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A Look Into China's Web Censorship Program 125

Posted by timothy
from the sorry-if-y'all-can't-read-this dept.
kev0153 writes "MSNBC is offering a good article explaining some of the details behind China's web censorship program. 'Google's face-off with Beijing over censorship may have struck a philosophical blow for free speech and encouraged some Chinese Netizens by its sheer chutzpah, but it doesn't do a thing for Internet users in China. Its more lasting impact may lie in the global exposure it has given to the Chinese government's complex system of censorship – an ever-shifting hodgepodge of restrictions on what information users can access, which Web tools they can use and what ideas they can post.'"
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A Look Into China's Web Censorship Program

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  • Impact (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Enderandrew (866215) <enderandrew@noSPam.gmail.com> on Saturday March 27, 2010 @07:11PM (#31643406) Homepage Journal

    I'm sure many citizens are content to accept censorship, because the impact is minimal. It isn't worth risking upheaval if they feel they don't have much to gain.

    As fewer major players operate in China, the citizens will realize the effects of censorship more.

    Doing so encourages the citizens of China to push for an end to censorship.

    • Re: (Score:1, Offtopic)

      by headkase (533448)
      I think the exact same words apply to politics in the United States! They are more arbitrary in their decisions over there but the lack of players also reverberates over here..
      • Re:Impact (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Low Ranked Craig (1327799) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @08:48PM (#31643956)
        Except that in the US we do not have a lot of censorship. Look at Glenn Beck for example. Whether or not we agree with him is not the point. The point is that he can say what he does under the 1st amendment without fear of being arrested, at least currently. I personally believe that the "mainstream" media in the US does a horrible job of reporting facts, and instead mostly editorializes, but to suggest that the censorship in the US is in anyway comparable to that in China is laughable. The very fact that websites like breitbart, deudgereport and the huffington post exist, whether or not you like what is posted therein, should tell you something about the freedoms we enjoy in the US as compared to China, Iran, North Korea, etc...
        • Even worse than Beck/Olbermann/whoever you hate is Fred Phelps, who basically cheers on the death of every American, every Canadian, every Swede, etc. In fact, he seems to just cheer on the death of anyone he can.

          • if a lot of people where to post censored chinese materials on every ip address and domain name, would they censor those entire domains and ip's? you can read about china's official news replies searching for xinhua news, i think that's their official-state-news dept.
        • Re:Impact (Score:5, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday March 27, 2010 @11:54PM (#31644894)

          What is more dangerous?

          1) Knowing that your government censors certain information and that the gov't news is biased, as most Chinese people do?
          or
          2) Having media that act essentially as political arms of the government, and subtly alter what they feed you as "truth" so that the average citizen believes that the news is actually factual?

          • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

            by Lakitu (136170)

            (1) is obviously worse, because it assumes that (2) is not a subset of (1). The citizens believing what is "fed to them as 'truth'" can exist with or without outright government censorship.

            You are falsely illustrating the choice between government censorship with the citizens knowing exactly what is censored, versus no government censorship with the citizens unknowingly ignorant. Citizens can be unknowingly ignorant with or without government censorship, so it is crazy to say that the censorship is benefi

            • there is an innate distrust of the media.

              I think you have accurately described the broader issues here and I would agree for the most part. But I have to protest that the vast majority of people in America have lost completely or at least have a crippled sense of distrust for the mass media.

              The fact that the most popular "news" agencies are the most biased (pick your side here both are equally bad) and yet they are the most popular and taken word for word should be enough to show that the distrust is lost.

        • Re:Impact (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Hurricane78 (562437) <deleted.slashdot@org> on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:47AM (#31645158)

          You don’t need censorship. Your social engineers — which you call “mainstream media” — are much better. You don’t have as much censorship, but your perceived reality is just as twisted. (Oh, and bleeping out some of your words definitely is censorship. And shows how well the mind-twisting works.)

          We here in Germany aren’t a bit better by the way. I think the population is even more gullible since they still think that the mainstream media is really trustworthy.

          It’s as art, to twist the minds in a way that makes opposing statements look like confirmation of your own statements. And if you approach it like science, you can become really good at it.

          Mass social engineering is the censorship of the 21st century. It’s the art of creating botnets made of human minds.

          • by Etyme (1747182)

            It's the art of creating botnets made of human minds.

