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20 Years After Tiananmen, China Stifles Online Dissent 235

Posted by timothy
from the do-the-wave-if-you're-an-authoritarian dept.
alphadogg writes with this snippet from Network World: "The Internet has brought new hope to reformists in China since the country crushed pro-democracy protests in the capital 20 years ago. But as dissidents have gone high-tech, the government in turn has worked to restrict free speech on the Internet, stifling threats to its rule that could grow online. China has stepped up monitoring of dissidents and Internet censorship ahead of June 4, when hundreds were killed in 1989 after Beijing sent soldiers to its central Tiananmen Square to disperse protestors. The authoritarian government wants to ensure that date and other sensitive anniversaries this year pass without public disturbances, observers say. In recent months, China has blocked YouTube and closed two blog hosting sites, bullog.cn and fatianxia.com, known for their liberal content."
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20 Years After Tiananmen, China Stifles Online Dissent

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  • by DittoBox (978894) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @05:52PM (#28161469) Homepage

    It's still inconvenient for the Chinese government that this not be seen by the public? Although not easy to pull off, perhaps there should be some plans to bring this issue up world wide when it's not around the anniversary. Catch the Chinese authorities off-guard.

    • by rzekson (990139) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @06:10PM (#28161607)
      I wonder how feasible it would be for the Internet crowd to "make" June 4 the unofficial day of the free speech, by means of posting some small banner or a short comment on thousands of websites on that day, to the extent that it would get media coverage, and then repeating it every year on the anniversary of the Tiananmen massacre. I guess one could do that one one's personal blog, I don't know about a personal page at a university or other such places since it would probably violate some regulations. Surely, someone who's a lawyer could advise... obviously, Chinese citizens wouldn't notice, but the rest of the world might, including those who came from China to study and may be oblivious of the fact that the rest of the world considers Chinese government's policies and actions morally questionable.
      • by Brian Gordon (987471) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @06:13PM (#28161627)
        If you put it up over the entire internet, China will block the entire internet.
        • by rzekson (990139) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @06:20PM (#28161673)
          ...but that won't prevent Chinese students living abroad from getting the point. I personally know a number of very smart Chinese Ph.D. students who honestly believe that everything the Chinese government does is right and has always been right because they have been told so back home, and political correctness in U.S. prevents people from going anywhere near such subjects at school or in the workplace.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            > I personally know a number of very smart Chinese Ph.D. students who honestly believe that everything the Chinese government does is right and has always been right because they have been told so back home

            I also personally know many Americans who honestly believe that everything the American government does is right an has always been right because they have been told so back home.

            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by rzekson (990139)
              What exactly is your point? I believe in what you wrote, but I don't see how that has anything to do with what I wrote, or with the topic of this thread in general. I think you're trying to be sarcastic; unfortunately, I'm not getting the point. The fact that the U.S. government has its share of attacks on free speech certainly doesn't mean that we're not allowed to criticize the Tiananmen massacre.
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by trytoguess (875793)

                I believe anon's point was if we who live in the "land of the free" can have people who blindly support the government no matter what, then what hope does your average Chinese have?

          • by Stargoat (658863) <stargoat@gmail.com> on Sunday May 31, 2009 @08:22PM (#28162499) Journal
            Mod parent up as absolutely correct.

            You don't know overseas Chinese until you've been blasted with the evils of the US media industry (substitute publishing, indymedia, ad nos.). I have been in the overseas community since I met the lady who became my wife a decade ago. Since then, every Chinese person I brought the subject up with was unaware that North Korea invaded South Korea. None knew how many Chinese died in the war. One out of many knew that China fought the UN in the Korean War. Overseas Chinese do not know that China invaded Tibet. Many were unaware that China fought a war with India. Most did know of the Sino-Vietnam War, but did not know China lost. Many were also aware that China fought a low intensity war against the USSR for a decade.

            All educated Chinese I have met, who should through their "education" know better regarding their government and its actions, are deliberately ignorant of recent history.
            • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

              by wisty (1335733)

              Do many westerners know about those events as well? It's also interesting how many westerners know about Tiananmen, but don't actually know what happened.

              • Do many westerners know about those events as well?

