I received the following email forward from Fauna of chinaSMACK with two notes:
- That it has been circulating amongst Chinese internet users, and
- Chinese internet posts with similar content and images have been deleted or “harmonized”…
…and the vague suggestion that I’d make something interesting out of it. Let’s take a look:
Large-scale anti-China demonstrations break out in Japan, demand severing diplomatic relations with China, the media is refusing to report this news!!! Can we still put up with this!!!! (Look and immediately forward)
If only China and Japan could sever diplomatic relations. To use something one said by Hitler: Associating with this kind of country is my shame.
不为跟风 不做粪青 只求认清真相，中国人就转发出去！
Not to follow the trend, not to be fenqing, only to ask [others] to see the truth clearly. If you’re Chinese, then forward this on!
There’s plenty to talk about with the understanding that this email is, as Fauna describes it, getting forwarded around by Chinese people. There’s also some significance that can be interpreted out of Chinese discussion forums actively deleting posts with these images, echoing the accusation that the media is not reporting on it as if to hide some truth from the Chinese people.
I wrestled with the idea of using this for a small social experiment but eventually decided it was too sinister of me so I’m just going to come out and tell you what I know before opening it up for discussion.
First, sure enough, there have been Chinese discussion forum posts with the same text and images that have been deleted. Here’s an example of one that was deleted there from Tiexue, an online community well-known for having a nationalistic slant1, and here’s another example from the arguably more mainstream NetEase forums2. Given that anti-Japanese rhetoric and sentiments are hardly rare on either forums, there must be some reason — perhaps government encouraged — for the moderators and administrators of each forum to take them down. That said, it must be noted that other posts with similar content and images still remain on other Chinese discussion forums like bbs.news.ifeng.com and club.china.com.
Second, at least one post on the popular Tianya discussion forum shares the same title as the email’s subject, except it was dated July 3rd, 2006. The same images have also appeared on various web pages published on various websites at different times throughout at least the past 3-4 years. For example, most of the images can be seen on this broken Chinese portal page. We can be certain these pictures are quite old and don’t show any large-scale demonstrations that have “broken out” in Japan recently3.
That said, what are your guys’ thoughts?