            Computers can be turned into botnet zombies only because they have no will of their own to begin with. Arguing that humans can likewise be "programmed" presumes that people are purely deterministic, and cannot make independent decisions. Even if you believe that's true, it raises serious issues from an ethical standpoint; human rights are based on the assumption that humans have free will.

            In other words, arguing that the media constitutes mind control is the same as arguing that there are no inherent hum

          • I'm really sick of supercilious observers proclaiming that THEY know the one, true, reality and can therefore detect that the mainstream media are leading the masses by the nose. Those ineffably superior observers are, of course, immune to manipulation, and demonstrate their superiority by pointing out that fact. Give me a break.

            The real beauty of free speech is that every point of view, distorted this way and that, to a greater or lesser degree, is available for people to compare and choose from. That

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by roman_mir (125474)

          Except that Glenn Beck works for Fox, and Fox is the mouthpiece of the Republican party and at this point you actually have to wonder whether Fox exists to push forward Republican agenda or whether Republicans exist to push forward Fox's agenda. It is irrelevant what the laws say, Fox is above all of that.

          • by BlueStrat (756137)

            Except that Glenn Beck works for Fox, and Fox is the mouthpiece of the Republican party

            [Citation Needed]

            you actually have to wonder whether NBC/CBS/ABC/CNN exists to push forward Democratic agenda or whether Democrats exist to push forward NBC/CBS/ABC/CNN's agenda.

            I improved the "Truthiness(TM)" of that for you.

            Everyone is aware these days that the "lame-stream media" is in the pockets of Progressive Democrats and this administration. To be any more in their pocket they'd need pom-poms and a donkey as a bro

        • by gilgongo (57446)

          Except that in the US we do not have a lot of censorship.

          Well that's the thing - how do you know? indeed, if you *did* know that there was a significant degree of censorship, then it wouldn't be censorship in the first place, would it?

          Just sayin'

  • Censorship Program? That sounds like some kind of opt-in add-on to their internet service. I don't think I'll be signing up for that one.
  • Google leaving China does do something for Chinese citizens -- it makes them wonder why Google pulled out. The Chinese govt. will have a difficult time offering a convincing explanation that isn't embarrassing. More convincing explanations will be found elsewhere on the internet, leading more people to distrust the Chinese government and start getting their news elsewhere.

    • by h00manist (800926)

      Google leaving China does do something for Chinese citizens -- it makes them wonder why Google pulled out.

      China is good at manipulation. They have published stories of their own named Google is not god. [xinhuanet.com]

      The The Chinese govt. will have a difficult time offering a convincing explanation that isn't embarrassing. More convincing explanations will be found elsewhere on the internet, leading more people to distrust the Chinese government and start getting their news elsewhere.

      There is no elsewhere for news for the 99% who are afraid or unable to bypass the restrictions. Governments can and do that, in any country.

  • governments work when they rule by consensus. but when they need coercion to rule, they are weak, and their days are numbered. when, not if, the chinese economy takes a downturn (no economy grows forever), the people will inevitably grumble. but if they can't even grumble, it's not "harmonious", we shall begin to see an unraveling of faith in the government, like we see in tehran

    why does the chinese government fear the words of its own people?

    it lays bare the fact that their agenda is not the agenda of their own people

    • The problem is that the government doesn't fear its people enough to treat them well.

      • do you treat the people in your life well because... you FEAR them?!

        that's not how the world works, nor basic human nature

        either you're momentarily horribly wrong due to transient serious brain failure, or you're psychologically screwed up, to ever write anything like that

        • by dugjohnson (920519) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @07:57PM (#31643688) Homepage
          There's a difference in the way a person treats the people in his life and the way the government treats people in its life.

