Blocking of AO3 in China

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Event
Event: AO3 banned in China
Participants: Chinese fandom, Chinese government
Date(s): 29 February 2020
Type: government censorship & fandom wank
Fandom: The Untamed RPF/panfandom
URL:
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On February 29, 2020, the website archiveofourown.org (AO3) became inaccessible to fans and users in mainland China. The AO3_Status Twitter account confirmed with a tweet that the inaccessibility was not due to anything under the Archive's control,[1] and a corresponding post was made to the OTW's official account on Weibo.[2]

There was a widespread belief that AO3 was blocked by China's Great Firewall due to its high concentration of LGBTQ+ content, smut, and other content that the Chinese government would disapprove of.

However, it is unknown what exactly caused the site to be blocked. AO3 may have been collateral damage in what would otherwise have been part of the normal life cycle of a Chinese BL ship.[3][4] A huge fight had just happened between The Untamed RPF shippers and idol fans on weibo, culminating in the idol fans allegedly mass-reporting AO3 to the Chinese government. Many Chinese fans believed that the idol fans' actions were to blame (some people even blamed the actor himself), though the way the AO3 block was reported in English-speaking circles downplayed this connection. Many fans also noted that new internet regulations were already due to come into force in China on March 1, which might have caused AO3 to be blocked in a day's time anyway.[5]

Name of the Event

In China the events are often referred to as the Xiao Zhan incident (肖战事件), the AO3 incident (AO3事件), or the 227 incident (227事件). The Wikipedia page was titled Xiao Zhan Fans Reporting Incident (肖战粉丝举报事件), but renamed to Xiao Zhan incident in May.[6][7]

Timeline of Events

One of the original subjects of the controversy was this fanart, created February 24, 2020.

February 24:

February 26:

  • Two xfx, Banan and 来碗甜粥吗 (though Banan is mentioned more frequently)[9][10], are alleged to have started a campaign to report the entire AO3 platform to Chinese authorities. Xiao Zhan fans have disputed this version of events, and many insist that only weibo posts were reported, but general consensus of the rest of Chinese fandom is that they reported AO3.
  • Fans who reported then post screencaps of officials' replies.
  • News spreads all over weibo, angering more fans.
  • The fic writer changes her username and locks her lofter account.[9] (The fic is still up on AO3.)

February 27:

  • Fan creators in many fandoms start removing their works from Lofter and Bilibili.[9][11]
  • Other fans on weibo start a trending hashtag 227大团结 (translated as 227 Great Unity or 227 union or 227 historical moment?).weibo tag, lofter tag. Fans from "every single fandom you can think of" join in.[12]
  • News of the drama unfolding on weibo starts to trickle in to English-speaking spaces, though most people don't notice.[13][14][15]

February 28:

  • Xiao Zhan Studio blocks a trending hashtag, #肖战粉丝举报AO3# (Xiao Zhan fans report AO3). This backfires.[11]
  • Anti-Xiao Zhan fans crash an Olay livestream, and the spokesperson defends Xiao Zhan.[16]
  • According to the Chinese Wikipedia article, the fic author gets doxxed and reported to her university. (A lot of rumors have circulated since, indicating that someone else entirely got doxxed.[17])

February 29:

  • In the morning in China, OTW's official weibo account makes an informational post about RPF on AO3, AO3's warning tags, and the difference between erotic fiction and child pornography.[18]
  • In the evening, fans in China notice that they can no longer access AO3.
  • The OTW's weibo account posts an update stating the connection problems reported by Chinese fans are not on their end.[19]
  • North Americans wake up to the news that AO3 is blocked in China. In a popular twitter thread Muge_Niu states that there is a "widespread theory" that Xiao Zhan fans reported AO3 because they don't like all the sexual fanfic about him. [20]
  • Chinese AO3 fans log into various websites to give 1-star reviews of anything associated with the actor.[9] As reported by NetEase Entertainment they also boycott products endorsed by the actor, and at least some of the endorsements are removed.[21] Whether Xiao Zhan actually loses any endorsement contracts is later a subject of debate.

March 1:

  • A new internet censorsorship law, 网络信息内容生态治理规定 (Provisions on Ecological Management of Network Information Content), goes into effect in mainland China. Among the prohibitions outlined in the law are spreading rumors, distributing pornography, "Insulting or slandering others, infringing on others’ reputation, privacy, and other legitimate rights and interests", or posting anything that encourages "minors to imitate unsafe behaviors, violate public morals, and induce bad habits..."[22][23]
  • #WeLoveYouXiaoZhan trends on Twitter[24][9], courtesy of international Xiao Zhan fans worried about the backlash against Xiao Zhan. (Twitter is blocked in mainland China.)
  • Banan (weibo account @巴南区小兔赞比), the xfx who started the campaign, posts an apology to weibo, stating that she hadn't expected this to impact other fan circles and that she hadn't been in contact with Xiao Zhan's PR team but her own PR industry friends.[25][26] Another fan (an admin of the fan group Banan is a member of?) posts a request on behalf of herself "and other Xiao Zhan fans who hadn't made their stance known" for the fan to "resign from her position in management and hand back the access to admin."[27]
  • Banan updates her weibo page with the slogan "I'm not wrong", undercutting the sincerity of her apology and angering people.[28]
  • Xiao Zhan Studio Weibo account publishes an official statement responding to the situation. In it, the team apologises for "occupying public resources" and "causing trouble for everyone". The post thanks fans for their "love and support" while noting that people should be sure to protect themselves during the coronavirus epidemic. It states that Xiao Zhan himself is isolated following official advice about the epidemic, and closes expressing the hope that everyone could "return to work safely, live happily, be calm and peaceful and work together for a better tomorrow."[29]
  • Chinese fans notice suicide notes posted to weibo. Youtuber AvenueX reports seeing six suicide notes by young fans, both AO3 users and Xiao Zhan fans, with one actually hospitalized.[9][30] NetEase Entertainment reports on the suicide notes as well.[31][32] There are also false alarms and one person is later arrested by the police in the name of public-order crime.[33]
  • Some xfx apparently responds to the suicide notes and wishes for their deaths.[34] This escalates matters further.[35]

March 2:

  • Various Chinese media outlets and websites publish the events leading up to AO3 getting banned in China.
  • The Chinese Wikipedia article is created: 肖战粉丝举报事件 (Xiao Zhan fans reporting incident). (Wikipedia is blocked in mainland China.)

March 3:

  • OTW's official weibo account posts an update affirming that the AO3 website is still up, no works have been deleted, and the block is on China's end. They further state that the OTW has not been contacted by the Chinese authorities.[36]

March 4:

  • Xiao Zhan Studio announces that their accounts on non-Chinese social media sites were hacked.[3]

March 6:

  • National Business Daily reports that Olay, one of the brands endorsed by Xiao Zhan, is under investigation by tax authorities after people reported it to China Consumers Association.[37][38]

March 7:

  • OTW's official weibo account posts an update stating that the redirect archiveofourown.com is no longer working in mainland China.[39]

March 11:

  • The Procuratorate Daily, a state-run legal newspaper, weighs in on the Xiao Zhan incident.[40] One article mentions magnusbene's 2016 tumblr post Honestly I don’t even care why ao3 was created as its example of how AO3 has "always" been controversial. Five articles are published, and Xiao Zhan fans argue with the newspaper, saying it doesn't understand the law.

April 21:

  • Xiao Zhan Studio posts a weibo update saying they are pursuing legal remedies against anti-Xiao Zhan fans spreading misinformation about him.[41][42]

April 27:

  • Xiao Zhan's parent company allegedly pays weibo to delete the accounts of prominent boycotters.[43]

May 6:

  • In a video interview, Xiao Zhan apologizes for things he said on weibo before he was famous (that were dug up by anti-Xiao Zhan fans after the AO3 incident). He also says, "If it's because of such controversies that have impacted netizens and given them trouble, I want to sincerely say I'm sorry to them right here." He denies having a "boss/employee relationship" with his fans and then provides guidance: "to the people who like and support me, I hope they won't do anything so extreme that would hurt others, hurt themselves."[44] Xiao Zhan fans react by saying that he didn't need to apologize. Other people argue that he hadn't actually apologized for the reporting itself.

July 4:

  • OTW's official weibo account posts an update on AO3 proxy servers and mirror sites.[45]

July 13:

  • Cyberspace Administration of China launches a summer Internet cleaning campaign focused on toxic idol fan behavior.[46]
  • The official Weibo Administrator account announces that they have been in talks with Xiao Zhan's PR team and that the team agreed to make more of an effort to restrain fan behavior. Weibo also closes several fan accounts "due to attacks on media organizations and the release of false information to guide the war, according to the relevant community rules." Banan's account is on the list.[47]

August 14:

  • AO3 rolls out a new banner that displays when users access the site via a proxy, warning them that a third party will see their password if they try to login.[48]

Fan Commentary & Discussion

General Commentary, Fan Reactions

[Muge_Niu]

THREAD: Sad day for Chinese internet users: Ao3, archive of our own, was reportedly blocked on Feb 29, 2020. I can’t begin to describe its importance to its Chinese users. It’s not mainstream like douban, but in China it's a refuge for literature created by and for women.[49]

[voulezvulcan]

sitting here reading about ao3 being banned in china and I'm- I don't have words. none. this is unthinkable and I'm so sorry for everyone who has seen a platform so dear to them being snatched away.[50]

[aquamarine_w]

I want to remember this day. This day the last Utopia is taken away. This day the iron fist on our throats tightened again.[51]

[NPR interviewee]

You've poured out your heart and your soul to write fanfiction, and kind of losing that sense of stability just makes you feel like it's pointless to invest more energy into building a new community, knowing that you can lose it at any second.[52]

Link to The Untamed Fandom, Wank & "Antis"

When AO3 was banned, Chinese fandom was already in the midst of drama between fans who liked RPF featuring the actors from The Untamed and non-RPF "solo" fans of the one of the actors, Xiao Zhan. The proximate cause of the latest round of drama was the sharing on Chinese social media of a Wang Yibo/Xiao Zhan AU fic featuring Xiao Zhan as a transgender prostitute. The non-RPF Xiao Zhan fans, known as xfx, thought that portraying Xiao Zhan as gay or feminine in fanworks would damage his career, and they felt the need to defend him. Word had spread rapidly that a group of xfx were engaging in a concerted campaign to have the archive banned by the Chinese government, and other fans were already fighting back against the xfx.

