Internet Censorship in China: We’ll Sing it for You

February 19th, 2015
in econ_news

Special Report from ProPublica

by Sisi Wei and Yue Qiu

China's Internet censorship agency now has it's own choral anthem, a song titled "The Mind and Spirit of Cyberspace Security." The New York Times reported Thursday that the lyrics to the song — which praises the agency's commitment "to the global village, evolving it into its most beautiful form" — were written by Wang Pingjiu, who also wrote the lyrics for the opening song to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Follow up:

ProPublica watched, translated and subtitled the video.

Although the Times reported that copies of the video are being deleted quickly, ProPublica found copies easily via the popular Chinese social media site Sina Weibo.

In the song, employees proudly declare not only loyalty to their work, but that it is transforming the world into a better place. Lyrics include:

  • "With loyalty and devotion, we watch over our domain day and night"
  • "Contributing to the global village, evolving it into its most beautiful form"
  • "In this universe, as hundreds of rivers flow across all of China, loyally searching for the sea, they carry with them the great Chinese culture and measure China's greatness."

While it is difficult to translate the exact meaning behind a song, one particular lyric could be referencing an old Chinese proverb — 水能载舟,亦能覆舟 — which stresses that while water can keep a boat afloat, it can also flip it over. The lyric, which reads "Integrity ripples only from a clear and pure nation," may be referencing the fact that without integrity, the nation would flip over the government.

The official "Mind and Spirit" values of the Cyberspace Administration is defined by the agency as "Loyalty, responsibility, innovation, integrity, unity and devotion."

In 2013, ProPublica published 527 user-posted images that were deleted by censors at Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site similar to Twitter. In an effort to discover what causes a user's posts to be censored, ProPublica also found that the lives of users or their families were sometimes threatened because of material they had posted online.

Also, every day since Nov. 17, 2014, ProPublica has been testing whether the homepages of international news organizations are accessible to browsers inside China. See the results.

Here is our translation:

"The Mind and Spirit of Cyberspace Security" (《网信精神》)

在这片天空日月忠诚的守望

为日出东方使命担当

创新每个日子拥抱着清朗

像一束廉洁阳光感动在心上

团结万物生长的力量

奉献地球村成为最美的风光

网络强国 网在哪, 光荣梦想在哪

网络强国 从遥远的宇宙到思念的家

网络强国 告诉世界中国梦在崛起大中华

网络强国 一个我在世界代表着国家

在这个世界百川忠诚寻归海洋

担当中华文明的丈量

五千年沉淀点亮创新思想

廉洁就是一个民族清澈荡漾

我们团结在天地中央

信仰奉献流淌万里黄河长江

With loyalty and devotion, we watch over our domain day and night,

to serve our mission as the sun rises in the east.

Creating each day with innovation, embracing its brightness,

just like a beam of integrity that moves your heart.

Unifying the strength of all living things,

contributing to the global village, evolving it into its most beautiful form.

Chorus

An Internet power — Where there is Internet, there are glory and dreams.

An Internet power — From the distant cosmos to the homes that we miss.

An Internet power — Telling the world that the Chinese Dream is lifting up China.

An Internet power — Each individual represents the whole nation.

In this universe, as all rivers loyally search for the sea,

they carry China's great culture and measure China's greatness.

Five thousand years of history condensed to illuminate innovation.

Integrity ripples only from a clear and pure nation.

We are unified in the center of the universe.

Our faith and devotion flow far and wide, like the everlong Yellow River and Yangtze.

Repeat Chorus

Repeat Chorus

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