          Original poster's point is that a government that doesn't fear consequences as a result of mistreating the governed will do pretty much what it wants.  There is no other reasonable motivator.  Altruism in government is seen even more rarely than in everyday life, and I'm hoping you won't try to make the point that my government loves me.
          • if you live in a democracy

            there's nothing to fear

            it actively seeks to represent the middle ground. in this way it gains power. fear is never part of the process. its the difference between ruling by attractive force, and ruling by repulsive force

            yes, as you say: it's not love, your government doesn't love you. but to even contemplate this absurdity says a lot about your thought processes. at best, you are offering a strawman. at worst you only understand simpleminded ideas of what government is. a democracy

            • by headkase (533448)
              I think your full of it. The republic that is the US serves very few interests and none of them are you.
              • saying "its a republic" and thinking this nullifies that fact is like saying "its a chicken, so its not a bird"

                its a democracy that rules with the consent of the popular will, of which i am a part of

                if you don't believe or understand this simple obvious fact, you're some sort of horribly sheltered and propagandized moron

            • Apparently your notion of fear is more extreme than mine. My representative represents me (me being a voting majority of his constituency) because he fears that if he doesn't he won't get reelected. If he ever thought he could get away with not representing enough people to get reelected and would still retain his power and position, he would cease to represent me, and represent his own wishes. THAT is human nature.
              In rare cases, individuals, even in government, transcend that. Howev
              • do you go around thinking the only reason people interact with you cooperatively is due to fear of what you will do if they don't cooperate?

                you have some sort of psychological problem. human nature is not this stunted. believe it or not, there are other motivations in this world

                at best, you're paranoid. at worst, you're psychotic

                • do you go around thinking the only reason people interact with you cooperatively is due to fear of what you will do if they don't cooperate?

                  you have some sort of psychological problem. human nature is not this stunted. believe it or not, there are other motivations in this world

                  at best, you're paranoid. at worst, you're psychotic

                  He must be familiar with history, psychology, sociology, and basically the study of anything related to humans.

                  • the idea that the only thing that motivates government decision making is fear

                    do you agree with that idea or not?

                    • the idea that the only thing that motivates government decision making is fear

                      do you agree with that idea or not?

                      No, the parent is just saying that fear is what keeps government officials honest. The lower officials want to move up, and they want to keep their jobs. Their fear of being laid off or their careers stagnating is what encourages them to do well. Higher officials (Congressmen, presidents, etc) are afraid of losing their power. When their fear of their constituents' power dissipates, their attitudes and decisions are adjusted. Bush was not afraid of the American people after 9-11, as Americans were very supp

                    • and then every other word you say boils down to "the only thing that motivates government decision making is fear"

                      so you're answer is currently incoherent

                      answer my question: is fear the ONLY THING that motivates government decision making

                      yes or no

                    • and then every other word you say boils down to "the only thing that motivates government decision making is fear"

                      so you're answer is currently incoherent

                      answer my question: is fear the ONLY THING that motivates government decision making

                      yes or no

                      No, my answer is perfectly coherent. The government is not a being. The government is made up of people. People are motivated by many things. Fear is one of these things. If the individuals who make up the government had no fear of the People, then they would cease to act in the People's interests. Their decisions are motivated by many factors, but their honesty is derived almost from their fear.

                    • wow

                      have you never know what it means to have integrity in your entire life?

                      what a sad cynical stunted view of the world you have

                    • Optimist, meet realist.
                    • it is entirely true you can be too optimistic and trusting

                      it is also true, to the same level of failure, to be pessimistic and pathologically untrustworthy of other men

                      to believe that fear, and fear alone is what motivates man, whether individually or in groups, is pure fail on your part. it is a stunted broken empty cynicism, devoid of intelligence or experience, and destroys your ability to thrive in the social sphere of life

                      its not realism, its full on retard

                    • to believe that fear, and fear alone is what motivates man, whether individually or in groups, is pure fail on your part. it is a stunted broken empty cynicism, devoid of intelligence or experience, and destroys your ability to thrive in the social sphere of life

                      I did not say that. I said their honesty is derived almost entirely from their fear. In fact, there was a /. story recently on how politicians are better liars. Let's face it: people who obtain positions of power are not the most moral people. I'm guessing you support the recent Health Care Bill. Am I right?

