I learned a lot of things while reading the New York Times' fascinating article on Google and Internet censorship in China (available online here), but it was Jingjing and Chacha that really got to me. The deceptively innocuous-looking anime-style characters, with their wide eyes and tiny police uniforms, are the new face of Chinese government censorship online—a constant reminder that someone is watching. Deployed earlier this year by police from the city of Shenzhen, the two characters appear on the city's major web portals, "reminding all [Chinese] Netizens to be conscious of safe and healthy use of the Internet, self-regulate their online behavior and maintain harmonious Internet order together," according to an article in the Beijing Youth Daily. Both characters have their own blogs and automated web chat sytems, allowing users to interact with them directly. But the Chinese government is the first to admit that "the main function of Jingjing and Chacha is to intimidate," according to an official quoted by the Daily.