At the intersection of labour activism and censorship in China:
I’ve been wondering why the word “strike” has suddenly been unblocked on Sina Weibo, and I may have found some leads.
My suspicion was that there may have been some story that was significant to someone, or some organization, within the government that regarding a strike-related story, thereby requiring the keyword to be unblocked. In the past, I’ve called these “party-promoted posts”, associated with the unblocking of keywords related to sensitive issues.
The word strike has always been barred as a keyword search across the various Weibos. Keegan Elmer relates its lifting to a strike by Chinese bus drivers in Singapore (ie PRC citizens, not Singaporean Chinese) a report of which duly appeared in the People's Daily. Keegan Elmer relates this to tension between China and Singapore. I've not personally seen much sign of this, except maybe that Beijing thinks Singapore is taking a too pro-ASEAN line in the various South China Sea disputes. At any rate, the basic takeout is that the higher organs wanted a peek at the story, so let there be light.
Elsewhere, Baidu, China's Google equivalent, noted that the phrase 'Labour Contract Law' was one of its most search for items last year. So we can see that labour disputes continue to be a live issue.
Lastly, Mr Elmer, proprietor of the Bagong Watch blog, is also the author of Battle Lines in the Chinese Blogosphere: Keyword Control as a tactic in managing mass incidents, which is well worth your time. Extract:
This paper uses these case studies to examine which acts of keyword control might be part of a set of coordinated directives in a broader media campaign over a particular politically sensitive issue. Observations based on these case studies suggest that changes in keyword control on microblogs might be the earliest detectable sign of shifts in the government’s position in their response to politically sensitive issues.
Ah, yes: censorship as neural map of the Party's thought processes