One may refer to storing draft novels online as a convenience. Still, Chinese writer Miffy Gu has learned a hard lesson that nothing can be private under the Chinese regime’s aggressive censorship system.

According to the Wall Street Journal, Gu stored her story on word processing software WPS, a Google Docs-like version commonly used on the mainland. As a result, the novel of more than a million words became inaccessible as of June 25. 

Gu struggled to find her work, but the software left a message, “This document may contain forbidden content. Access has been suspended.”

But as the writer insisted, her compositions circle around urban romance stories and edge away from politics or graphic elements. 

The Journal further added that her chapters are posted on Fanqie Novel. It is a well-known online fiction service that is so strict about sensitive content that it previously requested her to remove a detailed description of a kiss.

As Gu appealed for the return of her files, a WPS employee informed her that they were locked following the detection of prohibited keywords by software. That was the time she knew her private documents had been compromised. 

WPS reopened Gu’s works three days later, saying that the blockage came from an error with the content-scanning system. But it gave no detail about the potentially problematic wording in Gu’s writing.

The incident fuelled public discussion about the Chinese regime’s tenacious meddling in private data. As a result, the topic dominated searches as of July 11.

The Journal cited a typical comment: “Who wants to be constantly watched when writing something? You’re an editing tool, not the police.”

Beijing has long desired tech companies to enforce censorship according to its whims. Businesses that fail to monitor their employees’ work per the regime’s requirements risk hefty fines and even closure.

Sign up to receive our latest news!

By submitting this form, I agree to the terms.