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Beijing Blogger Probes Anti-Satellite Missile

New America Media, Commentary, Xujun Eberlein Posted: Jan 23, 2007

Editor's Note: China has just confirmed that it shot down one of its own satellites, but Chinese bloggers and U.S.-based Chinese media have been discussing the incident for days. New America Media contributor Xujun Eberlein was born in Chongqing, China. She writes on China from her home in Boston, Mass.

Last Friday, www.people.com.cn, the online venue for China's government newspaper People's Daily, published a report titled "America's Wild Speculation on China's Anti-Satellite Missile." By Monday the article has been taken down, but not before it launched numerous arguments among Chinese Web surfers.

A popular Beijing blogger, Da Niu ("big ox"), summarizes the Web fights in a Sunday post as "Hawks say (the missile) boosting (Chinese) spirits, strengthens our country's power, not to mention that others are also doing it; Doves say this violates the outer space treaty, increases international distrust, and might cause a new round of outer space weapon competition."

In his post, Da Niu calls the people.com report an "export turned to import" type of news and expresses his distrust of that Web site. "I'm still not sure whether (a satellite) has been shot down or not. I have been waiting for the Xinhua agency or People's Daily to either deny the rumor and criticize the American media's nonsense, or to proudly announce that we are not only able to launch a satellite, we can also shoot it down."

But China's official print has kept totally silent. Instead, news spreads through the grapevine with the authorities warning: "talking about the anti-satellite missile is no longer permitted." And Da Niu notices that related reports are gone from sina.com, a popular commercial Web site and major blog space in China.

Translated foreign reports can still be seen posted in the blog section of sina.com.

"Now I just don't understand," the Beijing blogger writes, "shooting satellite isn't shooting airplane (masturbation), what is there that is so embarrassing to talk about? Doing it isn't a shame; not doing it is even more honorable."

Over twenty responses, both joking and serious, appear under Da Niu's original post. One reads, "Not telling our countrymen, having done it while keeping people guessing is China's tradition."

(link to Da Niu's Web site: http://www.bullog.cn/blogs/daynew/archives/23902.aspx)

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