Chinese bloggers speak out against Microsoft, censorship, etc.

So much for the argument that the Chinese don’t care about this issue. And they same to be totally united with their government in one regard — they all hate Microsoft. So do I.

The post ends with a request from MacKinnon for translators willing to translate some of the Chinese bloggers’ posts into English. Any takers? Please tell her I sent you.

The Discussion: 34 Comments

It’s good to have clear evidence that there are Chinese bloggers with the same concerns as us.

Btw, that Global Voices site is excellent, just the kind of thing I’ve been looking for. I came across a podcast the other day about the changes in blog regulations, an interview with Isaac Mao, really useful.

June 17, 2005 @ 7:43 pm | Comment

I can crack on with a bit of translating. I’ll get in touch.

June 17, 2005 @ 7:46 pm | Comment

Fantastic, Martyn.

And yes, Global Voices is great. I love Rebecca.

June 17, 2005 @ 7:47 pm | Comment

I couldn’t find an email address for Rebecca but I left a message with my email address.

Is it only the Mission of Purpose Statement and the two links (at the bottom of her post) she needs translating you think? That’s not very much so I’m doubtful.

June 17, 2005 @ 7:57 pm | Comment

Martyn, here’s her email: rmackinnon AT

June 17, 2005 @ 8:05 pm | Comment

Got it. Thanks.

June 17, 2005 @ 8:08 pm | Comment

->It’s good to have clear evidence that there are Chinese bloggers with the same concerns as us.

rw, can you clarify this statement? I dont’ really understand what you mean….

June 17, 2005 @ 8:33 pm | Comment

richard, different interpretations tell different stories:

i could use this title :

less than 10 Chinese bloggers speak out against Microsoft, censorship, etc., and there are more than a few million chinese bloggers, this shows chinese bloggers don’t care about the MSN censorship case

June 17, 2005 @ 9:01 pm | Comment

Someone earlier said there was silence on this issue in China. Rebecca only quoted ten blogers who prove otherwise; I suspect there are probably many others on both sides, some care, some don’t. Why don’t you show me links from a million bloggers who say they don’t care?

I choose my sources carefully — I won’t quote from Epoch Times or China Daily or National Review to prove my points because I don’t trust them. I do trust Rebecca and know she is quite objective and level-headed. She backs up her claims with plenty of links and quotes. Do you think she should have quoted 1,000 bloggers? I think that would be tiring.

June 17, 2005 @ 9:06 pm | Comment

It might be interesting to see what happens to MSN Spaces business in China. Microsoft may have forgotten that, although it still owns much of the desktop, there is plenty of competition amongst blogging engines, even accounting for the blocked ones.

If Chinese bloggers do care, they will vote with their feet and go to other blog engines, which may be monitored but probably don’t arbitrarily censor general vocabulary. If they don’t, they can stay on MSN spaces.

But considering Microsoft’s dire PR amongst the general Chinese public (I don’t PR for them in China, but I used to in Singapore and we followed their misadventures in China) it still seems a silly move to me.

June 17, 2005 @ 9:08 pm | Comment

I logged onto MSN Spaces from Beijing and searched a bunch of potentially censorable words including “democracy”, “freedom”,”F*L*G” and the names of current CCP leaders. I had no difficulty and got hits from China and abroad. Has Microsoft reversed its policy or has the nanny figured out I am a laowei and let me through the firewall?

June 17, 2005 @ 9:11 pm | Comment

there is an old joke – a chairman asked how many attend a meeting by this question : “those who are not here, raise your hands”

well, the common sense tells us that few cares about this issue even with a lot of fanfare from the west.

even if many chinese bloggers are against it and it’s an unacceptable sin, so, are you suggesting that MSN withdraw from china market? are you suggesting that all american firms should not come to do business with so-called “ccp regime”?

June 17, 2005 @ 9:12 pm | Comment

Andrew, see the link in this post further down the page, in the post named Cracking the Code. Apparently it is not as rigid as the media first reported. Or, as I say in that post, I at least hope it’s not.

June 17, 2005 @ 9:13 pm | Comment

bingfeng, please don’t put words in my mouth. I didn’t make any recommendations to companies doing business in China.

About the”old joke” you tell: I was trying to say I’ve pointed to some who are protesting, so I’ve done my share; now, can you point to any who are defending it? (And I am sure they are – that’s my point, they are there on both sides.)