                    • to believe that honesty only comes from fear is completely contrary to the experience of anyone who has had any normal experience with other human beings beyond the age of 10. to believe politics is some magical subset of human behavior where this is true is a further idiotic fallacy

                      the simple fact is, you have to be sheltered and socially retarded to write the clueless things you do

                      let's put it this way: to believe the majority act with nobility is a deluded state of stupidity

                      to the same degree, to believe

                    • Keep living in your own world, bud.
                    • do you erroneously believe you are better in touch with reality than myself?

                      all i see in your words are a low iq form of cynicism

                      you even call yourself "orwellian", which speaks volumes about your ignorant prejudices, as if that tired fairy tale has anything to do with our reality, which is more little brother than big brother

                      you're a typical stupid tool

                    • I can understand you a little better after reading what you think about that "tired fairly tale." I envy your blissful ignorance. Good day.
                    • i know the moronic big brother meme is popular here, but this meme is a completely intellectually bankrupt idea

                      the 1984 meme has gotten to the point where "something bad happened in society" (--insert creative reasoning--) "therefore, we are becoming orwellian"

                      orwell wrote a pleasant fiction a long time ago. it was good criticism of totalitarian societies at the time. like: ussr. not democracies (you know, governments accountable to voters?) like the uk or the usa. (also reference "animal farm")

                      so it made i

                    • You moron. When did I say we lived in an Orwellian world? Oh, I didn't? Way to put words in my mouth. And you made me your foe. Really? What, are you twelve years old?
                    • just your intellectual superior and disgusted with pathetic lowest common denominator tools like you in this world

                    • I assumed that intellectuals refrained from ad hominem arguments. You win though! I'm just the lowest common denominator who can actually debate without employing fallacies left and right!
          • by Ihmhi (1206036)

            Roman Emperors had a personal guard of about a thousand men. A lot of the time, they did their job pretty well. They also occasionally kidnapped and ransomed the emperor or just outright murdered him because they didn't like the way things were going.

    • by aekafan (1690920)
      but what if the government doesn't fear its people and in fact, the people support its actions for the most part. Sure there is some dissent here and there, but no major free speech effort because the people dont want it. Liberty as we know it is a western concept. I dont think that of the 1.3 billion people in china, there are many who want it.
      • and so the people are not about to second guess it, as this has dramatically improved their lives

        in the 1970s, we could have an argument about china avoiding capitalism, and you would have said: "who cares, the people still support the government"

        but the government, wisely, embraced capitalism, jettisoning communism, leading them to where they are today

        the same choices apply to democracy and freedom of expression

        eventually, growth slows or declines, its inevitable: no economy grows forever. when that happens, the MAJORITY will grumble, and they will run headlong into their own government (no grumbling allowed!) then what? is the picture you paint of a mostly placated populace still relevant in your depictions?

        now, the government, in its wisdom, could embrace freedom of expression and democracy, at some point, before the capitalist ride to prosperity peaks. and they thereby install pressure relief valves in society, and thus china is truly modern, and stable, and i would embrace such a china

        but they also could wed themselves to continued absolute control of all expression and decide everything by elite class

        and chinese society will begin to fall apart, and i will continue my disapproval

    • by clarkkent09 (1104833) * on Sunday March 28, 2010 @12:19AM (#31645032)
      That sure sounds nice but 65 million died of famine under Mao and the Communists are still in power 50 years later and his pictures are still everywhere. Seems like that unraveling is taking a while.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by nobodie (1555367)
      Well, yes and no. The Chinese people, for the most part, understand the reality of the current situation. They know they are censored and controlled and treated like children. They accept it because it has always been this way and (most importantly) because revolution or any rapid and radical change (whatever you choose to name it) would be so horrible that no one really wants to think about it. An explosive upwelling, caused by major economic downturn would be so disruptive and destructive that the total c
      • by Paul Jakma (2677)

        I've talked about this with Chinese people - outside China, and they gave me the strong impression of acceptance too. Further, it wasn't just that they want stability as such. That's not quite right - they want progress.

        China is of course a country with wide-spread famine in living memory, abject poverty too. The impression given to me is that democracy simply is not a priority, not even amongst young Chinese who studied in the west. Continuing to elevate China to prosperity is what they view as the number

  • by PdbAqB (1534237) <michael&ipo,com,au> on Saturday March 27, 2010 @07:31PM (#31643520) Homepage
    Our site http://1place.com.au/ [1place.com.au] is blocked which on has our work or intellectual property generally (e.g. art events, design, patents, copyright, latest trade mark disputes, great marketing podcasts...) .... However, the bare buttocks at the opera house as photographed by Spencer Tunick has no problems getting passed the great wall: http://thespencertunickexperience.org/2010-03_Sydney/Sydney_The_Base_2010.htm [thespencer...rience.org] I was surprised. We were informed by a Chinese resident that: "Nudity is no probelm. It is subversive activity [of IP protection] such as your website that is blocked."
  • ... our Government in the United States forces it's notion of "net neutrality" [redstate.com] upon us.

