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Censorship Government The Internet

China Views Internet As "Controllable" 185

Posted by timothy
from the and-so-it-is dept.
Radcliffe_V writes "According to a leaked cable via Wikileaks, the Chinese government views the internet as very controllable, despite western views otherwise. The New York Times article also sheds light on how involved the Chinese government is in cyber attacks against US assets and companies such as Google."
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China Views Internet As "Controllable"

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  • by intellitech (1912116) * on Saturday December 04, 2010 @06:00PM (#34445894)

    Communist states view everything as being controllable.

    • WHICH nation has an elected politician calling for the assasination of a foreign national? Which nation is stopping its own citizens from reading websites? Which nation is putting presure on private companies to follow its agenda without any laws being written? Which nation is performing a massive denial of service attack to censor the net from information it finds undesirable?

      Sorry, but if the Chinese think the internet is controllable, it is because the US is showing them how to.

      • by gtall (79522) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @06:39PM (#34446118)

        Yes, well, an elected politician can say anything they like in the U.S. You might have heard of free speech. Which nation prevents their Nobel Prize winner from receiving his prize think it constitutes intervention in their internal affairs?

        The U.S. is not stopping you from reading Wikileaks. If you mean Amazon weenying out to a Senator, please take that up with the Senator or Amazon. Last I heard, he wasn't the government. If you are referring to PayPal, they gave a decent reason. Your don't like it because you believe there is a conspiracy behind it. So put up or shut up.

        Your third question is a variant of the second. You clearly have no idea how the U.S. government works, but feel free to insinuate conspiracy theories to your hearts content. You have that freedom in the U.S.

        Your third question is mere belief, nothing more. As if the Chinese, Russian, Pakistan, or Saudi govenments have no reason to put a stopper on Wikileaks. Near as I can make out, all Wikileaks is doing is making the U.S. look good and other governments not so good.

        So, why would the U.S. want to stop Wikileaks when it is only underscoring what State and Defense have been saying for years?

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday December 04, 2010 @07:09PM (#34446262)

          Near as I can make out, all Wikileaks is doing is making the U.S. look good and other governments not so good.

          Please make out harder [salon.com]...

          (1) the U.S. military formally adopted a policy of turning a blind eye to systematic, pervasive torture and other abuses by Iraqi forces;
          (2) the State Department threatened Germany not to criminally investigate the CIA's kidnapping of one of its citizens who turned out to be completely innocent;
          (3) the State Department under Bush and Obama applied continuous pressure on the Spanish Government to suppress investigations of the CIA's torture of its citizens and the 2003 killing of a Spanish photojournalist when the U.S. military fired on the Palestine Hotel in Baghdad (see The Philadelphia Inquirer's Will Bunch today about this: "The day Barack Obama Lied to me");
          (4) the British Government privately promised to shield Bush officials from embarrassment as part of its Iraq War "investigation";
          (5) there were at least 15,000 people killed in Iraq that were previously uncounted;
          (6) "American leaders lied, knowingly, to the American public, to American troops, and to the world" about the Iraq war as it was prosecuted, a conclusion the Post's own former Baghdad Bureau Chief wrote was proven by the WikiLeaks documents;
          (7) the U.S.'s own Ambassador concluded that the July, 2009 removal of the Honduran President was illegal -- a coup -- but the State Department did not want to conclude that and thus ignored it until it was too late to matter;
          (8) U.S. and British officials colluded to allow the U.S. to keep cluster bombs on British soil even though Britain had signed the treaty banning such weapons, and,
          (9) Hillary Clinton's State Department ordered diplomats to collect passwords, emails, and biometric data on U.N. and other foreign officials, almost certainly in violation of the Vienna Treaty of 1961.

          • by t2t10 (1909766)

            (1) the U.S. military formally adopted a policy of turning a blind eye to systematic, pervasive torture and other abuses by Iraqi forces;

            What would you have the US military do?

            (2) the State Department threatened Germany not to criminally investigate the CIA's kidnapping of one of its citizens who turned out to be completely innocent;

            And Germany refused to take back its own innocent resident, letting him rot in US prison for several years, because German politicians just found it inconvenient.

            (5) there were

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Mysteray (713473)

          The U.S. is not stopping you from reading Wikileaks.

          Not because they haven't tried, but because their power to do so has been intentionally limited.

