Hu Jintao to “purify” China’s Internet

I don’t like the sound of this at all. The CCP is many things, but subtle and compassionate they are not. So when they talk about giving “guidance” to “purify the Internet,” one is reminded of past examples of their gentle guidance – like imprisoning the “stainless steel mouse” and destroying the lives of idealistic young people who wanted only to make China a more democratic place. What they refer to as guidance and purification most likely means more repression and more censorship.

Chinese Communist Party chief Hu Jintao has vowed to “purify” the Internet, state media reported on Wednesday, describing a top-level meeting that discussed ways to master the country’s sprawling, unruly online population.

Hu made the comments as the ruling party’s Politburo — its 24-member leading council — was studying China’s Internet, which claimed 137 million registered users at the end of 2006.

Hu, a strait-laced communist with little sympathy for cultural relaxation, did not directly mention censorship.

But he made it clear that the Communist Party was looking to ensure it keeps control of China’s Internet users, often more interested in salacious pictures, bloodthirsty games and political scandal than Marxist lessons.

The party had to “strengthen administration and development of our country’s Internet culture”, Hu told the meeting on Tuesday, according to the official Xinhua news agency.

“Maintain the initiative in opinion on the Internet and raise the level of guidance online,” he said. “We must promote civilized running and use of the Internet and purify the Internet environment.”

Ostensibly the chief targets of this purification effort are porn and violent games. But censorship of any kind of talk that poses the slightest risk to China’s much celebrated “harmony” has always been high up on Hu’s list of priorities, so I have to be skeptical that he only has dirty pictures and games in his sites. If he really wants to purify the Internet, how about cracking down on those shrill nationalistic sites that stir up never-ending hatred of the Japanese, and, more recently, of Starbucks?

Update: This is a site I generally detest, but it makes a clever comparison of Hu’s obsession with purification with that of a famous character from Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove:

General Jack D. Ripper: Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war?

Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No, I don’t think I do, sir, no.

General Jack D. Ripper: He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.

“Heh.”

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Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.

The Discussion: 7 Comments

From Xinhua via CDT: “Whether we can cope with the Internet is a matter that affects the development of socialist culture, the security of information, and the stability of the state,” Hu said, asking officials to use the Internet as a platform to spread healthy information.

I can’t quite suppress the shudder I get when I read about Hu trying to “cope with the Internet.”

It’s interesting that this comes on the heels of the more open foreign media rules that started Jan. 1 and Hu’s apparent call for an investigation into the killing of Lan Chengzhang (the reporter beaten to death investigating an illegal coal mine). All these things are ostensibly unrelated, but they’re swirling in my head in a free speech frenzy at 2 a.m. in Seoul.

January 26, 2007 @ 12:37 am | Comment

[Update: I see one of my site editors has deleted the comment I was addressing - which is fine. I am leaving this response anyway so the commenter sees it.]

Oy. Come on, this sort of thing is unworthy of someone who’s so smart. If you feel the blog is emasculated no one is forcing you to read it. I announced in no uncertain terms a few weeks ago that this blog would be emasculated (though I didn’t use that term) for the simple reason that I no longer can post on a regular basis. I said site traffic would have to fall, comments would have to go unanswered and the usual level of intensity would have to diminish. If you really think the main attraction of this blog was your comments, I urge you to start your own blog and see how it fares. Meanwhile, to see you insult people here is really heartbreaking. And so disappointing. Please don’t do it again – thanks.

January 26, 2007 @ 9:24 am | Comment

For the record, I did not delete the comment. I’m actually too busy to micro-manage on that level and have no interest in doing so.

January 26, 2007 @ 10:29 am | Comment

http://www.marxists.org/incidents.htm

“Marxist site under attack
The Marxist Internet Archive, which provides access to thousands of classic Marxist texts in dozens of languages, has recently come under sustained cyber attack.

This forced their server to shutdown on 13 January. The Marxist Internet Archive believe that these attacks may originate with the Chinese government, which views the site as a threat.”

The link posts review of sources of attack.

Purifying the internet like attacking non-Chinese based sites?

Strange choice of target.

January 27, 2007 @ 7:57 pm | Comment

LMAO, censoring porn in a nation with far to few females is just about the most idiotic move a totalitarian government can make. I don’t really know why they think that enforcing this guys morality is more important than putting a damper on sexual frustration and the unrest it’s likely to cause, but it’s not going to end well for them in the long run.

January 28, 2007 @ 10:49 pm | Comment

I never got the impression that they actually blocked any porn at all. Not that I know from personal experience or anything like that, of course, just some guy I knew just told me that… you know… yeah…
While I… or, you know, that guy I talked to… never came across a blocked porno site, they certainly never failed in blocking all anti-government Chinese-language sites. I can literally guess if a site is going to be blocked, and am always 100% correct, much like the Communist Party, right?
Anyway, I don’t have to deal with that anymore. My name is now kevinnolongerinpudong, because I have returned to my motherland, but I wish all you guys still in China the best of luck!

January 29, 2007 @ 5:43 am | Comment

And this just makes those foolish expats who try to compare the behavior of the US and China and say they are similar.

The next cultural revolution is coming.

January 29, 2007 @ 10:58 am | Comment

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