Shanghaiist has a hilarious quote from Xiamen Vice Mayor Zang Jiebin, who recently claimed that Germany is actually the one with the internet control problem. It’s something I’ve seen a few Chinese politicians do lately: pick a problem, pick a random country, and accuse them of actually being far worse than China in that regard. It isn’t like the Chinese media is allowed to call you out on that, and online discussions will disappear if they start getting noticed. Here’s Mr. Zang on the German internet:
“The commonfolk in Germany have a very hard time accessing the Internet. Not only do they have to jump through hoops to get approval, it’s also very expensive. In the West, there is a great focus on ideological mangement, and they go way further than we do in their control of the Internet. Therefore, we can say that our country is very civilised, very democratic, and everybody should feel very fortunate.”
Unfortunately for Mr. Zang, it turns out the foreign media IS allowed to call you out on that. Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, has been pursuing him to try to get an explanation- apparently to no avail:
To find out how Zang came to arrive at those conclusions, Deutsche Welle has attempted to get in touch with the Xiamen municipal government, Zang’s secretary, and the propaganda department.
When contacted, Zang’s secretary, a man surnamed Luo, said that the vice mayor was not at work and would not be able to answer those questions. When pressed further, Luo said that the propaganda department (we’re assuming he meant the municipal one) was in charge of entertaining those questions. When contacted though, the propaganda office said those questions were not under their purview, and neither were they clear about the situation.
Incidentally, searches for “臧杰斌” on Sina Weibo now yield the error message, “According to relevant laws and regulations, the search results may not be shown.” That’s right. Zang has officially become a sensitive term. So much for freedom on the Chinese internet.
To be sure, it’s hard to find anywhere where the internet is truly free without some fine print- but that isn’t what he said. If I see anything about anyone ever catching up with Zang, it’ll be here.