The Censorship Anthem

Internet Censorship in China:
We’ll Sing it for You

One Chinese government agency is so proud of how well they censor the Internet that they put their feelings to music.

ProPublica investigates the threats to privacy in an era of cellphones, data mining and cyberwar.

Employees of China’s Cyberspace Administration perform a choral anthem, a song titled “The Mind and Spirit of Cyberspace Security.”

China’s Internet censorship agency now has its own choral anthem, a song titled “The Mind and Spirit of Cyberspace Security.” The New York Times reported Thursday that the lyrics to the song — which praises the agency’s commitment “to the global village, evolving it into its most beautiful form” — were written by Wang Pingjiu, who also wrote the lyrics for the opening song to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

ProPublica watched, translated and subtitled the video.

[IRONY ALERT: The Chinese government is trying to erase from the internet its own anthem to Cyberspace Security. —DSH]

Although the Times reported that copies of the video are being deleted quickly, ProPublica found copies easily via the popular Chinese social media site Sina Weibo.

In the song, employees proudly declare not only loyalty to their work, but that it is transforming the world into a better place. Lyrics include:

  • “With loyalty and devotion, we watch over our domain day and night”
  • “Contributing to the global village, evolving it into its most beautiful form”
  • “In this universe, as hundreds of rivers flow across all of China, loyally searching for the sea, they carry with them the great Chinese culture and measure China’s greatness.”

While it is difficult to translate the exact meaning behind a song, one particular lyric could be referencing an old Chinese proverb — 水能载舟,亦能覆舟 — which stresses that while water can keep a boat afloat, it can also flip it over. The lyric, which reads “Integrity ripples only from a clear and pure nation,” may be referencing the fact that without integrity, the nation would flip over the government.

The official “Mind and Spirit” values of the Cyberspace Administration is defined by the agency as “Loyalty, responsibility, innovation, integrity, unity and devotion.”

[Investigative Journalism: ProPublica is tracking and sharing censored images to reveal the logic China’s censors use to decide which images to delete and which to let stand. —DSH]

In 2013, ProPublica published 527 user-posted images that were deleted by censors at Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site similar to Twitter. In an effort to discover what causes a user’s posts to be censored, ProPublica also found that the lives of users or their families were sometimes threatened because of material they had posted online.

Also, every day since Nov. 17, 2014, ProPublica has been testing whether the homepages of international news organizations are accessible to browsers inside China. See the results.

For additional reading on internet privacy and cybersecurity issues in the US and abroad, read the latest stories in the ProPublica project:

About davidbdale

Inventor of and sole practitioner of 299-word Very Short Novels. www.davidbdale.wordpress.com
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