Various media outlets around the world have carried reports about the tragic January 23 incident when Chinese security forces opened fire on Tibetan protesters in Northern Sichuan .
But no such headline was to be seen in the mainland Chinese news media. According to New York Times, the official Xinhua news agency in China had no reports of the shooting at all. Moreover, we now know that internet access near the incident was cut off to slow the spread of information.
Nevertheless, this piece of news did not remain contained but leaked onto the Chinese version of Twitter, Weibo. As everyone knows, this is one of the most popular websites used in China. Like any other social networking websites in China, it is tightly controlled by government censorship that included, in this instance, a ban on all discussions regarding the Tibetan protest. Despite the firewall, a few tweets have managed to leak out.
Hard-working Blogger Yaxue Cao has been gathering just such tweets, stating on his blog that a Weibo user tweeted about spotting a sniper on the roof of Jokhang Monastery in Lhasa, Tibet. Another Weibo user tweeted that she was surprised at seeing “so many armed police” in the same area. Those same police forces also demanded that she delete the pictures she took of them. Additionally, other tweets “reported” an unusual number of military vehicles full of soldiers on highways in Western and Northern Sichuan.
These tweets did not directly talk about the shooting, which is most likely the reason why they were able to get around the firewall. Although they do not talk about it, they allude to it. For an educated, worldly, and progressive Chinese Netizen, it would not difficult to connect the dots about what it’s all about. Fortunately, there are many of these kind of Netizens on Weibo.