Mr. Hu, Tear Down this Wall

Dear Leaders,

You are making bold if somewhat desperate attempts to win back your credibility and to convince the world that you are indeed a friend to your people. Yesterday’s groundbreaking press conference and the new wealth of coverage of SARS in all the (state-run) media show that you are at least trying to operate more transparently.

Since you are now encouraging free communications and honest dialogue, I urge you to look at the greatest roadblock to these noble goals — your custom-made Internet censorship mechanism, lovingly referred to as The Great Firewall of China. You cannot have it both ways. Either you are transparent and in favor of dialogue, or you are a frightened deer caught in the headlights, terrified of what your people see and think.

The blocked Internet is a glaring symptom and symbol of your fears. It reinforces the perception of you as paranoid ideologues. It reminds the world that your past eagerness to block communications (which, in the case of SARS, resulted only in more unnecessary deaths and unending streams of rumors) is alive and well, and thus you are still not to be trusted. Suppressing information and blocking dialogue indicates you still cannot be trusted.about SARS — knowing that you want to control what is told to the public, your own officials will be terrified to report honestly, lest you punish them for it, as you have been known to do in similar situations. They will only want to tell you what you want to hear. And more people will die.

I am a personal victim of your censorship, unable to read this very site, thanks to your terror of the exchange of information. How ironic, that if not for this terror, which you cling to fanatically, you would be less vulnerable to criticism. You set it all up yourself, and it is time to “unset” it. Mr. Hu, tear down this wall and allow more light into your nation. All you have to fear, as another great leader once said, is fear itself, and this fear will suffocate you if you do not let it go.

Thank you.

The Peking Duck
[edited, Apr. 21, 10:38 am China Time]

The Discussion: One Comment

[…] the height of the SARS scandal in 2003, I wrote a characteristically florid and dramatic post about Internet censorship and its role in the tragedy. It was sincere, if overwrought, and others have since borrowed its headline (what can you do?). […]

January 6, 2009 @ 7:41 pm | Pingback

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