Fang Binxing, an information security expert nicknamed “father of China’s Great Firewall”, has resigned as president of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications. His abrupt decision to step down–made during a university commencement speech –has ignited uproar online and touched a nerve with China’s Internet-savvy community.
Addressing a crowd of university graduates, Fang said he decided to quit his job as university president because the heavy workload had taken a toll on his health.
“A serious illness has made me unable to stay up working late into nights any longer, I couldn't shoulder the dual responsibilities of doing research and administration like I did before,” he confessed.
The 52-year-old Fang has presided over one of the most sophisticated Internet censorship programs in the world, a system dubbed the “Great Firewall” by which the Chinese government blocks out online content it deems inappropriate. That “inappropriateness”, apart from online pornography and gambling outlawed by the Internet regulators, sometimes also means information that might compromise the image of the ruling communist party.
The maddening aversion to the Great Firewall by many who value the free flow of information has turned into vicious attacks toward Fang. In one instance, he was pelted with eggs and shoes while attending a lecture at Wuhan University in central China. He has also come under fires online in recent years.
His unpopularity, as well as widespread public frustration over the state’s strong grip on the Internet, continues to reverberate as people have increasingly turned online for alternative sources to fill the void left by tightly regulated traditional media in China.
So when word spread that Fang was to step out of the limelight as the most known builder of the censorship wall, Internet users responded with sarcasm.
Kuaile de Manshen_odi commented on popular Chinese microbloging service Sina Weibo:
Fang Bingxin, “the graduation ceremony is a very special one for me this time, this graduation ceremony coincides with the end of term of my administration, this is the last undergraduate ceremony attended by this administration. ( applause)”—– The applause has a complex connotation! [It is difficult to say if the students applause to thank him or to show their disapproval of his work or that they are glad that he is sick.]
LIU_SHU_WEI wrote sarcastically:
It’s about time for him to quit, Snowden had just left. Your technology has blocked information for so many years, Chinese people have been turned into pigs, all they can do every day is search for sheer entertaining stuff like dining and where to hang out.
Kong Xiaoming Noodle wrote:
祝病魔早日战胜方校长！大家一起给方校长送个花圈吧！花圈上写满404。再刻一块墓碑，墓碑刻上：404 not found,无法找到此人信息。追悼会的主题是“连接超时，无法显示该网页”
I hope the disease can conquer president Fang! Everyone please lay a flower wrath for president Fang! In it we write 404 all over, in the tombstone we carve: 404 not found, no information is available for this person. The theme of the funeral is “Connection time out, unable to access the page”
President Fang has been really tired from building the censorship wall, it’s time to get some rest.
Leonides simply wrote:
再见，404 Not Found之父
Goodbye, father of “404 Not Found”