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Censorship Your Rights Online

Is China's Control of the Internet Slipping? 422

Posted by timothy
from the just-like-star-systems dept.
Garp writes "According to the BBC news site the Chinese governments grip on the internet is slipping. Ever since they allowed use of the internet, the Chinese have been monitoring the information that has been flowing (jokingly referred to as the great fire-wall of china), in an attempt to ensure 'bad' philosophies don't infect their people. However, the internet is having a much more profound affect, out of the control of the government ..."
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Is China's Control of the Internet Slipping?

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  • by bleckywelcky (518520) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @08:48AM (#3651646)

    I would say that is prolly for the better for everyone, since we will be able to reach more people with more information. Perhaps this will help in the human rights debates that have been rampant in China over the past years.
  • by ramdac (302865) <ramdac [at] ramdac.org> on Thursday June 06, 2002 @08:56AM (#3651705) Homepage Journal
    We all know that China's news institutions (government controlled) will soon be ignored. The Chinese government won't always be able to restrict their users from reading information from the BBC, CNN, and other institutions.

    China's GOV has to face the music. They can't and won't control what their people see on the internet--at least not forever. As more and more people there use the internet, those people will find ways to express their views.
  • by seldolivaw (179178) <me@@@seldo...com> on Thursday June 06, 2002 @08:58AM (#3651719) Homepage
    I think it's really interesting that China has spent so much time and effort trying to protect its citizens from ideas from outside without realising that ideas that come from inside are just as dangerous. People who talk to each other cannot be fooled by propaganda, as the article mentions -- a mining disaster which killed 81 people was initially supressed, but when word about it spread on the 'net anyway the official newspapers ended up reporting on it.

    The logical conclusion of this is that the much-protested firewall that China has put around itself will be of no help at all in supressing dissent, as long as chat rooms and even e-mail exist.
  • by squaretorus (459130) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:05AM (#3651757) Homepage Journal
    A bit further than this. China probably CAN prevent the viewing of news.bbc.co.uk and cnn.com but they'll NEVER keep up to date the block list for NGOs and other more independent and direct news sources.

    As long as there are search engines, email, and word of mouth, those who WANT to read the real story will be able to.

    This leaves those majority of the population still sucking in the dross they are fed. At the moment in the UK you can't move for people sucking up to the royal family on the TV. The mass population couldn't give two shits about them and want them gone - but the BBC pays for a big concert, a million people go along to see bands for free, and we're told its a royalist revival!

    Enough people just go along with this and decide 'hey - yeah - lets do that! royals! I love them!' because they don't form opinions, they consume them.
  • by 4of12 (97621) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:06AM (#3651765) Homepage Journal

    Exactly.

    Presuming that "counter-revolutionary" thoughts always enter from the outside and could be theoretically controlled by a firewall neglects the basic fact that China is filled with enough people on the inside that can think for themselves.

    When a rational idea or a truth is communicated, it will resonate all through the inside.

    OTOH, China, like the U.S. and Russia, has a great deal of national pride. While the party in power has used that as tool for its own ends, there's nothing preventing a popular movement from incorporating "patriotism" in a way that might be unhealthy for everyone in the long term. Remember some of the causes of WWW 1!

  • by sputnik73 (579595) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:07AM (#3651772)
    You should say "mainstream media" because clearly websites are a form of media and there has been plenty of criticism of the U.S. government's policies as of late. Furthermore, I'm not quite sure you've been keeping up on what the media has been reporting. The Times, Newsweek, MSNBC, FoxNews, and CNN have all been questioning the FBI's knowledge of a possible terrorist attack before 9/11. There is no shortage of pundits in this country who will criticize politicians.
    Also, your statement that "In China it seems that the media is free and the government only controls its (sic) distribution" is just stupid. A free media that cannot inform anyone is not a free media at all. And I guess you're not aware of the "People's" Daily newspaper in China which is the official mouthpiece of the Communist government - clearly a form of media which is not "free" and entirely controlled by the government. The Chinese government has long shown that they do not share the same views of freedom that your average American will espouse. I think that this story is indicative of the fact that in this past century technology has made the world a much smaller place. The Internet, hopefully, will force a degree of honesty onto governments around the world and aid the people in removing depostic regimes. I also find it quite offensive that you're trying to defend China by comparing it to the United States government's behavior. You should read up a bit more on how the Chinese government treats her people and realize that not only is your statement out of line but it is also quite insulting to the millions of Chinese people living in oppression - when you downplay their oppression and try to compare it to Americans, you confuse people on the issue. There's a reason people are fleeing China to enter the United States and it's not because the US "controls the media."
  • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:09AM (#3651780) Homepage Journal
    Despite wanting to see monarchy in the UK abolished, I must disagree with you. Countless polls have shown that the people in the UK in general support monarchy and supports the royal family. Large groups of the people may want them gone, but unfortunately not the majority.
  • by JeanBaptiste (537955) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:24AM (#3651875)
    yeah? what about the USS Cole? or yeah what was that... world trade centers? pentagon? are these all media hype also? I dont think most muslims hate us and I know the media does not portray it that way. I DO think most muslim led COUNTRIES hate us and that is why they fund suicide bombings and such. I couldn't agree more that the american media sucks, but you cant say that it is goverment controlled

