- By Isaac Stone Fish
Isaac Stone Fish is associate editor at Foreign Policy. Previously a Beijing correspondent for Newsweek, he wrote stories on such subjects as the Dalai Lama’s effect on international trade, China’s love affair with rogue states, and crystal meth in North Korea. His articles have also appeared in the International Herald Tribune, the Economist, and the Los Angeles Times.
Earlier today, tech guru Kai-Fu Lee, one of China’s most popular microbloggers, announced to his more than 35 million followers that Facebook and Twitter had become available in mainland China. The post asked readers to click on the image of Facebook, to which Lee (who’s Taiwanese) responded, "I’m in [Taiwan’s capital] Taipei…Happy April Fool’s Day!" The post was forwarded more than 40,000 times; Josh Chin of the Wall Street Journal translated some of the comments it elicited, many of them angry.
It’s true, Twitter and Facebook remain inaccessible in China without censorship circumvention tools. The popular Chinese social networking site Renren.com resembles Facebook, but for those on the other side who want a taste of the real thing, may I suggest Mylianpu.com?
I just found this site today, and it’s the baldest Facebook rip-off I’ve seen to date. The site, which claims to be "powered by Facebook Chinese web 2.0," seems to basically be a landing page with advertisements. Lianpu, the word for face makeup used in operas, is the Chinese word Facebook uses (when I Googled it in Chinese, the real Facebook is the first hit).
According to the web information company Alexa, Mylianpu.com is China’s 101,266th most popular website; it gets nearly 94 percent of its search-engine driven traffic from users who search for the seemingly meaningless set of numbers ‘1273894945.’
And there you have it.