    • by anarche (1525323)

      Of course, such class warfare is old hat to a little left-wing organization called Free Press"

      From your article. Would this be Murdoch's "free press"?

  • FTA

    if an Internet surfer in China searches for...a banned and harshly suppressed religious group — the firewall responds by sending a reset packet to his or her computer that results in the display of a default error page

    These so called 'reset packets' are reminiscent of the days of ATH0++ N0 C4RR13R....so thats what happened to AOL, they migrated to china where dialup is still accepted! PRCOL FTW!

    • Judgement packet... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by headkase (533448)
      Remember the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode where Quark is trying to get a replacement module to go in the head of Garrak (my spellings are probably atrocious), anyway: he contacts a "supplier" in the Cardasian government and asks him to look up the part number for him. The supplier does so and his computer informs him that by looking up that part number he has been automatically sentenced to 20 years or so of hard labor. Now that's efficiency. Quark hastily says good bye and cuts the connection.
  • FTA

    To be sure, most of China’s 384 million Internet users log on for mundane reasons that don’t challenge the limits of free speech. A lot of Chinese citizens also accept the notion that stability and continued economic growth depend on government controls, including censorship.

    WTF? Does this ring 1984 to anybody? "Sure its oppression, but its okay. The people prefer it this way." What kind of asinine journalism is that?!? It seems to me much more likely that the people just don't dare speak up against it, rather than that they are willing and happy to be controlled by Big Brother.

    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      As a Chinese I agree that MSNBC is biased. Although I believe we should wake up by ourselves, I don't like outsiders to say we are ok with intellectual oppression.

    • It's MSNBC, you were expecting something different?
    • by koxkoxkox (879667) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @10:08PM (#31644378)

      So in order to be good journalism, it has to say what you want to hear ? Really ? I live in China and I wouldn't say that Chinese are willing and happy to be controlled, but most of them don't care that much to be honest. They are not very interested in politics, don't visit much Facebook or Youtube ...

    • Nah, from the view of the people (the ones who I've talked to), it's more like, "we know our government has problems, but we are willing to stay with it because it takes us in the direction we are going." In their minds, it's more of a compromise. We all have to compromise in order to live with other people in society. For example, there is a tennis court near my house I can't play on, although I would like to. My freedom to play on that court is being restricted because we've agreed to respect property
  • by sebaseba (1617571) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @08:10PM (#31643744) Homepage
    A friend has recently been to China, that is PRC. IRC worked normally, although he couldn't access facebook. So I've set up a normal HTTP proxy which was blocked immediately after the first page shown (facebook.com). IIRC it didn't even resolve facebook.com, we've had to put IPs in... but still my point is: they analyze the packets and they've seen the CONNECT in HTTP headers as it worked only on once request. After that I've set an another proxy (on an another IP), this time HTTPS. That worked, although you must route DNS requests somehow outside China or have a local nslookup table ;)
  • by TheNarrator (200498) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @08:17PM (#31643768)

    Confucius, one of the most influential philosophers in Chinese history. He has something to say about censorship and the role that the government should play in communicating with the people that I think makes what the Chinese are trying to accomplish a bit clearer:

    XIX. The Duke Gae asked, saying, “What should be done in order to secure the submission of the people.” Confucius replied, “Advance the upright and set aside the crooked, then the people will submit. Advance the crooked and set aside the upright, then the people will not submit.”

    XX. Ke K‘ang asked how to cause the people to reverence their ruler, to be faithful to him, and to urge themselves to virtue. The Master said, “Let him preside over them with gravity;—then they will reverence him. Let him be filial and kind to all;—then they will be faithful to him. Let him advance the good and teach the incompetent;—then they will eagerly seek to be virtuous.”

    Source [libertyfund.org]

    So notice how Chinese censorship not only applies to political messages but also to non-political messages that are deemed to not be representative of virtue. They shutdown people who have stock tip blogs, who are writing sex gossip columns, who become popular in signing and dancing competitions and professional sports culture. They don't want people who the government considers to be not good role models for the people to achieve any degree of fame. The government would never permit the kind of gangster/mafia glorifying culture in China which is so popular in many parts of the rest of the world no matter how non-poltiical.