          If you mean Amazon weenying out to a Senator, please take that up with the Senator or Amazon. Last I heard, he wasn't the government.

          Yes, he is.

          If you are referring to PayPal, they gave a decent reason.

          I must have missed the decent reason part of their explanation.

          Your don't like it because you believe there is a conspiracy behind it. So put up or shut up.

          A cons

        • by nospam007 (722110) *

          "If you are referring to PayPal, they gave a decent reason. "

          You mean 'Paypal forces Wikileaks to chose a different email address?'

          They should use a Luxembourg email address and if Paypal gets funny, they have a bank here that they can sue senseless if they refuse service to somebody because a country in a different continent doesn't like its views.
          I'd really like to see our rulers and justice try to paddle themselves out of this.
           

        • by wdconinc (704592)

          The U.S. is not stopping you from reading Wikileaks

          I work at a Department of Energy national lab (without nuclear weapons or other classified research). Wikileaks has been blocked since Tuesday, and we have all received a memo explicitly forbidding us from viewing the cables.

          • So resign.

            Nobody said freedom had to be convenient.

          • If you don't think it will get you in trouble, could you try and find out why they would bother with that? The Genie is out of the bottle now, and there's no stuffing it back in.

            I can see why they might not want you visiting the site to post more secrets, but viewing the stuff that's already released? Stuff that not only may or may not be real, but is basically a catalogue of rumor and hearsay anyway? Why bother?

            Keeping YOU from reading it isn't going to prevent our enemies from reading it, after all.

      • by fishexe (168879)

        Sorry, but if the Chinese think the internet is controllable, it is because the US is showing them how to.

        Well, to be fair, China has been doing all those things for years, whereas the US just started most of them.

      • by gmuslera (3436)
        The non subtle at all approach to control the net from US side is one way to try to control it, one that if pressed enough, will produce the Streissand effect against them. That approach, going to the upper level, will find that there are a lot of ways to communicate using internet, and will prove to be useless. But the China approach goes to the bottom level, to the people using internet opinion. Already was noted how was possible to rig online communities view on some topics (i.e. i think something of tha
      • by couchslug (175151)

        "Sorry, but if the Chinese think the internet is controllable, it is because the US is showing them how to."

        That comment is more than slightly patronizing. When we de-internalize the myth that all China can do is copy the West (as opposed to copying for convenience) we might give them credit for thinking for themselves.

      • Which nation is performing a massive denial of service attack to censor the net from information it finds undesirable?

        I assume you mean the US, right? I must have missed the news which proves the Jester was just covering for the US government.

        Remember: the first sign of a conspiracy nutjob is the rejection of all evidence to the contrary.

      • by Lakitu (136170) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @07:55PM (#34446534)

        While I agree that the rampant calls for assassination are detestable, along with the I have to disagree with the main gist of your post.

        Senator Lieberman's actions in particular are abhorrent. He has suggested that he has "spoken with" certain businesses, such as Amazon and that Tableau one which was featured on wikileaks, with an undertone that he would sic the legal dogs on them if they did not do as he wanted. Behavior such as this is disgusting and should be condemned, along with all the other similar behavior where people are ignoring the entire legal system as if it is ineffective and incorrect. People behaving like this undermine the rule of law which is the backbone of American freedom and prosperity.

        China, however, behaves quite differently. While there have been plenty of knee-jerk reactions to make WikiLeaks unaccessable in the media, almost none of them have been followed through with, and those that have do not actually make it unreadable, they just make it inconvenient. WikiLeaks has periodically had DNS problems but it is still completely accessible at http://213.251.145.96/ [213.251.145.96] outside of what appears to be a vigilante DDoS. In China, internet traffic which has been deemed by the party as "unharmonious" is essentially completely blocked and even attempting to use those services can lead to jail time. It's also gone on in China since long before WikiLeaks was around, so the US is hardly showing them how to.

        You should take note that the people actually in charge who can actually do anything have been relatively quiet about the whole affair, having only gone so far as to condemn the release as making it more difficult for nations to conduct diplomacy. A lot of the racket being made is being done just to make those in power look bad as a way of garnering attention for themselves.

        • by t2t10 (1909766)

          In China, internet traffic which has been deemed by the party as "unharmonious" is essentially completely blocked and even attempting to use those services can lead to jail time.

