US President Barack Obama\’s inauguration speech left China\’s media scrambling on Wednesday, with many attempting to censor his references to communism and dissent.
However the attempts appeared to backfire after their omission in Chinese translations drew even more attention to the words on Internet forums.
“Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions,” Obama said in his speech.
State broadcaster China Central Television broadcast the speech live, but when the translator said communism, the channel cut to an awkwardly smiling news anchor, Beijing-based lawyer Xu Zhiyong wrote on his blog.
“To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist,” Obama continued.
China\’s two biggest Internet portals Sina and Sohu omitted the word communism from the translations of the speech on their websites and cut the line about dissent entirely.
However, English versions of the speech appeared in some Chinese media intact.
The state-run, English language China Daily, which is aimed mainly at a foreign audience, concluded its front page story with the dissent quote. It also ran the full English text of the speech on its website.
The interruptions to the live broadcast and carefully edited translations indicate China\’s propaganda officials were monitoring the speech, said Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project at the University of California.
The omissions were not necessarily due to concerns about ideological differences, but rather how ordinary Chinese might respond to Obama\’s words, Xiao told AFP.
“Propaganda filtering is one thing, but there are certain concepts, phrases or lines that ring true among the Chinese people and that is what the Chinese propaganda people really want to filter out,” he said.
“It\’s not about perspective, it\’s about what resonates among the Chinese people and will make people say \’That\’s true.\'”