  • just perspective (Score:3, Insightful)

    by tid242 (540756) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:25AM (#3651877) Homepage
    it's interesting to note that this story is entirely from the perspective of a capitalist & democratic society (oft accused (rightly so) of being run by 'elitest technocrats') on its own moral high-ground of assuming an 'information free' culture already exists in its native province (UK). however, with the case of America, perhaps the most blatantly in-your-face with claims of informational freedom, recent studies have shown that a vast majority of internet traffic is centered upon only a few news carriers (yahoo! MSN AOL), and it is well known that the vast majority of our other physical media is controlled solely by but a few companies (TW/AOL, Disney et al). is _this_ freedom? while individuals everywhere will always have oppertunity to express disfavor with whatever it is they feel like, the internet only provides an expanded environment in which to do so, nothing more. a group of individuals discussing politics in a chat-room are no less subordinate to a hostile government in the end, than are the same individuals sitting in a dining room discussion over supper. the globalisation of information is an inevidable progression the information age must allow, yet this in no way assures the integrity of said information, nor its effect on greater society. i live in a proclaimedly expression-embracing country (USA)but my sources of information are undoubtably shaped by the dearth of non-partial reporting in my media-monopoly. more importantly in either society we still engage in 'majority rule' whether the majority is in a republic or communism the sources of information available to *most* people will still dictate the whims of the country. While i _do_ think that it's absolutely wonderful that the Chinese people are recieving more online liberty it should be remembered that until an enormous percentage of people are online & engaging in news-gathering & discussion government-run news agencies will still have a firm control over public belief (56M out of 1.xxB is not a very large percentage).

    sorry this got long (and scatterbrained)

    -tid242

  • by brejc8 (223089) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:26AM (#3651884) Homepage Journal
    I'm Polish and I've lived under communism most of my life. My girlfriend is Chinese I also work with several Chinese who are here in the UK for a few years studying
    before going back.

    I absolutely agree but the fact that the government stops the people from seeing the bad news makes people want it more. In the US no one wants to know what evil acts
    are done on their behalf.

    The worst thing of all is some other people in this thread who without thinking will state that the media always tells the trough. There is no point even trying to tell them
    otherwise because its all loony talk to them. Lizard men and all that.
  • by vidarh (309115) <vidar@hokstad.com> on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:31AM (#3651909) Homepage Journal
    You're right. The point being?

    Monarchy in the UK is just a silly show, but that doesn't stop the majority of the people from supporting it. I guess a lot of people support it because it gives them something to read about in the papers.

  • by automandc (196618) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:32AM (#3651919)
    Which demonstrates the vapid self-interest behind most people's moral philosophy.

    More people are killed by reckless drivers who think they have the skill/technology/brains to drive at unsafe speeds, than by murder.

    Nothing gets on my nerves more than some yahoo in a way-to-big SUV tailgating me at 80MPH simply because he has no f-ing clue about such concepts as reaction time or stopping distance.

    Of course, when his unnecessary and reckless conduct causes my death it is an "accident," while a woman who shoots her abusive husband dead in his sleep is considered a "murderer"

  • by pubjames (468013) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:33AM (#3651926)
    A history teacher I once took some courses from in High School (Military History and US History) subscribed to an interesting theory; The fall of Russian Communism resulted from McDonalds.

    If this theory is meant to be taken literally, then it is an insult to the Russian people. They aren't that stupid, nor ignorant, at least those that I know in Moscow and StPetersburg. Even many years before the fall of Russian Communism many Russians were well aware about the world outside Russia and the failings of their political system. To say that Russian Communism fell because of McDonalds is such as gross simplification of what happened that it is meaningless.
  • by Gulthek (12570) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @09:53AM (#3652038) Homepage Journal
    In China, it seems as though a similar evolution is occuring; The alter-ego of Soviet Commuism, Chinese Communism, is being exposed to it's antithesis. Russian Communism focused, as I understand, mainly on supression and communitization of materialism, but was then faced with the holy grail of materialism, McDonalds.

    First off you can't suppress something and spread it throughout the community at the same time.

    Second, Chinese Communism split from what was Soviet Communism back in the 1950s as China pissed off the USSR by declaring that they were going to Do It Their Way.
    Nowadays calling the Chinese government Communist is a joke. A joke perpetuated primarily for the benefit of the old party members who still wield control. They have even whipped up an excuse that allows self-proclaimed capitalists to join the Chinese Communist Party! The best explanation of China's current policy is this:

    The CCP leaders are riding in a taxicab, ahead is a fork in the road with one path leading to Communism and one to Capitalism. The driver asks: Which way should I go? After a brief discussion, the leaders tell the driver to signal a turn to Communism, but to actually turn towards Capitalism.

    The CCP wants to keep control over information, but the party isn't stupid. There is just an ongoing high level conflict on government policy, the Internet is just one of the controls being exploited by each side.
  • by JeanBaptiste (537955) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:07AM (#3652117)
    one could argue the plight of the palistinians is the fault of arafat as well as the surrounding arab nations as much as anything israel has done.
  • by dwm (151474) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @10:41AM (#3652302)
    The fact that you were able to post this where hundreds of thousands of people could see it, and have zero chance of being arrested (or even frowned at, most likely) very nicely demolishes your argument.