AO3 actually being banned increased the importance in people's minds of figuring out who to blame. Many people blamed xfx, and many also blamed Xiao Zhan himself (not without reason; see below). Targeting his career may also have been a method of punishing his fans. As a result, Xiao Zhan himself became a target, as people rushed to down-rate all of his shows on douban and boycott all of his brand endorsements. Of course, plenty of fic fans and other Untamed fans, not just the xfx, also liked Xiao Zhan and were upset by these developments, arguing that he should be left out of it. Many xfx insisted that it was simply individual fics or Weibo posts that had been reported, not AO3 as a whole, and that they were the target of a smear campaign by anti-Xiao Zhan fans.

Due to the language barrier, when word that AO3 was blocked in China reached English-speaking fandom, the connection between The Untamed fandom drama and the ban was not as apparent and thus was treated with more skepticism. An added difficulty was that a lot of evidence had already been deleted and was only circulated in screencaps that couldn't be translated with machine translators. Moreover, the news coming out of Chinese fandom sounded bizarre and implausible to people unfamiliar with Chinese idol fandom and the entertainment industry. Many fans thought that the AO3 reporting spree was simply an unverified rumor. A lot of Chinese fans showed up on English twitter to give their version of events; the first to arrive seem to have been Xiao Zhan fans saying it wasn't their fault.[53][54] People noted that some of these accounts were brand new and sounded like bots, and others seemed suspiciously pro-government. Note that Twitter is also banned in mainland China.

Other Western fans, learning about the wank, drew parallels with anti-shipping and purity culture, in part because Western antis had been heavily criticizing AO3 and had even started a campaign to report AO3 to the FBI on the grounds that it hosted child pornography[55][56][57]. Some fans were angered by this meta-narrative, either because it ignored cultural differences between Western and Chinese fandoms or because anti-antis seemed to be overlooking the real issue--censorship in China--in favor of scoring points in their own arguments with anti-shippers. Some Western anti-shippers also weighed in, expressing varying degrees of satisfaction with the Chinese government's censorship of AO3.[58][59][60]

The various discussions of "antis" may have caused some confusion, as anti-fans in Chinese fandom are fans who hate on idols,[61] and the anti-Xiao Zhan fans are ostensibly the angry AO3 users who lost access to AO3 (and sympathetic passers-by, but some may actually be just opportunistic trolls), rather than the fans who did the reporting. For example, the March 1 Vox article incorrectly reported that "critics of Xiao Zhan" were the ones who targeted AO3.[62] To muddy the waters even further, the reporting backfired so spectacularly on Xiao Zhan fans that some people started accusing the fans involved in the reporting campaign of secretly being anti-fans.[63]

[Patrickdiomedes]

do you have any advice on arguing with someone who's convinced that the china banning ao3 is the fault of antis?

[stardust-rain]
i mean, my best advice would be to disengage and ask them why they feel the need to turn this into their own crusade, because life is too short for this shit.

but barring that:

1) the whole anti/anti-anti discourse is a wholly Westernised, localised phenomenon and trying to attribute that to a community that grew completely separate from Western ecosphere is Orientalist and imperialist. You can’t apply Western frameworks and codes of morality to Chinese internet, because trying to do so means to take away the agency of the entire community and acting as if they are somehow directly correlated is, frankly speaking, the most laughable thing ever.

Acting as if this has anything to do with Western pockets of fandom is simply American ego-centrism at play.

...

Erasing the complex intersections of fan identity and personal identity under CCP rule and using it to bolster their argument is whitewashing. It is literally fuelling white supremacist trends of storytelling and narratives where non-Western voices are weaponised and it is sickening.

4) that said, the flipside is that the ideological framework and praxis of anti-culture is, unfortunately, similar to the culture of moral framework behind China’s internet censorship. “If I find this objectively harmful, no one else can see it” is, well…. the official party line. [64]

Would AO3 Have Been Blocked Anyway?

Xiao Zhan fans may have reported AO3 to the Chinese government, but people have been arguing ever since over whether AO3 getting blocked was a coincidence. Many people, both inside and outside China, believed the reporting action either had no effect or merely hastened the inevitable. Other people argued that AO3 could have continued to fly under the radar if the xfx hadn't brought it to the government's attention in such a public way. Some people acknowledged that we would never know for certain.

Part of the problem was that the Chinese government does not announce website blocks or give advance notice or rationale; the website is suddenly inaccessible, and people have to guess the reason.

Fans put forward several reasons for why AO3's block was inevitable:

  • the website hosted content that was already illegal in China
  • so many Chinese fans had started using the AO3 as a way to get around China's censorship rules that it made the news.[65] Therefore, the government was bound to notice.
  • New Internet censorship rules were slated to take effect on March 1, a few hours after the block was noticed.[66]

Examples of February 29-March 1 discussions on Twitter and Tumblr:

[Muge_Niu]

No one knows for sure but this is a widespread theory of why it was blocked: there’s a large body of fan fic works about A-list idol Xiao Zhan. Some fic imagines him as a woman. A lot of the fic portrays sex.[67]

Another group of fans found it repulsive, humiliating and harmful to their idol’s career. So they launched a large campaign to call Chinese government agencies with real names and report the website for “pornographic content that harms minors.” They also reported app “LOFTER[68]

[alalacita]

No, the govt was scheduled to block the platform way before any of this happened.[69]

[Muge_Niu]

Yeah I was wondering about that too. But a lot of writers told me they believe it’s more related to the campaign by his fans because the new rules don’t kick in until March 1. The website was blocked the day before.[70]

[RealJamesCheung]

Disagreed. This announcement states a stricter enforcement over the regulation against cyber violence like harassment, hijacking and hacking, behaviors of which Ao3 had none. The impact of the toxic fans’ reports can’t be overlooked.

[ajaromano]

One more time, more bluntly: there is zero evidence to suggest this has anything to do with fandom ship wars or anti- activity. China is an oppressive state. Blame the government before you blame each other.[71]

[bonbonruru]

just because it's coming out now i'm gonna leave my two cents here: the cn gov't was always going to block ao3, regardless of the actions of those xfx. don't forget, the cn gov't is who's truly at fault.

however, that doesn't mean what those xfx did wasn't fucking shitty[72]

for everyone who's saying "it isn't xfx fault they didn't want ao3 blocked they just felt the fic was ~immoral~ and only wanted it/its author removed" it's this censorship-as-morality fucking anti bullshit that gets us to these places.[73]

why the fuck is it your moral compass that gets to decide what other people are allowed to consume? why is it that your self interests are what get to wreck a whole community?[74]

[stardust-rain]

....Ao3 getting banned was a matter of sooner, not later, because its frameworks of fan activity and behaviour ran contradictory to how the CCP wants fans to behave - which is a mix of consumerism and patriotism. Fandom and fandom culture, despite what white women say, is not controversial, rebellious, or even marginalised in China, since the entire entertainment industry is built around franchising stuff off its music, TV and movie stars. It is very specifically queer content and explicit queer literature of Ao3 and Chinese fans using the platform that got it banned....

Ao3 getting blocked was not “in the works for a while”. When it comes to internet censorship under the CCP, nothing is “in the works for a while” unless by “for a while” you mean the best part of 6 hours, and that is usually reserved for mass public outcries and hashtags. The party bans what it wants to ban and that’s the end of that.

Ao3 was barely a blip on their radar, and it only came to attention after fanworks got reported. Now, accounts contradicts what specifically was reported – apparently it was only one story on Weibo that was offensive, and it was the Weibo post that was reported, and it was never meant to harm the entire community.

But anyone who had any idea of how internet censorship works knows that that’s a flimsy excuse, because the strategy of the censorship bureau is to, essentially, go after a spider with a flamethrower.

Ultimately, this is what happens when moral purity is enacted on a state level and enforced with power.[75]

However, some fans started asserting, without evidence, that AO3 was definitely already scheduled to be blocked by the government, no question. This version of the argument seems to have been adopted widely among Xiao Zhan fans. The confusion may have been caused by the fact that the new law (but not any specific target) was announced in December, so people knew that the law was coming. (It has also been suggested that some Chinese fans were knowingly spreading misinformation to the international fanbase to protect Xiao Zhan.[54])

April 28 twitter search result for ao3 scheduled blocking

March 1 tweet:

The stupidest outrage about ao3 is people thinking it got banned because of fandom demand when it was scheduled to be banned and the government doesn't do anything this quickly unless it's about a governmental figure literally not everything is about fandom.[76]

March 1 Reddit thread:

Honestly the absolutely worst part in my opinion is that apparently this was a scheduled removal that would have happened regardless. It was just bad timing. It has literally nothing to do with XZ or his fans but he's getting death threats now. People are awful.[77]

Stop spreading lies to save the actor’s own ass and excuse his fans’s bad faith mass reporting, whatever you are doing. There was zero evidence AO3 was ever scheduled to be removed. AO3 was unknown to most mainstream until now. I’ve reading Chinese sites/lofter and this excuse is a pure made up lie to try to absolve their own wrongdoings, and all these western fans are eating it up, and keep spreading fake information.

March 2 Reddit comment:

ao3 has nothing to do with xz. China already told in December the users that ao3 will be banned on the 1st of March. so this is just a bad coincidence. I hope xz will be okay tho[78]

March 31 tweet:

And no, AO3 was not banned in Ch*na because of fanfiction about two certain actors. The government planned it long ago.[79]

Did Xiao Zhan Fans Report AO3?

example of the screencap evidence

Xiao Zhan fans definitely reported something, but it's complicated.

Many Xiao Zhan fans have been arguing since the incident that only the fic/the weibo posts/the fic writer was reported and that therefore AO3 being blocked was not their fault. As of May 2020, a few twitter accounts are still spamming replies with this line at people who talk about the incident. On the other side of the argument is everyone else, including media outlets, saying that the fans did report AO3 to the government, and backing up their claims by posting the screencaps of now deleted posts showing the original fan campaign. These screencaps can't be machine-translated, so fans who don't read Chinese have to take someone's word for it.

