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China and the Internet

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Clay Dube
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China and the Internet

While most Chinese are not online, the number of internet users in China is second only to the number in the U.S. The net is definitely changing China. Take a look at these articles about chat rooms:

BMW driver gets off with light sentence after killing one and injuring twelve
http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=6006

Miyun Lantern Festival stampede
http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=7393
http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=7392

Foreign Minister chats via the net
http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=5783

Two Harvard profs have a site to permit you to test Chinese access to specific websites.

http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/filtering/china/test/

In 2002, Rand researchers Michael Chase and James Mulvenon published "You've Got Dissent! Chinese Dissident Uses of the Internet and Beijing's Counter-Strategies." It's available for download at:

http://www.rand.org/publications/MR/MR1543/

Three news articles (from 2000-2003) on rising internet use:
InfoWorld http://archive.infoworld.com/articles/en/xml/00/02/14/000214enchina.xml
BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/business/2145865.stm
BBC http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/3299665.stm

And the official Chinese government statistics on internet use are at:
http://www.cnnic.cn/en/index/0O/index.htm

Anonymous (not verified)
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Message from lsutton

It looks like US military actions are likely to push China toward developing more defensive weapons, according to this story just published on Thursday, July 15, 2004 by the Los Angeles Times:

Sailing Toward a Storm in China: U.S. Maneuvers Could Spark a War by Chalmers Johnson

Quietly and with minimal coverage in the U.S. press, the Navy announced that from mid-July through August it would hold exercises dubbed Operation Summer Pulse '04 in waters off the China coast near Taiwan.

This will be the first time in U.S. naval history that seven of our 12 carrier strike groups deploy in one place at the same time. It will look like the peacetime equivalent of the Normandy landings and may well end in a disaster.

At a minimum, a single carrier strike group includes the aircraft carrier itself (usually with nine or 10 squadrons and a total of about 85 aircraft), a guided missile cruiser, two guided missile destroyers, an attack submarine and a combination ammunition, oiler and supply ship.

Normally, the United States uses only one or at the most two carrier strike groups to show the flag in a trouble spot. In a combat situation it might deploy three or four, as it did for both wars with Iraq. Seven in one place is unheard of.

Operation Summer Pulse '04 was almost surely dreamed up at the Pearl Harbor headquarters of the U.S. Pacific Command and its commander, Adm. Thomas B. Fargo, and endorsed by neocons in the Pentagon. It is doubtful that Congress was consulted. This only goes to show that our foreign policy is increasingly made by the Pentagon.

According to Chinese reports, Taiwanese ships will join the seven carriers being assembled in this modern rerun of 19th century gunboat diplomacy. The ostensible reason given by the Navy for this exercise is to demonstrate the ability to concentrate massive forces in an emergency, but the focus on China in a U.S. election year sounds like a last hurrah of the neocons.

Needless to say, the Chinese are not amused. They say that their naval and air forces, plus their land-based rockets, are capable of taking on one or two carrier strike groups but that combat with seven would overwhelm them. So even before a carrier reaches the Taiwan Strait, Beijing has announced it will embark on a crash project that will enable it to meet and defeat seven U.S. carrier strike groups within a decade. There's every chance the Chinese will succeed if they are not overtaken by war first.

China is easily the fastest-growing big economy in the world, with a growth rate of 9.1% last year. On June 28, the BBC reported that China had passed the U.S. as the world's biggest recipient of foreign direct investment. China attracted $53 billion worth of new factories in 2003, whereas the U.S. took in only $40 billion; India, $4 billion; and Russia, a measly $1 billion.

If left alone by U.S. militarists, China will almost surely, over time, become a democracy on the same pattern as that of South Korea and Taiwan (both of which had U.S.-sponsored military dictatorships until the late 1980s). But a strong mainland makes the anti-China lobby in the United States very nervous. It won't give up its decades-old animosity toward Beijing and jumps at any opportunity to stir up trouble — "defending Taiwan" is just a convenient cover story.

These ideologues appear to be trying to precipitate a confrontation with China while they still have the chance. Today, they happen to have rabidly anti-Chinese governments in Taipei and Tokyo as allies, but these governments don't have the popular support of their own citizens.

If American militarists are successful in sparking a war, the results are all too predictable: We will halt China's march away from communism and militarize its leadership, bankrupt ourselves, split Japan over whether to renew aggression against China and lose the war. We also will earn the lasting enmity of the most populous nation on Earth.

