A violent animated film depicting an unjust world in which rabbits revolt against their tiger overlords has been deleted from a Chinese video-sharing website ahead of the Year of the Rabbit, its creator said.
"It has been deleted," said director Wang Bo, who created the South Park-style cartoon, which features babies poisoned by toxic milk and rabbit children run over by tigers.
"It's probably because the cartoon is very violent," said Wang, whose film references the recent Sanlu tainted milk scandal, which sickened thousands of infants, and the death of a Hebei college student hit by the car of a 23-year-old police chief's son.
"I don't know how other people will see this," Wang said. "But the inspection authorities frequently delete things that I create."
A Chinese video, featuring barely disguised satire of today's authoritarian regime, disappears without explanation.
"Of course I don't like to have my stuff deleted, but maybe it broke one of their rules ... I'm not sure exactly which rule ... There's not really much I can do about it," Wang added.
But other commentators said the gruesome content pointed at real problems in today's China, and gave vent to simmering public anger over widespread official corruption and shoddy safety standards.
'Background of social realism'
The cartoon went viral on video-sharing sites in recent days, suggesting it touched a nerve with Chinese netizens.
"I have seen this cartoon," said Ai Xiaoming, literature professor at Guangzhou's Zhongshan University. "I thought it was extremely clever. Everything that happens in it is the sort of thing that people today are worrying about."
"It was made against a background of social realism, and especially the anger depicted," Ai said. "They have turned people's real feelings about events into a whole meaning system."
"They have managed to express things which people are unable to express in any other way."
Guangxi-based author Jing Chu said the authorities appeared to be stepping up controls over the Internet, inhibiting ordinary people's freedom of expression in favor of social stability.
"I saw the rabbit cartoon. It exposes a number of problems which we find in contemporary Chinese society," Jing said.
"The authorities are controlling the Internet ever more tightly now, because they are afraid."
"The government has always relied on lies and terror to control China, [but] sometimes on the Internet you can still see something authentic."
Creating 'a pressure cooker'
Jing warned that suppressing the Internet as the last forum for free expression would lead to greater social instability.
"If you close off every possible [outlet] then it turns into something like a pressure cooker, which is extremely worrying," Jing said.
The cartoon opens with baby rabbits who die horribly from drinking "Sanlu" milk formula, made by the now-defunct Chinese dairy giant that was at the center of a huge scandal in 2008 over tainted milk.
The milk was blamed for killing six infants and sickening 300,000 others.
The rabbits in the video refer to the Chinese Year of the Rabbit, which begins on Feb. 3, while 2010 was the Year of the Tiger.
At the end of the video, the rabbits stage a mass uprising against the tigers, sparking general bloodbath.Reported by He Ping for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.