Sunday, 15 May 2011

China outshines UK for media freedom

As outraged as anybody else by the idea that rich adulterers can claim that a right to family and private life allows them to have affairs and yet prevent anybody, anywhere in the world, from mentioning it, I decided to see what the Chinese internet - not known for bowing and scraping to English court rulings - had to say. Were the famously unfree Chinese openly discussing the sexual exploits of a premier-league footballer whom we in the Free World aren’t allowed to name? And what about the other less well-known celebs?
I started by googling, in English, for ‘Billy Jones’ (the pseudonym of whomever claims to have tweeted the names of super-injunctors), ‘Twitter’ and ‘super injunction’, which instantly gave me a google cache list of the named individuals (the original pages wouldn’t open, but whether this is because Twitter had removed them or because of high traffic I don’t know). 
Then, armed with the Chinese names of the footballer from his Mandarin- and Cantonese-language Wikipedia pages (Premier League is very popular in China, and Man U especially so), I searched a Chinese search engine for the name plus 超级禁制令, i.e., ‘super injunction’. There were hundreds of direct hits of users discussing this and earlier extra-marital affairs of the footballer. 
When it came to the other people named by Billy Jones, the Chinese were distinctly less interested, though. Even the uproariously spurious Khan-Clarkson snogfest scarcely made a ripple on the other side of the Great Firewall, since nobody in China knows or cares who either is. The other injunctors, a handful of B-list TV celebs, don’t appear to have made the slightest impression on Chinese netizens. Wangyou, it seems, are utterly uninterested in the idea of outing sickening hypocrisy per se, and more interested in what to them is minor gossip about a footballer who’s a household name - Jie Si - and a hero to hundreds of millions in China. 

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