For Chinese Netizens, SOPA is Another Great Firewall

“Now they’re copying us to build up a wall. It’s like after climbing over the wall, we then bump into another one. It’s crazy!! (現在等於他們自己也照著我們這樣造個牆,於是我們以後翻牆出去,又被他們的牆牆住[,]這簡直瘋了嗎!)”  On China's Sina Weibo microblogging service a Chinese Internet user with nickname “gap foreseeable (落差可見)” expresses concern over the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), which expected to brought to a vote in U.S. House of Representatives before the end of the year. The Chinese government has long been criticized by Americans for obstructing the free flow of information through a filtering system popularly known as the Great Firewall. Now it is Chinese neitzens’ turn to sneer at proposals for a Made-in-America Great Firewall.

Most Chinese-language blogs and microblog messages emphasize  the disastrous outcomes that the bill could bring. What people worry about most are bill's endorsement of surveillance by web services and Internet companies to prevent “infringing” content, and the implications for individual privacy. A post written by blogger Richard (pseudonym) on the Taiwan-based website introduces key concepts of SOPA and asks readers to imagine what it will be like to live under the bill. This post has been widely circulated around websites  Taiwan, Hong Kong, and China:


“Try to imagine that, one day, you’re in Taiwan and live a life like this: every website is forced to cooperate with the government and subject to be censored. The websites that you visit everyday can be blocked anytime. Every mail you send will also be censored. There is no more privacy. As for what will happen in China [under the same scenario]? Sigh…a long long sigh…”

The Taiwanese media company Next media Animation has even made an animated clip about SOPA, in which black-suited Hollywood businessman battle Internet company guys who are backed up by net users. SOPA is personified with cops using pepper spray against people who might use pirated works.

The comments from China weibo users are even more bitter, and scorning –both at the United States and Chinese government.


“s7evenz: It looks like that we can finally export our technology and value to the Americans. We’re strong, advanced, and absolutely right!”


“SemKem: I expect to see that the Americans enjoy the same treatment as what the subjects of the Holy Empire have.” [“Holy Empire” is a sarcastic term used by Chinese netizens for the Chinese government.]

Aside from those sarcastic comments, Chinese blogger Michael Anti sees the introduction of SOPA into legislation as a conflict between opposing interests among rival groups.


“To put it simply, traditional media and consumer products companies use SOPA as a shield to prolong their golden days. However, the same bill will kill Internet industry and users. The former is only being nostalgic, but the latter has sworn to kill the bill. Therefore, the groups who oppose the bill will definitely fight to the last minute. The blow on the bill will be getting fiercer as it is scrutinized in the House committee.”

Anti also predicts that there is slim possibility for the bill to become law. However, “the introduction of the bill does also stage a grand legislation war,” Anti concludes.


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