What to do when the strict system of Internet censorship around you briefly breaks down? For a number of Chinese citizens, the answer was to take their grievances directly to the most powerful man in the world.
A quick visit to Barack Obama’s Google+ page reveals a flood of comments written in Chinese. A recent update about new Barack Obama bumper stickers now has more than 500 comments attached to it, some translated into English with messages such as “The Chinese GOV doesn’t represent the Chinese people!” and “Please pay more attention to Chinese civil rights, I hope that you will win the coming election.”
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Another common message centered around freeing Chen Guangcheng, a blind activist who has been under house arrest by the Chinese government since 2006.
For internet users in China, Google+ is normally banned or hard to access, but a glitch in the government’s usually strict system of censorship allowed for many of them them to post on Barack Obama’s verified page.
According to Voice of America, Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei was none too pleased when asked about the comments:
[Lei] repeated Beijing’s position that it protects Chinese citizens’ rights to free expression on the Internet. But he also warned that they should express themselves according to Chinese laws and regulations.
Jeremy Goldkorn, editor in chief of Danwei.com, told Voice of America that despite the political overtones in the comments, many people in China meant their messages to be ironic or humorous, including those requesting a green card. As of today, the number of comments has dramatically lessened, indicating that China has fixed whatever issue allowed for the situation in the first place.