How “Master Li” on Twitter became the hub of information about China’s protests

It’s hard to describe the feeling that came after. As if everyone comes to you, and all kinds of information from all over the world flocks to you. [people are] I’m telling you: Hey, what’s going on here?; hey what’s going on; you know this is what happens in guangzhou; I’m in Wuhan, Wuhan does it; I am in Beijing and I follow a large group and walk together. All of a sudden, all the information is being transmitted to me in real time, and I don’t know how to describe the feeling. But there was no time to think about it.

My heart was beating really fast and my hands and my brain were constantly switching between multiple programs because you know you can’t save videos with the web version of Twitter. So I was constantly switching software, editing the video, exporting it, and then posting it to Twitter. [Editor’s note: Li adds subtitles, blocks out account information, and compiles shorter videos into one.] By the end, there was no time to edit the video. If someone took and sent a 12 second WeChat video, I would just use it as is. That’s all.

I have the biggest amount [private messages] around 18:00 Sunday evening. At that time, there were many people on the streets of five major cities in China: Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, Wuhan and Guangzhou. So I got a dozen private messages every second. Eventually, I couldn’t even view the information anymore. I saw it, I clicked on it, and if it was worth posting, I posted it.

People all over the country tell me about their real situations. So that more people would not be endangered, they went to [protest] the sites themselves and sent me what was happening there. Like, some followers rode bicycles near the presidential palace in Nanjing, took pictures and told me about the situation in the city. And then they asked me to tell everyone to be careful. I think it’s a really touching thing.

It was like I gradually became a host, sitting in a TV studio and receiving endless information from reporters from all over the country. For example, on Monday in Hangzhou, five or six people were giving me breaking news at the same time. But there was a break because they all fled when the police cleared the place.

The importance of remaining objective

There are many tweets that embellish the truth. From their point of view, they believe that this is correct. They think you have to maximize outrage so that there can be a riot. But for me, I think we need reliable information. We need to know what’s really going on, and that’s the most important thing. If we did this for the sake of emotion, then in the end I would really be a part of “foreign influence,” Correctly?

But if there is a news account outside of China that can objectively, in real time, and accurately record what is happening, then the people inside the Great Firewall will no longer have doubts. At the moment, in this rather extreme situation of permanent news shutdown, being able to have an account that can post news from across the country at the rate of almost one tweet every few seconds actually boosts morale for everyone.

The Chinese grow up with patriotism, so they become shy or don’t dare to say or object directly. That’s why the crowd was singing the national anthem and waving the red flag, the national flag. [during protests]. You must understand that the Chinese are patriotic. Even when they demand things [from the government]they do it with such a vibe.

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