                Those events aren't as close to us - they're trivia questions whereas for Chinese it would be their history. How many people in the US know that the US liberated Kuwait from an Iraqi occupation in 1991, invaded Afghanistan after 9/11, and invaded Iraq in 2003? That is the equivalent question.

                • How many people in the US know that the US liberated Kuwait from an Iraqi occupation in 1991, invaded Afghanistan after 9/11, and invaded Iraq in 2003? That is the equivalent question.

                  Eh. Tiananmen Square was 20 years ago. The First Persian Gulf War was nearly that long ago, But Afghanistan and Iraq are much more recent and have been more ongoing.

            • by mattwarden (699984) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @10:08PM (#28163233) Homepage

              All I could think of while reading your comment is the Jay Leno pieces where they ask similar questions of Americans on the street and get just as many blank stares.

            • by williamhb (758070) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @11:25PM (#28163821) Journal

              You don't know overseas Chinese until you've been blasted with the evils of the US media industry (substitute publishing, indymedia, ad nos.). I have been in the overseas community since I met the lady who became my wife a decade ago. Since then, every Chinese person I brought the subject up with was unaware that North Korea invaded South Korea. None knew how many Chinese died in the war. One out of many knew that China fought the UN in the Korean War. Overseas Chinese do not know that China invaded Tibet. Many were unaware that China fought a war with India. Most did know of the Sino-Vietnam War, but did not know China lost. Many were also aware that China fought a low intensity war against the USSR for a decade. All educated Chinese I have met, who should through their "education" know better regarding their government and its actions, are deliberately ignorant of recent history.

              There is a dilemma that means educating the overseas students is never likely to be sufficient. If you tell an ex-pat how rotten you think their government is, they will probably defend it even if they would normally criticise it at home. A less sensitive example: there are very few Brits who are imperialist or who think non-democratic colonialism is a good thing; tell them how terrible you think the British Empire was, though, and they will defend it as being historically much more just and self-correcting than any of the other empires of the era. They don't really see it as you criticising a system, but see it as you belittling their people. So if you tell overseas Chinese students how bad the Chinese government is, depending on how you put it, they might not thank you for it. And they are unlikely to pass on your criticisms back home. Actually, for China it is worse than that: many Chinese students overseas are asked to monitor other Chinese students, to make sure they don't hang out with the wrong crowd, etc. So, even if a student is open to your criticism of his country, it can be personally a bit risky for him to hang out with groups that openly and vehemently criticise the government. The upshot is that it has to be handled sensitively, and it's unlikely we'll make much real progress until it is possible for Chinese people to criticise their government more openly at home, rather than abroad.

            • But how many Americans have known from their text books and TV news of the following history and facts:

              • The US has sponsored many many dictators in the world, including Saddem Hussein.
              • It is the US who betrayed Taiwan and sent China into the UN security council during the 1970's when China was under the rule of a true dictator (Mao) who was a thousands times more oppressive than anyone in the Chinese government now.
              • Dalai Lama was sponsored by the CIA.
              • Most countries with a "democratic system" today do not do
            • by twostix (1277166)

              I understand the point you're trying to make, and the Chinese government is certainly a hulking tyranical mess. But I think in regards to the point you're trying to make you'll find you could just as easily replace the word "Chinese" with "American", "Russian" or to a lesser degree (simply by lower volume) "Canadian", "Australian" or "English" in your post and it would read the same, in fact I'm married to an english girl and often have to fill her in on her own countries not so palatable exploits when sh

          • by DrYak (748999) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @10:59PM (#28163639) Homepage

            From what I know from the similarly totalitarian communist regime that existed in eastern Europe in the past century (my parents lived there), these kind of government prefer to hand pick the people to whom they give authorizations to go abroad.

            Either select people who genuinely believe so much in the government that there's no way they could get "corrupted" even when "exposed to the evil westerner capitalists".
            Or select people who have enough allegiance to the government.

            And then in addition to that perform regular checks, both open (interviews organized by the local embassy) and covert (have the abroad community member spy on each other to find if someone has dared to walk aside from the "golden rules set by the government").

            I'm ready to bet that the same is happening with modern China.

            There are people who don't believe in the current government. But those aren't the one who'll obtain an authorization to go study abroad. To much risks of defection or getting corrupted and converted by the evil westerners.

