China's internet censors moved to delete rumors of a coup involving Bo Xilai's ally Zhou Yongkang, pictured. (Photo/Xinhua)
After Sina and Tencent reopened the comment functions on their Weibo microblogging services on Apr. 3, sensitive names such as Wang Lijun and Bo Xilai may still be used when users leave messages, according to our sister Chinese-language newspaper Want Daily.
Web traffic has been down however for the traditional Qingming or Tomb Sweeping Festival holidays. Netizens who stayed home were surprised to find that the names of Wang Lijun, the former police chief of Chongqing who requested political asylum from the United States, and Bo Xilai, the sacked party secretary of Chongqing, had not been blocked by the censors.
On Mar. 31, the central government ordered both Sina and Tencent to shut down their comment functions for three days because of rumors concerning an attempted coup at the highest level of power in Beijing, with claims of a clash between the People's Liberation Army commanded by President Hu Jintao and the People's Armed Police led by Zhou Yongkang, head of the Central Political and Legislative Committee, who was reportedly furious at the removal of his ally Bo Xilai, who had been set to take over his role on the Politburo Standing Committee before being brought down by the Wang Lijun scandal.
Yet the names of Zhao Ziyang and Hu Yaobang, the two liberal Chinese leaders endorsed by students during the Tiananmen protests of 1989 are not searchable on Sina Weibo, while references to Hu Yaobang only can be found on Tencent Weibo. When comment functions were reopened on Apr. 3 after being closed for five days for the cleanup of "rumors," some netizens said they had become too lazy to leave messages after the comment function was removed. Others expressed concerns that the situation may happen again, perhaps with the censors taking over the microblogs entirely.
According to a report from the Hong Kong-based Ming Pao, terms like "military vehicles" or "Beijing incident" are still not allowed to be used on the microblogs.
Wang Lijun 王立軍
Bo Xilai 薄熙來
Zhao Ziyang 趙紫陽
Hu Yaobang 胡耀邦
Hu Jintao 胡錦濤
Zhou Yongkang 周永康