Monkey Abroad

Showing YOU what it's like to travel all over Asia with 20 dollars a day

My Video was Censored

| 9 Comments

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:

censorship in chinaEvery 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:

china censorship

Screenshot used with permission from sender.

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.

censorship in china

Censored screenshot from my video of a Falun Gong member meditating on the sidewalk.

censorship in china

Censored screenshot from my video of a Falun Gong member meditating on the sidewalk.

Here’s just a snippet of some of the heated conversations that were sparked from this FLG appearance:

censorship in china

YouTube comments section: always a cordial place to share ideas…

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.

china censorship

Author: Kevin Cook

I want to inspire you to pursue your own dream of traveling and/or living overseas!

9 Comments

  1. You have done it! You have inspired meI Your dreams are my mine. I want to do it again! I love what you do. It’s in the blood. Adventures are the last hope for reality. I have lived in both worlds. One is a semblance, the other is real. I kinda like real. DD

  2. Well, your friend in the video did say that Taiwan preserves history better than the mainland… which is a crazy thought. So remember, you and I are guests in this great country. I love China, but we are still guests and when in Rome you do as the Romans do. I love VPN. Keep up the awesome travel and food blogs! – Ross, Shanghai.

  3. Very deep insight analysis of the current Chinese cyber situation. Especially the first part “So, why “The Great Firewall”?”, I was shock to find out that a Laowai could dig so deeply. You do really know about China which makes me believe you really love it.

    However, by no harm, there are few points that I’d like to point out.

    1/ Chinese gov has been encouraging people from china to travel to Taiwan. And it’s super duper easy nowadays for people from main land to get a permit to go to Taiwan. I’ve got one very easily and I’ve stayed in Taiwan for nearly a month. Do officials know that people in Taiwan will talk about this sensitive issues? Yes, of course. But do they care? No, they don’t care at all. However, to talk about it publicly is a whole different thing. As a Chinese, I don’t like people from the outside to talk about it. The history is so twisted and complicated that’s why I seriously don’t like people who just know puzzles of the history to talk about it publicly.

    2/ Your blog will not be censored, trust me. I took a course related to english writing last year in a local college,Shenzhen and that’s when I realized that the whole WordPress has been blockaded years ago so technically your blog is not censored at the moment and will not be censored in the future. Mock me.

    3/ And yeah, many people know how to use VPN. But I tend to believe that only people with a better education and people who are living in, I say top 3 tiers city know the existence of VPN which means many people still don’t know VPN but doesn’t make them dump because it’s of not much use for them.

    4/ I really enjoy your videos. I mean I do. I have lived in the same province, the same city, and the same community for almost my entire life. And you interpretation of traveling is refreshing and relaxing which keeps reminding me of how big the world is or at least how big China is. It’s so cool to me. And that’s why I have to tell you big brother is watching. I hope you can continue your journey in China but if… You get the message, it’s not impossible.

    Looking forward to the new episode.

    Safe travel. Cheers!

    • That was a long message, but I only have time for a short response:

      1/ If you don’t learn from history, you’re doomed to repeat it.
      2/ Good to know.
      3/ (Not sure why you’re telling me number 3, honestly.)
      4/ Thanks for your support!

  4. Yes, I hate what china did too. this is what we are doing now, introduce some of the outside world to china to those who don’t know VPN. people are talking about this video is censored, and then those who are interested will go to the original link. We are trying to change this situation, but there is a long way to go.
    And finally, thank you for making all those awesome videos.

  5. Kevin Cook. You’re the bomb. Tell your parents,for me, they did a pretty good job!

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