      • by syzler (748241) <[david] [at] [syzdek.net]> on Sunday May 31, 2009 @08:01PM (#28162339)
        I for full heartily support this idea. I've started by registering freespeechday.com [freespeechday.com]. If anyone would like to help, please send me an email [mailto] or drop at note on this forum [freespeechday.com].
      • by Dan541 (1032000)

        It's perfectly feasible.

        1. Put Website online

        2. Post it to /. and advertise it in google ad sense.

        Those are the first steps then you need to build a community around the free-speech site, use facebook ect. It is quite do able, someone just needs to be able to put the time into it.

    • I know, I find it hard to believe that they've been able to hide it from their citizens for 20 years. Are there any (urban) Chinese who still haven't heard about it?
    • by MoonBuggy (611105) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @06:12PM (#28161623) Journal

      I share your surprise - considering all the backlash that the various Western pre-Olympic protests against China and/or their actions saw from regular Chinese people, I was beginning to get the impression that many of them are happy enough with the state of affairs to actively defend it, so they certainly wouldn't challenge it. In that context I wouldn't have thought that information like this was that much of a risk any more.

      Obviously the protests may present a skewed perspective from both sides, but to me it looks like the government are sitting pretty solidly. Maybe I'm wrong, or maybe they're just so used to suppressing speech that they either don't think to stop or don't want to risk it in view of the small amount of international praise they stand to gain.

      I wonder what the people of China would choose, politically speaking, if the people were given the option?

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 31, 2009 @06:19PM (#28161665)

      [Shrug] It took many years before China admitted the great depths of mistakes [wikipedia.org] made many decades ago [wikipedia.org], and yet the main guy responsible is still revered and there's still a lot of glossing over of the real effects (e.g., tens of millions of deaths). Denial of one's mistakes is naturally popular. Why wouldn't they continue the tradition? Maybe they'll be ready to face the reality of the massacre at Tiananmen Square in a few more decades.

    • by jez9999 (618189)

      Don't you mean, "it's still inconvenient for the Chinese government that this BE seen by the public?"

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 31, 2009 @05:57PM (#28161515)

    Not as epic as her book Shock Doctrine but it is a must read for any tech with a conscience.

    http://www.naomiklein.org/articles/2008/05/chinas-all-seeing-eye [naomiklein.org]

    http://www.naomiklein.org/shock-doctrine [naomiklein.org]

  • by hey! (33014) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @06:06PM (#28161567) Homepage Journal

    secrecy.

    It isn't ubiquitous surveillance that does the trick, it's ubiquitous potential surveillance. Likewise iron fisted rule is crude and inefficient. The true art is to rule without rules. China has high sounding and extremely vague legal principles. Put the two together and you are never (a) sure if you are not being watched nor (b) if what you are doing is legal.

    When you've achieved this, you don't need Big Brother. Every citizen is his own Big Brother.

    You almost have to admire this system. It is tyranny, perfected.

    • by sakdoctor (1087155) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @06:23PM (#28161691) Homepage

      Absolute rubbish. But actually it's even more scary.

      Joe public in China don't live in a state of fear, because of mass surveillance; they live in a state of ignorance because of the governments cultural sandbox.
      The government is widely seen as doing a good job of solving those "unique Chinese problems", imaginary or otherwise.

      • by hey! (33014) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @06:37PM (#28161789) Homepage Journal

        they live in a state of ignorance because of the governments cultural sandbox.

        This statement is half right. The lessons of twentieth century totalitarianism is that what you call a "cultural sandbox" doesn't work. If so, a little perestoika wouldn't have been enough to cause the Soviet Union to fly apart. The truth was that the pablum of the state had never been internalized by the citizens. A thinking totalitarian would learn from this failure. You can't assume that because they're values are different from ours that they are too stupid to learn.

        There are plenty of Chinese people who travel overseas for business or deal with foreigners. Each one of these is a potential vector for what the authorities would consider malignant ideas. I don't deny that the state acts like things like the Great Firewall are politically important. Perhaps they have their uses, but I actually think they may be as symptomatic as they are cause.

        It's not enough to create a vacuum of information in peoples' heads. You have to put something there.

        • Ignorance was the wrong word there. It implied stupidity, and an information vacuum which I didn't actually intend.