          Really? I used to think that, but I have not been able to find evidence for that. As far as I can tell, plenty of people circumvent the great Chinese firewall without consequences.

          • by Lakitu (136170)

            Really? I used to think that, but I have not been able to find evidence for that. As far as I can tell, plenty of people circumvent the great Chinese firewall without consequences.

            Yes, they do, but most of them would not want it brought to anyone's attention.

            • by t2t10 (1909766)

              Again, where does it say that circumventing the Great Chinese Firewall is illegal?

              People seem to flaunt this pretty openly:

              http://asia.cnet.com/blogs/sinobytes/post.htm?id=63014818 [cnet.com]

              • by Lakitu (136170)

                I guess if you view the internet as some kind of one-way reader, it works out alright.

                If you're fortunate enough to have enough wealth and education to know technical solutions to get around it, and only if you plan on reading content, not saying anything like "I wish we could hold officials accountable" ("China should be more democratic").

                Other than those small details, sure, it's only 'technically' illegal, and you can do it without getting in trouble for it. Until you run into an official who's willing

                • by t2t10 (1909766)

                  Will you just stop with the irrelevant drivel and just answer my question? You said:

                  In China, internet traffic which has been deemed by the party as "unharmonious" is essentially completely blocked and even attempting to use those services can lead to jail time.

                  Sorry, but I think you're making up the second part. So, I want to know (1) where it says in the Chinese penal code that circumventing the firewall is punishable by jail, and (2) I would like to know of some examples of people who have bene jailed m

                  • by Lakitu (136170)

                    In China, internet traffic which has been deemed by the party as "unharmonious" is essentially completely blocked and even attempting to use those services can lead to jail time.

                    Sorry, but I think you're making up the second part. So, I want to know (1) where it says in the Chinese penal code that circumventing the firewall is punishable by jail

                    I guess if you view the internet as some kind of one-way reader, it works out alright.

      • WHICH nation has an elected politician calling for the assasination of a foreign national?

        LMAOROFL, the question is "how many?"

      • by Mashiki (184564) <mashiki@NOsPam.gmail.com> on Saturday December 04, 2010 @10:20PM (#34447542) Homepage

        WHICH nation has an elected politician calling for the assasination of a foreign national?

        Well that'd be Canada of course. Don't let our smiling faces deceive you, we have a long history of removing people who we consider a threat to national security and have no qualms about assassinating foreign nationals. Why do you think groups like JTF2, and SERC(previous) have existed? They all operate within the bounds of Canadian law, and Canadian law allows us to do some very broad things, especially to protect our national sovereignty.

        Which nation is stopping its own citizens from reading websites?

        Dunno? China? Because it's sure not the US.

        Which nation is putting presure on private companies to follow its agenda without any laws being written?

        That'd be governments everywhere. Governments do it everywhere, companies can follow or disregard it as they deem fit, or move to another country too. And they do.

        Which nation is performing a massive denial of service attack to censor the net from information it finds undesirable?

        Dunno, you tell me. But if you think it's the US you'll be sadly mistaken.

        Then again, I think you just have a hate for all things American. Either that or you're a conspiracy theorist, I'm thinking conspiracy theorist however. Personally I'm surprised your post got to +5 full of such nonsense.

      • WHICH nation has an elected politician calling for the assasination of a foreign national? Which nation is stopping its own citizens from reading websites? Which nation is putting presure on private companies to follow its agenda without any laws being written?

        i thought you were about to say Canada !

      • Exactly right. Our American government is in direct violation of the US constitution.

        The question is... when will something be done about that?

      • by t2t10 (1909766)

        WHICH nation ...

        And Europe has actively supported US invasions and illegal renditions, Europeans are bigger arms dealers than Americans, and they sweep right in taking advantage of business opportunities created by US action. The only thing Europeans are better at is shifting blame. Sweden is even using Interpol to hunt down Assange.

        Sorry, but if the Chinese think the internet is controllable, it is because the US is showing them how to.

        Not just the US; Europe is at least as active censoring and exporting

    • Communist states view everything as being controllable.

      China has a long history of favoring centralized state power. This is not really a communist issue; Chinese communism itself is just an expression of the brand of authoritarian traditionalism that goes by the name of "Confucianism".

      I keep hearing tech people assuring me that "the genie is out of the bottle" and the Internet can never be controlled, and polisci people assuring me that power will never consent to being restricted by the powerless.

