“Rubao culture” is a popular satire genre lampooning Xi Jinping and the CCP. The authors told Bitter Winter they will continue to fight.
by Chen Tao
Xiaofanqi (小反旗) and Xiaochitang (小池塘), two influential Chinese political dissenter YouTube Channels that were popular among the Zoomers, were permanently suspended by YouTube on February 13, claiming they had violated the YouTube terms of service. Following the incident, the channels’ owners had been appealing for an explanation and recovery of their channels in multiple futile attempts. Amid suspicion of the intention of termination, they decided to take further action.
These two channels are known as the bellwether of Rubao culture (辱包文化), a form of political satire used to express criticism and disapproval of Xi Jinping and the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). It is usually assembled by using various materials—edited video footage, speeches, public statements of the CCP leaders, original artworks, and so on. However, the CCP has criminalized all Rubao-related activities and contents, based on its usual strategy of protecting the image of its leaders and harsh speech censorship.
“This is not the first time we are harassed,” Delta, a member of the team that runs both channels, told us. According to Delta, the channels had received many copyright protests filed by multiple Chinese entities in the past. Before the planned Rubao Lunar New Year Festival in February, the channels received 18 strikes of copyright complaints, all requested by Chinese entities. “I believe all of these requests were issued with the malicious intention of silencing us,” Delta told Bitter Winter.
The channels had successfully defended all previous cases of counter-notification by applying the concept of fair use under the U.S. Copyright Act, Sec. 107, but this time YouTube did not leave any chance for Delta’s team to defend their work. Delta suspects that the Rubao Festival was the cause since it would have been a major burst of Rubao publications. “The CCP craves to eliminate all dissent to secure a favorable public opinion on Xi Jinping’s next 5-year-term of office,” Delta concluded.
Another member, Christopher D., elucidated his concerns about the incident. “It is an extremely sensitive period in China now, yet we haven’t expected its (CCP’s) arm could reach us while we operated from outside of the Great Firewall,” he said, “and now I fear the worst for activists like us.” Despite his worry, he emphasized that they will not give ground to YouTube and its possible manipulator, the CCP. “They have been trying to punch whatever they want into people’s minds through a massive propaganda campaign, and we are bringing them down by telling people the truth,” he told Bitter Winter, “don’t underestimate our work here. There is enormous power in laughter when terror shadows all of us.”
When asked by Bitter Winter about their plans for the next move, Christopher said that the Rubao activists will start a campaign to gather public attention and support in the United States. They also plan to send out petitions to American politicians to request an independent congressional investigation over the possible collaboration with a foreign totalitarian regime and violation of the First Amendment by the YouTube management.
“Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We adamantly stand against anything that is against democracy, liberty, human rights, and all universal values, and we have a battle to win in the Beacon of Liberty,” Christopher commented. “And this interview is our declaration of war.”