    BTW, I urge anyone who wants to understand China better to read Confucius. He was writing in about 200BCE, before China had any contact at all with the West so in order to fully appreciate it, one has to temporarily disregard everything one is familiar with in the western traditions and carefully digest his words.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Foofoobar (318279)
      And what would Confucious say when the crooked are the ones in power enforcing who is set aside as crooked and who is set aside as upright?? Who watchs the Watchmen?
      • by astar (203020)

        kind of like in the usa?

        it is pretty easy to conclude the feds do not have the mandate of heaven

        you might figure that china has a republic, but the usa has a constitutional republic. we really have not favored kings for some time. what we do have is the freedom to do some effective political organizing and vaguely reasonable elections. If we lose either of those it is a different story, but at the moment, if things are bad enough, there will be population-driven changes. Maybe not good changes, but cha

        • by Foofoobar (318279)
          Yes but in the US we have the right to ELECT our crooked officials and pick the least crooked one; we get to pick the lesser evil. :)
      • by Ihmhi (1206036)

        Well back then, if a leader treated their subjects like shit he typically got deposed (or decapitated). Nowadays very few people in comfortable, first-world countries have the balls to do something like that no matter how necessary it is.

      • by Zarel (900479)

        Confucianism is a very "do what you're told" philosophy. People who have positions of authority are told to be fair, and their followers are told to follow them mostly unquestioningly.

        In a modern perspective, this seems a bit strange. You point out one flaw: It obviously only works if everyone follows it (i.e. that leaders are actually fair). But this is true of many cultural mores: The Golden Rule (do unto others as you wish others would do unto yourself), for instance, clearly fails when you're interactin

        • If you only talk with words like freedom and human rights, the listener may have a different understanding of what they mean. If you talk with specific example of how freedom and human rights make life better, the average citizen will be very interested and of course the government will call you subversive and deny you the visa.
        • A few choice quotes from the parent:

          But imagine a school in which fights occurred regularly, where unpopular kids were bullied without consequences, where students outright disregarded teachers and did whatever they wanted and never learned anything. No one would suggest more freedom as a solution. Confucius's philosophies in that context were basically a great big "Hey, guys, what if we all just behaved? Maybe if we work together instead of against each other, we can accomplish something great!" And to that end, it worked fairly well.

          When I lived in China, the problems I had to deal with were mostly along the lines of companies trying to save money by putting dangerous substances in food, companies subjecting employees to bad working conditions, people spitting and littering everywhere, extremely skilled pickpockets, people trying to scam me out of money - are these really problems that can be solved by less government control?

          The only negative consequences of government control most people in China see is that a few websites are blocked. So even if it's true that China needs more freedom and human rights (which I agree they do), it's difficult to convince the average citizen of that, it isn't as clear-cut that that's the most important thing they should be worrying about at the moment.

          Someone mod this guy up. I travel on business to China and India, and they present an interesting contrast in how freedom is not necessarily foremost in the minds of everyday locals. As an American traveling in Beijing, I was very aware of web censorship and continually reminded about how I should take care where I surfed when simple things like feedproxy.google.com are blocked (thus making all my freshmeat links in my Slashdot home page useless. No such freedom worries i

        • by eloki (29152)

          Good post. I think what China stories often reveal on Slashdot is the gap between China and the US in the cultural attitude towards government. In the US, there is a founding principle of skepticism towards government. It is seen somewhat as a necessary evil but one to be minimised so that the people's rights are not abridged. That is, I think in the US it is celebrated and inculcated in the people that personal freedom is the greatest of all rights and principles, to be interfered with only on overwhelming

    • by ljgshkg (1223086) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @09:38PM (#31644226)
      You're a bit twisting the meaning here if you think Confucius approves censorship. In fact, the translation is not all that correct.

      The first paragraph you quote is simply saying "you should put the upright in power because people respect upright, not power".

      The qustion part of your second quote is more like "How to cause people to reverence and loyal to their ruler, and be strive". Note that the last point is not about virtue, but striveness.

      The answer part of your second quote is "Act solemnly, and they will respect you. Let them filial to their parent/anybody-above-them-in-family, and let them be kind to their kids, then they will be loyal to you. Let the competent and good to teach the once who are not (yet), and they will be strive."