      It's an interesting dispute - I'm glad I don have to risk

    • by slick7 (1703596)

      Communist states view everything as being controllable.

      Yeah, like N. Korea.

    • China's not a communist state though.

  • I suppose it's too much to ask for a link to page one or even a printer-friendly URL? Oh, wait, this is /.
  • internet is certainly controllable, but what u said on internet is another case.
  • by DarkOx (621550) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @06:11PM (#34445954) Journal

    Computer networks and information systems are very controllable The Internet however is The Internet because of its loose control. China does not give access to The Internet to its citizens it gives access to its network which so happens to have internet gateways. Those gateways may be well controlled. China's network though is a walled garden with internet access its not The Internet at all.

    • by sanman2 (928866) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @06:26PM (#34446026)

      It doesn't matter whether the Chinese choose Symantec or McAfee. They can't hope to secure the entire internet using anti-virus products. Freedom is a disease that cannot be contained. Likewise, as I learned from watching an episode of the Tick - Justice is a big blue salmon swimming upstream towards the spawning ground of Evil.

      So evil dictators beware! There's a big blue salmon coming your way to give you a taste of the disease of freedom. And no anti-viral net can stop it.

    • ... and judging from your subject line, the makers of Norton Utilities would like a word with Beijing about this very issue.

    • The No True Scotsman fallacy, eh?

      Sorry, but China has proved that the Internet is controllable. The communist party has shown that all the "benefits" of the internet--rapid communication, access to technology, skills and educational enhancements, new mass entertainment forms, and greater facilitation of art and commerce--can be had without opening up society in any significant way or of empowering citizens in the slightest. Their walled garden supplies a significant and ever growing fraction of the services available in the rest of the world, and as time goes by, the lessons learned in China are being passed on in turn to western countries, whos governments are similarly coming to grips with the internet.

      • by Nemyst (1383049)
        The problem with the Internet is its extremely pervasive nature. It isn't any sort of definitive entity; it is constantly evolving and changing.

        In order to control the Internet, you would have to lock down all worldwide access points, all international backbones and uplinks. You would then also need to have sufficiently tight control over the entire network to avoid rogue agents from slipping through. Finally, you'd need to prohibit all alternative means of constituting a network (by means of wireless net
      • by macshit (157376)

        The communist party has shown that all the "benefits" of the internet--rapid communication, access to technology, skills and educational enhancements, new mass entertainment forms, and greater facilitation of art and commerce--can be had without opening up society in any significant way or of empowering citizens in the slightest.

        Certainly the Chinese government is going to try to control it, and has succeeded to some degree -- but compared to china without the internet, the internet probably has been a positive force, even if not to the degree that people wish (and the chinese regime fears).

        Typically it seems that their control measures are often reactive, and only really take effect after an initial outburst of activity about some topic -- they can dampen discussion after-the-fact, but they don't seem to have been very successful

      • http://books.google.com/books?id=wpuJQrxHZXAC&pg=PA51&lpg=PP1#v=onepage&q&f=false [google.com]
        relates to this, but it would be a spoiler to tell you how... :-)

        Theodore Sturgeon at his best, predicting our mobile social computing future presciently in the 1950s. It inspired Ted Nelson's Xanadu system.

    • I for one would definitely not want to try to control the Internet with Symantec. I don't even want it on my PC.

  • No need for a large government like China's to control the Internet!
  • If the US hadn't borrowed over a $TRILLION from China that it spent on the Iraq war, the US might be a lot more free to defend itself from China.

    • by sanman2 (928866)

      The US was borrowing from China long before the invasion of Iraq.

      • Re:Iraq and China (Score:5, Informative)

        by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @07:07PM (#34446254) Homepage Journal

        Until the invasion, the US didn't owe China nearly as much, nor need China to continue to buy US debt to support ongoing operations (including the ongoing Iraq War).

        In February 2003, just before the US invaded Iraq, the Treasury owed China [econdataus.com] $121.8B, 9.9% of the $1236.4B US total. In November 2008, right before the banking collapse caused a competing top source of US debt, the Treasury owed China $713.2 of $2104.1B total, 33.9% of the total. During that time, China's share of the US debt increased by 3.44x, while the total debt increased only 1.7x.

        The Iraq War cost more than the extra $867.7B in debt; indeed, at over a $TRILLION the Iraq War cost could have entirely eliminated the US debt to China.

