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China Blocks YouTube, Again 127

Posted by Soulskill
from the well-played-well-played dept.
cryfreedomlove brings news that YouTube has once again been blocked in China. The Google-owned video site was censored in China last year because of videos about the protests in Tibet, and that may be the impetus behind this latest restriction. According to a New York Times report, "'The instant speculation is that YouTube is being blocked because the Tibetan government in exile released a particular video,' said Xiao Qiang, adjunct professor of journalism at the University of California, Berkeley... Mr. Xiao said that the blocking of YouTube fit with what appeared to be an effort by China to step up its censorship of the Internet in recent months. Mr. Xiao said he was not surprised that YouTube was a target. It also hosts videos about the Tiananmen Square protests and many other subjects that Chinese authorities find objectionable."
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China Blocks YouTube, Again

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  • first (Score:2, Funny)

    methinks that China needs to be brought out of the stone age like MAtthew Perry did many years ago....
    • Re:first (Score:5, Insightful)

      by severoon (536737) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:49AM (#27330399) Journal

      I guess the YouTube posters got all cocky when "The River Crab Wears Two Watches" and "Grass Mud Horse" didn't get it blocked...

      This is an unfortunate development. For a bit there, it looked like China might be going more open, but I guess the infantilization of their people is more important. :-/

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        I'm surprised this story is about China and not the UK. I guess it's only a matter of time - "UK Blocks Wikipedia" has already happened.

      • Grass Mud Horse is an interesting phenomenon

        http://www.iht.com/articles/2009/03/12/asia/12beast.php [iht.com]

        It was against this background that the grass-mud horse and several mythical companions appeared in early January on the Chinese Internet portal Baidu. The creatures' names, as written in Chinese, were innocent enough. But much as "bear" and "bare" have different meanings in English, their spoken names were double entendres with inarguably dirty second meanings.

        So while "grass-mud horse" sounds like a nasty curse in Chinese, its written Chinese characters are completely different, and its meaning â"taken literally â" is benign. Thus the beast not only has dodged censors' computers, but has also eluded the government's own ban on so-called offensive behavior.

        As depicted online, the grass-mud horse seems innocent enough at the start.

        An alpaca-like animal - in fact, the videos show alpacas - it lives in a desert whose name resembles yet another foul word. The horses are "courageous, tenacious and overcome the difficult environment," a YouTube song about them says.

        But they face a problem: invading "river crabs" that are devouring their grassland. In spoken Chinese, "river crab" sounds very much like "harmony," which in China's cyberspace has become a synonym for censorship. Censored bloggers often say their posts have been "harmonized" â" a term directly derived from President Hu Jintao's regular exhortations for Chinese citizens to create a harmonious society.

        In the end, one song says, the horses are victorious: "They defeated the river crabs in order to protect their grassland; river crabs forever disappeared from the Ma Le Ge Bi," the desert.

      • It's three watches you insensitive clod!
  • by sabre86 (730704) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:17AM (#27329993)
    My initial response is that Google should just ignore the blockage -- stick by the free speech principles that they purport to support.

    But it is my hope that Youtube, blogs and similar sites have a positive effect on subverting the PRC government's policies of censorship and thought control, even when censored. Wikipedia suggests that this is true, with sexual content becoming less censored around 2004 [wikipedia.org]. It's also clear that the Chinese populace is willing and at least somewhat to subvert such censorship, as indicated by the "Ten Mythical Creatures [wikipedia.org]" meme.

    So, though it galls me, perhaps Google should aim for some sort of middle of the road response to maximize the subversion of China's anti-free speech policies.

    --sabre86
    • by Jurily (900488) <jurily@noSpAM.gmail.com> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:28AM (#27330145)

      My initial response is that Google should just ignore the blockage

      When in Rome...

      But it is my hope that Youtube, blogs and similar sites have a positive effect on subverting the PRC government's policies of censorship and thought control, even when censored.

      Thought control is nonexistant. Chinese media may seem that way from the outside, but you have to understand that people are much more critical when they know it's controlled.

      A seemingly irrelevant quote [wikipedia.org]: "Strangely enough, Hungarians living outside of Hungary - especially those living overseas - never really understood Hofi's message. This wasn't because of a language barrier: it was a consequence of drastically different experiences regarding certain historical events."

      He became a legend not because he was critical, but because he said what everyone in the country was thinking anyway.

      • by ShieldW0lf (601553) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:38AM (#27330255) Journal
        A seemingly irrelevant quote [wikipedia.org]: "Strangely enough, Hungarians living outside of Hungary - especially those living overseas - never really understood Hofi's message. This wasn't because of a language barrier: it was a consequence of drastically different experiences regarding certain historical events."

