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Telling the Truth In Today's China 157

Posted by timothy
from the shame-about-the-government dept.
eldavojohn writes "Inside the land of the Great Firewall censorship is rampant although rarely transparent. Foreign Policy has a lengthy but eyeopening recounting of what it's like being an editor for the only officially sanctioned English business publication inside the most populated country on Earth. Eveline Chao of the magazine 'China International Business' writes in her piece 'Me and My Censor' about her censor named Snow, the three taboo T's (Taiwan, Tibet, and Tiananmen), a bizarre government aversion to flags and how she was 'offered red envelopes stuffed with cash at press junkets, sometimes discovered footprints on the toilet seats at work, and had to explain to the Chinese assistants more than once that they could not turn in articles copied word for word from existing pieces they found online.' Anecdotes abound in this piece including the story of a photojournalist who 'once ran a picture he'd taken in Taiwan alongside an article, but had failed to notice a small Taiwanese flag in the background. As a result, the entire staff of his newspaper had been immediately fired and the office shut down.' " (Read more, below.)
Eldavojohn continues: "From shoddy CYA maps to language misunderstandings to an elusive 'words group' faxed out by government censors, this article exposes a lot of the internal workings and responsibilities of a 'government censor' inside mainland China but also the ridiculous absurdity of government censorship: 'I was told that we could not title a coal piece "Power Failure" because the word "failure" in bold print so close to the Olympics would make people think of the Olympics being a failure. The title "The Agony and the Ecstasy" for a soccer piece was axed because agony was a negative word and we couldn't have negative words be associated with sports.' The magazine couldn't use images of an empty bowl for its restaurant pieces because it might remind readers of the Great Famine."
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Telling the Truth In Today's China

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  • absurdity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by HPHatecraft (2748003) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @09:36AM (#41817025)
    All of this is absurd, like a Dada or Surrealist depiction of a repressive government. I'm thinking of the Marx Brother's "Duck Soup" or something similar. It would all be hilarious if it didn't have real, and possibly fatal, consequences. Good luck, people of China.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      Not sure if you noticed, but the absurdity is global. The major difference is that the Chinese have no access to decent info through censorship, whereas the majority of Westerners have no access because the sheer flood of junk info that is coming our way.

      The amount of people who choose not to consume any useful information is staggering.

      • by arpad1 (458649) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:06AM (#41818175)

        Not sure if you noticed, but it's absurd to compare voluntary ignorance resulting from having too much information from which to choose to mandated ignorance that helps keep in power an authoritarian elite trying to hang onto that power a little longer even though their decrepit ideology has been repudiated everywhere people have the option to do so.

        • No it is not, because in the end the results are very similar.
          • by Millennium (2451)

            The outcome may be similar in some ways -though in truth, I think it's less so than you believe- but at least in the West it comes through a more just process. Outcome isn't everything.

            • Outcome is actually everything. Allowing you a delusion of freedom is even more effective than controlling you by fear.
            • by nobodie (1555367)

              Having lived extensively in both places I would like to say two things:
              1) Censorship in China is real and SUPPORTED by most Chinese people. They truly do not want to know, they don't want outside opinions that would complicate their world view and their world. They just want to buy more stuff, that is all. The minority that wants censorship to end is educated activist and dedicated to their idea of freedom. But they are part of a self-focused minority that can be rolled up and thrown away whenever the gover

          • by arpad1 (458649) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @02:11PM (#41820403)

            Not even close to similar. Nothing in common at all and to suggest there is is evidence less of a desire to illuminate then to obscure. Or to find excuses for a failed and brutal ideology.

            The Chinese leadership is trying to keep a lid on popular dissent by trying to enforce ignorance of factors which might lead to popular dissent and answers to no one on that score. In representative governments censorship is always a lively issue with those in favor of this or that convenient form of censorship finding themselves very often on the recieving end of unwelcomed attention and not infrequently losing their bid to impose censorship and just occasionally their position of political influence as well.

            That's why the results are also not remotely similar. A Chinese citizen who wishes to educate themselves on some contentious issue is very likely to find their way as thoroughly blocked as the strenuous efforts of the Chinese government allows. A British, French or American citizen who wishes to remedy their ignorance on a previously ignored topic will find no such impediments in their path and, as like as not, find information on the topic from government officials.

          • Please explain ... how is a society where the majority are apathetic and ignorant versus an oppressive government that uses 1984 as their handbook to stifle creativity, truth, and just outright murder people they find inconvenient?

            --
            Free "Ai Weiwei"
            * http://www.newstatesman.com/staggers/2012/10/taking-great-firewall-china [newstatesman.com]
            * http://www.newstatesman.com/media/media/2012/10/ai-weiwei-if-someone-not-free-i-am-not-free [newstatesman.com]

    • I'm thinking of the Marx Brother's "Duck Soup" or something similar.