Chalmers Johnson's latest book is "The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic" (Metropolitan, 2004).

Copyright 2004 Los Angeles Times (I'm assuming that passing this along here is fair use within our group of teachers...let me know if it's not)

Anonymous (not verified)
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Message from mfeigelstock

This is a review on the article: "Chinese internet users wield clout".
I read this article after reading a different article in the Asia Media Network that mentioned that although Chinese television has come along way with regards to restricted and banned viewing (there is now a lot more sex, violence, etc. on Chinese T.V. ), they have a LONG way to go in their allowing other political views to be aired (rather than what just looks good for China).
So, I am very pleased that more Chinese are getting access to the internet, this way they can see a more realistic look at politics, and not just a one-sided view.
In response to the story in the article, about how a woman literally got away with murder because of people she knew that were "up there", and how people who heard about this story through the internet got together to protest this. Their efforts have now reopened the case! I think that is fantastic! People will now see that they can't get away with things like that anymore! The internet means power to those who before had none! It means that more people will become aware of their rights! That more people will fight for them and for what is just!
I am very happy to see that more and more people in China are gaining access to the internet, and through this, access to the rest of the world!

Anonymous (not verified)
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Message from ldriscoll

I don't know about that. My friend has been living in China for about seven years and his emails are still screened. Eventhough, he does have interent access not all emails get to him and not everything he sends gets out. It's hard to believe everyting you read unless you're living in the country for a while.

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Message from bbrown

Gee, I don't get all of my emails -- mostly, I get the junk mail, but I thought it was because of the poor internet service. Seriously, how does the government screen and withhold the emails. I'm interested in how it might be done. Do they have everyone or just certain individuals tapped electronically-speaking? I suppose that they have the manpower to do that to everyone with internet. But it intrigues me from a logistics point of view. Any information would be great -- or if you could steer me to the right direction to get information. Thanks.

Anonymous (not verified)
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Message from rliu

Upon first inspection of this list, I was not surprised that many of the websites that were banned have to do with political groups and human rights. However, when I found that many users had listed www.google.com as a banned website, I was rather shocked. I use the google search engine pretty much everyday to do basic searches on a wide variety of topics--from current events, to understanding a particular school-related concept, to finding a website to which I forgot the URL. While I can understand that google provides the links to a variety of websites, I think that censoring such a useful website is ridiculous.

Anonymous (not verified)
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Message from Arthur

Bonnie, I can't find the link, but Microsoft is developing software for China that looks for certain words. When these words are used in a site, search, email, etc., it can be blocked, so the person sitting at the computer just looks at a blank screen. That doesn't count firewalls that limit where a person can go. The gov't has lots of options available to keep info from the people.
Hope this is some help.
ab.

Anonymous (not verified)
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Message from jpratt

I just read yesterday that the Chinese government has shut down nearly 600 websites that were "smut" related. What is China's policy about sex or sexually related material on the internet? What level of modesty is considered too risque? Just curious.

jem

Clay Dube
Topic replies: 1442
Topic Posts: 524
Message from Clay Dube

Rebecca MacKinnon, former CNN correspondent in Beijing, wrote about internet censorship back in June. Her article can be seen at:

http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/article.asp?parentid=26945

In Oct., Time correspondent Matt Forney wrote about "China's Web Watchers:"

http://www.time.com/time/asia/magazine/article/0,13673,501051010-1112920,00.html

The Open Net Initiative Report on China's internet filtering can be found at:

http://www.opennetinitiative.net/studies/china/

A 2002 study (an internet lifetime ago) at Harvard reported on blocked Google search terms:
http://cyber.law.harvard.edu/filtering/china/block-kw.html

A Wikipedia article on blocked search terms can be seen at:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_words_blocked_by_search_engines_in_Mainland_China

[The reliability and utility of Wikipedia is examined at:

http://www.asiamedia.ucla.edu/columns.asp?parentid=35944]

Anonymous (not verified)
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Message from rboller

Noticed the topic of Internet censorship and free speech in China has been in the Times the last 2 days. First was an editorial that appeared in yesterday's paper and discussed hearings by a human rights subcommittee to determine if big companies like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have allowed too much control by the Chinese government. It's titled "The great firewall of China".

