DisneyLife online service is also now blocked in China, joining iTunes, iBook

DisneyLife online service is also now blocked in China, joining iTunes, iBook
JISHOU, HUNAN — New regulations in China have put the DisneyLife online service out of commission, joining Apple’s iTunes Movie and iBook stores. DisneyLife users reported in early March that their access to the subscription service had failed. According to the South China Morning Post, Beijing quietly passed a new law regulation media content, which makes it easier for China’s censors to pull the plug on content they feel is inappropriate. President Xi Jinping has been especially critical of “Western influences” on Chinese society and, especially, politics. It emerged on Friday that the two internet platforms were quietly closed under the new Regulation for the Management of Online Publishing Services, which was announced on February 13 and took effect early last month. It imposed more stringent rules on the online publication of original or adapted “creative works”, such as images, games, animation, comics, audio recordings and video. DisneyLife was a joint venture of the Walt Disney Co. and Alibaba’s Ali Digital Entertainment Group. Alibaba is a mainland e-commerce giant now branching out into other activities. It now owns South China Morning Post, for example. Under the new regulation, content providers must “self-censor” and abide by prevailing mainland Internet standards. Failure ...

China shuts off iTunes, iBook services apparently to block “Ten Years” movie

China shuts off iTunes, iBook services apparently to block
JISHOU, HUNAN — China’s media censors have abruptly shut off access to Apple’s iTunes Movie and iBook stores, just before a dystopian movie about Hong Kong’s future became available for download on the services. The film, Ten Years (十年 shí nián), depicts a Hong Kong of 2025, where the former British colony’s freedoms have been washed away by mainland government rule. The independent film recently won the 2016 Hong Kong Film Award for Best Picture. Apple had been given permission to operate the stores in China seven months ago, but the iTunes movie and iBook stores went dark on the 15th. No official explanation was given, but The New York Times reported that the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT) had ordered the services closed. The cutoffs happened just as the movie became available on Apple’s Hong Kong iTunes stores. Only mainland holders of Apple accounts are affected; those with accounts based abroad can still access the services. Apple Music is also unaffected. China’s censors earlier blocked reporting of the film’s award, and imposed a blackout on televising the awards program. The film paints a less than positive picture of mainland rule in Hong Kong, with ...

UPDATED: China remains at 4th lowest spot in press freedom rankings in latest report

UPDATED: China remains at 4th lowest spot in press freedom rankings in latest report
JISHOU, HUNAN — China’s ranking in an annual international press freedom survey remains at #176 out of 180 countries analyzed, the same position it held in 2015. The international organization, Reporters Without Borders (Reporters Sans Frontieres – RSF), released its annual World Press Freedom Index on Wednesday, saying 2016 has been a bad year for journalists worldwide. The Index levels especially sharp criticism of China, which continues to be among the nations with the lowest press freedom rankings. UPDATE 4/27/2016: An editorial in the Chinese Communist Party news outlet, Global Times, scoffs at the ranking, claiming Reporters Without Borders ignores the differences between developed nations and developing nations. The constructiveness of journalism is more important than press freedom to developing countries. This constructiveness includes press freedom and supervision of the media, however it must incorporate understanding of different local political and economic development. The purpose of journalism is not to advocate its absolute freedom, but to help advance societal progress in a suitable way. Or, as President Xi Jinping has insisted, to serve the Party. In its summary of the Asia-Pacific region, RSF writes: In China (176th), the Communist Party took repression to new heights. Journalists were spared nothing, not ...

Censors tell Internet sensation, comedienne Papi Jiang to clean up her act

Censors tell Internet sensation, comedienne Papi Jiang to clean up her act
JISHOU, HUNAN — A wildly popular Youku and Weibo star, Papi Jiang, has had most of her videos pulled off China’s Internet sites, because state censors say she swears too much. Most of her videos are now missing, though they survive in their original form on her YouTube channel. Papi, whose full name is Jiang Yilei, is a 29-year-old student at Beijing’s Central Academy of Drama. Her videos mocking everyday situations have attracted millions of views on Youku (China’s version of YouTube) and Weibo (a Twitter-like microblog without that damnable 140-character limit). She’s so popular that she got more than $2 million in venture capital to expand her comedy enterprise. But, her tart tongue ran afoul of China’s media censors, the State Administration of Press, Publication, Radio, Film and Television (SAPPRFT), who told her to edit her videos to take out the salty language. It’s part of the state’s efforts to “beautify” the Internet. (That’s official state Chinese for “censor.”) Papi posted on her website and Weibo account that the videos will reappear once she sanitizes them. She also apologized for offending anyone. “As a person from the media, I will pay more attention to my words and images. I ...

Chinese entrepreneurs create Uniqlo sex video T-shirts

Chinese entrepreneurs create Uniqlo sex video T-shirts
[UPDATE Dec. 5, 2016: Google AdSense flagged the images I included in this report as violations of AdSense policy, though none of them are particularly objectionable as they have appeared on a Chinese shopping site. Whatever. I’ve removed the photos but left the links up. Click at your own peril.] T-shirt 1 In a move sure to upset both Uniqlo’s PR department and China’s overanxious censors, several entrepreneurs are selling T-shirts commemorating the now-famous Uniqlo sex video. The video, which was shot by a young couple in a Beijing clothing store fitting room, hit the Internet last week and has sent China’s censors scrambling to wipe it off the Internet and Uniqlo spokesmen to deny the company had any part in the activity. Beijing police have arrested five people, including the couple, they say were involved in the video. The couple are both university students, although it remains to be seen how long that status will last. Following up on something I read in The Guardian, I visited www.taobao.com and found several merchants marketing T-shirts ranging in price from 28.80 RMB ($4.60) — shown at left — to a princely 85.00 RMB ($13.78) for one with a hand drawn picture. ...