        He became a legend not because he was critical, but because he said what everyone in the country was thinking anyway.


        Every crazy leader you've ever heard of was like that. We get more and more dissatisfied with living under the system we're in, until one day, some madman who doesn't care about political correctness stands up and says "We're all thinking the same way, lets get those motherfuckers!", and everyone follows them because they were the sanest person who was willing to lead them against their enemies.

        It has to be a madman, because they're the outsiders. The insiders are paralyzed into indecisiveness by what they stand to lose, and are crippled by their tendency to use traditional methods to achieve their goals, which is a liability when you're trying to create a fresh new system.
        • by Jurily (900488)

          Every crazy leader you've ever heard of was like that. We get more and more dissatisfied with living under the system we're in, until one day, some madman who doesn't care about political correctness stands up and says "We're all thinking the same way, lets get those motherfuckers!", and everyone follows them because they were the sanest person who was willing to lead them against their enemies.

          It has to be a madman, because they're the outsiders. The insiders are paralyzed into indecisiveness by what they stand to lose, and are crippled by their tendency to use traditional methods to achieve their goals, which is a liability when you're trying to create a fresh new system.

          In the name of the Hungarian people, let me say: FUCK YOU. Hofi was not a leader, he was a comedian. He never tried to tell anyone what to do, except "stop being stupid". We loved him precisely because of that. And because he was not afraid to tell that to those in power as well.
          There are few things you can do to piss off a Hungarian: calling Hofi a madman is one of them.

          RTFWiki.

          His death created an enormous vacuum in Hungarian comedy, and it is a common consensus among people who witnessed his performances that there may never be another comedian like him. Even today, he is referred to as "The Hofi", with the definite article. He was indeed a national institution.

          Hofi's historical significance - beyond his obvious merits as a comedian - was that he maintained his identity and dignity in a totalitarian regime where most others would have bailed. He can never be compared to those stand-up comedians who were making fun of politicians while living under a democratic government.

          • by amiga3D (567632)
            I can see your point. The guy had big brass balls.
        • great post very thought provoking

        • I always use traditional methods to get things done. It just happens that I introduce new traditions into my life and throw out old ones every few hours. A recent tradition is no less a tradition! :P

      • by noundi (1044080)

        ...but you have to understand that people are much more critical when they know it's controlled.

        Yeah people are in no way easily manipulated, especially highly educated people such as the Chinese that are tought from birth to question authority.

        • by Jurily (900488)

          Yeah people are in no way easily manipulated, especially highly educated people such as the Chinese that are tought from birth to question authority.

          Which is why China will never be as totalitarian as the US.
          </troll>

          • by noundi (1044080)
            Essentially there's no difference in not being able to question authority and having the illusion that you can question authority.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      Youtube2.com, a full mirror of regular Youtube. Just keep making new ones until China gives up.
  • by Hasney (980180) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:19AM (#27330023) Journal
    I'll alert the presses!!!!!
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Jurily (900488)

      I'll alert the presses!!!!!

      Tell me, Mr. Anderson... what good is a phone call... if you're unable to speak?

  • This certainly isn't the First Anti-China Video on Youtube, and from TFA, the Chinese Government was in the practice of blocking individual videos.

    I guess the Tibetan Beating Video was the straw such that the Chinese Government just said, "Aw, screw it. Ban the whole thing."

    It's not like no one saw it coming, but whats really scary is not that Chinese Citizens sit by and take this... but that from what I understand, they _condone it_ and even expect it.
    • by oldhack (1037484)

      It's their one great fear: disintegration/segmentation.

      China seems to be the only ancient empire that managed to maintain intact to the modern time. Any other contender?

  • by Ukab the Great (87152) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:20AM (#27330033)

    Secret footage of Mao Tse-Tung wearing a really comfy pair of Italian loafers. The Tibet stuff is a cover story.

  • Tiananmen Square (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:21AM (#27330041)

    I can't believe this isn't talked about more. I can't believe it didn't come up before they decided to let them host the Olympics.

    You guys know they put a bunch of farm boys into tanks and had them roll into Tiananmen Square and start shooting students, right? Shooting from their tanks onto balconies.

    What do you think happened to that guy standing in front of the tank (you know the picture)? You think he's still alive? Can you imagine the courage it took to do that?

    And the world rewarded these murderers with the Olympic Games.

