Thursday, August 28, 2008

Jingjing and Chacha, China's Censors

Canadian Joann Dionne, has written an interesting book that chronicles her year as a teacher in China. She gives some insight into the everyday life of China in Little Emperors: A Year with the Future of China. In the Epilogue, she includes information on the Chinese authorities and censorship, stating that there are over thirty thousand cyber cops monitoring the 162 million Internet users. She talks about the Internet avatars which pop up on computer screens to remind users that they are being watched.
Chinese cyber police also get help from their Internet avatars, the wide-eyed manga-esque cartoons Jingjing and Chacha. Jingjing is a boy police officer. Chacha is a girl. Their names come from the Mandarin work jingcha or police in English....Beneath the big, watchful eyes of Jingjing and Chacha, Chinese Internet users must be careful not to type "remember Tiananmen [sic] Square," "free Tibet," or "Falun Gong forever" in their emails, or criticize anything bigger than Starbucks on their blogs. If they do, the real jingcha just might come knocking at their door. Jingjing and Chacha encourage people using the Internet in China to censor themselves, saving those thirty thousand cyber cobs a whole lot of work.
Wikipedia includes an entry and China Digital Times has an entry blog from the day the characters first appeared in the main portals of Shenzhen city, Guangdong.

Speaking of China, the Foreign Correspondents Club of China has published a list of incidents of interference from Chinese authorities. While this list covers the last few years, it is interesting to see how freedom of information has been curtailed during the Olympics, in particular.

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