“How China’s “Reincarnation Party” Takes Aim at Online Censors”

Liz Carter from Tea Leaf Nation on ‘reincarnated’ online accounts in China, which seem to be becoming something of a badge of honor:

Account deletion is one of the harshest forms of censorship on Sina Weibo, as it not only silences expression but severs genuine connections between users who have dedicated a large portion of their free time to sharing and storing the details of their lives online. This threat, in turn, brings about a degree of self-censorship that is impossible to quantify, but also inspires unique and creative ways to comment on controversial issues.

In the event of Weibo account deletion, however, netizens still have a solution: re-registration. The process is known in Chinese as “reincarnating,” or joining the “Reincarnation Party.”

So persistent and pervasive is the Reincarnation Party that it has its own entry in Baidu Baike, Baidu’s answer to Wikipedia, which defines the group as “those users who register new IDs after having their accounts deleted or posting privileges revoked for long periods of time. They add a number to indicate how many times they have reincarnated, such as ‘Life2‘[二世] or ‘Life3’[三世], after their original names to protest [the censorship].”

The phenomenon of the Reincarnation Party may not defeat online censorship all by itself, but it provides one window into the way ordinary netizens are pushing back creatively against the silencing of expression.

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