        • In February 2003, just before the US invaded Iraq, the Treasury owed China [econdataus.com] $121.8B, 9.9% of the $1236.4B US total.

          No comment on what we owed China in 2003, but the national debt at that time was NOT $1236.4 billion. It was $6783.2 billion.

          • by Doc Ruby (173196)

            True, the debt I'm discussing is the foreign held Treasury debt. The rest of the debt, that is owed to private individuals, corporations and (mainly) the US government itself (eg. Social Security Administration and government pension funds), does not give any foreign country any leverage over any US policy. Indeed, the debt held by US government offices does not give any leverage over any US policy, as those offices are entirely controlled by US policy.

            The total debt on February 28, 2003 [treas.gov] was $6,399.975B (un

        • But think of all we accomplished. I mean we helped a man-child resolve his daddy issues! Isn't that worth thousands of US lives, 10s if not 100s of thousands of Iraqi lives and over a trillion dollars?
    • Re:Iraq and China (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gtall (79522) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @06:42PM (#34446134)

      Bullshit. If the U.S. goes down, it will take China's manufacturing markets with it. China needs the U.S. more than the U.S. needs them. Millions of Chinese out of work will make the illegitimate rulers of China hide from the pitchforks that will be coming for them.

      • by DJLuc1d (1010987)
        or make the people with pitchforks hide from the tanks ?
      • Re:Iraq and China (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Doc Ruby (173196) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @07:08PM (#34446258) Homepage Journal

        Who said anything about "the US goes down"? Only you did. That's bullshit. China's interest is in the US continuing to owe it that money, paying that steady interest, while using the US need to continue to sell debt to China to dictate US stay out of China's way. China wants a weak and compliant US, not a destroyed US. And that's what China's got.

      • by peragrin (659227)

        Then why has china stopped exports of rare earth minerals?

        China has already begun to clamp down on exports. China used the USA to drag itself from farmer peasants to manufacturers. once they reach that point with enough people they won't need the USA their own population wanting cars, computers, etc will be far more than the USA can buy

      • Re:Iraq and China (Score:5, Informative)

        by LynnwoodRooster (966895) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @07:43PM (#34446472) Journal
        You really need to educate yourself... China's total exports are about 20% of its GDP. China's exports to the US are 20% of its exports. Put those together: China's exports to the US are 4% of its GDP. If all exports to the US were stopped, it would be less of a GDP hit than the US had in 2009. At this point, we need them (and their manufacturing, production, and funding) more than they need us.
  • so... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by hitmark (640295) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @06:29PM (#34446046) Journal

    china trying to control the net, bad. But USA attempting to take wikileaks offline, business as usual...

    • So, you draw no distinction between trying to shut down a site that exists to engage in illegal international espionage, and trying to shut down a site that (say) describes what happened at Tiananmen Square?
    • I'm not an American, but I'm getting real tired of the constant US bashing in all those China censorship stories.

      Look, yeah, we know, US has some problems in that department recently. There has been a bunch of stories with 500+ comments each in the last few days on just this topic - it has all been endlessly rehashed there already. But it is not relevant in a story about Chinese censorship aside from "those guys are also doing it".

      I just wish both the "but US is also doing it" (in stories about China) and t

  • by Adam Hazzlebank (970369) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @06:35PM (#34446092)
    Where are the original cables? There seem to be a few talking about blocking/redirecting google in china. But I can't find those refering to "cyberattacks".

    http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/05/09BEIJING1336.html [wikileaks.ch]

    http://wikileaks.ch/cable/2009/07/09BEIJING1957.html [wikileaks.ch]
    • So far this is the only reference I can find:

      On June 24 servers in China were virally infected, causing them to redirect computers attempting to reach Google pages to an unknown web site. These attacks made Google services unavailable to many Chinese users for approximately 24 hours, and caused the company to lose 20% of its traffic on that day.

      • by grcumb (781340)

        So far this is the only reference I can find:

        On June 24 servers in China were virally infected, causing them to redirect computers attempting to reach Google pages to an unknown web site. These attacks made Google services unavailable to many Chinese users for approximately 24 hours, and caused the company to lose 20% of its traffic on that day.

        Given that the NYT has been consulting with the State Department before publishing any cables, it's possible that they chose only to report on its contents, rather than to publish it.

