Status: Apparently a hoax
Here's news of a hoax from China. (There seems to be more of them coming from there lately.) Massage Milk
(great name!) is one of the most popular blogs in China. It was featured in a Newsweek article last month about Chinese bloggers. But a few days ago its site went blank, and the assumption was that it had been forced offline by the Chinese government. At least, this is what news organizations such as the BBC
assumed. Turns out everyone was wrong. The disappearing-blog-act was just a hoax. Wang Xiaofeng, the author of Massage Milk, faxed a statement to the Interfax news agency
I just wanted to make fun of Western journalists? [content] doesn't need to be serious on the Internet. I don't like it that Western media take a distorted view of China, though China does have problems. I thought that if I closed my blog, it would stir their imagination and then they would begin blah blah. It really is as expected. So let's they have an April Fool's day in advance."
The question is: Is Wang Xiaofeng now telling the truth? Was his site's closure really an early April Fool's Day prank, or did the Chinese government actually have a hand in what happened? Some people
think the latter is the case. If it was a prank, it does seem kind of pointless (after all, why shouldn't people have believed the Chinese state would have done something like that? It's not like China is known for its open internet policy), which lends credence to the government-censorship theory.
The Wall Street Journal has posted an article
about the Massage Milk hoax. (And I should note that a second Chinese blog, Milk Pig, also participated in the self-shutdown hoax.) The WSJ notes that: "Beijing-based journalist Wang Xiaofeng of Massage Milk says he shut his blog down to make a point about freedom of speech -- just one directed at the West instead of at Beijing. He calls the Western press "irresponsible" and says that the hoax was designed "to give foreign media a lesson that Chinese affairs are not always the way you think."
Quite frankly, I don't get it. Is shutting his own blog down supposed to prove to everyone in the West that China actually allows more freedom of speech than journalists over here supposed?