Ways Around the System
The following excerpts from a humorous article, which appeared in the Chongqing Evening News following Google’s announcement of its decision to withdraw from China, is emblematic of the Chinese internet counterculture:
“The Ancient Dove [guge (古鴿 ) a pun on the Chinese name for Google, 谷歌 ] is a species of the dove family which, within China’s borders, is rapidly moving towards extinction. It is also a kind of private search bird [pun on the Chinese for ‘search engine’].
This bird originated in North America with biologists estimating its place of origin as being in the vicinity of the city of Mountain View, Santa Clara County, California. For a period around the turn of the twentieth century it expanded across the planet but after 23 March 2010, this bird began a large-scale migration towards a port off China’s southern coast following which it is no longer to be found within China itself.
The best assessment of environmental experts is that the strange behaviour of this bird may be related to recent extremes of climate around the world and in particular to the emergence in China in recent years of ecological, environmental, climatic and geological damage.
In the face of difficulties the bird shows none of the resilience of the ‘grass mud horse’ [caonima (草泥马 ), depicted as a small alpaca-like animal which has achieved iconic status as a symbol of opposition to Internet censorship. It derives from a Chinese homophone, the characters for which are 肏你 妈 which translates as ‘f*ck your mother’] and simply migrates away, a cause of much sadness to animal lovers.
Initial research suggests that the departure of the Ancient Dove could result in another ferocious species of bird emerging with sharp claws and looking remarkably like the Ancient Dove but with a very different temperament. The Baidu bird [the character used for du means ‘poison’], this fabled indigenous species, has proliferated drastically and the Chinese population has been left with no option but to resort to this most ferocious of mythical birds which is full of venom and animosity, can only make its call in Chinese and consumes only money, as a substitute for the functions previously provided by the Ancient Dove ‘
The Ancient Dove on the other hand consumes all kinds of printed matter, can independently evaluate this material and has complex capacities for cataloguing it.
The natural enemy of the Ancient Dove is the river crab [hexie (河蟹 ), which sounds almost the same as the word for ‘harmonise’, 和 谐 , a euphemism employed by the censors to describe what they have done to the content of websites].
On the evening of 23 March, many animal lovers gathered at the Ancient Dove Garden in Beijing to take part in mourning ceremonies”.
Unsurprisingly, this article disappeared from Chinese search engines within days of publication.