Posts Tagged ‘internet’

[AUDIO] Exploring the limits of Chinese censorship

Monday, February 14th, 2011

In this edition of the China Talking Points podcast, Michael and Eric tackle the politically sensitive issue of China’s censorship policies in both the new and traditional media sectors. Just what the Chinese government wants its people to know surfaced again last week when the government banned the word ‘Egypt’ (埃及) from micro-blogging sites and restricted all coverage of the Egyptian uprising to be managed exclusively by the Xinhua news agency.

In a dramatic flashback to an earlier period of Chinese media management, on the very night that former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak stepped down from office, the People’s Daily website was among the only major international news outlets that did not mention this monumental event. Instead, the People’s Daily had a front page story celebrated increased Chinese grain production.

The Chinese government’s decision to limit access to news about the instability in North Africa is entirely predictable, however it begs the question as to whether or not the ‘cure is worse than the illness?’ That is, by denying its people access to this information how much will it cripple China’s long term ability to engage a world it increasingly dominates? Already, there are startling large information gaps among many educated Chinese about their country’s international engagement. Continued censorship of these types of events will only worsen that ignorance.

Conversely, Michael argues, the Chinese have been extremely adept at managing their information policies and if/when it is necessary to release the pressure it can do so.

We also discuss the precise measures that the Chinese employ to censor the increasingly large volume of content flowing over the air and through the ether to inform, educate and entertain hundreds of millions of Chinese. Michael explains that it is a complex blend of those famous ‘red pens’ along with the most sophisticated computer monitoring equipment on the market.

No Noise About

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Sure, the NYTimes & WSJ carried headlines; there were the ‘usual’ blog posts; one or two nightly news mentions ocurred.  Protest, though? Outrage? Op-eds?

No wreaths laid or candlelight vigels held.  This was just the Chinese government implementing policy on a company that has agreed that it couldn’t adhere to them.

Google is not leaving China and China surely isn’t leaving Google.  But the US media finally has enough perspective (or learning) to consider it relatively unremarkable.

This is probably the biggest disappointment out of the whole issue.  I’d certainly like to see unfettered internet access in China, but I’d really like to see less knee-jerk reporting by American media professionals.

Sadly, this isn’t an issue that only pertains to news on China.  I fear our news cycle is starting to  illicit rapid and uninformed actions on many fronts.  Something our Chinese friends are probably more aware of than ourselves.

Understanding America: “Sticking it to the Man!”

Sunday, January 31st, 2010

There is a current within the recent debate over Google and China that many Chinese observers are overlooking.  Both Michael and I feel agree that the reaction to Google’s opposition to Chinese censorship rules and the company’s threat to withdraw entirely from the China market are misunderstood.  It is easy to take this one dispute and examine it in a vacuum.  By itself, this controversy can be seen as a human rights issue/information imperialism/a Google business failure/control over the internet and the list goes on and on.  While those are all valid filters to explore this issue, none of them adequately explain the overwhelming public support that Google is receiving in the United States for its decision to challenge the central government.  Americans are rallying behind Google in this dispute because we, as a culture, as a people love to challenge authority: (more…)

Is “Chinese Innovation” an oxymoron?

Thursday, September 24th, 2009

innovation1Li Kaifu (李開復) is the closest thing China has to a web 2.0 rock star.  No one else in China’s small circle of technology titans comes close to achieving the international name recognition and buzz this guy generates.  For starters, the mere fact that he was the object of a Google-Microsoft love triangle that ended him fleeing one tech giant for the other is enough to give this guy major props.  That said, separating the noise from the signal on his actual accomplishments is brutally difficult not just because it’s China but also because of the very nature of his former benefactors who themselves have very little to show for all their effort in China.


CTP Podcast – Online Self-Censorship in China

Friday, September 18th, 2009

china-censored-2This podcast ranges around the topic of annonimity and self-censorship within China’s internet community.

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Prompted by the initial implementation of authentic identification on popular sites, we’ve found ourselves considering what the impact will be on self-censorship in China.  If it does increase, what impact might that have?  For those already committed to freely expressing themselves online in China, will their behavior change?  Are the risks they face any different?

We don’t have the answers, but we tried to consider this from multiple perspectives.   One thing we did agree on, however, is that we are equally worried about the erosion of our own rights here in the US.  The last thing you want to have happen to you in either country is for the government to make a subjective decision that you present a threat.

Chinese Internet Censorship

Saturday, September 12th, 2009

Not like most Chinese care, though. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 80% of Chinese think the Internet should be managed or controlled, and 85% think the government should be responsible for doing it.


I am doing some background reading ahead of next week’s podcast on Internet Censorship in China. The Pew research cited by Time and other surveys like it, always pose an interpretive challenge for me.

Any society’s responses to polls are heavily influenced by social/political environs. But what if there is self censorship within the response to this poll? Something to address next week….