The jury is still out on whether western protesters benefit or harm their cause when it comes to China and the Olympics. The international torch relay exposed the enormous gulf in perceptions, with demonstrators seemingly unaware of how much they had solidified domestic support for the government here in China. But that’s not what this short post is about.
Today’s subject is a rather unusual article in the Guardian, in which the reporters unintentionally cast aspersions on the writing skills of one of the free-Tibet activists who unfurled a banner in Beijing on Wednesday.
“Mystery of the bowdlerised blog as Beijing frees four after Tibet protest” says the headline. The article goes on to claim that someone, presumably the Chinese security services, has hacked a pro-Tibet website and altered a travel account by protester Lucy Fairbrother.
The posting, A Short Stay in Tibet, begins with a description of life there and turns into a polemic against China, but appears to have been clumsily changed to read more sympathetically.
The blog juxtaposes severe criticism of what Fairbrother saw in Tibet with awkward words of approval.
Read the rest of the article here. The Guardian includes a screenshot of one of the “bowdlerised” sections:
And here’s a screenshot of the whole paragraph, archived by the appropriately named Internet Archive in October, 2006:
The full account is here. The full 2006 archive of Lucy Fairbrother’s account is here (proxy needed in China for both links). The two are identical, so if the Chinese security forces hacked the site, they did it two years ago and no one has noticed in all this time. Rather unlikely. Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean… well, it doesn’t mean you’re not just being paranoid.
To me, there is nothing surprising about Fairbrother’s descriptions at all. Anyone who has ever been anywhere outside of their own country must have experienced the disconnect between what they expected beforehand and what they actually saw.