Word of the Week: píng bì
Expats often like to complain about the censorship in China. They will say it’s about a lack of freedom, but usually what they mean is they can’t do a google search, update their Facebook, or stream porn.
I’ve been in China a long time and have certainly done my fair share of complaining that so many sites have been píng bì屏蔽 (including my own blog from time to time!)
píng bì can be used to mean “block” in the online sense of the Chinese government blocking a site. Like the English word “block” píng bì is often used in the passive, which means it’s preceded by the particle 被 bèi
在中国 Facebook被屏蔽了，上不了 zài zhōng guó Facebook bèi píng bì le, shàng bù liǎo (in China Facebook is blocked, you can’t get on)
You can also just say píng 屏 on its own, as a shorter way of saying the exact same thing.
他妈的，我的博客又是被屏了! tā mā de, wǒ de bó kè yòu shì bèi píng le (for fuck sake, my blog has been blocked again!)
But is censorship always that bad? When I do manage to get onto Facebook I’m often shocked by how easy it is to spread fake news or deliberately misleading information. In Chinese this is called 不实信息 bù shí xìn xī (literally “not real information”)
有些信息是应该被屏蔽了吧 yǒu xiē xìn xī shì yīng gāi bèi píng bì le ba (some information ought to be blocked)
I was therefore pleasantly surprised to find that one such type of “fake news” on a WeChat account I subscribe to had been píng bì le (blocked). Basically, I’m subscribed to a health and fitness blog, which I get over the Chinese social media app WeChat. One post (written by someone with no medical training or qualifications) claimed that drugs for high blood pressure were over-prescribed by doctors who wanted to sell “Western medicine” and not “Chinese medicine”.
There is certainly a debate to be had about whether drugs are over-prescribed, but someone with no medical training or knowledge should not be advising people to ignore their doctor just because the doctor is prescribing “Western medicine”.
A few days later I saw the article had been píng bì le, but it wasn’t simply a case of “page couldn’t be found, check your internet connection.” It actually stated clearly why the article had been píng bì le and which authority had advised this. I guess this article was blocked by WeChat rather than the Chinese government, but it still represents the type of censorship/ blocking I think is reasonable.
Blow is a photo of the blocked blog post (and the reason it was blocked) which might be good reading practice for some of you.