Sunday, 25 September 2005


China has updated its Internet access policy and its pretty scary. While it has always been difficult to get access to international news or "unwanted" views via search engines, it seems that a more severe clampdown is coming.

News24 reports that China has updated its Internet news policy to "standardise the management of news and information" and this will mean only "healthy and civilised news and information that is beneficial to the improvement of the quality of the nation, beneficial to its economic development and conducive to social progress" will be allowed, adding that "[t]he sites are prohibited from spreading news and information that goes against state security and public interest."

It is obvious what those interests are and what the topics and viewpoints are that are banned: Taiwan, Japan, democracy blah-blah, we've commented about it before (see one of Cerebus's recent posts).

I am now reading Wild Grass: Three Stories of Change in Modern China by Ian Johnson, and it struck me, as someone who have visited but one city in China, how much more goes on below the surface, even though the signs of control are evident. For me it is worrying, given the tacit support China gets from the money-hungry West. The dilemma, aptly summarised by a Chinese reviewer on Amazon in his/her response to the book (after admitting not having read it in the first place), is how do you change the views of millions of people who enjoy the material benefits of modernisation? Here's an excerpt:
Now as a Chinese, I will tell you the truth: People there do not care, they are enjoying their lives too much to care. They have learnt that you have to be indifferent to be able to enjoy. That is to be indifferent to all the unfortunes happening around them and to be indifferent from all the sympathies that foreigners have towards them.
Hmmm. Show, don't tell, that's what they taught us in the student press donkey years ago. Cerebus might want to say more....

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