It appears that Xiao Zhan fans' claim that they didn't report AO3 as a platform is technically correct (or not disprovable at least), but this distinction matters only to Xiao Zhan fans. That is, the intended target of their reports was probably the fic writer, but their reports contained links to AO3, so everyone else came to the conclusion that the government reacted to the reports by blocking archiveofourown.org. Because AO3 is a foreign website, Chinese authorities don't have the power to get selected content removed from the site like they do with Chinese websites. However, no one really knows how the report system works. During the initial reporting spree, bjyx fans worried that the AO3 links in xfx's many reports would trigger an automatic blocking of the website.[12] Meanwhile, Xiao Zhan fans developed the theory that AO3 was blocked because the government had detected a huge data flow coming towards AO3 as people flocked there to read the "vulgar" fanfic Banan reported later.[80] (As of March 2, the story had 845,739 hits, but it is unknown how many came from China before the block.[81])

Banan, the fan leading the campaign, said in one post that they "didn't care about either underground publications or AO3," and they only wanted to "defend their rights and interests" because they believed "the reference to celebrities in porn fan-fiction is demeaning them and violating their right to reputation."[82] It appears that attaching the AO3 link/screencap to their reports was meant as evidence of the author's misconduct.

Banan provided instructions on how to report to the government and advised fans to use their real names as those reports would be taken more seriously. One post read,

Reporting through hotline works best.
The essence of this matter is that some people were knowingly breaking the law by creating【underage】-【prostitution】-themed【pornographic】 literature on an open platform such as Weibo. And with many verified users [with huge follower counts] helping recommend and spread, a lot of minors therefore have read the work. In this way, the toxic values ​​of 'getting profits through selling one's body' were circulated to the minors, which seriously affected their mental health and polluted the cyberspace.

Just repeat this when you make the call. Don't drag other stuff like celeb or whatnot into this.[83]

If XZ fans weren't trying to get AO3 blocked, that leads to questions about what they hoped would be the result. As noted on fail_fandomanon, most people didn't believe their claim that they only wanted to get a weibo post taken down, because "weibo reporting is very easy and absolutely requires no govt intervention."[84] Instead, they may have wanted to get the fic writer arrested. Banan said in a draft of the report that the author and those who help distribute her work should "be legally liable for their behavior"[85] but they didn’t take any justifiable legal action like suing her; they chose to report instead. Although reporting illegal content to the government censors is a common thing in China, it means no fair trial or other basic rights that one is supposed to have when facing charges.

Chinese Censorship

[stardust-rain]

Internet censors (prior to the new regulations) were heavily prioritizing any public discourse that could destabilise the legitimacy and trust in the Party, most of which was limited to public outrage and discourse around free speech – it’s why the new policy has an entire section about “inapprioriate comments after a disaster” because mass public outrage, where officials can be held accountable, has been terrifying for the government to deal with. But for porn, they rely mostly on people reporting it – and the people who were reporting it did it because they think it’s their moral duty.

However, making it about anti-discourse is just as harmful because it takes away the most important factor: white women are using this to ignore the people directly impacted.

5) Don’t remove government accountability from this. This really isn’t about anti’s “winning” their ideological crusade, because it is literally so far removed from them. It’s about homophobia and conservatism, and how government overreach only needs a fraction of an excuse to purge moral ideals when they have the means to do so. It’s about power, and how to reach it, and internet infrastructures that are so alien to most Western internet users that they can barely even comprehend how community structures have formed in relation to that....[86]

In response to news of the block, at least one Western antishipper argued that "censorship of dangerous and harmful content is good".[87] Others took the view that what China did wasn't censorship (because it was good):

call me a tankie or whatever but china banning ao3 is not only justifiable (and definitely not censorship) but it is also a good thing[88]
Ppl act like fanfiction has no consequences but it does and that’s why ppl are asking AO3 for some kind of regulation. Like that’s not unreasonable or trying to censor anyone[89]

It's not clear how many had similar views, but it made an impression on other fan communities, such as fail_fandomanon:[90]

Are these people trying to replicate the Chinese government's censorship?

A lot of them were praising the Chinese government's recent blocking of ao3 and saying fic writers of nasty content brought it on themselves so uh...yeah.

TFW you're so #woke that you become ideologically indistinguishable from a brutal authoritarian regime

Yeah. Saying they were glad it happened and laughing at the "nasty fic writers" :/

At least one anti-shipper weighed in to condemn both Chinese censorship and Western anti-antis for comparing anti-shipper views to Chinese censorship.[91] Meanwhile, other commentators noted that what happened in China was the future antis wanted[92], and also that censorship of "pornography" was in practice a tool for oppressing women and LGBTQ+ people. The Chinese government can declare anything obscene, to get rid of people it doesn't like, because it's a totalitarian dictatorship and not a democracy.

[kyriosblaze]

I knew someone would make this about "but it was ao3’s fault for refusing to remove problematic content!!!" Stop. Just fckin stop. This isn’t about fiction nor the content, whatever your stance on it. This is about rampant censorship, which has been co-opted by people wishing to silence others resulting in this whole mess. You’d think only in a dystopia people would report shit they dont like to the government so things get banned and no one sees it again. Youd think maybe "it’s only the disgusting/illegal stuff" that are at risk. It isn’t. Anything that is assumed to be a threat to the societal values that the government peddled, risks getting banned. It’s not just the low lying grapes of "incest!!! P*do!!!" That ppl here seemed to be so hung up on, it’s anything that "threatens the constitution of the heteronormative family values".... Some yall really had the luxury of not living under censorship with the very real threat of landing in legal trouble because some haters disliked your ship/you/some other petty shit and it shows. And yet there are still people advocating for censorship. I’ll tell you this, as a person living under such a regime: censorship doesn’t just work in a way that deletes the stuff u find abhorrent. It HAS ALWAYS been collateral damage, and it will work in the favour of bigots much sooner than it will work for you.[93]

Discussions about how Chinese censorship laws relate to the AO3 ban played out differently inside mainland China vs. outside. Inside, fans are constrained by the censorship laws themselves, as well as weibo's self-censorship, and any too-critical posts might not be visible on the site very long. These factors may have contributed to the campaign to destroy Xiao Zhan; an individual is a safer target than the government.

Some fans have also argued that placing the blame with Xiao Zhan for not speaking up is nonsensical since to appease AO3 fans he would have to criticize the government's block, which is unwise. (Others argued that he could have discouraged toxicity in his fanbase before the AO3 incident; his fans already had a bad reputation.)

Before AO3 was blocked, xfx initially argued that reporting the website to the government was their "right" as citizens.[94] Post-ban, some xfx appeared to be arguing that people should blame the Chinese government instead of Xiao Zhan or his fans. Other people advanced the counterargument that xfx were trying to shift blame away from themselves and that the government was not at fault. Fans outside China condemned the Chinese government, and some argued that it was possible to blame everyone for the part they played. However, other people pointed out that arguments seemingly in support of the Chinese government should not be taken at face value, given mass surveillance. More to the point, posting criticism of the Chinese government in the #WeLoveYouXiaoZhan hashtag was dangerous and should stop:

[a twitter user]

This is exactly why people *seem* to only blame XZ's fans for the ban of AO3. Now if yall keep saying "not XZ, blame government", CCP will notice, and if a Celeb's image is related to anti-government sentiment, he WILL be in real danger.[95]

[a reddit user]

If you know anything about said government, you can probably conclude that associating XZ with complaints about the government was a surefire way to nuke his career if the preceding fiasco hadn't already done enough damage. Unsurprisingly, Chinese fans were not happy. Cue a concerted effort by XZ fans to scrub all references of the Twitter hashtag from his Weibo supertopic before it caused actual trouble, while the XZ antis proceeded to do their best to spread screenshots of the most inflammatory Tweets everywhere.[96]

In discussions about the AO3 incident, some Chinese fans seemed to assume that regulating speech on the Internet was a valid government responsibility, that the large population of China made regulation difficult (leading to a heavier hand and collateral damage), that there were minors on the Internet and no way to control what they saw. The problem of China not having a rating system that would have allowed some content that was appropriate for adults but not children was mentioned. Some fans argued that AO3 contained illegal content and was rightfully banned. Meanwhile, others could be seen lamenting that the wall was growing higher.

Censorship of LGBTQ+ Content?

No official statement has been given (or would likely ever be given) as to why AO3 was blocked. Many English-speaking fans arrived at the conclusion that AO3 had been banned for LGBTQ+ content.[97][98][99] There are several possible reasons for this. First, not everyone knew that an m/m fic was the fuse that started the reporting spree, but many English-speaking AO3 users were already aware that Chinese danmei writers had been sent to prison for writing sexually explicit m/m stories in recent years. (Meanwhile, at least some fans of Guardian and The Untamed, whose popularity in English-speaking fandom has been growing since 2019, were aware that LGBTQ+ content was censored for television, though the different treatment of the original m/m novels has been a source of confusion.) Probably the largest factor is that AO3 has a reputation for being majority slash, and many AO3 users do not know that sexually explicit writing of any kind is (maybe, probably, definitely in print) illegal in China.

Aja's article on the block, published in Vox only a day after the block and shared widely in English-speaking circles, also explained China's recent history of censoring online queer writing.[62] Meanwhile, anons on fail_fandomanon thought it was presumptous to assume they could know the reasons behind Chinese censorship.[100]

twitter trolls

Chinese fans may also have contributed to the perception that AO3 was blocked for queer content. Some xfx were spreading rumors on twitter to win sympathy from the English-speaking world; apparently, one claim was that Xiao Zhan was persecuted by the government for being queer.[101] This seems to have morphed into what was almost certainly a trolling campaign by anti-Xiao Zhan fans spamming the #WeLoveYouXiaoZhan tag with poorly written claims about Xiao Zhan being a "good girl" who died of coronavirus and/or AIDS.

[yezijiang_zoe]

Hope u can get joy in the other world.U always living in our heart .RIP my good girl #WeLoveYouXiaoZhan[102]

[minhnt131]

That’s not nice you know? You clearly understand the situation but you choose to tweet this fake news.

[yezijiang_zoe]

You have the right to love him,and I have the right to hate him.

Someone on Reddit said the goal was to screenshot their own tweets and fool weibo users into thinking these tweets represented what foreign fans genuinely thought.[103]

Other fans commented that the anti-Xiao Zhan fans were clearly just as homophobic as the original xfx who reported the AO3.[104] Based on the screencap evidence, it seems xfx did not report AO3 for LGBTQ+ content, though they may have been motivated by transphobia, homophobia, and/or misogyny (why is it an insult for fanworks to depict a male celebrity as a girl?).