June 17, 2005 @ 9:18 pm | Comment

my point is quite clear: be realistic and action-oriented.

if censor a few words that majority of chinese bloggers don’t care, let it be and move on to build up the business. the most important thing is the existence. MNCs like MSN bring a lot of good things that are helpful to building a civil society in china. so compromise and move on.

June 17, 2005 @ 9:18 pm | Comment

Bingfeng, we’re going in circles again. I got your point. You understand mine, I believe. So, to use your own words, why don’t we both “compromise and move on”? I am willing.

June 17, 2005 @ 9:23 pm | Comment

i don’t think most don’t care. I have told this to many friends, they all felt angry about MS. as to me, what i think about the low react reaction is:
1. most important: not so many got this message, no news reported, just spreaded in a private way(i learn this a few days ago). and quite a few people do not use internet.

2. some didn’t speak out doesn’t means not caring. the censorship is not a new concept to most of the chinese. we do care, but there’s no way to speak out or show stance.

June 17, 2005 @ 9:37 pm | Comment

Thank you Henry. You are a cool guy.

June 17, 2005 @ 9:47 pm | Comment

I am sorry to be cynical, but I agree with Bingfeng:

“if censor a few words that majority of chinese bloggers don’t care”

Online life in China is full of annoyances: Google doesn’t work properly, sites are blocked, certain words can’t be searched properly or get refused by instant messaging software etc. etc.

As spineless, or evil, as Microsoft might be, banning the word ‘democracy’ from MSN Spaces is nothing more than another minor annoyance to Chinese bloggers, which is why Global Voices could only find a handful of bloggers even commenting on this issue. And the most strident criticism is of Microsoft (an easy target), not of the government or regulations Microsoft is accused of sucking up to. Even Henry, who commented above that people here do care about this issue, did not raise the issue on his own blog.

Compare that with the noise about this issue outside of China: Everyone from Rebecca MacKinnon to Roger L. Simon to the honorable Peking Duck to Mark Steyn to Instapundit to the BBC making pronouncements about the crack down.

Something is a little out of balance here.

June 17, 2005 @ 10:25 pm | Comment

Jeremy, I think the real reason for the mass Western outrage may be that we see Microsoft, an American company, selling out what we perceive as *our own values*. (Certainly that’s why it annoyed me.) The Chinese, on the other hand, probably just see it as one more American company doing what it thinks it must to access the Chinese market; something common enough to be almost beneath notice. And certainly little more than another, tiny annoyance amidst a sea of tiny annoyances.

Now, of course, companies not meeting our *personal* values in the pursuit of business is a story as old as the invention of trade. But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t continue to be scandalized when it happens. I’m a fervent capitalist, but I also believe that joint-stock companies operate in a system that makes an external conscience necessary. Sometimes that’s the government, sometimes that’s a pack of angry bloggers.

The Chinese have every right not to care. We have every right to be scandalized. But we should avoid being paternalistic in our outrage. Even with the best of intentions, that is something that we are all often guilty of.

June 17, 2005 @ 11:12 pm | Comment

living in the USA, i’m used to censorship and filtering. yes, it happens there too. i could (1) fight the censors or (2) just go around them. i choose (2).

at my office, they run surfcontrol. certainly, no porno. but also no ‘independent media’ sites. and even cosmopolitan magazine is banned, and they are a paying client. but so what? i can be on the phone or writing to surfcontrol all day? no, life is too short.

here is another story from mickey kaus about his trials-and-tribulations with AOL:

for MSN SPACES, i suspect there is a whole list of other words that are banned from blogpost titles, in english or chinese. why doesn’t anyone else want to talk about those other words? will you fight for the people’s right to use them?

June 18, 2005 @ 1:26 am | Comment

I agree with Bingfeng. I know of no other person who is aware of the issue. And when I told them, my friends are outraged. They’re outraged that foreigners expect their companies to be above Chinese laws. I mean, seriously, what the hell. This totally parallels the 19th century intrusion of Christianity and the Western attempts at interfering with the regency.

As for those bloggers quoted, they totally belong to the same group who want EU to keep the weapons ban. Idiots. What we need is technology and arms. You can hold whatever views you want, but if ever you communicate with a westerner against your own country you’re a traitor.

