Chinese Internet Users React to Bo Xilai Scandal

Bo Xilai ( July 2011 file photo)
Bo Xilai ( July 2011 file photo)

Heavy keyword censorship on Chinese microblogs did not stop Chinese Internet users from hotly debating the deepening scandal surrounding former high-profile politician Bo Xilai, whose wife is under investigation for the murder of a British businessman.

Wednesday, searches for those involved in the case produced no results on China's most widely used microblog service, Sina Weibo.  Related searches, such as for Chongqing, the city where Bo had been party secretary, prompted the response: “According to Chinese rules and regulations, the following results are not being shown.”

Users circumvented the blocks by referring to the political scandal as “the major news.”  A Sina Weibo list of the 10 most debated topics on Wednesday, widely reposted online, included three Bo Xilai-related phrases.

The founder of Chinese media monitoring website, Jeremy Goldkorn, says even sophisticated government attempts to censor the Internet will not be able to completely prevent information from spreading.

“If people put together a bunch of words that are normally fine, it is just much more difficult to track," Goldkorn explained, "because you can not use filtering or software to track them. If they do not mention somebody's name [or] they do not mention any of the 'bad words,' [then] the speed of Weibo does allow these things to spread."

Many comments on Weibo focused on the lack of public information in China about what is really happening inside the ruling Communist Party.

“The major news is only told by officials," user "Reserved Cold" wrote on his blog stream. "Who can tell me what the real situation is like?”

Some expressed concern about making public comments on the matter. “In the beginning I wanted to say something about the major news. I have braced my nerve but still I can't find the courage,” a user from Beijing wrote, “I am not afraid of the character limitation. I am not afraid that they close my blog. What I am really afraid of is that for a word too much I will be detained.”

As the political scandal surrounding Bo has widened, Chinese authorities have increased efforts to suppress online rumors, but some Internet users express their thanks for information they gather online.  Beijing University economist Xia Yeliang said, “If it were not for these rumors, how can people hope to get real news from the official media?”

Kaiser Kuo, director of international communication for, China's most used search engine, says Chinese Internet firms serve two masters - the government and consumers.

“None of these Internet companies labors under the illusion that people prefer censored search results, but at the same time, we are multiple stakeholder companies," Kuo said. "We are obliged to obey the law in China, and we are also sort of compelled to explore the elasticity of our boundaries.  So, it is tough.”

Kuo says the developing Internet in China represents two opposing forces to him.

“On the one hand, you have this ratcheting up of controls, but in the same period essentially, you've seen the Internet develop into a full-fledged, or mostly fully-fledged, public sphere in Chinese life. This is unprecedented. There's never been a time in China's history where there's been a comparably large and impactful public sphere,” Kuo said.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: An Ordinary Chinese
April 18, 2012 3:21 AM
So it is with Bo Xilai, however, what is true is that he is the least and most trivial comparing to those who are stably sitting on the throne of the CP. And that is the real truth needlessly to mention for any ordinary Chinese.

by: An Ordinary Chinese
April 18, 2012 3:18 AM
All these things are to be answered for -- the plot behind the scenario of Bo Xilai Scandal. By the way, corruption is fairly a common phenomenon on this blue plannet. This is specially common to those politicians of all countries under different civilization background and especially to the Chinese ones.

by: somebody
April 18, 2012 2:06 AM
i don't know the whole story, but i think it's a good thing, confliction promote the development of society structure.i hope China can step into civilized country quicker.

by: adk
April 16, 2012 8:11 PM
I'm not so clear of the whole story but maybe Bo was trying to find a solution to solve china's bribery & coruption! apparently China's current system can do nothing on the social conduct.

by: gaga
April 16, 2012 12:00 AM
It was a big plot....I stand by bo...IN china ,we can't do this comment in the internet.....

by: a common Chinese
April 13, 2012 11:06 PM
Bo Xilai is a very nice guy.He have done so much for Chinese people,especially for the poorer.Maybe,At the same time ,he offended many people.I hope he will be OK.I don't want him to be the second Zu Rongji.Waiting for the truth.

by: kk
April 13, 2012 6:40 PM
waiting for the truth.

by: Wangchuk
April 13, 2012 6:33 AM
Bo Xilai's removel wasn't for corruption as nearly all CCP leaders are corrupt. His crime was allowing the political scandal to be public & failing to control his lackeys like Wang LiJun. Plus Hu & Wen were getting jealous of Bo's popularity in Chongqing.

by: CcyY
April 12, 2012 12:07 AM
The best way to refute rumors is to reveal truth in public

by: Xe Xi Xo
April 11, 2012 10:47 PM
Well Bo Xilai is a playing card in the poker deck of Most Wanted Chinese. Literally. He is only a 3 of Hearts though... perhaps he's more important than that?
Comments page of 2

