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China Censorship Your Rights Online

China Blocks NYT Over Critical Article 94

Taco Cowboy writes "The New York Times has become the latest target of Chinese censorship. Censors of the People's Republic of China, in an almost unheard of, truly remarkable feat of neck-breaking speed, blocked the (paywalled) website of the New York Times, all because of one news article. That particular article was about the enormous wealth of the family members of a very prominent figure in the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) — Chinese Premier Wen Jia Bao. The wealth in question totals some USD 2.7 billion. " (Also covered at the BBC.)
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China Blocks NYT Over Critical Article

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  • They're gonna have a hard time.
    • ... in an almost unheard of, truly remarkable feat of neck-breaking speed...

      Maybe these people should become slashdot editors; it would speed things up a little...
      Oh, wait... whose necks did they break?

    • by gtall ( 79522 )

      Just to aid the Chinese in reading the article, last night the NYT had a version of the article in Chinese characters, even the title was in Chinese. I presume the Chinese version can still be found on their site, it isn't on the main page now.

    • Commies blocking commies. It's a win win.

  • So what ? (Score:1, Informative)

    by boorack ( 1345877 )
    Iranian PressTV has been recently banned from UK. Does West really differ so much from China in this regard ?
    • We have better PR hacks.

    • Re:So what ? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2012 @04:49AM (#41787729)

      Yes. Iranian Press TV was taken down in the EU due to sanctions on Iran due to their human rights violations. And Iranian Press TV is a state run media, meaning it is part of the same government that is committing human rights abuses.

      In contrast, the New York Times is not state owned media nor have its owners been accused of human rights abuses. The banning of Iranian Press TV is ethical and justified. The censorship of the New York Times is not.

      • Re:So what ? (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Arancaytar ( 966377 ) <> on Saturday October 27, 2012 @06:22AM (#41788015) Homepage

        The banning of Iranian Press TV is ethical and justified.

        Um, no. Because see, it's not Iranian Press TV that got banned. It's me, and every other citizen of the EU. We got banned by our government from accessing information that neither belongs to our government nor is illegal to possess (as eg. child pornography would be), and that it therefore has no authority to withhold from us. Whether the information is false, or produced by people who kick puppies, does not enter into it. Withholding it is neither ethical nor justifiable.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        The Times isn't state owned, but the state isn't state owned in the US either... its all corporate influence. The US is no better than any of the countries it calls enemies.

      • by Clsid ( 564627 )

        But those kind of abuses don't happen in Saudi Arabia or other regional allies, right? I don't believe in freedom of the press in the US any more than I believe freedom of the press in China. All of them have a thing in common, find something that will truly hurt the system and they will find a way to block it. For the US that means zero coverage on other presidential candidates (yes, there are a couple of them), always rewriting news from foreign "hostile" sources from a very biased perspective, etc, etc.

    • Re:So what ? (Score:5, Informative)

      by will_die ( 586523 ) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @04:51AM (#41787735) Homepage
      Lets get the facts right on Press TV, there were not banned their right to broadcast was pulled. No site was blocked or anything of that nature just no broadcasting.
      As for the reason of their right to broadcast being pulled was because they company in the UK did not have decision or editorial rights. The company was told if they wanted to broadcast as a UK company they had to have editorial decisions made in the UK, otherwise it was foreign company wanting to broadcast in the UK and had to get other permissions and pay other fees.

      Also this is the UK they have a long and current history of blocking thoughts and discussions that made people upset.
      • yes. for example: roger hayes was arrested, tried and imprisoned in true nazi-style *without* the right to representation or even the right to speak. the "judge" merely spelled out his "crimes" and then passed "sentence". i'm amazed that his case hasn't been taken up by human rights activists and made headline news. []

        actually, i'm not surprised it hasn't made headline news.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2012 @06:49AM (#41788093)

          Hayes failed to attend court for refusing to pay his taxes and a warrent was issued for his arrest. He was arrested and tried in a Magistrates Court (in public), not a 'secret court without a Jury'.

          There is no story here. By all accounts he is a bit of a nutcase.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2012 @07:00AM (#41788133)

          Nice fairy tale. He was committed to prison for 21 days for refusing to pay his council tax (or more likely for ignoring a court order to pay his tax). There was no judge or jury because it was a magistrate's court. And it ignores the lengthy process that leads up to imprisonment:

          Can I be sent to prison for not paying my Council Tax?

          In very rare cases your local Council may apply to the Magistrates' Court for a warrant committing you to prison in the event of non payment of Council Tax. The Council will only ever take this step when all other efforts have failed. This would include failed bailiff visits.

          Before issuing a warrant of commitment the court must hold a 'means enquiry' and you must be present. You will be sent a Summons to appear. If you fail to answer to the Summons the Council will, in most cases, request that a warrant for arrest be granted. Depending on the circumstances this will be with or without bail. When you attend a 'means enquiry' you will be required to complete a very simple Income & Expenditure Calculation so that the Magistrate is able to agree an affordable level of re-payment.