          Their values and culture are weighted towards totalitarianism, hence why it hasn't broken apart at the seams already.
          The state censorship probably stems partly, from self-preservation activities of the corrupted powerful.

          • by hey! (33014)

            Fair enough.

            I don't know whether "their values and culture are weighted toward totalitarianism." I'm not sure how you would devise a reasonable test of such a statement, and in any case you'd have to say that was true of just about every society that ever freed itself from tyranny.

            I find that the more you look into a culture, the more you see that cultures have conflicting potentials. I look at Shiism in Iran for example, and see the seeds of democracy alongside the seeds of authoritarianism. The one

        • by feepness (543479)

          It's not enough to create a vacuum of information in peoples' heads. You have to put something there.

          American Idol!

          Seriously I think the US is heading to "Brave New World" and China is trying out "1984".

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Reziac (43301) *

        Rather, the Chinese don't protest because protest is unsafe. Here's an example:

        When my sister was in China about a year ago, she asked her guide about Tiananmen. Her guide replied:

        "One day there were 50,000 people. The next day there were 50,000 bicycles."

        The meaning was clear: 50,000 dead people (or however many, but that's the number the Chinese guide used) left behind 50,000 bicycles. BUT -- no one will say outright that anyone was KILLED, let alone by the gov't.

    • A snippet from Atlas Shrugged makes the point precisely.

      Says the bureaucrat Floyd Ferris: "You honest men are such a problem and such a headache. But we knew you'd slip sooner or later . . . this is just what we wanted."

      Rearden: "You seem to be pleased about it."

      Ferris: "Don't I have good reason to be?"

      Rearden: "But, after all, I did break one of your laws."

      Ferris: "Well, what do you think they're there for?"

      Continues Ferris: "Did you really think that we want those laws to be observed? We want them broken. You'd better get it straight that it's not a bunch of boy scouts you're up against . . . We're after power and we mean it. You fellows were pikers, but we know the real trick, and you'd better get wise to it. There's no way to rule innocent men. The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. Who wants a nation of law-abiding citizens? What's there in that for anyone? But just pass the kind of laws that can neither be observed nor enforced nor objectively interpreted - and you create a nation of law-breakers - and then you cash in on guilt. Now that's the system, Mr. Rearden, and once you understand it, you'll be much easier to deal with."

    • by oldhack (1037484)
      It's a fine line distinguishing us (the US) and the likes of China.
  • I am not convinced that an authoritarian government is so necessary to re-write the popular mythology of recent history. The US does not have a government which is strongly authoritarian, yet the re-writing of history is a prominent form of political speech in America.

    I've come across several other examples: Japanese popular history of the nature of their involvement in WWII. Australian & American popular history of the treatment of Aboriginals / Native Americans. I am more familiar with American

    • by DrLang21 (900992)
      British treatment of the German Palatines during the colonization of North America.
    • I must confess, I am not familiar with the Australian popular history of their treatment of Aboriginals. But in America, it seems to me that there is a very dim view on the treatment of Native Americans. Aside from the feel-good stories told during Thanksgiving, popular culture seems to view early Americans as barbaric towards the native peoples. I welcome further input on the subject, in any case.
      • by grcumb (781340)

        I must confess, I am not familiar with the Australian popular history of their treatment of Aboriginals. But in America, it seems to me that there is a very dim view on the treatment of Native Americans. Aside from the feel-good stories told during Thanksgiving, popular culture seems to view early Americans as barbaric towards the native peoples. I welcome further input on the subject, in any case.

        Your generation may see this as the prevailing opinion, but mine grew up playing Cowboys and Indians, glorifying John Wayne and the Marlboro Man and shouting 'Geronimo!' as we leaped from tree branches and walls. In my generation, Indians were sneaky bastards who'd slip into the camp at night, kill your children, rape your wife and cut your throat before you woke.

        This kind of makes the GP's case - governments and cultures create their own narratives, filtering past events through them in whatever way suits

        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by bhima (46039) *

          Ok: I guess I'm a little older than both of you... now I am wondering what the difference is between the collective creating a false narrative and Authority doing so. Obviously when you have men of power engaging in the deliberate re-writing of history you are soundly in George Orwell's 1984 scenario: "He who controls the present, controls the past. He who controls the past, controls the future.". But how is that different than actions of Tobacco Industry 10 years ago or the deification of Ronald Reagan i

  • Take note (Score:3, Interesting)

    by RyoShin (610051) <tukaro.gmail@com> on Sunday May 31, 2009 @06:26PM (#28161707) Homepage Journal

    This is one of the countries that people want to let control DNS.