Beijing police arrest five people in connection with Uniqlo sex video

Note: Google AdSense required me to remove the image that accompanied this post. UPDATE: I missed the CNN International report from Hong Kong yesterday. I’ve added details from that below. China’s censors are not amused at all by the video of a young couple having sex in a Uniqlo fitting room. Beijing police have arrested five people in connection with the video, which went viral on Chinese social media last week. The five include the couple and three others, all but one unnamed by officials. Police have identified the bespectacled man in the video a 19-year-old university student, surnamed Sun. This report (in Chinese), identifies the couple as two students at Beijing Art University, complete with their Sina Weibo handles, but not their real names. The couple apparently made the video in April at a Beijing Uniqlo store, and shared it with their friends. One of the friends then shared it on Tencent’s WeChat, and it quickly went viral before censors pulled it off. Police are also looking for the person who uploaded the video, and state authorities are admonishing officials of China’s two social media giants, Tencent and Sina, for allowing the video online, as well as investigating whether ...

Beijing couple’s changing room video goes viral, censors busy

Beijing couple's changing room video goes viral, censors busy
Speaking of censors, Google AdSense has requested the photograph which had accompanied this post be removed. So, I have complied. You can see a different version offsite here, however. JISHOU, HUNAN — An adventurous Beijing couple filmed themselves Tuesday making love in a Uniqlo clothing store changing room, and posted the video to their social media accounts. You can predict what happened next. It went viral. And China’s censors have been working overtime trying to keep the 1m20s video off the Internet. Now that it’s on the BitTorrent network (where I found it), they have no hope of stamping it out. The government has condemned the video as being contrary to “core socialist values,” which apparently preclude having sex in changing rooms, or posting sex videos, or something. Meanwhile, Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing brand, has denied it played any role in promoting the video as a marketing ploy. It has raised its, um, visibility in the market, though. More details at The Guardian.

Nothing ever really disappears from the Web, even censored Weibos

JISHOU, HUNAN — Chinese authorities routinely delete, censor or block material in the Internet deemed inappropriate. That includes posts by users of Sina Weibo, one of the big Twitter-like services in China. But, nothing ever really disappears from the Web. Some clever netizens have found a way to “rescue” deleted Weibo posts. They repost them at freeweibo.com, and some of these end up on Blocked on Weibo at tumblr.com. This post, showing a portrait of Mao wearing a facemask (in Beijing, where the air quality has recently been abysmal), got quickly axed. Government officials have no sense of humor, it seems.

Great Firewall of China getting smarter 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — A few days ago, I was Skyping with my friend in Ukraine. Today, my neighbors told me Skype was down, and sure enough, when I tried it, Skype couldn’t connect. Since the Internet isn’t reporting a worldwide Skype outage, it appears China’s net nannies are blocking Skype now. Why? Because they can. Skype joins the ranks of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, The New York Times and Bloomberg.com, among others. Some are blocked because of political reasons — The Times and Bloomberg have reported on the vast wealth of China’s new leaders, and YouTube is full of pro-Tibet and Falun Gong videos. Others are blocked to benefit their homegrown competitors — Facebook and Twitter could compete with China’s QQ and Sina Weibo. China offers its own “flavor” of Skype, which is jimmied to allow China’s Internet watchdogs to spy on your conversations. My copy of Skype comes from the USA, so maybe the watchdogs are only blocking that flavor. I’ll be damned if I download the Chinese version, though. China’s net nannies are getting smarter, as Philip Shishkin reports at i-policy.com. My VPN provider, a major player in the market, explained in an e-mail that the disruption was due ...

Some website tweaks 1

JISHOU, HUNAN — I’ve belatedly gotten around to allowing readers at the website to share posts with friends using Google+, Facebook and Twitter with three WordPress plugins. The buttons to click will be at the end of each post. Since all three of these fine services are blocked in China, I need some feedback to see if the buttons look OK and their functions are working. My proxy connection comes and goes randomly. One of the plugins also allows sharing with services like digg, del.icio.us and reddit. Pardon the dumb question, but in this Facebook-Twitter-Google+ age, does anybody really use those services anymore? I don’t want to clutter things up with lots of superfluous buttons.

I’m without Facebook … again

UPDATE 1/9/11 5:30 am ET — Nevermind. As soon as I wrote this post, by a corollary to Murphy’s Law, everything started working again. JISHOU, HUNAN — My favorite method to climb the Great Firewall of China seems to no longer work. So, my only access to FB right now is eBuddy on my cellphone for Chat and this blog’s feed into Notes. I do get emails whenever someone comments on a note or sends me a message, though. I had been using Ultrareach‘s Ultrasurf, a 1-MB program that sets up a proxy connection to “climb the Wall,” as they say here, and evade China’s Internet censorship. It establishes a proxy connection as before, but as soon as I enter a URL, the connection is lost. I suspect the Net Nannies here have gotten wise to Ultrasurf and figured out a way to block it, as they did the Tor proxy network two years ago. So, if you’re expecting me to learn about news from family and friends via FB, think again. Ya might just have to write me an email once in a while. Oh, and FB recoded their site again, so the plugin I have that pulls comments ...

I can get to Picasaweb again! 2

JISHOU, HUNAN — So, I am back from a three-week stay in Louisville, and still trying to adjust my internal clock to local time. (I woke up at 4 am today. Jeez.) During my absence from China, the net nannies here apparently decided to remove the block on Picasaweb. So, I can once again edit and upload my photos there. Check out the new photos. Nothing truly exciting, but interesting, I hope. Before Christmas, I visited two local schools, one in the countryside and one in Jishou. I have some thoughts about my trip back to the States, and about teaching here. I hope to get those written down soon, before classes resume on the 25th.
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