A subthread on fail_fandomanon's discussion of the AO3 ban sought clarification on the legal status of LGBTQ+ people in China after a fan was surprised to learn that homosexuality was (technically) no longer illegal.[105]

Global Times, a tabloid run by the Chinese Communist Party, published an article in English claiming that the AO3 ban was not due to homophobia:

Due to unhealthy content such as stories about "underage" characters or prostitutes, the site has been blocked in China.... After word of the block became news overseas, some Western media began erroneously reporting it was due to "an anti-LGBT bias in China," which couldn't be further from the truth.[106]

A Reddit post linked to the article and noted that "this is the closest to an official explanation as I've seen, and that we're likely going to get."[107]

Of course, just because an authoritarian regime says it's not homophobic doesn't make it true.

Creative Freedom

According to YouTuber AvenueX (located in North America), Xiao Zhan solo fans and CP fans started arguing during the initial fic drama over "is it okay to talk about immoral things in literature."[9] A Youtuber in mainland China described the fan arguments in similar terms: "are writers allowed to write whatever they want, do they have to be responsible for educating their readers...."[12] An early Chinese article reported that fans were arguing that prostitution was a literary trope and that if it were not allowed, then "at least half of the world's masterpieces" would not exist.[94]

"Freedom should have limits" weibo post

Banan, the fan leading the reporting campaign, argued that creative freedom was not sufficient justification for infringing on celebrities' reputation rights:

Today here we speak, for not only ourselves, but also the entertainers whose rights and interests are harmed and dignity is trampled on.

Creative writing is free, but it does not mean that one's freedom should redeem by trampling on the dignity of another. Fan-fiction should stick to the bottom line! Your freedom of creation, freedom of reading, freedom of sharing, and freedom of entertainment are no higher than the dignity of an innocent natural person.

It is hurting others in the name of freedom to use the entertainer as the prototype, to appropriate the entertainer's name to create underage-prostitution-themed pornographic literature, and to spread it on a large scale on an open platform such as Weibo.

Due to the professional nature of the entertainers, they have indeed drawn more public attention than ordinary people and hence are supposed to bear the pressure that ordinary people do not have to bear, but this does not mean that the entertainer and their fans have to accept the vulgar underage-prostitution-themed pornographic literature based on the entertainer. This kind of behavior per se is an act that violates the right to reputation of the entertainer.

Moreover, this kind of behavior not only violates the right to reputation of the entertainer, but also pollutes the cyberspace and has a bad influence on a large number of young fans who lack judgment.

Freedom should have limits![108]

After fanworks started disappearing from Lofter and Bilibili, other fans got angry and started the 227 hashtag, arguing that they had a right to creative freedom.[9]

Many idol fans in both English and Chinese spaces are not fans of RPF. Some responses to a youtube video that exonerated Xiao Zhan of wrongdoing:[109]

Also, the fanfic writers should have thought thoroughly before putting XZ and WYB in such an awkward position. I know y'all like smut, but a prostitute and a HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT??? SERIOUSLY?? that's too much. They should have thought about the fact that a high school student is a minor. That's illegal.
it may seem okay, but they're tarnishing someone's image using fiction and hiding behind 'artistic freedom' knowing very well they're using celebrity's name to gain fame for their 'work'

Meanwhile, pro-AO3 Chinese fans posted the phrase 创作不死 (Creation is not dead/Creation is immortal) in many places, including in bilibili videos.

Reporting Culture

YouTuber AvenueX said one thing that scared her about the situation was that reporting "actually works" and that people would use laws to report writing they didn't like and "destroy their haven". She said it reminded her of the Cultural Revolution, during which family members would report each other to the government.[9]

AvenueX was not the only person to make this comparison. Twitter user @Muge_Niu's thread on the AO3 block quoted another fan as saying "Ao3. Reason of death: spiritual red guards."[110] Red Guards were a paramilitary youth movement during the Cultural Revolution.

A number of Chinese sources framed the issue as xfx misusing "public power" for their own ends. Some people remarked that the reporting tool was dangerous and xfx were foolish to think they could control it. Google-translated comments:

[a twitter user]
The report button is a nuclear bomb in China. If you drop a nuclear bomb in other cultural fields, don't think that your cultural field can survive the nuclear war.[111]
[a weibo user]

Do you think the report must be responsible for safety? When your "social security" has stood on the opposite of freedom and tolerance, the report becomes an uncontrollable beast, raised with our blood. When you reach out to people you don't like, and want to raise beasts, ask yourself, do you have a dog leash in your hand? Can you control the beast?[112]

One Tumblr fan commented that the xfx had violated a fandom rule by getting the government involved:

Regardless of which celebrity pairing you ship, there is a motto that the fans live by: 圈地自萌 (quandi zi meng), which means “shipping in your own enclosure.” We love the two people in the pairing, and we don’t want to bring any negative attention to them. So, you ship your pairing in your own space, not out in the open.

...[xfx] went way out of line. The poisonous single fans went to a place that they clearly know is filled with things that they didn’t like and basically just destroyed everything. All this time, celebrity/real people shippers have been essentially secretly shipping their pairing and not bothering anyone, yet their territory gets taken away from them.

Imagine that you’re living in a cozy cottage in the woods, just living your life and not bothering anyone in the outside world. Then, someone trespasses onto your property and burns your house down, destroying everything that you cherish in the process. Wouldn’t you get angry and upset?

#this is a viewppoint that people haven't really talked about #or they just kind mention or lump it in with the creative freedom issue[113]

Reddit thread:

[shart_0817]
Another thing revealed from this is that a new way (maybe not so new?) of silencing the voice you dislike has been used in the field of fandom without any second thought. Reporting and seeking interference from authority just to ban the fan work someone doesn't like? This sounds insane but it's what they are doing, and the impact involves the blocking of AO3, a large number of fanworks been deleted, tags been blocked and accounts been suspended or deleted. It's already hard to make fanworks in China for all the restrictions, and this makes almost every Chinese fantictioneers feel scared. Someone once joked about making creative works in China is like "dancing with shackles", I find it too appropriate, and now we are not only dancing with shackles on, there is also a dagger pointing at out heart. I have to say, reporting is an extremely dangerous way of expressing your dislike, and I hope it will never be used again.[114]
[Worth-Ability]

The main reason that this is happening is because reporting to the gov is already a thing in China now. Whatever you don’t like with the slightest amount of adult content you can have it disappear eternally on the Chinese internet. And it’s justified for some of these millennial kids after all the education they received. This is not the first time some idol fans reported an article they don’t like to the gov or whatever platform the article is on. It’s just this time it became huge and they reported the whole AO3. The creator of that fanfiction is quite disturbed in real life right now as some have threatened to report her to her university and there’s the chance that she gets kicked out.[115]

Some people said that the anti-Xiao Zhan actions were intended to discourage other fans from using the same reporting tactics in future fan wars:

[a twitter user]

This fear is, this time is ao3. What next time? I think this is why 227 was the first to get up. Everyone feels that the general environment needs attention now, if this kind of report is successful this time. And make fans think this time is correct. Where is that next time? Fans are easily led. If someone uses them to report others. Not that other places like ao3 will disappear.[116]

[a libaclub.com user]

And ordinary people are more or less able to feel the increasingly serious control of speech and cultural industries, so they are also afraid of letting this kind of reporting culture intensify, and we will have less and less room to speak in the future. So I see that many people on Weibo regard the boycott of Xiao Zhan as killing the chicken to show to the monkey, put an end to the culture of reporting, and protect future speeches and creative rights.[117]

[news.qq.com]

However, pure moral condemnation is not enough to offset the huge benefits of Xiao Zhan girls in this matter. Only let their idols really pay a price in terms of commercial value, and this price is large enough to establish a sense of terror balance, so that they will not dare to report any more in the future, and really lock the big killer in the box. Just as the United States and the Soviet Union both possessed nuclear weapons that destroyed each other during the Cold War, peace will last.[118]

Although the government actively encourages citizens to report online content, state-run media also criticized reporting culture and harassment by idol fans:

A Reddit user thought this might be a way of the government redirecting blame away from themselves.[119]

Was AO3 Really Blocked?

Yes.

According to various English and Chinese news sources, as well as the OTW itself, AO3 has been inaccessible in mainland China since February 29. GreatFire.org shows that the domain continues to be blocked as of June 3.[120] However, there are exceptions. Some people have VPNs and may have used them to continue reading and posting to AO3. There also appears to have been a redirect URL that worked for a few days after the initial block. Some people also said that the method of blocking AO3 is DNS spoofing, which is easier to circumvent than some other methods.

Unofficial mirror sites such as AO4 have also popped up, but people have warned each other to avoid them as they might be phishing sites or infested with malware. The OTW's official weibo account also posted about the situation on April 8:

Hello everyone, there have been many enthusiastic users who have spontaneously established mirror websites or reverse proxies after AO3 access problems. The OTW re-creation organization hereby declares that: except for archiveofourown.org, archiveofourown.com, archiveofourown.net, ao3.org, AO3 domain names currently circulating on the Internet are not registered by OTW. We have not authorized any individual or organization to establish such mirrors or agents. Please note that when using mirroring or reverse proxy, you need to bear the risk of information leakage caused by using the website. If you are concerned about the leakage of AO3 account information, we recommend that you choose to browse the work as a visitor without logging in to your account.[121]
more twitter trolls in action

Meanwhile rumors have circulated in Chinese spaces that the AO3 was not actually firewalled and is still accessible.[122] A comment exchange on an AO3 meta post:[123]

[actualao3user]

And AO3 is still accessible in Chn by various accounts. There are also reports how 227 Supertopic started a full week before Feb 27.

[yanEragrostis]

Of course AO3 can be accessible in mainland China since the blocking reason is DNS Cache Poisoning. There’re still many ways for people to reach AO3, no doubt, haha, like you can also swim across the river if the bridge is taken down.

This argument even reached English Wikipedia, where an editor removed content from the Boycott against Xiao Zhan Incident page and then argued on their user talk page,

This new information wasn't added by any fan but by an anti. Such information has nothing to do there in his Wikipedia but the antis are adding it there to do further damage to his image, which antis have been targetted ever since he became successful. If you read it then you'll notice that the person only wrote negative aspects there to confuse new fans. Like the boycott didn't really happen and help but the person made it look like brands were stopping him and everyone is angry at him because of the Ao3 issue. Besides Ao3 is not currently banned completely. Some still have access to Ao3 in China but are playing the victims to blacklist him.[124]

Meanwhile, at least one twitter user (a bot?) was spotted trying to spread a rumor that AO3 was blocked on February 16 instead of February 29. It's not clear if anyone fell for it.