  • by reporter (666905) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @06:29PM (#28161723) Homepage
    The suppression of human rights (including the free expression of thought via the Internet) is due entirely to Chinese culture. No foreign power is imposing the current brutal form of government on China. This government has existed for decades because a majority of Chinese support it. If the minority, who oppose the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), attempted the overthrow the government, then the rest of Chinese society will kill the minority.

    When the overwhelming majority of people in a nation truly want democracy and human rights, the nation quickly and peacefully transforms into a liberal Western democracy. Case in point is Eastern Europe. Once the Kremlin ceased suppressing Eastern Europe, the Eastern Europeans peacefully and quickly transformed into liberal Western democracies. Except for Romania (where the dictator was killed), there was no bloodshed. There was no violence.

    In the late 1980s, what was the strength of desire for creating Western democracies in Eastern Europe? Consider Czechoslovakia. In one day of 1989 November, about 800,000 people gathered in Prague and rallied for the creation of a Western democracy [wikipedia.org]. 800,000 people is about 5% of the population.

    By contrast, in one day of 1989 June, about 1 million people gathered in Tiananmen Square to demand the creation of a Western democracy. 1 million people is only 0.1 % of the Chinese population.

    In other words, in the late 1980s, the strength of support for democracy in Eastern Europe was 50 times the strength in China.

    I admire the Eastern Europeans.

    China is what it is due to how the Chinese people act and think. No foreign power is imposing the CCP on China. The Chinese people support the CCP.

    • Mod to the max (Score:2, Insightful)

      by sakdoctor (1087155)

      This is by far the most useful post, and needs to appear above the other rubbish about secret police, and government conspiracies.

      Chinese culture dictates that personal freedoms are completely sacrificed, for the sake of social stability. Authoritarian government is the natural result, and the meta-stable bizarro world we see now is a result of sustained government meddling.

      Also, before the cultural relativists come out to disagree, you already lost.

      The universal nature of human rights and freedoms is beyond question

    • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 31, 2009 @07:04PM (#28161945)

      'The Chinese people support the CCP'

      It is not so straightforward as this. There is plenty of discontent. Corrupt officials and police are hated. The CCP do a good job of getting the glory of the Chinese people's fervent nationalistic feeling. Control of the media makes this not too difficult a task.

      'This government has existed for decades because a majority of Chinese support it'
      Not really - it has existed by control, through force, fear and a growing economy. There is no way of testing how many people actually support the government.

      'By contrast, in one day of 1989 June, about 1 million people gathered in Tiananmen Square to demand the creation of a Western democracy'

      Wrong on a number of details. The gathering happened throughout the preceding 6 weeks, at least. Many, many more gathered in major cities throughout China at the same time. (I witnessed demonstrations in May 1989 in Beijing,Shanghai,Wuhan,Chongqing, Chengdu).
      There was no 'demand for the creation of a Western democracy' (ok - individuals might have said this, but no definite concept demanded). The people were fed up with the system, lack of opportunity, corruption - it was an outpouring of many grievances.

      However, I suppose your point is that, if the people were fed up then they could have/should have overthrown the government. The fact they didn't is more to do with the fact that China is a big place, with a mix of cultures,languages, poor communication (especially in 1989), with no environment for establishing a concerted opposition. You cannot infer that, because the people did not overthrow the government, the people support it.

      (signed: a long term foreign resident of China)

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by diamondsw (685967)

      No, you don't complain in China if you know what's good for you. How many stories do we see every year about prominent protestors being thrown into labor camps?

      Take Hong Kong for a recent example of how life in China works. As soon as the transition was complete - Basic Law, Special Administrative Region or not - the newspapers and politicians made fast 180's and self-censored to avoid bringing the wrath of the Chinese government down on them. Are you saying that a majority of people in Hong Kong love commu

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Much of what you say is true, but I think you attribute too much to "Chinese culture" and not enough to plain old human nature.