          A Warrant of Commitment will only be issued if the court is satisfied that the failure to pay is the result of wilful refusal or culpable neglect. This would not be the case if you cannot afford the debt. The maximum period of imprisonment is three months.

          A recent Human Rights Case from the European Court that confirms that local authorities must look at all other available options before considering imprisonment.

      • by havana9 ( 101033 )
        Actually Press TV is perfectly visible on satellite television, not on BSkyB channels. [] There are a bunch of satellites that are transmitting now Press TV, including Hot Bird 13, so It's simply a matter to point a dish to the desired bird and enjoy some of their programs.
    • by Stalks ( 802193 ) *
      It is only banned from the big 5 ISPs. Move away from the crowd to a smaller ISP and nothing is blocked.
    • Iranian PressTV has been recently banned from UK. Does West really differ so much from China in this regard ?

      Nope. You finish up being similar to what you combat.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Yes, it does. How incredibly stupid are you?

      The New York Times is not paywalled, by the way. You don't even have to clean your cookies, only remove a parameter from the query string. It's a paywall for grandmas.

    • by pubwvj ( 1045960 )

      Irrelevant. The UK is not known for freedom of speech.

    • They have had their broadcast licence revoked. []. This was not for being critical of the UK though. It was for violating the rights of privacy and fairness.

      It only applied to the broadcast licence. Press TV's website is not blocked.
    • There's a difference: Press TV is ugly, pro-Muslim, anti-Western state-sponsored propaganda. Very ugly, vulgar, blatant propaganda.

      It was so in-your-face, their banning was only a matter of time. You can only pull the tiger's tail so much before the animal turns around and claws your face off.

  • 2.7 billion (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 27, 2012 @04:58AM (#41787761)

    The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was which.

    -Animal Farm

    • Re:2.7 billion (Score:4, Insightful)

      by trout007 ( 975317 ) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @06:31AM (#41788039)

      All animals are equal, but some are more equal than others.

    • Re:2.7 billion (Score:4, Insightful)

      by amiga3D ( 567632 ) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @10:33AM (#41788969)

      Truly this is the reason for the failure of communism. People are just people, no matter what political system you have there will be corruption because people are greedy. Communism assumes people will not be greedy and is doomed for this reason. Capitalism assumes people are greedy and tries to channel and focus this greed. Capitalism often fails as well because greed is an enormous thing and very difficult to control but at least the understanding of the problem is there. Ultimately even the leaders of Communist nations don't believe in Communism but just use it to their own benefit.

      • I've reached this conclusion a few year ago. People always ask me how the people from Brasil, Argentina, Mexico or the USA differ. They are all the same, although values do vary, this is basically unrelated to political system and more related to the justice and tolerance of their society. I'd live in any regime where there's empathy, good will and tolerance. I found a lot of that In Mexico, and if you read happiness surveys you'll see that factored in.

  • by Spy Handler ( 822350 ) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @05:01AM (#41787765) Homepage Journal

    When pressed for an answer by Australian news reporters, a Communist Party spokesman responded,

    "We can try to understand the New York Times' effect on man. Whether you're a brother or whether you're a mother, you're stayin alive. Stayin alive. Ah ah ah ah stayin alive. Stayin alive."

    • "If you post an article we don't like,

      We will, we will, Block you! Block you!"

    • Yeah, but we don't have revolutions in our recent past like they do ... the Chinese rich are growing scared, they don't want to share the pie and the natives are getting restless. The small fry is already massively busy emigrating, but if a new regime comes into power the big political figures will face corruption charges back in China if they try to flee ... and they have no real friends in the foreign countries which are nice to live in, so that's not an attractive proposition.

  • Sounds to me like this is part of the ongoing war of doing business in China - "Play nice or we'll lock the playground."

    But isn't the point of Viral Media that it blossoms into a nice fireworks display of public recognition?

    So what is stopping the NY Times of *altering* the content rights and making that report something like Public Domain and then power-posting it to 100 Chinese news agencies? Would China call that an act of aggression or something?

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward

      So what is stopping the NY Times of *altering* the content rights and making that report something like Public Domain and then power-posting it to 100 Chinese news agencies?

      They've pretty much done that, more or less. They released a PDF [] translating the article to Chinese. This was obviously meant for people to disseminate without having to worry about getting through the Great Firewall to directly access the NYT website (even though it is easy with a VPN).

    • by AdamWill ( 604569 ) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @01:19PM (#41790007) Homepage

      "So what is stopping the NY Times of *altering* the content rights and making that report something like Public Domain and then power-posting it to 100 Chinese news agencies?"