    • Re:Tiananmen Square (Score:4, Interesting)

      by u38cg (607297) <calum@callingthetune.co.uk> on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:51AM (#27330433) Homepage
      It's called realpolitik. While I and many others would love to ostracise China until they choose to reform, let's consider what happened last time we tried it on Germany in 1919. A billion angry, resourceful, intelligent people is *not* a country I want to go to war with, no matter how many of their own people they massacre. Their own citizens are slowly starting to figure out that it's not quite right; things will change eventually.
      • All western nations should be taking the Chinese government as a chilling vision of things to come, and watching the Chinese people to see how the fuck we can get out of our future mess. My bet is there'll be a few more craters on the surface of the earth, and a few more chapters in our anthologies of war (I mean... "history books") before the world changes for the better. I don't think war is the right answer - civil or otherwise - but I do think it's the answer people will choose.

      • I'm not so sure that the technology-literate Chinese are slowing figuring things out. I used to date a Chinese national in her mid-30s. She was very well-educated, and she was fully aware that her government regularly censored information. Her attitude about it all was "So what?" and "It's better this way in order to maintain stability and peace." For every Chinese libertarian there seems to be many more Chinese who, even while in a safe apartment in a major US city, will proudly defend the actions of their

        • by u38cg (607297)
          Most people in the West want it too. Most people I know are quite happy with web filtering (*I* don't go to those kinds of websites, after all, so it doesn't affect me). Even if they can understand the potential for abuse that goes with that, they also blindly trust "them" to just, well, behave themselves. And given what China's been through in the 20th century, I can't say I blame anyone for wanting to keep their head down and in turn rationalising it to themselves.
        • by vistic (556838)

          This has been my experience with most Chinese people who study and work in America. They are still very, very proud of their country and while defend it's actions even with full knowledge about what's happened.

          I think it's the same mental process at work that fueled the reluctance of the American people to stand up and do anything even when crimes of the Bush administration became completely known and accepted facts.

    • That was one AWESOME opening ceremony, wasn't it?

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by DNS-and-BIND (461968)
      The students were viewed as dangerous radicals, set to change China from an Iraq-style stable dictatorship into an Iraq-style civil war with a democracy wrapping on top. They were elitists who had very little support outside their own little clique. However, they were lionized and idolized by certain Westerners who found the famous photo romantic, and for no other reason.

      PS the Olympic games are for sale to whoever wants to pay. I thought we settled that back when Salt Lake City got caught for bribery

      • China also views Falun Gong/Falun Dafa as dangerous radicals, and they are anything but. And there's a fair number of them.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        And that makes it OK to send in a bunch of tanks and start shooting at them?
        • by dwater (72834)

          All the evidence I've found states that it was the protesters that *start*ed shooting the soldiers and that the soldiers were specifically told not to shoot back...I guess that didn't last or the order changed...but in *my* research, the whole thing was a *lot* less one-sided than people in the west like to make out it was.

          Actually, I've watched many videos taken by reporters and actually listened to what they say is happening, and it all seems quite understandable to me. For example, one reporter said that

      • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's also worth remembering that the '89 Tiananmen square demo was almost exactly 70 years after the previous Tiananmen square student demo. And the earlier one was the first public action by the movement that fomented the communist revolution.

        So you can see why the Chinese govt was a bit edgy.

    • I don't usually post to old stories, but this needs to be said in the interest of accuracy.

      Yes, tank man survived the Tiananmen square ordeal. I have seen the video of it. After the tank made I believe 2 turns (trying to go around him), and had stopped for a few minutes, a group of bystanders ran into the street and forced tank man off of the street.

      This video was in a documentary called Tank Man, which I saw at documentarywire.com.

      Unfortunately, this site is no longer around, or I would link you to the vid

  • In soviet ... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by houghi (78078) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:21AM (#27330055)

    In Soviet America sites block you. [slashdot.org]

    (I am glad I can't moderate myself, as I would have no idea wether this is troll, funny or insightfull. Oh well. I have way too much karma anyway.)

    • by IQgryn (1081397)

      ...I would have no idea wether this is troll, funny or insightfull.

      It seems you were wrong on all counts. +5 interesting isn't bad, though.

  • by girlintraining (1395911) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:31AM (#27330183)

    Okay, seriously; They've invested tens (if not hundreds) of millions of dollars into a national infrastructure informally known as the "Great Firewall of China". And yet they block sites wholesale rather than by keyword, URL, or a dozen other possibilities? If they're trying to keep this as transparent to the population as possible, why constantly block and unblock popular sites? It just compels people to ask the question "Why do they keep blocking/unblocking this site?" And the answer is only a google query away.

    I'm not arguing for or against censorship here, I'm merely pointing out that it's difficult to imagine that they lack the most basic capabilities of censorship software that is sold commercially and globally elsewhere, and that it is not technically challenging to impliment those features. Why spend millions on an infrastructure item that lacks even the most basic features needed for its intended use?