        • Yes, but shouldn't the original cables be on wikileaks already? If wikileaks have only released the cable publically isn't that kind of against their mandate? I thought they were trying to usher in an age of "scientific journalism" where original sources could be cited.
          • by grcumb (781340)

            Yes, but shouldn't the original cables be on wikileaks already?

            For this dataset, it seems that a decision has been made not to 'scoop' the news outlets. The cables appear simultaneously with their release from the media outlets disseminating the data.

            If wikileaks have only released the cable publically isn't that kind of against their mandate? I thought they were trying to usher in an age of "scientific journalism" where original sources could be cited.

            Yes, this is uncharacteristic of wikileaks. Assange's stated reason for this is that he is largely relying on the journalists to scrub the data of any details that might endanger individuals.

            The result seems to be a somewhat awkward but workable compromise between the physical security of people implicated in these cables

            • oh well, I hope we see the original cables released in the next few days. The cables in general are quite readable and I'd much rather go back to the source than read an article.
    • by fishexe (168879) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @07:04PM (#34446236) Homepage

      Swiss DNS appears to have shut off wikileaks domain now as well, or else to be under attack. Try these (no knowing how long they'll stay up, but as I post this they're still available):
      #1 [213.251.145.96]
      #2 [213.251.145.96]

  • So why was it kept confidential in the first place? I think the US government and Google would only gain if they made it public.

    • by grcumb (781340) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @07:22PM (#34446354) Homepage Journal

      So why was it kept confidential in the first place? I think the US government and Google would only gain if they made it public.

      Because a culture of secrecy breeds power and the ability to act with impunity. Careerist elements within any government prefer secrecy because it allows them to forego the often tedious act of being accountable for even the smallest decision. It's often justified as a Good Thing because the actors can circumvent bureaucratic red tape and work more efficiently. Ultimately, however, the end game is the same: A small elite minority within the permanent establishment begin to take privilege and influence for granted, and act independently of government policy.

      This is not something unique to the US diplomatic corps. It happens in all organisations. And it is explicitly what freedom of information laws and regulations are designed to counteract. Absent this capability, it's left to whistleblowers and wikileaks to serve in this role.

      Viewed in this light, we have to conclude that the attacks on wikileaks are primarily driven not by the state, but by certain of its constituents who might lose the leverage that a culture of secrecy has given them. That's why the counter-attack on wikileaks has been composed mostly of deft cuts at the the service's underpinnings rather than overt state action. A quiet word here and there, and anyone hosting material even related to wikileaks goes offline. A whisper in the ear of an ambitious (or susceptible) Swedish prosecutor and a nuisance case becomes an international manhunt.

      Secrecy and a scarcity of information are crucial to the continuation of the cronyism about which so many slashdotters complain. It astounds me how many of these same people who rail at the unhealthy, shadowy bonds between corporations, lobbyists and the government are now scandalised that an organisation like wikileaks is struggling to diminish the power of these linkages.

      • by cdrguru (88047)

        Something you are missing is that another reason for not disclosing another country's difficulties or embarrassments is it helps nobody. Whereas if China knows that the US knows something that they would rather not have public then China "owes" the US. The exchange of such IOUs make for diplomacy.

        The other part of this is that when material damaging to a country run by reasonable men is made public they shrug it off. When material damaging to a country run by unreasonable, unreasoning, irrational men bec

        • by grcumb (781340) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @11:02PM (#34447866) Homepage Journal

          Something you are missing is that another reason for not disclosing another country's difficulties or embarrassments is it helps nobody. Whereas if China knows that the US knows something that they would rather not have public then China "owes" the US. The exchange of such IOUs make for diplomacy.

          I'm not missing it. I didn't claim there was no need for secrets, I'm saying that people within the power structures upon which secrecy is predicated inevitably abuse this secrecy in order to empower themselves and their cliques.

          The problem, in short, is not binary. It's 'all secrets or none'. Even wikileaks recognises this in their willingness to expunge certain details from the leaked cables.

          Regarding fears about negative impacts of the leaks themselves to US diplomacy, I'll let Secretary of Defense Robert Gates [nytimes.com] make the case:

          “Now, I’ve heard the impact of these releases on our foreign policy described as a meltdown, as a game-changer, and so on. I think those descriptions are fairly significantly overwrought. The fact is, governments deal with the United States because it’s in their interest, not because they like us, not because they trust us, and not because they believe we can keep secrets. Many governments — some governments — deal with us because they fear us, some because they respect us, most because they need us. We are still essentially, as has been said before, the indispensable nation.