      But the Chinese wouldn't understand it. They still believe the the Marx brothers' first names were Karl and Friedrich.

  • This is horrible (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Quakeulf (2650167) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @09:36AM (#41817029)
    Just think of all the man hours spent on keeping people stupid and the labour cheap so that we can all have it made in China.
    • by slashmydots (2189826) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @09:58AM (#41817249)
      I know, right? Keeping everyone in that mindset so that the people on the top running everything and owning the biggest companies can continue to make gigantic profits while the rest of the workers remain non-disruptive and work for dirt cheap is textbook communism.
      As they say on the internet, Hey China, ur doin it wrong!
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Rogerborg (306625)

      Hi, what are you using to write and read these comments? Where is it made?

      See also the Take Back types tweeting "Woo! Down with the corporations, man!" from their iPhones.

      • by Quakeulf (2650167)
        This comment, and that comment, were written using a Dell which has parts assembled in China. Unless there is a worker revolution in China, which currently seems unlikely, it will continue to be like that until we have either fully automatic assembly plants or there is a genocide.

        In no place in my comment did I allude to the hypocrite slactivist worker-solidary type, I just stated the obvious.
      • by Stiletto (12066) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @01:04PM (#41819613)

        Ahh, the old, "If you've ever bought anything from a corporation, you can't criticize corporations" argument still gets modded up here.

        • by Omniskio (1153619)
          What could possibly be the motive for the up-modding of such an absurd position?
          • by Fjandr (66656)

            Willful ignorance, more than likely. Outrage without understanding is incredibly common currently, at least in the US.

            Telling someone they're a hypocrite because they are somehow linked to what they are criticizing is a favorite, so there will be plenty who defend the tactic and promote its use. They especially like to use the logic if the link is a result of something you have little or no ability to reasonably control, like living in the US and avoiding all products with a manufacturing link in China. Unl

      • The fact that nearly every device we use, every article of clothing, and most of our food comes from companies that in one way or another abuse people and the environment - should not keep us from protesting and fighting back. Rather than demanding purity - we should encourage MORE people to stand up and fight.
    • by camperdave (969942) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @10:15AM (#41817513) Journal

      Just think of all the man hours spent on keeping people stupid and the labour cheap so that we can all have it made in China.

      Well, if there's one thing China has in abundance, it's man-hours.

    • Re:This is horrible (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kjella (173770) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @10:33AM (#41817781) Homepage

      Some of the more expensive labor around is woefully ignorant of large parts of science like evolution and most things outside of North America, but it doesn't seem to significantly affect their work performance or salary requirements. China is no longer that cheap [economist.com], it says "Labour costs have surged by 20% a year for the past four years" - pretty different from what most Americans have experienced the last four years I bet. China is rapidly becoming a modern country, compared to most other countries in South East Asia they are already rich. For example India is poor compared to China. Right now I'd hold Greece and Spain much more likely to have a revolution than China...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      i spend a fair amount of time working with a software dev team in Shanghai. they are to a person incredibly smart--your stupid people / cheap labor might apply to the uneducated unwashed masses which of course applies everywhere in the world and not just China (i often shudder thinking of the brilliant folks in the U.S. who watch and believe what they see on Fox News).

      also, anyone with a wifi enabled device (pretty much everyone in every major city) that wants to read uncensored news, or access facebook/you

  • Why bothering! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by aglider (2435074)
    You cannot tell the truth (whatever this means) in a number of other countries .
    I wonder whether adding all those population numbers up you'll go higher than China's.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @09:47AM (#41817129)
    If the official religion of China was atheism instead of Christianity, none of this would be happening.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Uuuummmm..... what?

      Christianity is in about 4% of the population; 42% of people in China define themselves as atheist or agnostic, and Buddhism and Daosim together make up another 48%.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Religion_in_China

    • The official religion of China is loyalty to the Party. Atheism isn't a religion, so yes, if China actually had no religion, none of this would be happening.
      • by tnk1 (899206)

        You're absolutely right. Atheism isn't a religion. The problem is, people keep finding ways to turn it into one. In the end, "true atheism" ends up being about as likely in reality, as a naked singularity.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    How's this any different from banning Big Gulps?

    Big overweening governments do things like this "for your own good".

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @10:02AM (#41817297) Journal

      How's this any different from banning Big Gulps?

      Well, the ban on big gulps is not a ban on soda or even how much soda you can buy, it's a ban on the convenience of selling massive amounts of soda in the interest of public health. Also, the ban is clearly defined and written into law. If you read the article, you would get a taste of the ambiguity and the surprising way that censorship in China can bite you in the ass. It's neither codified nor tested in a court of law, it just happens.

