Olympics-China Media Watch: Look at picture, don’t say a word

Bloggers in China know that certain words are easily picked out by censors’ keyword searches. So they don’t use them, and their posts stay up longer. But images are harder to detect, particularly if they aren’t labeled.

Today, somebody calling himself Qian Tiexian started a thread at the blog aggregator Bullog with the title “Two children.” The text reads only “Look at the picture, don’t speak.” Beneath it (just in case it has disappeared by the time you get there) are two photos. The first shows basketball star Yao Ming and the 9-year-old earthquake survivor Lin Hao walking side by side during Friday’s opening ceremony. The moving image of the gentle giant and the fierce little warrior hero at the head of the Chinese national delegation is familiar to any one of the billions of people who watched the ceremony. Below it is another photo, this one of a very small boy with a cut on his face holding a handwritten sign in Chinese and English: “Shandong Huimin county government illegally sold my grandmother’s house and took away the money!”

The photo by Agence France-Presse has been making the rounds on the Chinese Web, and has made several appearances on Bullog in the last few days. Today’s post elicited a variety of comments. Here is a sample:

“I also don’t speak, just look.”

“Done in Chinese and English together. This baby has a bright future.”

“Good child, whatever the party demands, you must sacrifice.”

“If the second child wrote the sign himself, I will agree that he is a talented kid. If not, he’s no different from the baby of one of those beggars asking for money on the street. If the adults really loved the child, they wouldn’t let him do this kind of activity to elicit compassion.”

“The children are both good children, the adults are ruining things.”

“Old Qian, you can’t goof off, be careful what you write. Otherwise everyone will worry about you!”