          “So other nations will continue to deal with us. They will continue to work with us. We will continue to share sensitive information with one another.

          “Is this embarrassing? Yes. Is it awkward? Yes. Consequences for U.S. foreign policy? I think fairly modest.’’

      • by mikael (484)

        It happens at local levels too - bureaucrats in local government send out gagging order related to poor quality of service in hospital, schools or even refuse collection, or even suspend or fire anyone who speaks out.

    • by peragrin (659227)

      because it let's china save face. Just like the comments from China about North Korea.

      you have friends that are a married couple. You find out one cheated once but felt guilty about it. Do you tell the other because they are your friend too? That is what wikileaks has done.

      Sometimes in order to get ahead in the world you have to keep small things secret.

  • People like to say the Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it, but it's not really true. When you control the channel between your citizens and restricted content or otherwise control the infrastructure that makes the Internet possible, you also control and can censor the Internet to a significant degree.

    The United States' recent actions (Homeland Security seizing "infringing" domains; American companies being pressured into dropping Wikileaks) are good examples of this.

    • by nurb432 (527695)

      yup, and the final outcome will prove it one way or another.

    • by Mashiki (184564)

      I'm honestly reminded of my mothers stories of the STASI, and their control, reading and unilateral attempt to control the life of everyone. Of how you couldn't trust people, or neighbors, or sometimes even friends, but information, art,books, music, everything still flourished underground, secreted, hidden, and away from the prying eyes of the state.

  • by vampire_baozi (1270720) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @06:56PM (#34446196)

    Leaving aside the absurdity of meaningfully controlling the internet (a sentiment obviously shared by the Chinese informants, likely younger, New Guard leaders), they may have a point in trying to control the dissemination of information in China.

    Personally, I believe information should be free, and fully support WikiLeaks. However, having been to China on numerous occasions, and having had opportunities to talk to some of those hundreds of millions of peasant that still litter the countryside... censorship can be a good thing in a society in which ignorance is widespread. I do think China goes too far, and censors many things that should not be censored, to the detriment of both its and society's interests.

    But it also can prevent Fox-news style media from manipulating the masses (that role stays in the hands of the government). We in the West can do a better job of handling freedom of information. Many in China, however, are not yet ready. The urban centers could probably handle it. But I don't trust the peasants in the Chinese boonies any more than I trust rednecks and hillbillies in the United States. The Politburo leader who googled himself and found critical articles: some of those are legitimate criticisms, other are "Obama isn't America" style crap. The average Chinese peasant doesn't know the difference; given how the Chinese government often behaves, even conspiracy theories are all too believable.

    The Chinese central government has improved a lot; based on my friends who have connections in Zhongnanhai, the central government basically hopes to keep the lid on things as it (really fucking slowly) tries to clean up its act (which is basically impossible, since the local and provincial governments very much like being corrupt). But until then, keeping local yahoos from rioting based on false information may take precedence over total freedom of information for China. Hopefully this will slowly change. But until then, keeping the masses ignorant may contribute more to social stability and prosperity than openness of information would. Democratizing too soon might result in Soviet-style collapse: democracy did not work out well for Russia in the early 90s, just as I doubt it would work out well for China now.

    • by openfrog (897716)

      I can agree with every one of your point, and yet at every point wonder: in what way exactly is keeping the population ignorant supposed to pave the way to more democratic institutions? Yes, I would be dismayed at seeing China ends up in the hand of the mob as it has happened in Russia. However, I do not rejoice at the view of seeing it going the way of Myanmar, and I do not rejoice when I see their government whipping up nationalism as a manner of maintaining unity, and I don't see any kind of progress the

      • That was supposed to be part of my point: I don't think that many Americans can distinguish between the wheat and the chaff, and our democracy is collapsing under the weight of the ignorance and/or apathy of the voters. If America has such a hard time handling it (read: we produce "leaders" and movements like Sarah Palin and the tea party), then imagine what a similar movement in China would look like. America is far more urbanized and educated, and we already have such a large portion of the population w

      • by Raenex (947668)

        The educated one seem to be doing fine. The Yahoos not so much.

        In Swift's novel, the educated ones were just as much Yahoos as the uneducated. He was talking about humanity as a whole.

