Chinese censors scouring the internet of any words or symbols that could be used to refer to the Tiananmen Square massacre in the run-up to Memorial Sunday have a new target in their sights: a bridge in Beijing where a rare protest was held last year.
As the 34th anniversary of the 1989 massacre approaches, anyone searching in Chinese for the Sittung Bridge on Baidu Maps will draw a blank.
On October 13, 2022, white banners with large red letters critical of the Communist Party of China (CCP) are hung over a bridge near Peking University precinct ahead of a major CPC congress.
according to the pictures Posted on social media, the road sign to Situng Bridge has been removed. Baidu searches for Sitong Bridge return the message: “No relevant places found”.
The bridge can still be searched using the traditional Chinese characters used in Hong Kong and Taiwan, rather than the simplified characters used on the mainland. And related sites, such as “Sitong Bridge East” – a nearby bus station – can still be found in Baidu.
October’s Sitting Bridge banners called for “freedom,” “respect,” and the right to be “citizens, not slaves,” as well as the unseating of Xi Jinping, China’s leader, who was about to start an unprecedented third term as CPC general. secretary. Police arrested the man responsible for the banners, Peng Lifa, shortly after they appeared and have not been seen since.
He became known as the “Bridge Man”, a reference to the “tank man” of the Tiananmen Square protests in 1989.
Ping’s stunt precipitated the White Paper protests, which called for an end to the zero Covid policy that swept across major Chinese cities in late November and early December. It was a period of mass unrest the likes of which China had not seen since 1989.
The Tiananmen Square massacre is one of the most sensitive topics in China today. Discussion of the event, in which the People’s Liberation Army killed hundreds of protesters who were calling for political reform, is strictly controlled.
Over the years, activists have found creative ways to refer to the event, such as “May 35,” a covert reference to June 4, whose numbers are periodically censored from social media.
The letter “Si” in “Sitong Bridge” is the same as the letter for four, which makes it particularly sensitive. The anniversary itself is sometimes called “Internet Maintenance Day” because of the number of websites that go offline.
Additional research by Chi Hui Lin