My video about traveling Taipei for 20 Dollars a Day was censored. The powers that be have deemed a portion of my video inappropriate for the Chinese masses! Here are all the details of the censorship:
Every time I upload a video to YouTube, a Chinese company called Youzimu downloads the video and adds Chinese subtitles to it, then re-uploads it onto various Chinese social media and video platforms with my permission. They effectively take media from outside “The Great Firewall” and present it to Chinese netizens inside the Firewall with subtitles. I guess you could think of companies like this as modern-day media-dealing speakeasies.
So, why “The Great Firewall”?
Aside from the sensitive topics the Great Firewall was purportedly designed to block out, I’ll argue that the primary things the Chinese government wants to blockade with its censorship are giant American internet businesses like Google, YouTube and Facebook. Once these sites and apps are blocked, there’s room for Chinese copycat businesses to replicate and replace these already successful platforms within the Firewall, thus maintaining an internet ecosystem that can thrive independently outside the World Wide Web.
When it comes to taking media from outside the Great Firewall and re-uploading it to Chinese platforms, there’s no inherent political problem in sharing it within China’s protected internet sphere, as long as said media isn’t ‘touchy’ (think: anything related to the three T’s: Tiananmen Square, Tibet, and Taiwan). If you don’t know why these topics are touchy, then do some outside research for yourself — switch on your VPN first, of course.
Anyway, up to this point, I haven’t uploaded anything particularly touchy, so it hasn’t been an issue. This time, though, it was different. Here’s a message I received from one of the translators at Youzimu about translating and sharing my Taipei video:
1:30-1:52 in the video is censored when my friend expressed his opinion, saying:
“So for people who are wondering what the cultural difference is between China and Taiwan, a lot of it is because of the lack of the Cultural Revolution [in Taiwan]. We kept a lot of our old culture — for instance, temples and antiques that came along with it.”
The second part which was censored (4:18-4:21) shows women wearing a Falun Gong uniform. In 1999, the Communist party of China initiated a nationwide crackdown against the Falun Gong and declared it a “heretical organization.” You can learn about why it is considered controversial to show on camera in the mainland by doing some outside research.
Here’s just a snippet of some of the heated conversations that were sparked from this FLG appearance:
The ridiculous part about censoring this 3-second shot of FLG members meditating in the video is that I don’t even include voiceover or any kind of objective/subjective information about them; it’s just a brief portrait of a few old women meditating in controversial clothes. They were sitting under Taipei 101 and I filmed them with no overt stance on the issue. I’m not condoning or condemning anything they’re doing; I’m just trying to show you folks what’s out there, and the Mainland’s government doesn’t dig it.
Watch the censored version of my video: http://www.bilibili.com/video/av5532200/
Watch the original video: https://youtu.be/egWOQEfGYI4
So, now what?
Everyone with half a brain in China knows how to access information outside of the Great Firewall, including The Great Firewall’s creator, who was recently caught using a VPN during a presentation! People who watch the uncensored video—and are offended by it—are likely already outside of the “Wall,” and that’s a double standard.