China Deletes Egypt Song

Those behind the song say it was meant to "educate" local people while backing the Egyptian revolt.
2011-02-18
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An undated photo of Li Lei.
An undated photo of Li Lei.
RFA

China's censors moved swiftly on Friday to delete from video-sharing websites a revolutionary song in support of the Egyptian revolution which sparked a huge response from netizens, its author said.

"There has been a huge response," said the song's composer, Li Lei, whose online nickname is Red Uncle. "A lot of people have started following me on [popular chatroom service] QQ."

But he said the authorities had been quick to delete the song with accompanying video, as netizens had begun to share it on social networking sites.

The song, with lyrics by a poet identified as Snowman, was released onto Chinese video-sharing websites Tudou and Ku6 earlier this week, and had proliferated across at least 30 sites by 6.00 p.m. on Thursday, according to searches on Baidu and Google.

By Friday, only two video-sharing sites still carried it, with popular YouTube-style site Tudou producing an error message instead.

"Awakened lion"

The video, which includes limited English subtitles, addresses the "awakened lion" that is the Egyptian people.

"Go, go, go! Forge on ahead. The awakened lion is roaring," the lyrics read. "It will smash corruption, and bury the dictatorship."

"Mighty Egypt has no room for clowns. With no equality or human rights, these are the roots of poverty," it proclaims, against a background of news footage of demonstrators on Cairo's Liberation Square.

"May democracy shine on the Nile. Its people are no longer sheep," runs the lyrics, to music that may have once accompanied a hymn to late supreme leader Mao Zedong.

Li said he and his songwriting partner wanted to use the song to educate their own people, as well as to support the Egyptian revolution, which brought an end to the 30-year rule of President Hosni Mubarak, whose picture is seen spinning away in the video.

"The people of Egypt have demanded democracy," Li said. "Their political goals are very similar to those of the Chinese people."

"We felt we had to write this song in support of the Egyptian people," he said.

"At the same time, it's also an education for us [in China]. That was the aim."

Strikes a chord

The video was rapidly picked up and passed along by netizens across China, apparently striking a chord with many.

One netizen in the northern city of Chengde told Li that he had not heard such a rousing and motivating song in ages.

Another, a bus driver in Inner Mongolia, vowed to play it to his passengers.

"This guy said that he'd listened to it dozens of times over,"  Li said.

Many netizens were predicting that the video would be deleted by Chinese censors, who have been anxious to limit news and debate about the Egyptian revolution at home, for fear of sparking similar events in China.

The duo are no stranger to political controversy. Previous online hits have included a number titled "The Premier's Political Reform Song," an apparent dig at Premier Wen Jiabao's promises of political reform.

"Normally, you need an army to change the course of history," Li said. "But the ordinary people can also rise up in revolution."

"And I think the Internet can speed up the rate of social progress and help make history."

China concerned

Chinese authorities, concerned over domestic security, seek to limit public support for the Egyptian revolution with a careful campaign aimed at limiting reporting and debate during the recent protests in Tunisia and Egypt, which later spread to Iran, Bahrain, and Libya.

Government figures have recorded tens of thousands of "mass incidents" across the country every year, often sparked by land disputes, forced evictions, or allegations of corruption against local officials.

China's ruling Communist Party recently set up an office for maintaining stability, sending out guidelines and directives to every bureaucratic and law enforcement agency down to village and neighborhood committee level, experts say.

Reported by Qiao Long for RFA's Mandarin service. Translated and written in English by Luisetta Mudie.

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