According to unconfirmed reports now widely circulating on Sina Weibo, Deutsche Welle, Germany’s international broadcaster, has been trying, but failing, to get in touch with the office of Xiamen Vice Mayor Zang Jiebin (臧杰斌) who claimed recently that Germany’s commonfolk “have a very hard time accessing the Internet” and that Germany’s control of the internet exceeds that of China’s.
To find out how Zang came to arrive at those conclusions, Deutsche Welle has attempted to get in touch with the Xiamen municipal government, Zang’s secretary, and the propaganda department.
When contacted, Zang’s secretary, a man surnamed Luo, said that the vice mayor was not at work and would not be able to answer those questions. When pressed further, Luo said that the propaganda department (we’re assuming he meant the municipal one) was in charge of entertaining those questions. When contacted though, the propaganda office said those questions were not under their purview, and neither were they clear about the situation.
Incidentally, searches for “臧杰斌” on Sina Weibo now yield the error message, “According to relevant laws and regulations, the search results may not be shown.” That’s right. Zang has officially become a sensitive term. So much for freedom on the Chinese internet.
The vice mayor has also been laying low on his official presence at Sina Weibo. On his verified account (which doesn’t even have an uploaded profile picture), only one tweet posted on June 10 praising the beauty of Xiamen in the summer is seen.
It is likely that one will never hear from the man again on Weibo. Other previous pariahs on the microblogging platform have either quietly deleted their accounts (like General Mao Xinyu, grandson of Chairman Mao, did) or decided to completely shut up (like Fang Binxing, godfather of the Great Firewall).