      The fact that there aren't 100 Chinese news agencies? China has two official news agencies. Both of which are owned by the state. You can connect the dots from there.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As with all dictatorships, the chinese communist party will eventually collapse. It's simply a matter of time. These repressive actions are becoming more and more desperate. It's telling.

    I can just see the headlines on CNN, Sky, Al Jazeera: former communist leaders being dragged naked, bloody, through the streets of Beijing.

    tick tock mother fuckers. tick tock.

    • by v1 ( 525388 )

      It's funny to see that usually democracy is outed a the form of government most susceptible to corruption and disparity of wealth. But then we see that the communist system in china is basically in the same situation, where there's a small group of super-rich. I think most ANY form of government is susceptible to this form of rot. It's very hard to keep the powerful citizens in check regardless of the form of government you use, especially over the long-term.

      Communist governments usually get their kickof

  • the censorship by china isn't the big story. let's look at what's going on, recently. we've had huawei blocked from sales of equipment in the U.S. citing "bugs and vulnerabilities"; ZTE just got banned from being supplied with Cisco equipment; very VERY large ISPs responded by cancelling orders and removing Cisco's routers citing "bugs and vulnerabilities" - this is just *some* of the background.

    there appears to be an ongoing series of retaliations, and it wouldn't surprise me in the slightest bit if ther

  • by SternisheFan ( 2529412 ) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @07:20AM (#41788183)
    The World Wide Web has changed, and continues to, change the world. Change is inevitable, those who do not adapt stagnate. This life is getting better for many of the inhabitants of spaceship Earth, and I find it constantly amazing to be able to be a witness to history in the making. These changes happen both quickly and slowly in this time of great learning.

    Just 40 years ago China was a strange and mysterious foreign country, closed off from the majority of the world. Today, more and more it's leaders are gradually dragged into this free(er) modern life, being forced to grant more and more human rights to it's people, and more truth is emerging thanks to a free press in other nations. Eventually spreading to all parts of the world. It makes me wonder what life will be like for humans on Earth in one or two centuries. It looks promising, thanks to instant communication via the W.W.W. That genie cannot be forced back into it's bottle, not permanently.

    • "those who do not adapt stagnate."

      Look at it from the perspective if a ruling party: If you're on top, then you *want* stagnation. The status quo is good. Even if that means completly cutting off the internet and all outside communication, North Korea style, then it must be better to rule over a low-tech country secure in your power than to risk the people revolting.
  • by pubwvj ( 1045960 ) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @07:46AM (#41788269)

    Of course they have this great wealth as they are leaders of a great communist nation. Remember, some pigs are more equal and thus deserve more.

    • by mqduck ( 232646 )

      I feel like everybody gets that quote wrong. It's the animals who are *less* equal that are the elites. The *more* equal animals are the lowly rabble.

  • We all need to get really serious about building citizen-controlled network infrastructure. (By 'citizen', I mean, for example, most of the people reading this - not the people who have effectively renounced their citizenship in civilized society by acting to diminish and enslave the rest of us in various ways).

    Citizen-controlled networks wont't immediately solve long distance problems such as trans-oceanic data links, (and they'll still be subject to governmental and corporate interference), but they're a

  • by puddingebola ( 2036796 ) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @08:42AM (#41788451) Journal
    I really doubt this will allow the Chinese government to keep this news under their hats.
  • Nothing New (Score:5, Insightful)

    by guttentag ( 313541 ) on Saturday October 27, 2012 @10:12AM (#41788869) Journal
    The summary makes it seem like China's blocking the NY Times is a some rare spectacle. It's happened before [], multiple times []. The explanation is generally, "we don't know why your site is inaccessible," or "it may be a technical error," but it can be assumed that you've said something they deemed dangerous or inflammatory, just as they would stop you at the border and seize your materials if you were a missionary blatantly trying to promote religion in their country.

    The Times has been pushing the story for a few days on its home page, which is also unusual (an indication of how important they deem the story -- if you didn't catch it one day, you'll catch it the next... Or the next). The key here is that it's basically accusing the leader of the country of supporting massive corruption at a time when the reins are being handed over to a new group of people who will be selected in the next few weeks and control China for the next decade. The timing is seen as intended to influence China's politics at this very sensitive time and push people to call for reform. If China had NOT blocked it, THAT would have been a story.
    • The timing is seen as intended to influence China's politics at this very sensitive time and push people to call for reform. If China had NOT blocked it, THAT would have been a story.

      Probably true for the influence intend. Though Wen is considered a reformist and has pitched for political reform on many public occasions. Maybe his enemy tries to frame him? According to Hong Kong's Mingpao News, Wen's family is threatening legal actions against NYT []. For sure, interesting dirty things in politics are happening that we regular mortals will never know the real truths for long time to come.

  • The NYT wouldn't have published the article about someone in the US in the first place.

  • Nothing increases appetite for "forbidden fruit" than prohibition and the accompanying press about it.

Mater artium necessitas. [Necessity is the mother of invention].