Schoolboy Pranks and Death Threats

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As I said in a story earlier, the Chinese web can be a wild and hairy place. Though it’s very tightly controlled (especially now: even from behind a VPN a lot of Tibet sites are blocked or semi-blocked, ie only parts will come up, and try sending an email from gmail or yahoo with the word Tibet in the body from inside the GFW: forget it), but it does also feature a vigilante phenomenon which as far as I know (and would be happy to be corrected here) is nothing like as prevalent elsewhere. I’ve mentioned this before with regard to things like rude motorists being tracked down and harassed, or for that matter a cuckolded husband riling up netizens to help him find his wife’s lover. But lately the rage of the so-called angry youth has been turned on the foreign media. Apart from the usual ranting on billboards, forums etc this has also involved some direct action. Look at this post below, for example. The poster, scqx88, lists the name and address of a certain media organization. “The phone is our weapon,” he writes, then advises people to “Phone them to death. If someone answers, uses Chinese English to ask about their mothers (editors note: mr. scqx88 isn’t talking about a politely inquiry here but rather something much more robust), then hang up. If no one answers, keep calling so they can’t receive calls or make them. Drown the sons of bitches with noise!”

『传媒江湖』 [焦点评论]拿起电话 呼死 XXXX (转载)

作者:scqx88 提交日期:2008-3-24 21:55:00
  电话就是我们的武器, 呼死 XXXX,
  如果有人接, 请用中英文问候他老妈, 然后挂掉,
  如果没人接, 就一直打, 这样让他们没电话进也没电话出, 吵死这帮狗杂种!

Another similar post even provides an approximation of English abuse rendered into Chinese pinyin romanization for “Comrades who don’t speak English.” Apart from the predictable swear words, it adds this phrase: “Get out of china!” which is rendered as “Gei ta ao te ao fu qia yi na !”
That would certainly leave me puzzled if said rapidly over the phone.

In fact all this might seem more like schoolboy antics than anything else, but the postings go on to
list the numbers of a bunch of U.S. media outlets and their addresses. Happily we are not on this particular list, though we have received the odd abusive call. Other organizations have been less lucky, and have been inundated with abuse and threats, including death threats. One photograph circulating on the Chinese internet shows a traditional Chinese funeral scene complete with candles, incense offerings and bouquets of flowers. But someone has digitally inserted the name of a western news organization where the black and white characters would normally spell out the name of the deceased. And in the midst of the flowers where a picture of the person being mourned would normally be placed is a photograph of a grinning pig. In another example, someone has posted a screen capture of a well-known western television reporter on a heavily-visited bulletin board with the admonition that if you spot him in the street you should hit him–or at least spit on him. Strange that the GFW doesn’t consider this hate speech worth monitoring.