    • However, having been to China on numerous occasions, and having had opportunities to talk to some of those hundreds of millions of peasant that still litter the countryside

      Hah, they seem to 'litter' their own villages more than the actual countryside itself! The Chinese village streets are trash-heaps.

      (I know what you mean though and your comment is cogent; I'm just making an aside remark about the squalor and filthy conditions that the Chinese peasantry create for themselves).

  • by sp3d2orbit (81173) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @07:23PM (#34446370)

    Before this degenerates into another self hating, "America is just as bad" thread lets take a step back. China is at war with the United States as they outlined in the document "Unrestricted Warfare" (http://cryptome.org/cuw01.htm). Lets not forget that fact. The Chinese Politburo wants to destroy Western values, such as representative democracy and freedom of the press. The US is not a perfect example. But it is far and away a better example than China.

    The way the Chinese leaderships sees it, there are two options. Option 1: Western ideals spread to China and one party rule comes to an end. Option 2: Chinese authoritarianism spreads to the West and the party lives on. This is a fight to the death of one system against another. If we don't hold our system up as a shining example of how things "should be", while trying to make it better, then there is but one alternative. An untenable one.

    To the posters who will lambaste me, I ask only one thing: When you point out the flaws in Western governance please include a proposed solution. Mindless complaining should not be confused with intelligence.

    • China is trying to spread authoritarianism to the west? You view of the world must be stuck in the era when the Soviets sponsored communist parties in Europe. All China is saying, all the time, is "leave us alone".
    • by vampire_baozi (1270720) on Saturday December 04, 2010 @08:35PM (#34446806)

      I'm not sure if this a troll or not, but what the heck.

      First, I agree that we should take a step back: China, the US, and other governments are all guilty of many infractions against freedom of information, and attempted (and successful) censorship.

      Furthermore, pointing fingers and saying "But he's doing it toooooo!" is not an excuse. We can rightfully point out the US government is guilty of censorship, just as the Chinese government is guilty. It's not self-hating, though. It's legitimate criticisms of our government. We expect better from our government, since we have higher standards.

      Also, if you really believe that crap about the US and China being locked in another ideological Cold War, you are sadly mistaken. They do not want to destroy "Western values“ any more than we want to destroy "Chinese values" or something. Would we like it if they were a liberal democracy? Sure. Is it a "fight to the death"? Hardly. Multiple systems of governance can happily co-exist on this planet, believe it or not. The Chinese and American leaderships are both smart enough to realize that. China also knows democracy!=party rule coming to an end. Look at Taiwan: the KMT democratized, and yet have usually been in power. Based on their rapidly improving living standards, most Chinese today would willingly vote for the Communist Party, despite its corruption, simply because there is no viable alternative. It will take time for those alternatives to take root.

      In the meantime, take your Cold War somewhere else. I like peaceful development and co-existence, thanks.

      And in the interest of doing so, we should vehemently criticize our own system, and actively think of alternatives to improve our own system of governance.

      • Let's not look at Taiwan, because it's living proof of how easy it is for Chinese people to take advantage of Americans. I would easily believe that the Communist Party would continue to be quite popular; the previous government wasn't worth the name and the current alternatives are what, nonexistent?

        America has never known peaceful development. Apparently wars make too much money. We'll even fight wars against our own citizens: cf War on Drugs, War on Terror. Honorable mentions go to fighting unions in the

  • idiots. yeah sure, the internet is controllable... maybe if you had a BILLION PEOPLE at your disposal!

    oh... wait, never mind

  • the DNS & DDOS attacks on Wikileaks, the elimination of net neutrality, the courts vs. Limewire... what more proof do we need that our own US government will only let us have the internet that they want us to see?

  • The Chinese government claims Communism works. Or that they're communist. Or a combination thereof, dunno which it is this week.

    Let's be serious here, "the Chinese government claims..." is now a sentence that means something? What happened to good ol' free world hubris? Did it go out the window when we abandoned the free part?

  • There will always be a con-man or scammer who will claim that the internet can be controlled. What easier way to extract money and power from fools? Moreover, government officials *want* to believe this, so I don't doubt that the Chinese government, and other governments, will be made to believe it's possible.

    China can control (sort of) the internet within its jurisdiction - for the moment. Let any significant civil unrest start in China and you can watch even the weak control that they now have break down

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