News / Asia

In Shanghai, US Consulate's Microblog Disappears

Logo of Sina Corp's Chinese microblogging site,
Logo of Sina Corp's Chinese microblogging site, "Weibo," on a screen, Beijing, September 2011.
A social media account run by the U.S. Consulate in Shanghai has mysteriously disappeared from the Internet in China, prompting many to wonder if it is the work of government censors.

The Shanghai consulate's account on Sina Weibo, a popular Twitter-like microblog service owned by SINA Corporation, was known for its sometimes witty commentary, often on Chinese political and social issues.

But as of Friday, the consulate's account was still inaccessible, replaced by an error message that reads "temporarily unavailable" -- a message similar to those seen when accounts are deleted by government censors.

Consulate officials say they do not know why the account has been removed and that they are working to find out how the service can be restored.

But Jeremy Goldkorn, the editor of Danwei.com -- a website about Chinese media and Internet -- calls the incident "almost certainly" more than just a technical glitch.

"This is very common. Sina, sometimes at the request of governments, and sometimes on their own initiative to avoid getting in trouble with the government, shuts down accounts and deletes tweets [posts] -- they do all kinds of censorship," he said. "So almost certainly this is what happened."

It would not be the first dispute between American diplomats and the government of China, which employs a massive team of web censors to remove material deemed objectionable.

Last month, a senior Chinese environmental official slammed the U.S. Embassy in Beijing's Twitter account for regularly posting air quality readings that are much worse than the government's official figures.

According to Goldkorn, Beijing is likely even more displeased with posts that appear in the Chinese language on locally hosted services, such as Weibo. But he says he does not know of any instances of government censors completely shutting down a U.S. government-controlled account.

"They have deleted tweets from the U.S. government's Weibo accounts in the past, so in that sense it's not new," he said. "But I think this may be the first time that they have completely removed or disabled an account, on Weibo at least."

Popular Western social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter are blocked in China, forcing the country's estimated 500 million Internet users to more easily controlled versions, such as Sina Weibo.

Beijing defends its online censorship, dubbed the Great Firewall of China, by saying it is aimed at maintaining social stability, preventing the spread of false rumors, and blocking inappropriate material.

Analysts say they expect censors to work even harder to filter out controversial content in the coming months in an attempt to enforce calm as a once-in-a-decade leadership transition in the Communist Party draws closer.

Some information for this report was provided by AP.

You May Like

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Works to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Smithsonian senior research botanist Vicki Funk says ultimate goal is 'trying to get one-half of the diversity of plant life on Earth at the genus level in two years' More

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

Report from member of British think tank says Russian extradition requests keep targets from traveling More

US Lawmakers Weigh Turkish Anti-terror Moves

Turkey’s two-pronged campaign against Islamic State militants, Kurdish PKK forces provokes mixed reactions on Capitol Hill More

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
by: Anonymous
July 20, 2012 2:28 PM
Sometimes my friends and I were "deleted" from Facebook too. Maybe it's just a coincide, who knows! Btw, Chinese Gov't won't let ppl to use Facebook or twitter because ppl can talk whatever they want. If Chinese see this and get the idea, it will be horrific for Chinese Gov't! China and USA are different, so don't use American point of view to judge China.

by: Anonymous
July 17, 2012 10:23 PM
Thanks for China.Beat USA.

by: matt
July 16, 2012 2:23 AM
Thank goodness the Chinese government interferes with the local internet.
Can you imagine how awesome China would be with an open internet?
So thanks again to some dim witted party bosses for keeping its citizens in the dark.
In Response

by: Gordon
July 23, 2012 9:29 AM
you are so funny!

by: Anonymous
July 16, 2012 1:35 AM
china goverment always do this when they think some informations

need not let chinese people know.
In Response

by: CK from: VN
July 17, 2012 3:05 AM
US do the same when wikilick unveilled some info. that were considered not favor for the US. So don't blame other countries when they response with the same action.

by: Anonymous
July 14, 2012 3:39 AM
Why all my comments can not be passed the censoring of this Web site. I have writen hundreds of commments, but none of them can be posted in the site. A big satire!

by: georgefromChina from: China
July 13, 2012 10:03 PM
Sorry for this.but sometimes the government doesen't stand for its ppl.most of our Chinese are open-minded and hope to get connected with the rest of the world.
In Response

by: JohnnyWang from: Taiwan
July 15, 2012 10:41 PM
So, do you think all Chinese are idiots?
what do you mean to connect with the rest of world?
that's an insult of american!

by: joe from: usa
July 13, 2012 1:32 PM
Chinese are clueless thanks to their govt.
In Response

by: fu from: china
July 14, 2012 8:11 AM
as same as American.....thanks to your govt.
In Response

by: georgefromChina from: China
July 13, 2012 10:07 PM
eh,I don't want to argue about this,i just want to say,the definition of clueless is various.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponentsi
X
Henry Ridgwell
July 28, 2015 9:53 PM
A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video Special Olympics Athletes Meet International Friends

The Special Olympics are underway in Los Angeles, California, with athletes from 165 countries participating in an event that gives people with intellectual disabilities the chance to take part in an international competition. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports that for athletes and their families, it's also an opportunity to make new friends in an international setting.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Iran Nuclear Pact Wins Few New US Congressional Backers

Later this week, President Barack Obama returns from a trip to Africa to confront a U.S. Congress roiled by the nuclear accord with Iran, an agreement that has received the blessing of the U.N. Security Council. Days of intensive lobbying and testimony by top administration officials have won few new congressional supporters of the pact. VOA’s Michael Bowman reports.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Critics of Japan Defense Policy Focus on Okinawa

In Okinawa, many locals have long complained that Tokyo places an unfair burden on the tiny island by locating most of Japan's U.S. military bases there. As Japan's government moves toward strengthening and expanding the country's defense policies, opponents of those plans are joining local protesters in Okinawa, voicing concern about where the country is headed. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Okinawa.
Video

Video IS Uses Chemical Weapons in Syrian Attack

Islamic State militants have added a new weapon in their arsenal of fear: chemical weapons. VOA Kurdish service reporter Zana Omer was on the scene within hours of a recent attack in Hasakah, Syria, and has details of the subsequent investigation, in this report narrated by Miguel Amaya.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs