Chinese authorities have blocked phrases with the word “Occupy” on the country’s version of Twitter, Sina Weibo, as the Occupy Wall Street movement continues to spawn copy cat protests around the world.
Clashes in Melbourne and Rome, plus swelling numbers at the Occupy London Stock Exchange protest and the continuation of the Occupy Wall Street operation, seem to have spooked China.
According to the China Digital Times, authorities have pre-empted possible moves towards rallying protest action online. Phrases that begin with the word ‘Occupy’ and end with Chinese provincial capitals have all been blocked.
These include Occupy Beijing, Occupy Shanghai, Occupy Guangzhou, Occupy Xi’an, and Occupy Kunming.
The ‘Great Firewall of China’ is notorious, blocking critical opinion of the country online, while ‘internet police’ apparently erase critical comments that arise on unblocked sites.
Facebook is famously blocked on mainland China. Nevertheless, an Occupy China Facebook page has already been created – although so far only a handful of people have ‘liked’ it.
A spokesman for Sina Weibo said earlier this year: “As a Chinese internet company, we will continue to abide by Chinese laws and regulations.”
The move is perhaps ironic considering that the Xinhua News Agency, described as “Beijing’s mouthpiece” by Time magazine, published an extensive English-language critique of what it perceived as failure on the part of the US press to cover the Occupy Wall Street protests properly.
The opinion piece read: “What strikes us as odd is that the muckraking-crazy US media seem to have lost their sensitive news nose amid the spreading protests descending on their own soil. Mainstream American media of [sic] either turn a completely blind eye or try to play down the mass unrest storming their own streets.”
However, it may be that what China originally saw as an opportunity to ridicule the US has quickly become a cause for concern on its own soil.