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against ISi
November 24, 2015 3:04 AM
The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video After Paris Attacks, France Steps Up Fight Against IS

The November 13 Paris attacks have drawn increased attention to Syria, where many of the suspected perpetrators are said to have received training. French President Francois Hollande is working to build a broad international coalition to defeat Islamic State in Syria and in Iraq. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video US, Cambodian Navies Pair Up in Gulf of Thailand

The U.S. Navy has deployed one of its newest and most advanced ships to Cambodia to conduct joint training drills in the Gulf of Thailand. Riding hull-to-hull with Cambodian ships, the seamen of the USS Fort Worth are executing joint-training drills that will help build relations in Southeast Asia. David Boyle reports for VOA from Preah Sihanouk province.

Video Americans Sharpen Focus on Terrorism

Washington will be quieter than usual this week due to the Thanksgiving holiday, even as Americans across the nation register heightened concerns over possible terrorist threats. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports new polling data from ABC News and the Washington Post newspaper show an electorate increasingly focused on security issues after the deadly Islamic State attacks in Paris.

Video World Leaders Head to Paris for Climate Deal

Heads of state from nearly 80 countries are heading to Paris (November 30-December 11) to craft a global climate change agreement. The new accord will replace the Kyoto Protocol on Climate Change that expired in 2012.

Video Uncertain Future for Syrian Refugee Resettlement in Illinois

For the trickle of Syrian refugees finding new homes in the Midwest city of Chicago, the call to end resettlement in many U.S. states is adding another dimension to their long journey fleeing war. Organizations working to help them integrate say the backlash since the Paris attacks is both harming and helping their efforts to provide refugees sanctuary. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.

Video Creating Physical Virtual Reality With Tiny Drones

As many computer gamers know, virtual reality is a three-dimensional picture, projected inside special googles. It can fool your brain into thinking the computer world is the real world. But If you try to touch it, it’s not there. Now Canadian researchers say it may be possible to create a physical virtual reality using tiny drones. VOA’s George Putic reports.

Video New American Indian Village Takes Visitors Back in Time

There is precious little opportunity to experience what life was like in the United States before its colonization by European settlers. Now, an American Indian village built in a park outside Washington is taking visitors back in time to experience the way of life of America's indigenous people. Carol Pearson narrates this report from VOA's June Soh.

Video Even With Hometown Liberated, Yazidi Refugees Fear Return

While the northern Iraqi town of Sinjar has been liberated from Islamic State forces, it's not clear whether Yazidi residents who fled the militants will now return home. VOA’s Mahmut Bozarslan talked with Yazidis, a religious and ethnic minority, at a Turkish refugee camp in Diyarbakır. Robert Raffaele narrates his report.

Video Nairobi Tailors Make Pope Francis’ Vestments

To ensure the pope is properly attired during his visit, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops asked the Dolly Craft Sewing Project in the Nairobi slum of Kangemi to make the pope's vestments, the garments he will wear during the various ceremonies. Jill Craig reports.

Video Cross-Border Terrorism Puts Europe’s Passport-Free Travel in Doubt

The fallout from the Islamic State terror attacks in Paris has put the future of Europe’s passport-free travel area, known as the "Schengen Zone," in doubt. Several of the perpetrators were known to intelligence agencies, but were not intercepted. Henry Ridgwell reports from London European ministers are to hold an emergency meeting Friday in Brussels to look at ways of improving security.

Video El Niño Brings Unexpected Fish From Mexico to California

Fish in an unexpected spectrum of sizes, shapes and colors are moving north, through El Niño's warm currents from Mexican waters to the Pacific Ocean off California’s coast. El Nino is the periodic warming of the eastern and central Pacific Ocean. As Faiza Elmasry tells us, this phenomenon thrills scientists and gives anglers the chance of a once-in-a-lifetime big catch. Faith Lapidus narrates.

Video Terrorism in Many Forms Continues to Plague Africa

While the world's attention is on Paris in the wake of Friday night's deadly attacks, terrorism from various sides remains a looming threat in many African countries. Nigerian cities have been targeted this week by attacks many believe were staged by the violent Islamist group Boko Haram. In addition, residents in many regions are forced to flee their homes as they are terrorized by armed militias. Zlatica Hoke reports.

Video Study: Underage Marriage Rate Higher for Females in Pakistan

While attitudes about the societal role of females in Pakistan are evolving, research by child advocacy group Plan International suggests that underage marriage of girls remains a particularly big issue in the country. VOA’s Ayesha Tanzeem reports how such marriages leads to further social problems.

VOA Blogs