Web address for this article online
http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-ed-google16feb16,1,4736143.story?ctrack=1&cset=true" target="_blank" rel="nofollow">http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-ed-google16feb16,1,4736143.story?ctrack=1&cset=true">http://www.latimes.com/news/printedition/opinion/la-ed-google16feb16,1,4736143.story?ctrack=1&cset=true

From this editorial it sounds like many of the true human rights activists/experts feel that the long term benefits are there and will arrive despite the limits placed by the Communist Party. I tend to agree with their position, though clearly there can be short term costs and negatives.


Second article, in today's Times was titled "In China, Free Speech Shows Its Teeth" and gives some support for the argument that the internet by its nature will open up free speech in China despite attempts by the regime to control it. Although the Freezing Point publication discussed in this article was an investigative weekly newspaper, the progression of a more free and objective press is chronicled in its evolution since it's first publication in 1994. Although it has been shut down as a result of some good reporting that conflicted with what the Propaganda Dept wanted to see covered or in other cases not covered, it's closing has received some rather notable protest and it managed to break some important ground while it was operating.

Web address for this article online
http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-freeze17feb17,0,5836488.story


"These 2 articles certainly give me the impression that the "tension and complexity within the Chinese media" will continue to apply pressure towards greater freedom of information.

Anonymous (not verified)
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Message from jpena

The decision of China to censor Google searches touches at the core of liberty. Access to information in an ever globalizing world is becoming more and more important. Those without access to information will be left behind. I feel this topic is a great current events issue to incorporate in a 12th grade US government class. This issue is a great way for US Government teachers to include topics about Asia in a curriculum designed to focus predominately on American government.

Anonymous (not verified)
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Message from ebuck

Interesting link showing a specific example of censorship through pressure.
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4356276.stm

Anonymous (not verified)
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Message from ebuck

Here's a site for those teaching government classes to introduce a non violent action that was proposed to protest google's decision, which was a boycott.
It seems like an ambitious program, since other search engines have knuckled under also,
and google is so popular, there would have to be a great consesus to make a dent in their marketshare.

http://www.boston.com/news/world/articles/2006/01/28/google_china_censorship_fuels_calls_for_us_boycott/

Anonymous (not verified)
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Message from ssamel

There's an interesting article off the Washington Post entitled, "In China, Stern Treatment For Internet 'Addicts'," and it talks about how the Chinese government is concerned about how much time their youths spend online. The government is helping to launch internet rehabilitation centers for internet addicts. The reason? Youths are putting their social and academic lives on hold so they could go online.

The Chinese government was alarmed at how much of the youth population was addicted to the internet. They even went on to instill curfews, keeping young teens from internet cafes, limiting the hours youths can stay online in certain gaming networks before they get booted off.

Usually, parents put their kids in these rehabilitation centers because they are performing poorly in school, or if it seems like their kids are spending too much time online. Internet addiction is treated like a drug addiction. Psychologists and doctors would use anyting from minor electric shock therapy to drugs and counseling in order to rehabilitate the youths!

In part, I agree with the Chinese government's concern about kids becoming addicted to the internet and not developing social skills and neglecting academics. On the otherhand, I think that electric shock therapy is a bit extreme. If the youths are still minors, parents should still be able to monitor their child's internet usage and introduce the students to extra-curricular activities with families and peers.

Anonymous (not verified)
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Message from mwilkins

I totally agree with your post! The internet is providing a democratic forum for people in countries where free speech is limited to voice their opinions. It is even more exciting to see that all of the public opinion has had an effect and that the case is being re-opened. This incident has an eerie similarity to cases here in the US in which there has been a gross miscarriage of justice due to a defendant's wealth and power. Public opinion should and does count.

Anonymous (not verified)
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Message from cwatson

NPR radio reported that Google has plans to pull out of China due to the Chinese government's
insistence on blocking many Internet based information sites.

Google can not accomodate the Chinese government's request to block
all or most of the information based web sites.

China, though economically open, is still very much restrictive with its media and especially
the Internet.

The unicameral nation wants to dismember anything that hints of organized opposition.
I am certain that many CHinese officials do not want a repeat of the fall of the Berlin Wall
in Beijing.

Meanwhile, the question remains: Will Google give up its largest customer? for the sake of
convenience and freedom of information on the Internet?