and gangsters and lowlifes.

“Hesitant to say”
“Allegedly”
“Some say”
“According to”

Typical devices to inject insinuation while maintaining deniability. On this front, the CCP propaganda machine has a lot to learn from its Western counterparts.

May 21, 2011 @ 11:34 pm | Comment

Me:
For what it’s worth, all the Chinese people I know hate the GFW. None of them would have pelted Fang with shoes and eggs. Internet censorship is a favorite obsession with the chattering classes, but is usually taken in stride by the teeming masses.

Moron.

Perhaps one of those brain-eating worms referred to in the post above has set up shop in your brain. A pity it won’t find much to munch on.

May 21, 2011 @ 11:50 pm | Comment

Haha, very good, very good

May 22, 2011 @ 12:27 am | Comment

To Red Star #4:
it is heartwarming to know that even idiots like you can read. The American education system can’t be as bad as some make it out to be. As a next step, try reading sentences in their entirety. Some folks of your ilk like to take concepts out of context. You go one lower, by taking parts of a sentence out of the context of the remainder of that sentence. You really are quite something…nothing that is worth anything…but something nonetheless.

To Red Star #6:
“I’m hesitant to say it indicates that most Blacks are criminals and gangsters and lowlifes.”
—and you would be quite correct in having that hesitation. Just as Richard was correct in having his hesitation wrt the statement in question. Without realizing it, you have given further justification to Richard (not that any further justification was needed), and shot yourself in the foot. You CCP types are so reliable when it comes to shooting yourself in the foot. Must be the training.

As for “some say”, that is also funny, since folks like you tend to transact in terms like “all Chinese” this and “all Chinese” that, so if there is a lesson there, folks like you should perhaps go and learn it.

May 22, 2011 @ 12:44 am | Comment

Gosh, could it be that “CCP supporter” and “logic” are simply mutually-exclusive things? Cuz I’ve been on the lookout for someone who can support the CCP logically. And based on observations to date, I’m left with the interim assessment that CCP supporters seem to be genetically incapable of logic.

May 22, 2011 @ 1:01 am | Comment

They’re far better off than West-lovers though

May 22, 2011 @ 2:00 am | Comment

Ahhh #11, only a certain type of individual can feel that people bereft of logic are far better off. The CCP has clearly taught you well, grasshopper.

May 22, 2011 @ 2:57 am | Comment

Hong Xing, it’s a shame that the students tried to shame a despicable piece of garbage like Fang Binxing. A bottle of acid or a molotov cocktail would have been more appropriate. He, like most of the brainwashed CCP elite, cannot be reasoned with or shamed into seeing that virtually everything they choose to do will hurt the Chinese people in the long run. Only one fate awaits them (and their idiot lackeys) and hopefully it will come sooner rather than later.

BTW, the reason I changed my “name” was that after spending nearly three years in China, I came to love both the country and the people there. I realized that my fears and open hostility stemmed from ignorance and unfamiliarity. My friends live in the city and the countryside. The elders in my Chinese family survived the worst of that the CCP did and their children have become open minded, hard working, naturally inquisitive people who don’t believe any of the lies put forth by the “People’s” government.

May 22, 2011 @ 4:01 am | Comment

While one incident certainly can’t indicate mass sentiment, a shortage of such incidents is also not a barometer of mass sentiment. The shortage of such incidents is purely the result of well-known widespread repression.
If the CCP ever allowed open protest, oh what an interesting day that would be! Pathetic “but, America…” stooges like Hongxing and Ferin would be left literally shitting their pants when finally forced to confront the real concerns and grievances of the people of China.
Yet alas, such a day will likely never arrive before the Party’s collapse. Hopefully wumao’s retirement plan includes diapers….

May 22, 2011 @ 5:08 am | Comment

Funny, Kevin.

May 22, 2011 @ 5:26 am | Comment

Knowing that the students discussed their plans in the morning on Twitter, the discontented Fang Binxing asked the Wuhan University authorities why they had failed taken any precautious measures. “Sir, we just had no access to the website you mentioned,” Fang was reportedly told.

May 23, 2011 @ 9:12 am | Comment

Readthru, awesome!

Richard, I had been soooooo tempted to make the joke about the brain-eating worms. Glad you stepped into the breech!

And I agree with Kevin.

May 23, 2011 @ 2:58 pm | Comment

Readthru

Ace!

May 24, 2011 @ 3:43 am | Comment

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