Cyberbullying

In Chinese fandom xfx and the 227 movement have both been accused of cyberbullying. xfx' original reporting action targeted the fic author and other RPF fans of Wang Yibo/Xiao Zhan, as well as AO3, and the retaliation by the 227 movement sought revenge against Xiao Zhan. For months Xiao Zhan fans have argued that Xiao Zhan was the main victim of bullying. However, in addition to the main targets, many other people have been cyber-bullied. In various discussions fans have mentioned a wide variety of victims: xfx, cp fans, 227 and/or anti-Xiao Zhan fans, the fans who posted suicide notes on March 1, other fans of Xiao Zhan who did not approve of or were not involved in reporting AO3, other non-fans who posted in support of XZ, anyone who mentioned XZ in passing, the author of one of the Procuratorate Daily articles, and the OTW. Initially the xfx seemed responsible for most of the bad behavior people complained about, but widespread anger at the xfx also seems to have devolved into anti-fan counterattacks and rumor-mongering.

In general it seems a lot of xfx and anti-Xiao Zhan fans have each overlooked or denied the bad behavior on their own side while blaming the other side for all the toxicity.

March 1 fail_fandomanon comment:

This is why there's so much anger directed at this group of rabid Xiao Zhan duwei, and the fan wars keep escalating, because they just keep lashing out at more and more different groups the more criticism they get.[125]

March 1 Reddit comment by a Chinese AO3 user:

The even more disgusting thing is that after this, a lot of people like me want to boycott XZ‘s endoresment, which is totally a consumer's right for all Chinese. And the fan group of XZ is accusing us for bullying him. The fan culture in China is really disgusting: the fan group of one actor is so organized that they will search for critisism of that particular actor and just keep on reporting it until it is deleted by the platform. They are really good at eliminate any negative news of the actor, and they even do this to the AO3 wiki.[126]

March 8 Youtube video by a BJYX fan:

Right now everything we say can be twisted against Xiao Zhan so as a fandom we've decided to shut up and not say anything... March 5 was a really big sale and all the fans tried really hard to buy things that Xiao Zhan endorses.... We also couldn't post our orders bc antis threatened to steal our info to make receipts.... If the 227 union was protesting against the actual problem instead of attacking a celebrity who has no power or control over the situation, I would be the first to support them.[127]

April 10 weibo post by the OTW:

Since late February, we have received a huge amount of private letter harassment. Some of these accounts have repeatedly sent us insulting private letters, which has seriously affected the daily operation of the official blog.[128]

April 13 AO3 comment:

as time goes by, I observe on Chinese internet that 227 United had driven themselves further away from searching justice for AO3 users. Instead, they are targeting Xiao directly, focused on the selected out-of-context comments he made when he was nobody, criticizing his acting/sing skill as well as his appearance. To me, it shows that AO3 is no more than an excuse for 227 United to damage Xiao's reputation.[129]

April 21 weibo post by Xiao Zhan Studio[130] (translated by a twitter user):

Xiao Zhan loves his country, and respects its leaders. Since entering the entertainment industry, Xiao Zhan has always maintained a positive attitude and focused on his career development. The discourse and situation described above is purely the work of someone with ulterior motives to smear Xiao Zhan's image. The Studio has already collected evidence and will file a report to the public security agency.... Recently there have constantly been unknown users masquerading as Xiao Zhan himself, Xiao Zhan Studio and staff, and posting false statements online. They have been cheating fans of their money, and instigating others to engage in cyber violence. They've used every trick in the book and the nature of it is despicable. It has already severely impacted Xiao Zhan's reputation. Xiao Zhan and the Studio have already entrusted a professional legal team to conduct collection of evidence and prepare to defend his rights. Criminals using the internet to attack and smear others must receive severe punishment by the law!"[131]

October 31 YouTube text post by AvenueX:

I have decided not to make any further content regarding Xiao Zhan, news and reviews alike, for now.

A fellow reviewer has recently made a video that merely mentioned him, without commentary on anything in particular, and the amount of hate she received was truly frightening.

Currently the atmosphere on China's internet regarding Xiao Zhan is beyond toxic, too crazy to be compared to anything I've ever seen. The fact is now if you say anything positive about him, you will get trolled in the worst way, if you say anything negative about him, you will get trolled in the worst way, if you just mention his name without offering any opinion, you will be accused of 'rubbing off his popularity' and then get trolled none the less.[132]

Xiao Zhan's Responsibility?

Many people retaliated against Xiao Zhan because they held him responsible, either indirectly in that they believed his PR team approved/encouraged the reporting action or directly in that they assumed he himself likely knew about it. The tale seems to have grown in the telling, with some people claiming that he himself contacted AO3 or reported it to the government.

Fans on various platforms have tried to explain the context to a flabbergasted English-speaking fandom. There are also many articles in Chinese publications that describe the situation of Chinese idol fandom. Economic forces at work in idol fandom do make a case for questioning Xiao Zhan's role. Young Chinese idols rely on their social media fanbase for career advancement far more than in other countries: devoted idol fans will organize themselves to promote their star online and buy up all their star's brand endorsements to show how popular the star is, so that the star will get more acting work or more brand endorsements. There are complaints that directors will cast popular idols in their dramas regardless of how unfit for the role the idols are because the directors know that more people will watch the dramas. So the idol fans have a vested interest in demonstrating that their idol is popular, while the idol has a vested interest in encouraging fannish devotion. In the short run, extreme fannishness is desirable for the idol's career, but the downside is that radical fans can and often do go too far (cyberbullying, doxxing, etc.), so the idol not reigning in the fanbase when things get out of hand is considered by social media users to be irresponsible and unethical. People argued that other idols had successfully calmed down their fans when they became a menace, but Xiao Zhan didn't do anything, so he was responsible for their behavior.

Meanwhile, the reason for thinking that Xiao Zhan or his PR team were involved stems from the pattern of close coordination between fans and idols. As explained by an anon on fail_fandomanon,

It's not uncommon for top BNFs in mainland to receive financial backing from the actor's management comapny. Some of these BNFs have accounts with over 200k-500k followers. They would interact frequently on SM and set the tone and stage for regular fans. Because of this layer of influence, most people who are in fandom or familiar with fandom realize that this event, while unfortunate, is most likely directed by XZ's own management company.[133]

Youtuber AvenueX (who used to work in the Chinese tv and film industry) explained in a March 19 livestream how all the top idols had "professional fandoms" that were organized hierarchically and conducted themselves in a structured, almost military fashion. The top of the fan hierarchy coordinated with the idol's management. There were three parts to fandom operations, she said: comment control (spamming comments in reply to any post that mentions the idol so that passersby would see only positive comments), anti-hei? (countering heifen operations or in truth harassing anybody who says anything critical about their idol), and refreshing data(?). She said that idols benefit from the labor of their fandoms and there's no way they don't know what goes on. She also said that there had been previous incidents where Xiao Zhan's fans had crossed the line, and he never said anything to stop them; she said if he had spoken up earlier to urge restraint, the current situation (his fans reporting, the strength of the backlash against him) might never have happened. She thought he might have done nothing because he was afraid of offending his fandom, because as a non-traditional idol he was in a precarious position. Most idols are trained as teenagers and still only have a shelf-life of two years, whereas Xiao Zhan had started in his twenties after going to a normal college and holding down a real job. AvenueX also noted that because Xiao Zhan became popular so quickly, he would have made enemies while nothing in his background suggested to her that he had inside connections to help weather the storm. Undoubtedly some of the backlash was encouraged by paid agitators hired by his enemies, she said. From the point of view of his company, she said, Xiao Zhan was just another disposable idol, easily replaced.[134]

Some commenters on AvenueX's video argued with her take, saying that most Xiao Zhan fans were not so extreme, that they didn't appreciate her calling him replaceable, that he was too a good actor, that he had always tried in interviews to guide his fans to be more rational. One person mentioned his 2016 vlogs as evidence. However, others agreed that he was often too "lenient" toward his fans.[134]

One March 11 opinion article in the state-run newspaper Procuratorate Daily commented,

The fan riots this time, as well as the huge wave of online violence, cannot be ruled out that the Xiao Zhan team secretly contributed to the flames..... In today's entertainment economic model, the interaction between fans and idols is usually planned, organized, and arranged. Purely spontaneous activities that rely solely on fans can be described as primitive and small in scale. The number of fans involved in this incident and the great social impact are unlikely to be instigated by a few so-called "fan leaders" alone. The role played by idols behind the incident deserves our reflection.[135]

Regarding the AO3 incident specifically, rumors circulated that his PR team had been in contact with Banan, one of the fans who orchestrated the campaign to report AO3. The first English-language Reddit writeup took this view, though later recanted[136]. Fans shared screencap evidence indicating that Xiao Zhan's official PR team not only knew about the existence of the fan club to which Banan belonged, but also had been in close cooperation with it, and that Banan was communicating with the fanclub's leadership over how to handle the fallout.[137][138] Banan had also apparently mentioned a PR team in her earlier posts, which may have reinforced the impression that the AO3 reporting was driven by Xiao Zhan's own team; she stated in her March 1 apology that these were her personal friends in the industry and not Xiao Zhan's team.

People also believed that he had been trying to distance himself from what made him famous--acting in a drama based on a BL novel--and that this desire made it more likely he/his PR team would have approved the AO3 reporting. Context from fail_fandomanon:

Many actors rise to popularity "selling rot" which is a play on "rotten girls" a.k.a fujoshis. It's generally not seen as a reputable thing for an actor's legitimacy. But I think more importantly, the shipper fans in general are loyal to the pairing, and tend to be fickle (meme calls them migratory slash fans). Which means this kind of fanbase is only seen as stepping grounds and can't be relied upon to keep supporting the actor. IME plenty of shipper fans support both actors, but the perception of them as unreliable is what it is.[139]

Context from Reddit:

With the idols that got their big break from BL C-dramas, the process of disentanglement 解绑 is very common. Often, both the BL ship within the c-drama AND the RPS ship of the actors playing the two main characters get very popular after airing, and the two actors would have a honeymoon period where they pander to the RPS Ship Fans in order to garner that popular.

However, after the marketing phase is over and both actors want to move onto other projects, they have to "disentangle" 解绑 their public images from each other. This process (referred to as 解绑提纯 ”disentangle and purify") is almost always very bloody and involves a ton of fan wars, and both actors will lose fans. CP fans/Ship Fans will get converted into Solo Stans in this divorce, and solo stans are always more profitable and better for the actor's image.[4]

However, the question of whether or not Xiao Zhan the individual is actually responsible for the AO3 incident is only one factor in the boycott against him. The boycott is also intended as a deterrent for his fans and fans of any future idol from reporting fansites to the government. (It's also about revenge.)

