Saturday briefing

Would-be contestant at Mr Gay China, courtesy of The Guardian. (C) Dan Chung

This hasn’t been China’s quietest of weeks, so here’s a little cyber digest to round up the deets. Where to begin?

First, of course, has been the will-they-won’t-they state of Google in China. Since news broke over their potential withdrawal from China, developments and debate have gone full steam ahead:

  • Wreaths were laid by a saddened few in both Beijing and Guangzhou, but what about those indoors? Roland Soong over at ESWN has translated some Chinese netizen reactions to Google’s stance, and Tania Branigan has covered Internet experts’ opinion in this video.
  • The US has said it will make a formal protest to China over the cyber attacks Google apparently suffered. Expect demands for an explanation in the coming days.
  • In response to the fiasco, China’s Foreign Ministry said foreign internet firms were welcome to do business in the PRC “according to the law.” The Ministry’s spokeswoman, Jiang Yu, also claimed the Internet in China was “open.” Right. Which is precisely why this particular blog was blocked this week, though WordPress is still good to go. But, as the LA Times reported, the Great Firewall has certainly become a lot less sturdy.

Secondly, ol’ reliable ChinaGeeks pointed us to some notable stories that were hidden by Google’s shadow. For example:

sending just one unlawful text message will result in suspension of the texting service. To get it back, the person would have to submit a written promise to the public security authority not to send unlawful messages again.

This week also saw the potential start of a greater acceptance of China’s gay community:

  • As Shanghaiist told us, Chengdu hosted one of China’s first recorded gay marriage ceremonies last week.
  • On Sunday, Tania Branigan reported that the first Mr Gay China pageant was on its way. This was considered a huge feat for a section of society whose sexual orientation was classified as a ‘mental illness’ until 2001.
  • However, news has recently broken of the pageant being shut down by Beijing police just hours before it was due to begin. Branigan says that officers apparently told the venue’s owners that the pageant was “a sensitive issue”.

Finally, the more sombre news also reached us that human rights lawyer Gao Zhisheng is ‘missing’, having been seized and detained by authorities last year. He has long been an outspoken critic of the CCP, having had his law license revoked in 2005.

That Gao has been secretly executed certainly seems possible — much more possible than that he escaped or somehow wandered off, as the police have suggested. That no one will tell Gao’s family of his real fate is truly the lowest form of cowardice.

  • For more information on Gao’s activities prior to his detention, such as his representing underground Christian churches and Falun Gong practitioners, check out this NYT report.
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