      Big overweening governments do things like this "for your own good".

      Big overweening governments also require you to have car insurance and wear seat belts and now it's illegal to smoke in bars almost everywhere and dump your fecal matter in rivers -- on top of a number of other things that you're not bitching about. You are free not to live in NYC where Big Gulps are banned but if that experiment turns out to have a positive effect on health, you'll see a lot of other cities follow (similar to no smoking in public restaurants and dumping fecal matter in rivers). That fine line may be felt out by governments but at least it's well defined when they tell you what is and is not legal.

      Are you really comparing your rights to buy soda in 64 oz containers with your right to free speech and free criticism of the government? Really? You see those as two equivocal "overweening" acts? Please.

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Are you really comparing your rights to buy soda in 64 oz containers with your right to free speech and free criticism of the government? Really? You see those as two equivocal "overweening" acts? Please.

        One step at a time. The argument is that it's good for public health for them to tell you what you're permitted to put into your body. Sound familiar? Maybe this is good for public health. It's still a real slippery slope based on the historical evidence. This might be an entirely benign attempt to improve life, but if history is any guide, it will have negative repercussions when others take advantage of the situation to push their own agendas for reasons which have nothing to do with public health.

        Governm

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          One step at a time. The argument is that it's good for public health for them to tell you what you're permitted to put into your body. Sound familiar?

          Yeah like that time they wanted us to wear seat belts! Now we have to have airbags and we are chained to our seats in straight jackets with restraints on our foreheads and our eyes are peeled open so we're forced to watch the road and ... oh, wait, that didn't happen. I guess sometimes they can take little steps and never cross the line into absurdity.

          • by Quila (201335)

            I guess sometimes they can take little steps and never cross the line into absurdity.

            Seat belts are a good example of this government creep. They were initally sold to the public in most states on the idea of don't worry, it's not a primary offense, you can't be pulled over for it. Once people got used to seat belt laws it changed to be a primary offense, you can get pulled over for it. Once people got used to that, we started to have "Click-it or Ticket" campaigns to specifically go after this as a primary

      • by Quila (201335)

        it's a ban on the convenience of selling massive amounts of soda in the interest of public health

        And the censorship is in the interests of public order.

        Big overweening governments also require you to have car insurance

        Different purpose: When you are on a public road you will not subject others to the damaging economic consequences of you not having insurance.

        wear seat belts and now it's illegal to smoke in bars almost everywhere

        Other examples of government encroachment. Smoking bans spread from governmen

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @09:50AM (#41817161)

    One also has to take their culture into context. THis is not the US or anywhere in the "West" for that matter, where our stand is put out all information in whatever form you want, and leave it up to the individual to determine what they want to read and what interpretation of events is correct.

    China's focus is more of an "internal harmony" approach, whereby maintaing social order is a higher priority than things such as freedom of the press. Many Chinese are perfectly ok with the government censoring certain things out of the media as it fits within their belief system of internal harmony (both Zen Buddhism and Daoism maintain this concept of balance) of both the self and society. But i think far more importantly is that here in the West we are taught shockingly little history of China, but if you have ever studied it you'll see that China has been beset 5 or 6 times by massive wars, several of whcih were huge revolutions against the existing regime, and during those wars millions of Chinese were killed. Most people are shocked to think of the destruction and loss of life during World War I and II; China has had several incidents in the past 2,000 years on that scale. The Chinese have a long memory, and they more than any other society are acutely aware of the dangers of revolution and challenges to the social order, and many are quite content to let things be if that means they don't have to go through another period like that.

    Again, here in the West we idolize social disturbance, and in fact I think we've done a good job overall in allowing it to come out so when it does come out now in the 20th and 21st centuries, it typically results in a political revolution instead of a violent one, and my own opinion is the Chinese approach simply represses those feelings which ultimately magnifies them and when revolution comes it blows up harder than it would have otherwise. But that's my own opinion; the Chinese seem to think differently.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:15AM (#41818281)

      This.

      As one of the somewhat rare caucasian Americans who actually studied Mandarin for 5 years (during which included historical and cultural studies of predominantly mainland China but also Taiwan -- my focus was on the Han dynasty but was seconded by a fairly lengthy study of the Tiananmen incident), and for 6 months lived with a Chinese family state-side who had immigrated to the US, I'm often left shaking my head when reading highly opinionated or "dramatic" articles about China.

      In no way shape or form do I agree with the government's stance or behaviour on most things (especially their approach to handling certain media-oriented items), however stories like the above often seem to lack cultural context. I'm not trying to justify the government's behaviour, I'm saying if you understand the culture, the history, and the thought process that exists in China (both amongst people and government), much of what's considered "shocking and appalling" to the average American no longer applies. For example, the above article made me nod and think "still the same as it was 20 years ago", rather than read in disbelief.

      I can assure readers that there are much more nefarious and awful things that go on in China, just as there are equally horrible things that go on here in the United States.

      TL;DR -- it's important to understand the history, culture, and overall "societal demographic" of any foreign country, no matter if communist or otherwise. Before jumping on the stereotypic anti-communist bandwagon, it helps to get some context first, *then* draw a conclusion.

      • by poity (465672) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @01:38PM (#41820057)

        It seems Chinese (and "distant" foreigners like other Asians, Middle Easterners) have to deal with two sides of prejudice -- one end regards us as soulless and less than human, the other fetishizes us to irreproachable heights.

        Chinese thought process is not much different from the thought process of anyone else around the world. Their desire for comfort, for love, for every bit of freedom they can get to live without encumbrance is no less than yours. When housing prices are astronomical, they blame speculators and mafia-connected developers; when street cops beat up unlicensed vendors trying their best to survive, they blame the uncompromising inhumanity of the law; when there is melamine in milk and kids get sick, they blame greedy companies and regulatory complicity; when government waste stares at them in the face, they shake their heads and wonder where the country is headed; when the rich do as they please without regard they take offense; when they see heartlessness towards the common man they stand with him in anger, when they see the weak treated with indecency they offer their most heartfelt sympathy.

        But they cannot do any of those things too loudly, you see. They cannot desire too loudly, blame too loudly, wonder too loudly, take offense too loudly, gather together too loudly, show anger too loudly, or sympathize too loudly. It's not because they don't want to express themselves to that degree, it's because there are consequences for doing so -- consequences not only from the government, but from society itself which has normalized towards repression. Think of it this way: how publicly and how vociferously can a church member dissent within his congregation and still be regarded as faithful? He wouldn't dare, he would only do what little he can while bending over backwards to not be ostracized. It is not culture, it is a social disease, and by elevating it to culture in a pretense of tolerance and understanding you give it legitimacy.

        With that said, however, those who are not Chinese cannot do anything themselves to help. Change has to come from the Chinese people. But know that when you unwittingly make excuses and give support to the illnesses that afflict China, you make the job of those Chinese who wish to cure it that much more difficult.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      One also has to take their culture into context...

      And Muslims have a culture of abusing women, so we must tolerate that as well!

      Just because "its tradition", doesn't make it right.

    • by poity (465672) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:56AM (#41818755)

      I hate when bullshit like this gets modded up.
      Do you also take the Religious Right's culture into context, and implore others to sympathize?
      Do you also take the racist rural white culture into context, and implore others to sympathize?
      When confronted with domestic abuse, do you say "well maybe she likes it, who are we to judge?"
      When conservatives say "don't disturb the social order" do you pipe up in their defense, because they too have a culture of their own?

      In your over-enthusiasm to be tolerant, you've embraced a type of paternalistic prejudice. You judge, albeit with a well-meaning heart, an entire nation of people with broad assumptions and meaningless generalizations. I find posts like yours only slightly less intolerable than overt racism.

      I'll tell you this as a Chinese person: The majority of Chinese aren't followers of the same organic vegan yoga-studio interpretation of Buddhism that you might be enamored with -- they follow a mixture of traditional local paganism that has been intertwined with figments of Buddhism over hundreds of years. They are not "ok" with government censorship, but through years of being powerless in the face of the government, the majority have taken on the attitude of "there's nothing to be done, so just cope."

      As you say, China has indeed been the geopolitical victim for much of its modern life, but having been bullied by foreign nations is not a argument for or a rational explanation of Chinese apathy. In fact, the government and nationalist groups/individuals have consistently relied on China's history of victimhood as a rallying cry for activism, though always for rights of the state and respect for the country, yet rarely if ever for rights of the people. There's a sentiment common among majority of Chinese internet users which I've noticed, and can be summarized as "no matter who's in charge [Imperial/foreign/GMD/CPC] we're always the downtrodden rabble." They're are not content, they merely deal with it the best they can since business, marriage, and finding a house they can afford are far more urgent matters. But that doesn't mean accept censorship, or embrace it as you imply.

      And no, people in the West don't "idolize social disturbance" either. In every nation there are conservatives who want stability above all. In the US, we have at least half who are adamantly conservative, and half again more who are nominally liberal but don't dare rock the boat. Your propensity to generalize the unfamiliar I've seen in friends and family back in China. When they ask me "Do Americans really do/believe/think this?" I have to explain to them "No, American attitudes are diverse, just like Chinese attitudes here are diverse."

