Skip to main content

A Beijing citizen stands in front of tanks on the Avenue of Eternal Peace in Beijing in this June 5, 1989 file photo during the crushing of the Tiananmen Square uprising.

Arthur Tsang/Reuters

Today's date won't show up.

You can search "June 4th" or "Jun 4th" and results will not come up. You can try with Chinese characters, or in their Pinyin transliteration, or in English or even French and the result will not appear on your screen.

Even "today" won't work. Nor "tomorrow."

Story continues below advertisement

June 4, the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre is again keeping censors busy in China.

As in past years, there is a long list of words that people in China are blocked from searching on Weibo (the Chinese version of Twitter) around the time of the anniversary of the bloody incident.

According to a compilation from the Citizen Lab, at the University of Toronto's Munk School of Global Affairs, this year's banned search keywords include various combinations of the numbers 6, 4, 8 and 9.

Search terms such as "Tiananmen," "square," "tank" and "Changan Avenue," which leads to the central square, and names of leaders of the 1989 protests were obviously blocked.

But Citizen Lab researchers found that even Roman numerals for 6 and 4 ("VIIV"), or the mixing of numbers and letters such as "8q b 4" (89 6 4) or other ways to describe June 4, such "May 35" or "April 65th."

Another anti-censorship website reported that at times the authorities tried a more fine-tuned, filtered approach, allowing only some search results to come through.

By the date of the anniversary, the Chinese characters for "yesterday," "today," and "tomorrow" were also blocked, according to China Digital Times, a watchdog website based in California.

Story continues below advertisement

The censorship also applied to anything that could be construed as a way to commemorate the massacre of pro-democracy protesters in Beijing's central square.

Queries about black clothes were blocked, as were candle emoticons.

Still, some managed to sneak through a reference to the crackdown.

Buzzfeed reported that, three days ago, a Chinese web portal, NetEase.com featured a photo gallery of children toys. In the middle of the slideshow was a Lego recreation of the iconic photo of "Tank Man," the protester who tried to stop a column of tanks heading into the square.

Report an error Editorial code of conduct
Comments

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • All comments will be reviewed by one or more moderators before being posted to the site. This should only take a few moments.
  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed. Commenters who repeatedly violate community guidelines may be suspended, causing them to temporarily lose their ability to engage with comments.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.
Cannabis pro newsletter