June 18, 2005 @ 2:35 am | Comment

The key fact of course is that these people are doing things against the CPC not their country. Much as the CPC tries to wrap itself in the flag, if the CPC vanished Tuesday China would keep right on exisiting (and maybe thriving) just as it has under every other dynasty. The CPC is not “China”, and hating the CPC does not make one a traitor to “China”.

June 18, 2005 @ 3:44 am | Comment


I respect your comments but you sound ridiculous by so flippantly comparing the opinions of people towards Microsoft to 19 century colonialism, or by taking such a narrow and quaint ultra-nationalist view.

June 18, 2005 @ 4:35 am | Comment

InsuranceMan, could you please tell me which law in China says to write “democracy” is illegal?
ESWN, could you explaine the surfcontrol issue to me? As far as I understood it your company just does’t want their employes to surf while working and to compare that with censorship in the PRC doesn’t make sense to me.

June 18, 2005 @ 4:39 am | Comment


MY problem with Microsoft is that it is a flag-ship American company and I would expect much better behaviour from it.

What you call ‘Chinese laws’ I call ‘repression and abuse of power’.

Who’s right? Nobody, it simply depends on which viewpoint you take.

However, I am certainly disappointed that such a large company like MS should so easily kowtow to the whims of a tyrannical regime which is determined to keep the Chinese people in a state of very tight bondage.

Remember, I can express these views easily and freely. If you like in PRC China YOU CAN’T and that’s my point.

June 18, 2005 @ 4:45 am | Comment


Microsoft doesn’t seem to be complying with a law. They seem to be, well, self-censoring in a ludicrously broad-brush way. (If, indeed, the system is even implemented as reported, which there now seems to be some doubt about. It’s also possible that we’ve all gone off half-cocked.)

Also, you are right that companies should respect the laws of nations in which they do business. They should also, in most cases, adhere to local cultural norms. And that is a common justification used by companies around the world to explain deeds both noble and nefarious. (E.g. the rampant corruption and bribery practised by multinational companies in countries where that is a standard cost of doing business.)

We, the customers, shareholders and compatriots of those companies, also have a right to be critical of when and how they choose to comply those laws and norms. Sovereignty cuts both ways.

June 18, 2005 @ 4:47 am | Comment

Good points Will.

Is criticizing Microsoft’s dealings in China interfering in China’s internal affairs?

June 18, 2005 @ 5:09 am | Comment

Seems MS is concerned about too much criticism from inside China as Danwei reports:

June 18, 2005 @ 6:25 am | Comment

Interesting article, thanks.

I also got reading Danwei’s latest post about how nasty McDonalds (this time) have, once again, managed to offend the Chinese people and hurt their feelings terribly with their latest…and very innocuous…TV ad.

June 18, 2005 @ 6:59 am | Comment

From another blogger

In the meantime, then, there is the entirely unresolved question of democratic rights in China. To me it is indisputable that those democratic demands raised, possibly naively and with not much understanding of the costs they would entail, in Tiananmen Square in 1989 relate to real inalienable democratic rights that are currently enjoyed by real people all over the world, and which do not exist in China. The most important of those right now is the right to a genuinely independent free press. Only in this way can the Chinese people learn from the mistakes of the past and learn from them who not to trust.

Is it ethnocentric and culturally insensitive to demand a free press? Only if we believe that countries such as China, Zimbabwe, Burma and North Korea have some deep cultural connection which means that their people, unlike ourselves, must be permanently kept in the dark about what has happened, what is happening and what could happen in their own and in other countries.

June 18, 2005 @ 12:08 pm | Comment

“The CPC is not “China”, and hating the CPC does not make one a traitor to “China”.”

Yes but to advocate foreign companies boycott the regime? These people are probably the same ones who wrote to the EU asking them to keep the weapons ban too.

June 18, 2005 @ 2:29 pm | Comment

China has the right to arm itself and buy weapons. But I have no problem with the EU weapons ban, which was in response to Tiananmen Square and could easily be lifted if China was willing to really join the international community and show more respect for the “H” word (human rights) that makes the CCP so prickly.

June 18, 2005 @ 2:41 pm | Comment

Indeed, a real Chinese nationalist would argue China should be developing its own weapons if it is ever to be able to stand on its own two feet, not buying them abroad. Maybe these fellows are the real nationalists.

June 18, 2005 @ 8:40 pm | Comment

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