For web users in countries where the Internet is restricted, there is nothing quite like the joy of seeing a previously blocked website become available. As Chinese Internet users amply showed when they flooded Barack Obama’s page on Google+.
The social network was suddenly and inexplicably unblocked after being censored for months by China’s notoriously thorough web guardians.The prevalence of unfamiliar hieroglyphs in the hundreds of comments underneath every post has led some to call the Chinese invasion “Occupy Obama.”But the mood seems to be not one of protest, but appreciation (at least among most posts containing some English characters).“We admire the freedom and democracy that you American friends now enjoy, so we don't want to go back to a blocked life!” Coattail Wa writes.Others were more specific, asking Obama to put more pressure on China over political and human rights in the next talks with his counterpart President Hu Jintao. Many posts are copycat letters lobbying for the release of imprisoned blind human-rights activist Chen Guangcheng.
Although seemingly random and spontaneous “occupations” of various corporate and celebrity web pages are something of a trend, many commentators pointed out that this was more than a prank.Ariana Li posted that “never feel we are so close to a leader”, explaining the fascination with Obama’s page by the contrast between the Internet-savvy US president and the starchy and distant images projected by China’s own leadership.Yet some overwhelmed American users, for whom the site was presumably intended, were less impressed.“My Chinese friends, can you please post in English?” stands a solitary English-language comment from Ali Utlu, among a sea of hieroglyphs.