China

Chinese 'netizens' inundate Obama's Google+ page

  • 29 February 2012
  • From the section China
US President Barack Obama tours the Great Wall on 18 November 2009 during his trip to China
Despite China's Great Firewall, internet users have been able to reach Barack Obama's Google+ page

President Obama's page on Google's social network site has been inundated with messages in Chinese after restrictions in China were removed.

Every current topic on Mr Obama's Google+ page attracted hundreds of Chinese comments.

Some contributors made jokes; others said they were occupying the site in the style of western Occupy campaigns.

Google+ is normally blocked in China along with other social media that the authorities deem unacceptable.

Since Google+ was launched in 2011, software known informally as the Great Firewall had appeared to block it within China.

But on 20 February 2012 internet-users in many parts of China found they could gain access to the site - prompting some to suggest occupying it, in a tongue-in-cheek reference to the Occupy Wall Street campaign.

On 24 and 25 February, to the consternation of American readers, every current topic on President Obama's 2012 election campaign page attracted hundreds of comments, apparently from China.

Their exact provenance cannot be verified, but the expressions contributors used were in the style of mainland China and in simplified Chinese.

A few appealed for the liberty of the civil rights activist Chen Guangcheng, who is under house arrest.

Others asked about a recent political intrigue in south-west China, in which one of the country's top policemen, Wang Lijun, spent a day in the US consulate in Chengdu for undisclosed reasons.

But many simply voiced delight at their freedom to speak: they talked about occupying the furniture and bringing snacks and soft drinks - internet jargon for being first to post in response to messages and for observing the debate.

The White House in Washington has not commented on the upsurge of Chinese interest in President Obama's campaign site.

But it has prompted one poster to suggest that if China ever abandoned its internet restrictions, the United States would have to protect its social media with a Great Firewall of its own.