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by NeutronCowboy (896098)

        Ahem - for someone whose sig is "your thin skin doesn't make me a troll", you have remarkably thin skin yourself. The OPs post wasn't about tolerance, it was about context. The context here is that freedom of speech isn't nearly as important a concept to the Chinese as to us, and that the context in China therefore isn't "we like to be evil, therefore we censor", but rather "we value stability over free speech, therefore we censor".

        Now, is free speech more important stability? That's an entirely different q

      • by shadowofwind (1209890) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @01:51PM (#41820191)

        I hate when bullshit like this gets modded up.
        Do you also take the Religious Right's culture into context, and implore others to sympathize?
        Do you also take the racist rural white culture into context, and implore others to sympathize?

        I think these are both good examples. Americans outside the religious right mostly do not understand the religious right, and see only a caricature of it. Likewise for rural racists. I'm strongly against both the religious right and against white racists. However, I still think its worth trying to see them for what they are, so as to deal with them more realistically, rather than attributing characteristics to them that they don't actually have.

        Of course people who try to 'explain' China are going to be annoyingly wrong about a lot of things, but that doesn't mean its not worth trying to understand better anyway.

        I used to work in the drone/surveillance/defense industry. I left it, at some sacrifice, because it became clear to me that it was wrong. My Chinese friends and family had no arguments against my views about what that industry is, but all argued against my actually doing something about my part in it. To them, financial advantages for one's own family always trump all other considerations. I realize that Chinese people I know are not a representative sample of Chinese people in China. And I see Americans of European descent to be self-serving, amoral, and cowardly in a similar sort of way. But a significant minority of white Americans at least understand what I did, whereas I haven't interacted with a Chinese person who seems to understand at all.

        There's a difference between resenting censorship and actually being willing to do what it takes to change it. And it appears to me that Chinese reflexes about harmony and pragmatism do partially account for why there is censorship, even though there are a lot of other reasons also.

        Sadly, I don't think modern American's have enough of what it takes to fight for certain kinds of civil liberties either. I think we're where we are mostly for historical reasons, and as we do loose our freedom there isn't much will to get it back.

      • by CHIT2ME (2667601)
        I have an idea, why doesn't the U.S. and other western countries apply a tarrif against any product from China that is made by workers making 75% or less of the U.S. minimum wage? This would raise a powerful middle class in China which may, just may, be able to challenge all the B.S. censorship their Communist leaders/overloards are heaping on them! I know this sounds idealistic, but, don't 2/3rds or so of the worlds population diserve better?
    • by hey! (33014)

      Your argument isn't internally self-consistent. You can't cite a history of unrest, civil war, and warlordism as proof of an inherent tendency toward orderliness and complacency in the Chinese character. Neither Buddhism nor Taoism (or Islam for that matter - there are many Chinese Muslims) has stopped people from being revolutionaries in the past. So what accounts for Chinese the current complacency toward the government?

      The history of China is a history of bureaucratic inertia, court infighting and offi

    • by coma_bug (830669)

      China's focus is more of an "internal harmony" approach, whereby maintaing social order is a higher priority than things such as freedom of the press.

      "Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable." -- JFK

  • China's censorship will suppress ideas and reduce innovation. They are currently enjoying an economic boom but that will slow down as wages increase (and they will). How does China expect people to innovate when they're afraid of collaborating? Censorship never helps an economy.
    • Re:No Innovation (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Nidi62 (1525137) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @10:09AM (#41817421)

      Censorship never helps an economy.

      It's not designed to. It's only desinged to do one thing: protect those in power. Those in power would gladly trade off a little economic growth for more government stability. History has shown that the PRC government fears 2 things: looking bad and dissent. You could see this during the Olympics, and you can really see it right now with the upcoming power transition. Just like the USSR before it, they have to maintain the illusion of power and superiority. By maintaining control on certain things such as the media, it indoctrinates the people to accept government control in other parts of their life, whether the government actually has control or not. From the view of an authoritiarian government, the illusion of control is jsut as good, if not better, than actual control, because people and society eventually start controlling themselves, reducing the burden of control on the state.

      What's ironic is that communism is supposed to be about the power of the people, how the people govern themselves. Yet the actions of the PRC government, and indeed the actions of most Communist governments, show through the fear they have of their own people how strong teh people really are, and how weak the system is. They are like a house of cards that they claim is glued together but are afraid people will realize how easy it is to remove a card. If they start removing those cards eventually they will remove the wrong one and the whole house will come crashing down.

      • Re:No Innovation (Score:4, Informative)

        by shawnhcorey (1315781) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @10:24AM (#41817643) Homepage

        What's ironic is that communism is supposed to be about the power of the people...

        Communism has become Newspeak [wikipedia.org] for totalitarianism. Just like the National Socialist German Workers' Party [wikipedia.org]. Bad governments can change the meaning of words faster than you can think.

        • Re:No Innovation (Score:5, Insightful)

          by Guppy (12314) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:29AM (#41818461)

          Communism has become Newspeak [wikipedia.org] for totalitarianism.

          And the Newspeak was right in the names of the countries; the more often you saw "Democratic" and "People's" on the label, the more oppressive you could bet the country would turn out to be:

          West Germany: "Federal Republic of Germany" vs. East Germany: "German Democratic Republic"
          Taiwan: "Republic of China" vs. Mainland China: "People's Republic of China"
          South Korea: "Republic of Korea" vs. North Korea: "Democratic People's Republic of Korea"

          "When the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called 'The People's Stick.'" --Mikhail Bakunin

          • by Ltap (1572175)
            Ignoring that the "Republic of China" and "Republic of Korea" were both military dictatorships at various times.
      • "History has shown that the PRC government fears 2 things: looking bad and dissent."

        Not just dissent. But anything that can leads to dissent, including extreme nationalism.

        The current anti-Japan movement caused by the dispute of ownership of Diaoyu Islands is actually not very welcome by the PRC government. This is because, the PRC don't want anything that can be used against their own. The PRC don't want any trouble with Japan because of economic relations, but if they let the people riot against Japanese

  • by xxxJonBoyxxx (565205) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @09:55AM (#41817215)

    >> sometimes discovered footprints on the toilet seats at work

    Some context here - "normal" toilets in China don't have anything to sit on, so you squat over the hole or bowl, depending on your location. I believe this phrase was meant to indicate that this woman had to work in the same office as some unsophisticated Chinese citizens.

    • by oodaloop (1229816) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @10:01AM (#41817277)
      My first thought was that she meant there were people hiding in stalls to spy on people, as in listening to people talk in the bathroom. But your comment makes more sense. I guess I'm just paranoid.
    • by jgtg32a (1173373)
      True but the toilets she mentioned obviously had seats, because she told us they did.
      • by jgtg32a (1173373)
        I'm a moron, I misunderstood what you were getting at. The experiment to cut back on caffeine is looking to be a failure. BRB getting more coffee.
      • by DigiShaman (671371) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @01:24PM (#41819883) Homepage

        Call me paranoid, but when I read that, the first thing to go through my mind was some Chinese laborer being ordered to electronically bug the restroom. Something along the lines of placing something in the plenum above the ceiling tiles.

        When you want to make a private phone call, you usually do it outside where it's very noisy, or in a small restroom.

      • I went to school with quite a diverse group of people and every so often we would run into other students that were used to pit toilets. Seat or not, they tried to use the toilet as if it were a pit toilet. I have definitely heard of many westerners in the far east grossly (in more ways than one) misunderstanding the plumbing system.

        With that in mind, I found that statement rather confusing. It sounded ominous but I could interpret it in two different ways.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      They use squat toilets a lot in Taiwan and China and Asian countries.

      They're great for public toilets because you don't have to touch anything.

      Sometimes people are a bit retarded and stand/squat on the sit-down toilets... in Taiwan it's like 50/50 squat/sit, so anyone that isn't fucking dumb should know not to stand on the goddamned toilet, but people do, because they are idiots.

    • by Stiletto (12066)

      Bingo, I work for an American company that is mostly Chinese, and always has tons of Chinese visitors, and all the bathrooms used to have signs that say "Please do not stand on the toilets". It's a Chinese thing, nothing weird.

  • "How to Circumvent Censorship and live to tell about it"

    And then spread the word globally.

  • Most of the stuff that gets posted to SlashDot these days is blogspam, advertisements... junk in other words. This is not. It's an excellent read that offers a real picture of life in the new China.

    RTFA is kind of a joke, but in this case you won't regret it.

  • Just think (Score:2, Troll)

    by AntiBasic (83586)

    Just think that Krugman and Friedman want America to be more like China.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by saihung (19097)

      Is that a comment you can explain, or does your mommy not know you're using her ./ account again?

  • Sweden (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @10:21AM (#41817603)

    In sweden the 3rd largest political party still get bullied by the mainstream media.
    Their main message is to stop immigration until we solve the problems we have with the immigrants who have not been properly integrated with swedish society yet. Also to avoid rising unemployment rates due to importing unemployable (illiterates) people by the truckload.

    Complaints by smaller counties who get overrun by immigrants they can not take care of get silenced.
    Police does not give a description of a criminal if it is an immigrant.
    Any offence against an immigrant get blown out of proportion, recently a somalian woman claimed some kids had poured a glass of milk on her kid. Media covered it for 2 weeks, a rally supporting the somalians in the tiny community which had had 200 somalians to take care of. After all this, turns out noone had poured a glass of milk on her kid and all of a sudden all was silent again.
    Meanwhile, gangrape at gunpoint of a swedish girl by 3 immigrants gets silenced for a year.