      There is nothing here to do with censorship. In fact, confucius lived in the free-est age in China when different kind of philosophy just started to flourish, trying to find a better way to rule good and end hundreds of years of endless war. And he is the one who bring all the knowledge that were held in the hand of nobles to the people. With just a small string of dry meat, he'll teach you all you can learn from him. His teaching style also encourage his students to discuss with him whatever they see or thought of in their journey around different countries in the then China. So basically, it's quite opposite to censorship.

      Unlike the western world back then, China never really do any real censorship ( with a few exceptions). In the culture of Chinese, people may just pretend they can't see, or just talk as "entertainment" if you do something that is not "right" in our the culture but is not breaking the most important values "visibly" or "publicly" or in more formal situations.

      For example, your comment about "writing sex gossip columns". China in most time in history not only has books with drawings about different "style" of sex positions. We also have private brothel and government opened once. Scholar etc. going to those places are considered not having good practise, but since it doesn't touch the most important stuff like filial to parents, people more "follow the rule" may just talk about it. But never see it as very serious. And in any period of time, there are always differnt schools of confucius taking different view among themselves or in favourite or against preious confucius scholars. They openly debate about differnet views etc. Later on, colleges are form at many places allowing schoolars to discuss and further learn or develope. At the time, colleges often represents schools of thought and they do have a relatively strong political power because traditionally, most government officals are selected through national wide exams and are often part of a certain school of confucius.

      So in fact, censorship has no relationship to confusius. Chinese culture's degree of acceptance in diff things is very high as long as it doesn't touch family matters (e.g. filial) and country matter (e.g. loyalty). Otherwise, you wouldn't have buddism in China since there was actually a serious discussion among the top officers during the Dynasty of Tang because some practise of buddism is against some Chinese traditions. But they finally let it pass and decide it's up to the people to decide if they accept it or not.
      • >> Chinese culture's degree of acceptance in diff things is very high as long as it doesn't touch family matters (e.g. filial) and country matter (e.g. loyalty). If you put filial and loyalty above free speech, can you still call it a high degree of acceptance? I say that's the root of oppression.
    • by astar (203020)

      there was about 20 years, probably in the 1400's, when the vatican was completely accepting of confusianism. one could think china was soon to be Christian. some european nasties screwed it up on purpose.

    • by Dave Emami (237460) on Saturday March 27, 2010 @10:45PM (#31644556) Homepage
      You quote Confucius, I'll quote Lao Tzu (founder of Taoism):

      A leader is best when people barely know that he exists, not so good when people obey and acclaim him, worst when they despise him. Fail to honor people, They fail to honor you. But of a good leader, who talks little, when his work is done, his aims fulfilled, they will all say, "We did this ourselves."

      As restrictions and prohibitions are multiplied in the Empire, the people grow poorer and poorer. When the people are subjected to overmuch government, the land is thrown into confusion. When the people are skilled in many cunning arts, strange are the objects of luxury that appear. The greater the number of laws and enactments, the more thieves and robbers there will be. Therefore the Sage says: "So long as I do nothing, the people will work out their own reformation. So long as I love calm, the people will right themselves. If only I keep from meddling, the people will grow rich."

      If the government is sluggish and tolerant, the people will be honest and free from guile. If the government is prying and meddling, there will be constant infraction of the law. Is the government corrupt? Then uprightness becomes rare, and goodness becomes strange.

      • by Foofoobar (318279)
        Actually, you are quoting a translation. And as a previous author pointed out, alot is LOST in the translation.

        But I digress for as Magrite pointed out 'Ceci n'est pas une pipe' :)
  • There is always something that can be done. Doesn't mean it's easy.
  • I happen to be in China for work right now and the censorship here can be really annoying at times. More often than not I surf over socks proxy and ssh tunnel because there are lots and lots of non-political areas of the net that are blocked. For example: I noticed something funny the other day. I wanted to run a quick python script and went to the python page (python.org) to download python for windows to my enterprise box. As soon as you hit the "download" link however, you get an error message (sometime
  • I know we're all concerned with China's web censorship (I certainly am; I live in China). But the ChinaDaily is reporting that the Chinese are *controlling the weather!* http://www.chinadaily.cn/china/2010-03/28/content_9652977.htm [chinadaily.cn] (Sorry, I don't know how to make links in this dialog).

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