    • by hengdi (1202709) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:41AM (#27330299)

      It IS transparent to the population of China. I live here, and its just not an issue even with the net-addicted teenagers I teach every day. They all use Chinese video sites, and the only people annoyed by this are us westerners.

      Think of it this way: how many Chinese language sites do you go to every day? Would you notice if a few got shut down? That, my friends, is the reality of this to the average Chinese person.

      Now, if they shut down WOW, we'd have a revolution today!

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Salgat (1098063)
        People typically don't make a fuss over what they are used to. The issue is that of civil liberties and the right to information. It may not be a big issue there, but for many of us we feel that every person has that right.
      • You make an excellent point. I've always operated under the assumption that english was taught rather pervasively, and so they would also use english sites.

        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          heh.. Spanish is taught a lot in the US... how many teenagers do you see using Spanish websites?

      • by djcooley (851603)
        I second this. I live/work in Shenzhen [wikipedia.org], a city of 10 million on the mainland to the north of Hong Kong. There are only a few people here who actually use the English sites. Everyone else, even those people with decent English, use the Chinese sites.

        I can't even get my coworkers to go to Wikipedia for simple explanations of some of the technical matters we work with on a day-to-day basis.

        Only a tiny fraction of the population will even notice if some site gets taken down, and they probably won't care.
    • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Wednesday March 25, 2009 @11:43AM (#27330331) Homepage

      Youtube isn't globally popular:
      http://www.youku.com/ [youku.com]

      Facebook isn't globally popular:
      http://www.zhanzuo.com/ [zhanzuo.com]

      MSN messenger isn't globally popular:
      http://www.qq.com/ [qq.com]

      And in fact there is a cloned super-sanitized version of every web service that exists, so the majority of people just don't notice or even care.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by TinBromide (921574)
      I'm not sure if youtube is as popular in china as it is over here, or if there is a native type video site that is more popular because it was founded and grew in the culture it intends to serve rather than than be adapted and spread by its foreign owners. Google isn't number 1 everywhere. It just seems that way.

      I wonder how many people would react if the number 2 or number 3 video site in America disappeared for a week or two. (assuming, of course, that we have been conditioned to accept bullying and cens
    • I guess people in China has already get used to censorship, when they can't access something, they won't get curious and then just go do something else.

      You might said that no one would do that, but remember the cultural differences, Chinese People has had censorship for thousands of years. Back then, if your name has the same word as the emperor, you are doomed, your head will get cut off if you insult the emperor etc...

      Yes, now the youth with influence from the west might do different, but it will take a l

      • What got censored are only those official news/reports/articles. If you live in China and surf the web, you'll know that almost any information can be published in an alternative way, and the government is doing nothing about it. Just take one example, 'Tiananmen Massacre' or '6.4'(the date it happened) is banned, but you can always use something like 8^8 to say 6.4 in another way, and every Chinese reading the post knows what it means. Or you can Acronym of Pinyin for a word, such as ZF for 'government', G
  • I don't live there, it doesn't affect me. If I did live there and it did affect me, I would stand up and do something about it even if it meant giving up my own life. Apparently the half billion people that live there are satisfied with how life is otherwise they'd stand up and overthrow their own government. I am ready to do the same here, if our government keeps heading in the direction its going.
    • I don't live there, it doesn't affect me.

      China's lack of freedom of speech, freedom of religion, and free elections are incredibly scary to me. It may not seem like that big of a deal right now, as they try to play nicely with the world. But what happens in 20 years when they become the richest & most powerful nation, and no longer have the incentive to play fairly? They have complete control over their people due to the lack of the above democratic checks. The Chinese people have no idea about the genocides committed in their near past, T

      • I said half a billion, looks like I was off. The population of China when I looked here [chinability.com] at 3:36pm Eastern Daylight Time on 25 March 2009 showed a population of 1,319,175,333 people.

        One would assume that only a portion of that number is government and military. Another portion is either too young or too old, but I am sure that still leaves a big enough population to stand up against their government and end the oppression. For whatever reason, those people choose not to do so. Their government is the
    • by Samah (729132)

      I am ready to do the same here, if our government keeps heading in the direction its going.

      Which country? 'cos I'm starting to think that way here in Australia...
      Internet filter my arse. :)

  • doh! eventhough im currently living here in China, I really dont like the idea of what they did to Youtube. I think people should be given a chance to exercise there freedom to use this website either in China or other country. There is a lot to focus with in China (milk scandal.. well! I think they are soooo immuned with this issue) CHINA peeps, chilax! hahaha :)

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