      Now, I'm not standing on terrible solid ground here; I'm just a former American who now lives in and is a citizen of Japan. But most of the "cultural differences" everyone talks about between the East and the West are just a load of crap from what I've seen. Culture only affects superficial stuff like greetings, language, manners, and the like, in my experience.

      Humans end up being

    • I have mostly given up posting on Slashdot unless I have some horrible meme or puns to write (anon, of course). Yet I am compelled to respond to the poster above. Basically, what you are saying is this:
      1. The majority of China's citizens or (insert country) supports Dictatorship or (insert political system).
      2. Yet, the Western World thinks that their political system, which ironically is based on the rule of the majority, is superior to all other systems, in all circumstances and historical development.
      3. Therefor
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Reziac (43301) *

        "Democracy imposed from without is the severest form of tyranny."
            -- Lloyd Biggle Jr.

    • The suppression of human rights (including the free expression of thought via the Internet) is due entirely to Chinese culture. No foreign power is imposing the current brutal form of government on China. This government has existed for decades because a majority of Chinese support it. If the minority, who oppose the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), attempted the overthrow the government, then the rest of Chinese society will kill the minority.

      ...

      China is what it is due to how the Chinese people act and think. No foreign power is imposing the CCP on China. The Chinese people support the CCP.

      Same applies to Burma, obviously.

    • by Kjella (173770) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @07:54PM (#28162293) Homepage

      In the late 1980s, what was the strength of desire for creating Western democracies in Eastern Europe? Consider Czechoslovakia. In one day of 1989 November, about 800,000 people gathered in Prague and rallied for the creation of a Western democracy. 800,000 people is about 5% of the population. By contrast, in one day of 1989 June, about 1 million people gathered in Tiananmen Square to demand the creation of a Western democracy. 1 million people is only 0.1 % of the Chinese population.

      1. The entire country is the size of South Carolina (#40 US) so gathering all the people in easier, unlike China which is same size as the United States.
      2. That was by far the first mass demonstration, if left in peace the Chinese mass demonstration would probably have grown a lot too.
      3. The Soviet Union was gone, the Communist Party was failing. It's easy to get out on the streets when you don't fear tanks running you over much.

      You say 50:1. On the monday prior to the 800,000 demonstrating, 100,000 was demonstrating. That is more like 6:1. Add in the fact that 90% live too far away to possibly go to Beijing just for a demonstration and you start to realize the Tiananmen Square demonstrations were probably as big as any in Eastern Europe, maybe even bigger. But they were struck down with hard military force just like the Soviet Union did, exactly in Czechoslovakia in 1968. On the saturday you speak of the Communist Party had more or less already admitted defeat, so you're really comparing apples and oranges here.

    • Wait...you're comparing five percent of the population from an area the size of New Jersey, to .1% of the population from a Nation the size of the US? Seriously?

      5% of China's population would be 60-70million people...how the hell are they all going to get to Beijing? You can walk across from one end of the Czech Republic to the other in less than a week. Information can spread quickly, people can be mobilized.

      The organizational logistics of coordinating people do not scale linearly, it is highly disingen

    • by oldhack (1037484)

      "In other words, in the late 1980s, the strength of support for democracy in Eastern Europe was 50 times the strength in China. I admire the Eastern Europeans. "

      No offense to Easter Europeans, but you might as well admire monkeys.

      Of course Eastern Europeans wanted to be like their Western neighbors - not only were they much wealthier and freer, they shared much the history and culture, and were just across the borders.

    • that their support might evolve and decrease over time

      the power of democracy is that it creates legitimacy: "i speak for the people's will, because the people actually got together and said that i did." this is extremely powerful

      nondemocracies have the problem that, inevitably, over time, the distance between the government's agenda and the people's agenda shifts and grows. without democracy, there is no way to naturally reconcile the two agendas, such that the longer time goes on, the less legitimacy nonde

  • Fat and Happy (Score:5, Insightful)

    by timeOday (582209) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @06:42PM (#28161811)
    An explosion of discontent is unlikely in China because the 20 years since Tiananmen have been dominated by incredible economic growth. It is hard to complain when your walette is getting fat. I realize the global economic downturn hit China somewhat, but it certainly didn't roll them back 20 years. (Not that this is specific to China; Americans never minded the Iraq war enough to do anything about it, even after they learned it was a sham, it was high gas prices and finally the economic collapse that made people revile the Bush presidency.) One implication of this is that the notion of political liberalization as a necessary byproduct of capitalism is not yet dead. The next time China's growth slows or reverses for a sustained period, then we will see if its new middle class has power to go with their wealth.
    • Re:Fat and Happy (Score:5, Informative)

      by williamhb (758070) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @11:38PM (#28163903) Journal

