Most of the world has never heard of Fang Binxing, but the creator of the Great Firewall of China is all too familiar to Chinese internet users—and they really hate the guy. So when Fang, currently the president of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunication, announced during the university’s graduation ceremony that he was resigning, the reaction was brutally unkind.
The Offbeat China blog rounded up some of the harsher comments on the Sina Weibo microblogging platform:
“Wish the illness can defeat you ASAP!” and “We are glad that you are gone [for good]!” Like one netizen 无聊史 cursed: “I hope Fang gets cancer and die soon.” Another netizen 我们没有V made a similar wish: “May the illness take his life ASAP. All netizens are on the side of the illness. Please, take his life!”
The Great Firewall is officially known as the Golden Shield Project, operated by China’s Ministry of Public Security. It screens foreign Internet content that the state deems unacceptable from Chinese users, and censors and blocks politically sensitive websites and social media networks. Users on Weibo can’t use the word “today” around the anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre, nor can they use Fang’s name. The firewall can be evaded through the use of specialized software (including by Fang himself) but most users do not bother.
The Wall Street Journal noted a new strain of criticism against Fang in the wake of Edward Snowden’s revelations about the NSA’s surveillance of the Chinese internet. “You only managed to guard against your own countrymen, but not the Americans,” accused one Weibo user.
In his farewell address, Fang blamed “overuse of my body” for his illness. Perhaps if the technicians running Great Firewall weren’t working so hard to screen out internal dissent, China’s immune system might have been a bit more resilient to the intrusions of the US National Security Agency.