Chinese Fans on AO3: A History

Most popular fandoms for Chinese AO3 users as of 2019. RPF is by far the most popular.
Growth in Chinese AO3 fanworks, 2009-2019

Many of the xfx who reported AO3 to the government in February 2020 were unfamiliar with the website and didn't realize how popular it was. They had been told that it was just a website for people writing erotic novels and thought that reporting it would have the same result as reporting something on weibo. They did not seem to understand that AO3's terms of service explicitly protected the novel they were angry about from being taken down.

The first fanwork in Chinese on AO3 was uploaded a week after the site entered open beta.[140] As of 2020 Chinese works still make up only 4% of the archive[141], but in recent years the site has become increasingly popular among Chinese fans, in part due to growing restrictions in China.

A 2019 paper in Transformative Works and Cultures described three waves of Chinese censorship campaigns that resulted in fandom migration, noting that the last pushed fans toward AO3:

A young amateur writer of danmei stories using the pen name Tianyi was sentenced to ten and a half years in prison for illegally disseminating pornographic materials in large quantities.[142] Although she was arrested along with the publishers, editors, and printers in 2017, the case was only made public in November 2018, when Tianyi was sentenced (Shepherd 2018). Widespread anxiety and panic resulted, forcing many fan fiction editing and printing outfits to close down. Out of fear, many writers removed their stories from the internet altogether. As a result of strict censorship and control over publication, for decades, Chinese female fan communities relied on a shadow economy of Japanese-style dōjinshi publication—that is, custom printing via amateur self-publication. After the flourishing of websites for person-to-person sales, Chinese fan communities developed a highly efficient network of dōjinshi production and sales, which could have been an excellent example of women's enterprise. However, the lawsuit sent a chilling message to not only danmei writers but also to every online writer who does not seek formal publication.

The case of Tianyi, the similar case of another female danmei writer, Shenhai Xiansheng (Yang 2019), and the overall tightening of censorship of all Chinese websites finally drove Chinese fans to take refuge at websites like the Archive of Our Own (https://archiveofourown.org/). AO3 is luckily not targeted by the Chinese Great Fire Wall, which has blocked the majority of international large websites, including Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr. The year 2018 could mark the start of Chinese fandoms' migration out of their comfort zone of Chinese-language writing and websites and into participation in English-language fan forums—or it could end if AO3 is blocked by the Great Fire Wall.[143]

The increase was also noticed by OTW staff, as indicated by a series of AO3 News posts in 2018-2019:

  • A December 2018 post explained how to import works from Lofter and noted that new users did not need to send a Support ticket to introduce themselves.[144]
  • A February 2019 post noted that "During January, Support received 1,165 tickets, nearly 200 of which were in Chinese."[145]
  • A May 2019 post commented directly on the increase:
Recently, the Archive of Our Own has received an influx of new Chinese users, a result of tightening content restrictions on other platforms. We would like to extend our warmest welcome to them, and remind everyone that our committees are working to make AO3 as accessible as possible in languages other than English.[146]

A Support volunteer added their thoughts on tumblr:

Somewhere between ¼ to 1/3 of all our tickets last month were in Chinese (somewhere upwards of 300 out of 1200 or so), almost all from users just setting up their accounts or trying to find out how to get an invitation. A lot of the tickets are what I’d characterize as “intro” tickets - they say hi, list favourite fandoms or pairings, or provide samples of fic they’ve written. Although this isn’t necessary on AO3, this is not uncommon in Chinese fandom sites that you have to prove your credentials to get in (in fact it wasn’t uncommon in English-language fandom sites 15-20 years ago). We respond to all of these tickets, even the ones that just say hi. We check whether the user has managed to receive their invite or get their account sent up, and if they haven’t, we help them do so. This means taking every single ticket through our Chinese translation team twice, once so we make sure we understand the initial ticket, and then again to translate our reply. This is a challenging process, although we’ve found ways to streamline it and can normally get a reply out pretty quickly (like within a few days). We do it because this is part of why AO3 exists in the first place - to provide a safe haven where users can post their works without worrying about censorship or sudden crackdowns on certain kinds of content. We do it because this is important, and helping these users get their accounts and be able to share their works safely is why we’re here. We hope that we’ll be able to help as many of them as possible.[147]

A twitter user described the migration to AO3:

Slash fans are like nomadic people, carrying their work from one platform to another. Then slash fans like me, traveling different fandoms in different languages, started recommending AO3, the heaven of fanfiction lovers, which is outside of China, and free of cencorship. So people can put up whatever they like. What made the slash fans extremely grateful, is that AO3 not only accepted the Chinese refugees with open arms, but has also been actively trying to make the website accessible to us by getting a Chinese interface, new server for Chinese readers and hiring more Chinese volunteers to help people with the tag system.[148]

Many of the people commenting on Chinese fans' migration to AO3 predicted that AO3 would get blocked.

Fanworks Created in Response to the Block

Some Chinese fans started posting Donald Trump/Xiao Zhan fics to AO3 to "punish" Xiao Zhan.[149] Their ship name is apparently 特战队 ("special team"). As of 29 March 2020, the Trump/Xiao Zhan tag has 16 works, the earliest of which was posted on February 28, but most of which were posted after the block. According to a timeline posted on github, the ship was inspired by an example that was used during the initial fan arguments over whether celebrity fanfiction was ok; someone pointed out that Trump remained unaffected by the hundreds of fanworks featuring him on the AO3.[150]

On AO3 227大团结 was used enough times to become a canonical tag: Event 227. Chinese fans posted AO3/Lofter anthropomorfic on both AO3 and Lofter.[151]

Further Reading & Meta

February 28, 2020:

February 29, 2020:

March 1, 2020:

March 2, 2020:

March 3, 2020:

March 4, 2020:

March 6, 2020:

March 8, 2020:

March 9, 2020:

March 10, 2020:

March 11, 2020:

March 12, 2020:

March 19, 2020:

March 20, 2020:

March 22, 2020:

April 10, 2020:

April 12, 2020:

April 14, 2020:

April 25, 2020:

April 26, 2020:

May 2, 2020:

May 7, 2020:

September 16, 2020:

November 16, 2020:

References

  1. ^ Tweet by AO3_status, published February 29, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020). Unfortunately, the Archive of Our Own is currently inaccessible in China. We've investigated, and it is not due to anything on our end. We're keeping Chinese users updated on our Weibo:
  2. ^ Post by @OTWComms, published February 29, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020). 在过去的几小时中,我们收到了关于中国大陆用户无法访问archiveofourown.org的诸多询问,有些用户也表示他们能够使用ao3.org这个网站访问AO3。
  3. ^ "I don't know if anyone has mentioned this, but acting in a BL adapted drama is the recipe to huge fame and a major way of producing 'top flow.' The disentangle and distilling of shipper fans had happened before, and the battles were already epic back then--though this one (227) did get much further than anyone expected and dragged in too many outsider." Re: Cnovels - Xiao Zhan drama, fail_fandomanon comment, 2020-04-28.
  4. ^ a b {Chinese Fandom Culture} Chinese Idol Fans vs. The World (A primer on Chinese Fan Culture), Archived version 12 April 2020.
  5. ^ Tweet by @Muge_Niu, published February 29, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020). I should also mention that a set of new internet regulations will kick in on March 1.
  6. ^ 肖战粉丝举报事件 (Accessed 12 April 2020)
  7. ^ See talk page discussion: Talk:肖战事件/存档1#关于更名的建议 (Talk: Xiao Zhan Incident/Archive 1), Archived version
  8. ^ 《下坠》, Archived version posted to AO3, 2020-02-24. 81202 words, 13 chapters, 1360 comments, 19849 kudos, 900004 hits, and 268 bookmarks as of 3 March 2020.
  9. ^ a b c d e f g h i AO3 Being Blocked in China and Xiao Zhan - What Happened, youtube video by AvenueX, posted 1 March 2020.
  10. ^ Machine translation: "At 18:05 pm on February 26, Xiao Zhanweifan @ 来碗甜粥吗 and @ 巴南区小兔 Zambi first attacked the fan story [同人文] 'fall' and its author, is the frontline advance sent by the Xiao Zhan fan camp Squad." 肖战粉丝偷袭AO3始末 (Xiao Zhan fans sneak attack on AO3), Archived version 1 March 2020
  11. ^ a b 肖战粉丝偷袭AO3始末 (Fans of Xiao Zhan attack AO3), Archived version, posted on Bilibili, 2 March 2020.
  12. ^ a b c Xiao Zhan, AO3, Fandom Drama: told by a Chinese fan, 3 March 2020.
  13. ^ anon ask submitted to olderthannetfic, Archived version, tumblr post, 27 February 2020.
  14. ^ What’s wrong with xz fans bro just because ONE bjyx writer did that doesn’t mean you have to report the whole lofter and ao3 website tf is wrong with you just report the writer not the websites I’m so mad ?????, Archived version, tweet by EG0ISTHYE, 27 February 2020.
  15. ^ The solo stans of Xiao Zhan reported AO3 to the Chinese gov to get it blocked lol. Do they know how he got famous in the first place, Archived version, tweet by cocohopezhang, 27 February 2020.
  16. ^ "Since the afternoon, many antis have been saying bad things about Xiaozhan in our stream. There’s no point, because we understand Xiaozhan better than you, he deserves to be our choice.", Archived version, tweet, 28 February 2020.
  17. ^ Re: How in touch are you with what's popular on AO3?, Archived version fail_fandomanon thread, 2020-04-25.
  18. ^ weibo post, 29 February 2020 at 10:20
  19. ^ weibo post, 29 February 2020 at 22:52.
  20. ^ [1], Archived version, tweet by Muge_Niu, 29 February 2020.
  21. ^ 粉丝恶意举报致平台被禁 肖战代言遭大批网友抵制, ent.163.com, 2020-03-01
  22. ^ Bruce Sterling. Chinese National Cyberspace: now with ecology, Archived version, Wired, 22 December 2019. (accessed 18 July 2020)
  23. ^ See also China's Glorious New Internet Censorship: What a Beautiful World This Will Be, Archived version.
  24. ^ getdaytrends.com (accessed 11 April 2020)
  25. ^ post by @巴南区小兔赞比 to weibo on 09:29 March 1, 2020
  26. ^ Screencap on Twitter shared on 29 February 2020: This is so stupid I can't even.. Are you happy that xiao zhan is no 1 most hated person in china right now?, Archived version
  27. ^ See Talk:Blocking_of_AO3_in_China. post to weibo by 安之无物 on 05:46 March 1, 2020
  28. ^ Xiao Zhan fans sneak attack on AO3, Archived version
  29. ^ 大家好,这里是肖战工作室。 (Hello everyone, Xiao Zhan Studio here). Posted to Weibo, March 1, 2020. Accessed March 1, 2020.
  30. ^ user:aethel: One of my mutuals said that one of her students was mutuals with the person (still) in the hospital. 6 March 2020.
  31. ^ 事态升级!肖战粉称为偶像偿命 平台写手晒"遗书", ent.163.com, 2 March 2020.
  32. ^ Translation of the suicide notes from the article: see talk page. An apologist for Xiao Zhan posted on Weibo: "Please stop coming at Xiao Zhan, snowflakes. I’d pay my life for everything. Does that sound good to you, […]?" "[…], you don’t have to put on an act anymore. I’ll jump from here. No worries, I’ve only got such a few followers; they won’t trace you down, but you know you’re responsible for my death. Goodbye Internet." An AO3 user posted on Weibo on March 2nd: "This might be my last post. […] This is not revenge, but merely some words spoken in peace. Thank you. Please keep creating. Love will never die out. Creation will live all along."
  33. ^ See talk page.[2]
  34. ^ fail_fandomanon comment, 2 March 2020, Archived version weibo post linked from fail_fandomanon; screenshot of evidence of someone responding inappropriately to a suicide note; people responding with comments like "Absolutely unforgivable", Archived version
  35. ^ "This is why there's so much anger directed at this group of rabid Xiao Zhan duwei, and the fan wars keep escalating, because they just keep lashing out at more and more different groups the more criticism they get." fail_fandomanon comment, Archived version 2020-03-01.
  36. ^ OTWComms weibo post, 3 March 2020.
  37. ^ 肖战反噬广告主 玉兰油率先被税务部门约谈 …, 2020-03-06.
  38. ^ Olay’s Ambassador Controversy Startles China’s Tax Authority & More, Archived version, Jing Daily, 14 March 2020.
  39. ^ OTWComms weibo post, 7 March 2020.
  40. ^ 肖战事件:是非曲直如何评说 (Xiao Zhan Incident: How to comment on right and wrong)
  41. ^ weibo update, Archived version
  42. ^ twitter translation by xzhan1005, Archived version
  43. ^ "I don't know if it got out to the English speaking world, but there was an incidence ~10 days ago that, in short, attracted a lot more boycotters. In essence, the company behind his studio paid sina weibo in order to delete more than a dozen of the most vocal boycotting accounts on the night of 4/27. All of them had quite some following, so there were countless witnesses. This happened ~10 min after when XZ posted a vague sentence of (non?)apology on his own official weibo that did not address anyone or anything specifically. Naturally, this lead to another wave of rage, which, in turns, lead to new conflicts..." fail_fandomanon comment, Archived version, 2020-05-08
  44. ^ Xiao Zhan Addresses AO3 Incident and Talks about His Relationship with Fans, Archived version 38jiejie.com, 6 May 2020.
  45. ^ July 4, 2020 OTW weibo post, Archived version (accessed 18 July 2020)
  46. ^ Jiayun Feng. China targets obsessive teenage fans in new internet cleanup campaign - SupChina, Archived version, supchina.com, 14 July 2020. (accessed 18 July 2020)
  47. ^ weibo post by 微博管理员, Archived version (accessed 14 July 2020)
  48. ^ AO3 News: Releases 0.9.290 - 0.9.293: Change Log, Archived version, 17 August 2020.
  49. ^ Tweet by @Muge_Niu, published February 29, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020).
  50. ^ Post by voulezvulcan, published February 29, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020).
  51. ^ AO3 is banned in China on 29th Feb, 2020., Archived version, reblog of a tumblr post by aquamarine-w, 1 March 2020. As of 15 April 2020, the post (now deleted) has 19,290 notes.
  52. ^ National Public Radio: Dream Boy And The Poison Fans, Archived version, 16 September 2020, timestamp minute 31.
  53. ^ For example: I normally am one of the people that say not to bring weibo drama to Twitter. However since Olay has mentioned it and some big accounts are being very vague, i will explain what is going on with #XiaoZhan and xfx., Archived version tweet by kg6373, 28? February 2020.
  54. ^ a b "The huge XZ fan accounts who do know what’s happening in mainland immediately started spreading the narrative that the gov’t was going to shut down ao3 regardless and that really just picked up like wildfire among all the people who followed them." twitter thread, 28 April 2020, Archived version
  55. ^ The FBI reporting was widely discussed; see AO3 is open source.
  56. ^ "have you reported archiveofourown.org for pedophillia to the fbi? well you should. here’s the link." April 16, 2018 tumblr post, Archived version by finnvanhelsing (formerly muslimfinn)
  57. ^ "2k18 let’s pray ao3 gets destroyed by an FBI crackdown!" January 23, 2018 tumblr post, Archived version by lunaaltare
  58. ^ For example, this tweet was discussed on fail_fandomanon: tollmetron. a toast to our anti leader xi jinping personally Cancelling ao3, Archived version, 29 February 2020. fail_fandomanon, ffa thread started 1 March 2020.
  59. ^ Another example: lesbianweiying. china banned ao3? good for her good for her!, Archived version, tweet, 29 February 2020.
  60. ^ An ONTD post on the AO3 ban had people in the comments claiming AO3 hosted child porn: AO3 is banned now in China, 29 February 2020.
  61. ^ "... wow, in the replies to this comment I still see the misunderstanding. Cfandom antis 黑粉 are more like classic haters, less like Western fandom antis. Like, they wouldn't say 'so-and-so is a pedo,' just 'so-and-so sucks at acting and is shamelessly riding others' coattails' or whatever." Re: AO3 banned in China, Archived version, anonymous comment on fail_fandomanon, 2020-02-29.
  62. ^ a b Aja Romano. China has censored the Archive of Our Own, one of the internet's largest fanfiction websites, Archived version, Vox, 1 March 2020.
  63. ^ "During the XZ thing, some people were labelling the people who reported AO3 as antis who were undercover and pretending to be fans. There definitely was a portion of people who WERE antis in disguise, but most of them were not. This lead to a lot of jokes along the lines of "there are more 'undercover XZ antis' than actual fans at this point", or "XZ fans are doing antis' jobs for them". {Chinese Fandom Culture} Chinese Idol Fans vs. The World (A primer on Chinese Fan Culture), Archived version, April 2020 Reddit post.
  64. ^ Tumblr post by stardust-rain, published March 1, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020).
  65. ^ Gita Jackson. Banned From The Chinese Internet, LGBT Fanfiction Writers Find New Home On U.S. Website, Archived version Kotaku, 24 June 2019.
  66. ^ According to fail_fandomanon, the law in question is called 网络信息内容生态治理规定 (Provisions on Ecological Management of Network Information Content). 2020-02-29 ffa thread, Archived version. Wired's English translation. Stanford's English translation.
  67. ^ Tweet by Muge_Niu, Posted February 29, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020).
  68. ^ Tweet by Muge_Niu, Posted February 29, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020).
  69. ^ Tweet by alalacita, Posted February 29, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020).
  70. ^ Tweet by Muge_Niu, Posted February 29, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020).
  71. ^ Tweet by Aja Romano, Posted February 29, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020).
  72. ^ Tweet by bonbonruru, Posted February 29, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020).
  73. ^ Tweet by bonbonruru, Posted February 29, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020).