    Until censorship in my own country gets taken care of, I don't think I am in any position to judge china.

    As a sidenote, censorship in china is probably a bit complex, I am here right now and every day there is some controversal news with quite graphical material being shown, yesterday there was a big piece about teachers for 4-8 year olds who abused their students. One clip showed a teacher slapping a kid 10 times in a row, another a teacher throwing a kid around and 3rd some photos of a girl whose ear was cut off by her teacher, yes they showed the cut off ear too. I am fairly certain that would not have been shown at home, and I could see from the faces of the 100 people in the restaurant everyone was pissed off.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @10:40AM (#41817875)

    And had to explain to the Chinese assistants more than once that they could not turn in articles copied word for word from existing pieces they found online.

    Oh God, it's like grad school all over again.

    But seriously, what do you expect? It's a culture built on shameless plagiarism and copyright abuse. You need look no further than the huge Cisco parts scandal to see my point in all this.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      And had to explain to the Chinese assistants more than once that they could not turn in articles copied word for word from existing pieces they found online.

      Oh God, it's like grad school all over again.

      But seriously, what do you expect? It's a culture built on shameless plagiarism and copyright abuse. You need look no further than the huge Cisco parts scandal to see my point in all this.

      (made in china)

      • It's a culture built on shameless plagiarism and copyright abuse.

        Um, I think the usual explanation is that, in China, knowledge is seen as something that is received from an authority, and the goal of an educational exercise is to regurgitate that knowledge faithfully. Wheras, in the West, knowledge is a skill that is built by personal practice (like sports). Or something like that...

        However, copyright abuse is not necessarily an outgrowth of this: it seems more like the logical consequence of everyone being able to forge a "currency".

  • For those that love to play the moral equivalence card, please keep this in mind when equating the US and China over whatever whine you have today.

    The US has MANY, many things wrong with it; some are things it neglects to do, some are things it does or has done (there seems to be no statute of limitations on historical grievances against the US); some things it's responsible for that are downright morally repugnant.

    But without a doubt, the US is nowhere in the same league as China on pretty much any moral s

  • After reading the article, I have to admit, I had no idea it was that censored in China. I had heard about it, but did not know it was that extensive.
  • Three T's my ass (Score:5, Interesting)

    by DNS-and-BIND (461968) on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @11:31AM (#41818491) Homepage

    Jeez, not a mention of what China actually censors. Did she actually run a magazine? I ran an English magazine in China. Here's what my censor told me:

    The forbidden topics are in three categories, color-coded for your convenience. The colors have cultural significance, if you're in to that sort of thing. The first, YELLOW. Yellow is pornography (think of "blue movies" and you'll get the color reference). Don't print anything too sexy. This one's pretty easy. Moving on: RED. Anti-government activity. Falun Gong, Tibetan separatists, Xinjiang separatists, talking about local unrest, protests, etc. Anything that makes the government look bad, basically. BLACK, mafia and crime. As the mafia competes with the government for authority and taxes, this one seems a no-brainer as well. Don't report about the gambling den that takes up an entire floor of a local 5-star hotel and you'll be fine.

    For all other topics not covered above, follow the lead of Xinhua News.

    I know I'm going to get some dumbass in here saying something like "but Chinese publications break these rules all the time!" Yes. Chinese publications. Foreigners in China, especially those in communications, have this obsession with overthrowing the system...in English. Basically, nobody cares about what's written in English, and few people read it. Even foreigners don't usually read English magazines. The Chinese government doesn't care too much about what happens in foreign languages. In fact, they're more worried about foreign influence spoiling Chinese culture than any revolution sparked by an angry ABC managing editor. "Zhong shang Ying xia" was how they put it, "Chinese up and English down" literally, or in the American vernacular "G's up and hoes down". And you ain't the G's.

    I was more disturbed by the article and how the lady was just determined to hate her censor. Why? Her Western mindset, of course, and the ingrained "hero journalists vs. mustache-twirling government villains" mentality. Censors aren't evil. They're just government workers, that's all. Actually, having a censor is GOOD because if anything goes wrong, you can point to her and say, "but she APPROVED it!" Trying to dehumanize such a person as "teh CoMM13z"...well, it's just not what I would expect from a journalist. And the part at the end where she thinks the lady is looking for a "lifeline"...bah. I've done the exact same thing before, I call it "planting the seed." You see someone who's obviously going on to bigger and better things in life and you give them a nod and say, "call if you need anyone like me." Hey, it could work, right? I've had some longshots pay off before. But this journalist is so eager to be utterly depressed by seeing her tormentor exposed with feet of clay, she never bothers to question her preconceptions.