    Is corporatization of the internet a problem? Yes. Is it in any way comparable to the situation in repressive countries like China? No.


    Just some perspective.

  • Individuality (Score:2, Insightful)

    by cat_jesus (525334) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @11:57AM (#3652838)
    As China continues to have adult generations which consist soley of only children who are accustomed to having access to illegal information, the country will inevitably change. It will be close to impossible to keep the communist ideology alive in the hearts and minds of people who never really had to share anything with anyone. I don't think China has ever addressed the problem of inculcating an inherently individualistic demographic with a philosophy that is in conflict with the experiences of a person who is an only child.

    This is a serious problem before you even get to the huge disparity between the populations of men and women in said generations. Old values and mores will have to adjust; China cannot imprison a generation or two to keep the status quo. Strict authoritarinism and control of information are the two main tools of the Chinese government. Both of these tools are rapidly becoming obsolete.

    Cat
  • freenet? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by bcrowell (177657) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @01:25PM (#3653407) Homepage
    It's interesting that the stuff the article describes doesn't involve any technological maneuvering at all. What it seems to come down to is that there are some very brave people, who are willing to go to jail if they have to.

    I tried out Freenet recently, and if there were any political dissidents using it, it wasn't apparent. The single biggest application of Freenet seems to be child pornography.

  • by Zeinfeld (263942) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @01:37PM (#3653474) Homepage
    Capitalism is the system where the state's ONLY function is to protect individual rights.

    Actually the term Capitalism is Marxist in origin and originally refered to an economic system in which control of the means of production are controlled by means of control of capital.

    In Das Kapital Marx wrote about capitalism almost all the time, the bits about the communist system to replace it are little more than an afterthought in comparison. What is somewhat hillarious for European readers is the way that many of Marx's arguments have since been adopted by the right as a defense of capitalism. This is not suprising since Marx was one of the first economists to really explain how capitalism worked and he was not completely against it. What he wanted was a means of harnessing the productivity of capitalism with a social settlement that did not mean that 95% of the population lived in dire poverty. However since Marx is not a politically correct figure to praise the good ideas that Marx had are usually ascribed to Adam Smith.

    The political system we live in today is neither capitalist, nor socialist by 19th century definitions. This is something that should have really upset the Marxist idealogues since acording to the theory that is not meant to happen.

    Capital is far more broadly distributed than ever before and access to capital is no longer restricted to a tiny class of plutocrats. The type of capitalism that Marx wrote about is practically dead.

    Apart that is from in countries like China where control of capital and control of the state are both restricted to a tiny governing elite.

  • by Jonavin (71006) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @03:12PM (#3654020) Homepage
    This is so true. I used to hold the ignorant view of China until I went there for a vacation earlier this year.

    Mind you, I didn't ventured into the really small villages (pop less than 1000) and rural areas, but I could tell things are a lot different that what I used to perceive it as.

    I was in a fishing village in souther China with no paved roads, but they had buses with VCD videos playing. And in the same area were more Internet cafe than I'd image people could use. Sure enough when I went in there were half a dozen kids, no more than 12 years old, playing network games.

    I spent 2 hours in there checking email and reading news. I certainly didn't feel like anything was being blocked. They had 128bit I.E. browser so I was able to do my banking too.

    I could go on forever. Bottom line is that people should stop making ignorant comments about China unless they've been there.
  • Re:marx (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Zeinfeld (263942) on Thursday June 06, 2002 @08:15PM (#3656515) Homepage
    Marx was convinced that the great masses would never have the resources to own captial. Thus he reasoned that the masses would rise up and over throw the extreamly wealthy.

    I actually wonder if he really believed that. Although he tries very hard to persuade people that the revolution is at hand he also said that philosophers have analysed the world in many ways, the real task is to change it.

    I think that Marx's prophecy of a revolution should be considered in the same light as 1984, not primarily prophecy but instead a means of effecting change. Victorian Britain was scared of revolution above all else, revolution meant the horrors of the French reign of terror and the Bonapartist attempt to establish dictatorship across Europe.

    Victorian society did change, they may have changed in part because Marx's prophecy meant that liberal reformers were listened to and the elites accepted gradual change rather than risk revolution.

    What he didnt count on was publicly held stock, wide spread education, and that the investment of the extremely wealthy would make the whole country more wealthy.

    I think that Marx's ideas reached their sell by date long before we got to the point where the middle class was the majority of the population and most people owned stock. Certainly after WWI with the Bolshevick coup the forces of reactionism are doing their utmost to reform social conditions before the revolution sweeps them away.

    Incidentally, the term 'Bolshevick revolution' is a misnomer, actually the Tzar was removed from power in a relatively peaceful revolution led by the Menchevicks who tried to establish a liberal democratic state. The mistake they made was not announcing an end to the war which is what gave Lenin and Stalin an opportunity. The proletariat cared more about ending the war than the promise of a democratic society.

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