Internet Management: On Stage, and Backstage

Remark: the following news article refers to weibo (微博), or weiboke (微博客). This doesn’t necessarily confine the set of rules in question to‘s Weibo, but to all kinds of microblogs, as Weibo simply means “microblog”, and any microblog platform other than’s Weibo would be a “weibo” in Chinese, too. Besides, it seems unlikely that a set of legislation or rules would single out just one provider. I’ll therefore translate weibo as microblogs in the following paragraphs — JR

[Update, Dec 16: while these rules seem to apply only for the Beijing metropolitan area, a BBC report suggests that they will affect all providers registered in Beijing – this would include Sina and Sohu. One could argue that this effectively turns the “Beijing city government’s regulations” into national regulations.]

China National Radio (CNR) Net, Beijing, December 16, 2011 – Beijing city government has announced the implementation of “Beijing City Microblog Development Management and other regulations”, saying that any organization or individual who registers an account with microblogs must provide information about his or her real identity, and websites that run microblogs must ensure that this information is true. The regulations also require that no accounts with false identity information are created, and that no “fans” must be traded.

中广网北京12月16日消息 北京市16日公布实施《北京市微博客发展管理若干规定》,提出任何组织或者个人注册微博客账号,应当使用真实身份信息;网站开展微博客服务,应当保证注册用户信息真实。规定还要求不得制造虚假的微博客用户,即不得买卖“粉丝”。

The regulations also demand that any organization or individual who registers a microblog account, writes, reproduces, publishes or disseminates information must use real ID information, and must not do so by a false identity, or an identity of someone else, and that companies and organizations must register with a code number.


A spokesperson for Beijing’s internet administration department said that the real identity information has to be given to the website running a microblog, while the username could be chosen freely. More folksy-put, there would be “a real name backstage, and a freely-chosen name on stage”.


The regulations point out that by adhering to the principles of active use, scientific development, legal administration, maintenance of security, the building and use of micro blogs, providers should play a positive role in society.


From a practical perspective, websites which operated micro blogs and users alike were called upon to disseminate information orderly, and to protect their legal interests. The public in general called for an honest network system, and the websites and micro bloggers should therefore communicate true, accurate information, and should not communicate false and harmful information.


The regulations stipulate that “in this city [i. e. Beijing], website operators and micro blog providers must go through the relevant business license approval procedures, and apply to the city government internet content administration departments, in accordance with the law, for auditing and approval”.


In a somewhat more detailed article*), the city government’s regulations are quoted as requiring already existing operators and providers to get the formalities of application and approval done within three months, as there had been “some” cases where operators and micro bloggers hadn’t performed their duties in accordance with the laws and regulations, and to implement the regulations with the users.


I seem to remember several previous attempts by either national or local governments to make the Chinese internet more “transparent”. If this local test in Beijing’s metropolitan area proves to be more successful, and if it is going to be spread to the rest of the country, remains to be seen. It would obviously make the CCP’s supervision much easier, and it would also be in line with the “social management” concept,



*) originally published by‘s IT website, republished by CNR.



» Online Guidance of Public Opinion, Nov 28, 2011
» BoZhu Interview: A Common Virtual Space, October 23, 2011
» Learn from Japan: a Normal Internet, April 23, 2011
» The Center Forever, March 13, 2011


7 Responses to “Internet Management: On Stage, and Backstage”

  1. I am not sure if this really is step back. I still believe that most microbloggers are not too afraid of, drinking a cup of tea once in a while. The funny thing is that they think they are gaining control over the people, but in the long run it will be the other way around. We will see. But I am not as pessimistic. One person, one voice. And who will make all these voices shut up? They are loosing this game…


  2. Woeser is hardly the world’s most fearful blogger, but when reading her post, and especially the commenting thread with her and readers discussing her “invitation” to and fro about two years ago, I could clearly sense a great headache (to put it carefully).

    The low-key warning things start with is something that would scare many Germans shitless. I can tell – because some Falun Gong protestors, years ago, held a mirror into every German’s face who went into China’s Hamburg consulate. Compared to a Chinese (micro) blogger, those Germans had comparatively little to lose, even in a worst case – if they had been refused a visa for talking with a FLG practitioner, i. e., if their wildest imagination would have turned into reality.

    I may overestimate the role of fear in China’s political system – maybe. But I believe that you are underestimating it, Neru.


  3. There is only one way to guarantee a rather safe and unharmed life: transparency. Modern industrial society is built on a very dangerous machinery. You can make a lot of money with it. But you have to be transparent to ensure that life is still safe. Modern western society is a society where anyone who puts someone else into danger loses his job immediately. This is more important than the right to vote.

    What do you fear more: To drink a cup of tea at the police station or that your newborn child drinks poisonous milk? I would rather sit in a prison than live in a country where highspeed trains fall of a bridge and the rescue operations are stopped because the Great China show must go on.

    Wen Bo has no problem to drink tea.

    Click to access TAZ_Wen%20Bo_27Nov2011_11-12-07.pdf

    Who needs freedom when you do not even have the certainty to be able live a simple live. Yes, it is fear that is making the people act or not. But more and more people realize that they may loose even more if they do not act.

    It is not political it has become a question of survival. Chinese people fear the greedy people. Politicians or not, who cares?


  4. Neru, I obvously don’t know your personal history, but my impression is that du vergaloppierst dich. How can you know what you’d do if you were a Chinese citizen?



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