    • by eldavojohn (898314) * <eldavojohn.gmail@com> on Tuesday October 30, 2012 @12:36PM (#41819227) Journal

      I was more disturbed by the article and how the lady was just determined to hate her censor. Why?

      Did you miss this part of the article:

      This was not the relationship I wanted to have with Snow. I believed in free speech. I‘d spent a summer interning at the ACLU. I was beginning to question the morality of my paycheck, of playing any part, no matter how incidental, in a system of which I disapproved. Thinking of her as my adversary allowed me to feel I was fighting the system. But my adversary wanted to be friends.

      I don't think the ACLU cares if you have a Western mindset or Eastern mindset, I think they see their values like freedom of the press as a universal human right (as I happen to as well). And when you start to challenge universal human rights, that's the point in time where I throw your politics and socialism/capitalism crap right out the window and tell you you're wrong.

      Also, you might have glossed over the context this piece was written in:

      This was easier back then; the August 2008 Beijing Olympics were a year-and-a-half away, and it behooved China to demonstrate that it was an open country.

      So perhaps back then your color coding system was subdued to make Beijing look more appealing to the west and they concentrated on the merely the three T's. Do you mind revealing when (I don't want anyone losing their job) you ran an English magazine in China? Or where you operated? I'd imagine Beijing would be harder to operate in. If you're not afraid of releasing more details and proof, I'm almost certain the Foreign Policy magazine would be interested in talking to you -- I fine censorship around the world very interesting so you can spot it and reference ailments in other nations before it happens to your own.

      But this journalist is so eager to be utterly depressed by seeing her tormentor exposed with feet of clay, she never bothers to question her preconceptions.

      Odd, I read this whole piece as willful exposure of her preconceptions. She chose to keep those parts, you know. I think she disclosed all of this in an effort to be transparent. This wasn't written in an a absolutist "I'm 100% right and they're 100% wrong" way although that seems to be how you read it ... It is what it is, it happened how it happened. She's not going to make herself look 100% righteous in this piece because there are things she can't rectify in here. A good person can work for a really shitty government. A bad person can work for a really good government. Etc etc etc, this is the spice of life and makes things interesting and worthy of discussion.

      • It seems that you share her preconceptions and are familiar with the narratives. Typical Westerner - come to China to save it from itself. Believing that ACLU values are "universal" when they are anything but.

        The mag was before, during, and after the Olympics. The color code thing came straight from Beijing. I'm not interested in talking with Foreign Policy magazine - one thing I learned from my foray into publishing was just how much journalists lie and cherry-pick your quotes to support the story th

      • I don't think the ACLU cares if you have a Western mindset or Eastern mindset, I think they see their values like freedom of the press as a universal human right (as I happen to as well). And when you start to challenge universal human rights, that's the point in time where I throw your politics and socialism/capitalism crap right out the window and tell you you're wrong.

        Calling freedom of the press a "universal human right" has a lot of potential for creating nice sound bites, but, to me, seems like sloppy thinking. How do you define freedom? How do you define "press"?

        For example, advertising is often treated as a form of press activity. After all, the ad mailings that are sent to people's homes are certainly being printed on presses. If we accept that advertising is a form of press activitiy, then should publishing false advertisements be allowed as freedom of the press

    • by w_dragon (1802458)

      I was more disturbed by the article and how the lady was just determined to hate her censor.

      I didn't get that out of it at all. What I read was that she didn't want to be buddies with her censor. She understood that she would want to push back against the censorship at times, and that's a hell of a lot easier to do if you aren't going to meet up for dinner after work. You see the same thing in most companies. Development and QA aren't generally too close, or QA starts ignoring minor bugs rather than pestering Dev. Sales can cause huge problems if whoever is in charge of product requirements d

    • She didn't hate her censor, she was tired and disgusted with the system, and decided to not support it in any way. I've changed several jobs in my career for the same reason. For example, I wrote tax software for a decade, but eventually became tired and disgusted with how rigged "the system" is, and found work for a better cause. Perfectly understandable.
    • by locust (6639)

      Talk about the banality of evil.

      Your censor, the police officer beating the crap out of you, the intelligence officer who orders your arrest, they're just doing their jobs. They're not evil. They're just doing a job. They're nice people really. If you're nice to them, maybe you'll change them.

      Lets not even start talking about the blatant racism behind: 'Chinese up and English down'.

      We in the 'west' have a lot of recent experience with this sort of thing, and experience has shown the consequences of t

  • China is and has always been a totalitarian dictatorship, and in it's current form continues to be an abomination!

    We (the USofA) are trying our damnedest to catch up!

    IMHO!

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