Nick Kristof Opens A Sina Weibo Account..Briefly

This afternoon New York Times columnist and China hand Nick Kristof tweeted the following:

@nickkristof “I’m microblogging in China, trying to find what gets censored. If you’re on Sina, follow me, ??? , at http://bit.ly/fIXiK6

I immediately followed him on Weibo, and sent out a message to my followers saying that he had joined to test what could and could not be said on Weibo, along with his Weibo name.

My weibo was almost immediately retweeted by Hong Huang, who has nearly 1.6m followers.

Soon after, Nick Kristof’s Weibo account disappeared. In total it appears he had the account for less than an hour.

As of this writing I do not know if Sina removed his account, or if Kristof deleted it himself after realizing that people knew who he was. I have contacted Kristof over twitter to see if he pulled his Weibo down himself or was in fact censored. So far he has not replied.

UPDATE: Kristof ignored my queries over Twitter but did tweet that his Weibo account was shut:

“@nickkristof Chinese State Security never sleeps. My micro-blog account on Sina was deleted. So much for that experiment.”

I assume we will see mention of this incident in a future New York Times Kristof column.

END UPDATE

His first two Weibos likely did not endear him to Sina or censors:

????????[Can I mention FLG?]

???????????????[Delete my Weibos if you dare! My Dad is Li Gang]

I think Kristof took the wrong approach to using Weibo. The point is not what it is censored, it is what is allowed to be said on Weibo. And Kristof, as a long-time China hand, may have missed a real opportunity to engage in conversations with a lot of interesting people on Weibo, and to have access to a very illuminating window into contemporary China.

You can follow me on Weibo @billbishop and on Twitter @niubi.

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15 thoughts on “Nick Kristof Opens A Sina Weibo Account..Briefly

  1. He crossed the red line by mentioning FLG…I guess he would survive had he not done that….Also, I strongly doubt the censors at Sina Weibo are experienced to know who ??? really is…therefore I don’t think his account was deleted just because who he is, or was

  2. He crossed the red line by mentioning FLG…I guess he would survive had he not done that….Also, I strongly doubt the censors at Sina Weibo are experienced to know who ??? really is…therefore I don’t think his account was deleted just because who he is, or was

  3. Do some journalists really think their approaches to covering the authority of the Chinese state are limited to (a) to protest from a liberal standpoint or (b) to sympathize with authority (think Friedman)? To be sure, the worst parts of this calculus are to presume these two choices to be zero sum AND the best options for citizens of Greater China.

  4. Do some journalists really think their approaches to covering the authority of the Chinese state are limited to (a) to protest from a liberal standpoint or (b) to sympathize with authority (think Friedman)? To be sure, the worst parts of this calculus are to presume these two choices to be zero sum AND the best options for citizens of Greater China.

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    • Socio-political issues are legitimate topics of discussion. Censorship is what lacks maturity. China is strong enough to survive free thought and speech, but the government is too weak to accept a challenge in the marketplace of ideas.

    • Socio-political issues are legitimate topics of discussion. Censorship is what lacks maturity. China is strong enough to survive free thought and speech, but the government is too weak to accept a challenge in the marketplace of ideas.

  6. It’s pointlessly childish games like these that will keep the West busy while we Chinese are hard at work growing our economy at 8% a year. Keep up the good work.

  7. It’s pointlessly childish games like these that will keep the West busy while we Chinese are hard at work growing our economy at 8% a year. Keep up the good work.

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