Posted on September 21, 2006

Online Survey Axed After Most Reject Chinese Identity

Jonathan Watts, Guardian (UK), September 19, 2006

Beijing — Chinese authorities have shut down an online survey that found most respondents would prefer a different nationality if they were born again. According to the South China Morning Post, two editors of the host website, NetEase, have also been fired in the past few days, prompting speculation that they have been punished for organising the poll.

Electronic surveys are popular in China, but while the authorities tolerate voting for TV pop idols they are uneasy about polls on sensitive political subjects. This did not deter NetEase, which asked readers of its game site: “Would you like to be Chinese if you had a second life?”

The survey was supposed to run until the second week of October, but it has closed and news editor Tang Yan and opinion editor Liu Xianghui have been sacked. NetEase declined to answer The Guardian’s request for an explanation.

At least two blogs, however, claim to have maintained a record of the results. If correct, they suggest greater insecurity about national identity than is usually reported. Of the more than 10,000 respondents, 64% said they would not want to be Chinese if they were reincarnated. The main reason, given by almost 40% of the respondents, was that Chinese citizens lacked human dignity. Among those who wanted to keep Chinese nationality in a future life, the main reason was love of the country, given by 19% of the total.