  74. ^ Tweet by bonbonruru, Posted February 29, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020).
  75. ^ Tumblr post by stardust-rain, published March 1, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020).
  76. ^ 1 March 2020 tweet by xianyunmp3, Archived version
  77. ^ comment on {Fanfiction/C-Dramas} Fans of The Untamed get mad at fanfiction about the actor and report AO3 to the government, getting AO3 blocked in China, Archived version 1 March 2020.
  78. ^ 2 March 2020 reddit comment, Archived version
  79. ^ 31 March 2020 tweet by brokenangelK19, Archived version
  80. ^ See talk page. See also this post by weibo user 天涯有侠气: “跨圈侵犯”到底跨了什么圈,又侵犯了什么? (What circle did the "cross-circle violation" cross and what did it violate?), Archived version, 15 September 2020. "After the event was fermented, many curious hunters began to cross the wall and log on to the AO3 website, resulting in abnormal traffic, the prevention mechanism was triggered, and the website was blocked." (machine translation)
  81. ^ .《下坠》by MaiLeDiDiDi. Wayback machine copy from 2 March 2020.
  82. ^ screencap of a weibo post by Banan (archived), translation by djiange. 19:25 26 February 2020.
  83. ^ screencap of a weibo post by Banan, translated by djiange. 16:50 26 February 2020.
  84. ^ Re: AO3 banned in China, Archived version, ffa thread, 4 March 2020.
  85. ^ screencap of a weibo post by Banan (archived), translated by djiange. 16:24 26 February 2020.
  86. ^ Tumblr post by stardust-rain, published March 1, 2020 (Accessed March 1, 2020).
  87. ^ tollmetron. once more it’s proven people do not know what oppression, fascism, or censorship means. truly iconic. yaoi brain rot has got you all i’m afraid :/, Archived version, tweet, 29 February 2020. (Note that this is the same person who authored the tumblr post Honestly I don’t even care why ao3 was created.)
  88. ^ tumblr post, Archived version, 14 March 2020.
  89. ^ tumblr post, Archived version, 7 March 2020.
  90. ^ Re: The Wank Report - the leopards are eating my face now oh no, Archived version, 2020-03-11.
  91. ^ "I’m screaming ao3 is literally banned in China now which is fucking awful and y’all are really out here saying “ah yes this is what the anti shippers want” are y’all fucking okay? really? ah, yes, we who do not like incest and pedophilia but still enjoy fanfiction very much agree with the banning of an *entire* website ABOUT FANFICTION. i am absolutely FLOORED by this like …" tumblr post, Archived version, 18 March 2020.
  92. ^ At least one tumblr user literally said this: "The future anti-shippers want." tumblr reblog by boogiepopular, Archived version. Catchphrase/meme: "This is the future that liberals want."
  93. ^ tumblr reblog by kyriosblaze, Archived version, 5 March 2020.
  94. ^ a b 肖战粉丝偷袭AO3始末 (Xiao Zhan fans sneak attack on AO3), Archived version 1 March 2020.
  95. ^ 1 March 2020 tweet, Archived version
  96. ^ reply to "{Chinese Fandom Culture} Chinese Idol Fans vs. The World (A primer on Chinese Fan Culture)", Archived version
  97. ^ ao3 was banned in china because of lgbt censorship but its very cool of you shut-in weirdos to make this all about ~the antis~ attacking, Archived version, tweet, 1 March 2020.
  98. ^ Do people not get that the closing of AO3 in China isn't like, an anti thing but rather a censorship thing? Because I've seen some galaxy level takes on the matter and trust me when I say that the Chinese government doesn't care that your ship is problematic but that it's gay., Archived version, tweet, 1 March 2020.
  99. ^ people rlly out here celebrating ao3 getting banned in china bc ha take that abo/darkfic writers can you get any stupider. the chinese government does not and will never care that you hate reylo or hannigram !! the cn govt cares that ao3 was free and positive lgbt rep !!! 白痴 !, Archived version, tweet, 29 February.
  100. ^ "It is quite another thing to claim to know why China is making moves on an internal censorship wave when she doesn't read Chinese and even expert journalists would be super fucking hesitant to speak definitively that the PRC did something for one reason or another." Re: AO3 banned in China, 29 February 2020.
  101. ^ See talk page
  102. ^ 5 March 2020 twitter thread, Archived version
  103. ^ Why does everyone post rip xiao zhan everywhere or good girl XZ r.i.p it's seriously annoyinh : CDrama, Archived version
  104. ^ lilikoi_lacroix. But I feel like the ao3 incident was just homophobia from top to bottom and it wasn’t shippers fault. The people who reported ao3 were bjyx-antis and a huge portion of the backlash was barely-veiled contempt for XZ’s proximity to queerness., Archived version, tweet, 9 April 2020.
  105. ^ Re: AO3 banned in China, 2 March 2020.
  106. ^ How irrational fans ruined fan fiction site AO3 and their idol too - Global Times, 8 March 2020
  107. ^ "How irrational fans ruined fan fiction site AO3 and their idol too" {article from Chinese Communist Party tabloid}, Archived version
  108. ^ Translated by user:djiange here, from a screencap stored on github. posted to weibo 19:34 26 February 2020.
  109. ^ How Xiao Zhan Got Caught in the AO3 Controversy and the 227 Incident, 10 April 2020.
  110. ^ @Muge_Niu. 29 February 20202 tweet, Archived version
  111. ^ Original: "举报键在中国就是个核弹,你向其他文化领域投了核弹就别想着你在的文化领域能在核战面前活下来" 2 March 2020 tweet, Archived version
  112. ^ Original: "你以为举报必究是对安全负责?当你的“社会安全”已经站在了自由、包容的对立面上,举报就成了无法管束的野兽,以我们的血,饲养得越来越大。当你揪出你看不惯的人,想要去饲养野兽的时候,问问自己,你手上牵着狗绳吗?你能控制野兽吗" 4 March 2020 weibo post
  113. ^ tumblr post by endlessthoughtsofafangirl, Archived version,
  114. ^ Some thought after the Chinese gov blocked AO3 : FanFiction
  115. ^ Some thought after the Chinese gov blocked AO3 : FanFiction
  116. ^ Machine translation of "这种恐惧是,这次是ao3. 下次是什么?我想这也是227当初最先开始能起来的原因。大家都觉得现在大环境是需要注意的,如果这种举报这一次成功了。并且让粉丝觉得这次是正确的。那下一次又是哪里。粉丝是很容易被引导的。那如果有人利用他们来举报别人。不是会有其他 像ao3 这样的地方消失。" 23 April 2020 tweet, Archived version
  117. ^ Machine translation of "而且普通人或多或少都能感受到现在日益严重的对言论和文化产业的管控,所以也都害怕放任这种举报文化愈演愈烈的话,以后我们可以说话的空间越来越小了。所以我看微博上许多人把抵制肖战看作杀鸡给猴看,杜绝举报文化,保护以后言论,创作权利的抗争行为" 肖战做了什么丑事了?网上一片抵制肖战?(What ugly thing did Xiao Zhan do? A boycott of Xiao Xiao on the Internet?), Archived version thread on libaclub.com, 3 March 2020.
  118. ^ Machine translation of "然而,单纯的道德谴责并不足以抵消肖战女孩们在这件事情上的巨大获益。只有让她们的偶像在商业价值上真正付出代价,并且这种代价足够巨大,才足以建立起某种意义上的恐怖平衡,让她们今后不敢再随便举报,真正把大杀器锁进箱子里。就像冷战时期美苏双方手上都握有毁灭对方的核武器,才会持续和平。" 肖战女孩举报AO3之后 (After Xiao Zhan girl reported AO3), Archived version news.qq.com, 3 March 2020.
  119. ^ "I agree entirely. I've seen in the CCP-run Global Times how the government is trying to shift the blame to the fans, in a sort of "look what you made us do" fashion, but at the end of the day the state bears full responsibility for this." comment in thread "AO3 has been blocked in China, Archived version, by pvoberstein, 20 March 2020.
  120. ^ archiveofourown.org is 100% blocked in China, Archived version (Accessed 7 June 2020)
  121. ^ Machine translation of 8 April 2020 OTWComms weibo post
  122. ^ A machine-translated example: "What blocks us is not a wall, but a rumor. Cherish this month. The ao3 server expired in May. Solemnly declare: All data as of 14:00 on April 8, 2020, can prove that the 227 incident did not cause ao3 to be walled. As for whether ao3 will be walled in the future, it has nothing to do with this matter" 227事发后的42天里,AO3没有墙 (In the 42 days after the 227 incident, AO3 had no walls), Archived version, posted on bilibili, 8 April 2020.
  123. ^ Comment on FACT: 227 United is NOT AO3, Archived version, 8 April 2020.
  124. ^ User talk:Sylie, Archived version, accessed 17 April 2020.
  125. ^ Re: AO3 banned in China - Doxxed Author & Fic, Archived version, 2020-03-01
  126. ^ comment in thread "AO3 has been blocked in China", Archived version
  127. ^ Xiao Zhan & AO3: final update + unboxing
  128. ^ Machine translation of "自二月下旬以来,我们收到了极大数量的私信骚扰,其中一些账号多次、持续向我们发送辱骂私信,严重影响了官博日常运营" 10 April 2020 weibo post
  129. ^ Comment on FACT: 227 United is NOT AO3, Archived version
  130. ^ weibo update, Archived version
  131. ^ translation by xzhan1005, Archived version
  132. ^ youtube text post by AvenueX, Archived version (Accessed 7 November 2020)
  133. ^ Re: Cnovels, Archived version fail_fandomanon thread, 2020-04-08.
  134. ^ a b #7 Live Stream - Stay Home Stay Safe/Chinese Fandom + Xiao Zhan Situation/March C Dramas, 19 March 2020
  135. ^ Google translation of "这次的粉丝集体暴动,以及掀起的网络暴力巨浪,不能排除肖战团队在暗中推波助澜的可能....在当今的娱乐经济模式下,粉丝与偶像的互动通常都是经过策划、组织、安排的,单纯依赖粉丝的纯自发活动可谓原始且规模较小。本次事件涉及的粉丝人数之广、社会影响之大,都不太可能仅由少数所谓“粉丝领袖”单独策动,偶像本身在事件背后所发挥的作用值得我们反思" 肖战事件:没有胜利者的战争 (Xiao Zhan incident: a war without a winner), Archived version by 吴一兴 (Wu Yixing). From People's Daily Online, reprinted from Procuratorate Daily.
  136. ^ Line crossed out: "Recently, with permission/guidance from the actor's own management" AO3 has been blocked in China : FanFiction, Archived version
  137. ^ One of these screenshots shows that they reposted the fanclub's post and asked people to follow the fanclub account. March 1, 2020 weibo post
  138. ^ See talk page. The other two screenshots in this post are chats between the former VP of the fanclub and her successor. After the blast the former VP insisted they should "act at Banan's will" and they would "wait for Banan to wake up" and then decide how to react to the situation because they "respect Banan's suggestions." The op who seems to be a senior member(? if it’s a thing...) of the fanclub was pretty upset after communicating with the management and getting the same responses as the former VP’s: "If all you guys can do is just sitting there and waiting for the [PR team] to clean up the mess, then what's the use of you bunch of shits? If it's inappropriate for the fanclub to make a statement first, will waiting for the [PR team] to do it be better? The duty of the [PR team] is to protect and promote Xiao Zhan himself; it's not to manage the fandom."
  139. ^ Re: AO3 banned in China, Archived version 2020-03-04
  140. ^ According to an interview with Claudia Rebaza, the first Chinese fanwork was a Harry Potter fic posted on November 23, 2009. 被肖战粉丝举报后,AO3捐款激增,孙宇晨又想打钱了 (After being reported by Xiao Zhan fans, AO3 donations surged, and Sun Yuchen wanted to make money again), Archived version, pedaily.cn, 9 March 2020.
  141. ^ Based on Work Search results (29 March 2020), 253157 out of 5818404 works have 中文 selected for the language field.
  142. ^ See also the Reuters and Guardian, Archived version reporting.
  143. ^ Zheng, Xiqing. 2019. "Survival and Migration Patterns of Chinese Online Media Fandoms." Transformative Works and Cultures, no. 30. https://doi.org/10.3983/twc.2019.1805.
  144. ^ http://archiveofourown.org/admin_posts/11910
  145. ^ January 2019 Newsletter, Volume 131
  146. ^ http://archiveofourown.org/admin_posts/12901
  147. ^ reblog by naryrising, June 16, 2019.
  148. ^ March 1, 2020 tweet, Archived version
  149. ^ "Why can't we post our works here?I will insist on posting works that humiliate Xiaozhan such as marry him to Trump until his fans give ao3 back to us." 1 March 2020 AO3 comment
  150. ^ 肖战粉丝举报AO3事件时间线 (Xiao Zhan fans report AO3 event timeline), Archived version, timeline posted on github, updated 11 March 2020.
  151. ^ hasebaes. In a beautiful display of resilience and humor, Chinese fans on Lofter are responding to the censorship by writing Ao3 x Lofter BL fics ft. anthromorphized versions of the sites., Archived version, tweet, 1 March 2020.