      An explosion of discontent is unlikely in China because the 20 years since Tiananmen have been dominated by incredible economic growth. It is hard to complain when your walette is getting fat. I realize the global economic downturn hit China somewhat, but it certainly didn't roll them back 20 years. (Not that this is specific to China; Americans never minded the Iraq war enough to do anything about it, even after they learned it was a sham, it was high gas prices and finally the economic collapse that made people revile the Bush presidency.) One implication of this is that the notion of political liberalization as a necessary byproduct of capitalism is not yet dead. The next time China's growth slows or reverses for a sustained period, then we will see if its new middle class has power to go with their wealth.

      Unfortunately, I think you are wrong and that the West basically missed its opportunity to promote reform in China 30 years ago or more. One of the most effective ways of promoting liberalisation in formerly restrictive regimes has been the EU -- a large trigger for the democratisation of Eastern Europe was access to the EU free market, and pots of money. Not to belittle the Cold War, but a big factor in the Berlin Wall falling was poor East Germans knowing the West Germans were doing it much better and that the only way to join in the wealth was to liberalise. Since then, eastern European countries have been falling over backwards to reform themselves and get themselves on that EU gravy train. Hardly surprising -- the same trick worked just as efficiently way back in the 70s with Spain. With China, meanwhile, we've effectively let them join in the riches without any hint of reform -- the EU and US has happily outsourced all its production to China without much regard to reform or political, religious, or personal freedom. We no longer have a juicy economic carrot to wave in front of them, because we've long since given it to them. They can't get "better access to our markets" because they've pretty much already got complete access to our markets.

  • by MojoStan (776183) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @06:52PM (#28161891)
    I just searched images.google.cn for "Tiananmen Square (massacre OR killing OR event)" and got a page that seems surprisingly uncensored (by China's standards). Is google.cn only censored when it detects IP addresses within China?

    Here's my search: http://images.google.cn/images?gbv=2&hl=zh-CN&sa=1&q=Tiananmen+Square+(massacre+OR+killing+OR+event) [google.cn]

    • by goldaryn (834427) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @07:41PM (#28162201) Homepage
      > Is google.cn only censored when it detects IP addresses within China?

      Yes. Do not use a Chinese proxy, even if you are curious. You could get someone killed or thrown in jail.

      If you are really curious, try putting some banned keywords [wikipedia.org] into some Chinese websites from your own internet connection.

      Many [alexa.com] Chinese web searches are accessible from $your_country.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Anonymous Coward

        > Is google.cn only censored when it detects IP addresses within China?

        Yes.

        So Google helps China stifle free speech, but hides it to us outsiders?

        Sounds kind of evil.

  • . . . never heard of that place. I'd better check the Internet . . .

    Ah, here it is: http://uncyclopedia.wikia.com/wiki/Tiananmen_Square [wikia.com]

    It's worth a peek for Slashdotters just for the photo of Li Peng using his laser eyes . . . sharks are up next.

  • by vampire_baozi (1270720) on Sunday May 31, 2009 @10:12PM (#28163263)

    And the vast majority of Chinese don't care.

    And why should they? As long as you don't say inconvenient things, you can DO whatever you want in China. With freedom of action, and a growing economy, why would most Chinese care? If it weren't for the amazing economic growth presided over by the CCP, most Chinese wouldn't have access to computers to even make these websites.

    • by jcr (53032)

      the vast majority of Chinese don't care.

      I wouldn't sell them short like that. I chat with people in China all the time on Skype, and they have a very strong interest in their own history. I've sent a lot of people wikipedia articles on the cultural revolution and the Tienanmen Square massacre.

      China will topple the Red Dynasty eventually, and what will bring it down will be internal communication that the government can't control.

      -jcr

  • Here [typepad.com] is how Google kowtowed to their Communist masters. Peace and love to the Chinese, the truth about the massacre to everyone else.

    "Don't be evil"? Fuck you, Google.

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