Censors can stop people tweeting in China, but over at the cybersecurity agency they sing like canaries.
Employees of China’s Cyberspace Administration perform a choral anthem, a song titled “The Mind and Spirit of Cyberspace Security.”
Image from ProPublica.
By Sisi Wei and Yue Qiu
By arrangement with ProPublica.
China’s Internet censorship agency now has it’s own choral anthem, a song titled “The Mind and Spirit of Cyberspace Security.” The New York Times reported Thursday that the lyrics to the song—which praises the agency’s commitment “to the global village, evolving it into its most beautiful form”—were written by Wang Pingjiu, who also wrote the lyrics for the opening song to the 2008 Beijing Olympics.
ProPublica watched, translated, and subtitled the video.
Although the Times reported that copies of the video are being deleted quickly, ProPublica found copies easily via the popular Chinese social media site Sina Weibo.
In the song, employees proudly declare not only loyalty to their work, but that it is transforming the world into a better place. Lyrics include:
- “With loyalty and devotion, we watch over our domain day and night”
- “Contributing to the global village, evolving it into its most beautiful form”
- “In this universe, as hundreds of rivers flow across all of China, loyally searching for the sea, they carry with them the great Chinese culture and measure China’s greatness.”
While it is difficult to translate the exact meaning behind a song, one particular lyric could be referencing an old Chinese proverb—水能载舟，亦能覆舟—which stresses that while water can keep a boat afloat, it can also flip it over. The lyric which reads “Integrity ripples only from a clear and pure nation,” may be referencing the fact that without integrity, the nation would flip over the government.
The official “Mind and Spirit” values of the Cyberspace Administration is defined by the agency as “Loyalty, responsibility, innovation, integrity, unity and devotion.”
Integrity ripples only from a clear and pure nation./ We are unified in the center of the universe.
In 2013, ProPublica published 527 user-posted images that were deleted by censors at Sina Weibo, a Chinese microblogging site similar to Twitter. In an effort to discover what causes a user’s posts to be censored, ProPublica also found that the lives of users or their families were sometimes threatened because of material they had posted online.
Also, every day since Nov. 17, 2014, ProPublica has been testing whether the homepages of international news organizations are accessible to browsers inside China. See the results.
Here is our translation:
“The Mind and Spirit of Cyberspace Security” (《网信精神》)
网络强国 网在哪, 光荣梦想在哪
With loyalty and devotion, we watch over our domain day and night,
to serve our mission as the sun rises in the east.
Creating each day with innovation, embracing its brightness,
just like a beam of integrity that moves your heart.
Unifying the strength of all living things,
contributing to the global village, evolving it into its most beautiful form.
An Internet power—Where there is Internet, there are glory and dreams.
An Internet power—From the distant cosmos to the homes that we miss.
An Internet power—Telling the world that the Chinese Dream is lifting up China.
An Internet power—Each individual represents the whole nation.
In this universe, as all rivers loyally search for the sea,
they carry China’s great culture and measure China’s greatness.
Five thousand years of history condensed to illuminate innovation.
Integrity ripples only from a clear and pure nation.
We are unified in the center of the universe.
Our faith and devotion flow far and wide, like the everlong Yellow River and Yangtze.
Sisi Wei is a news applications developer for ProPublica. Previously, Wei was a graphics editor at the Washington Post, where she designed and developed interactive graphics.
Yue Qiu is a News Application Fellow at ProPublica.