Feed on Posts or Comments 01 October 2023

Media newlight on 13 Jan 2010

Will google.cn die?

On Twitter many people dismissed Global Times’s survey that 70% of its visitors support Chinese government against Google, who had just abandoned the self-imposed censorship on Google.cn and threated to close its business in China altogether.

The sad truth is that those who have made the effort of climbing over the GFW in order to access Twitter and like are belong to the 30%. In the same survey, over half the participants said their online activity won’t be affected by Google’s leave. This figure looks to increase if nothing happens.

Shanghaiist’s has a good summary of the Google v. China standoff. On the Guardian website, Tania Branigan has canvassed the opinions of some bloggers and media insiders. Whether Google decided to end its self-censorship purely out of moral reasons I’m not sure. I agree with some of Evgeny Morozov’s analysis. I guess it’s more likely they are fed up with the restraint and criticism while not seeing much gains in Chinese market.

Anyway, what Google has done is to blow it into the open, burn the bridge, making the stakes incredibly high. Now Google.cn is not censored, will the servers be forced to shut down, or moved out of China? And then what? Will Chinese government have to block Google.com as well?

Among the multinationals in China, Google is the one who has the power, influence and resources to make a clear stand on censorship. And now it has the will too. For that it should be praised.

Media newlight on 18 Nov 2009

Obama left China with a new name

I was a bit surprised to learn that US embassy in China is working to ‘standardize the translation of common vocabulary in Chinese.’ They want White House to be translated as Bai Wu (白屋), instead of Bai Gong (白宫, meaning white palace), and Obama to be Oubama (欧巴马) instead of Aobama (奥巴马).

Well they are fighting a losing battle. Bai Gong has been commonly used to call the White House for many years (I doubt it has ever been called anything else). Bai Wu is plainly ridicules. I’m not sure whether this is political correctness or purely bureaucratic – in order for Chinese not to confuse President Obama with a monarch?

Washington Post also managed to read into the choice of Aobama and Oubama as a political gesture. Aobama is used in China mainland, while Oubama is used in Hong Kong and Taiwan. So Beijing’s insistence of using Aobama in the face of American ‘standardization’ must have some political undercurrent? It even suggests Ao (奥) in Chinese could mean ‘difficult to understand’, ‘abstruse’ and ‘obscure’, as if using Aobama is Beijing’s way of subtly demeaning Obama. I have to say this is fanciful over-reading. The simple fact is Aobama or Oubama doesn’t have much difference. Aobama, if you read aloud in Mandarin Chinese, sounds better, more masculine I would say, than Oubama. The character Ao itself, meanwhile, belongs to a pool of Chinese characters often used to translate foreign names, not associated with ‘difficult to understand’ etc. in such case.

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