The blocking of Xinjiang’s Internet

Please go read this fascinating post about the government’s digital sequestration of Xinjiang, a phenomenon that stands as a kind of case study of just how deeply the weak-kneed CCP fears any spark that might ignite the tinderbox of public opinion.

One snip about when it might end:

Here is the million-dollar question. If you ask 10 different people in Urumqi when the internet should turn back on you’re likely to get 10 different answers. The list ranges from the 1st of the year to somewhere in the middle of next year but everybody readily admits they’re not for sure.

Until a couple of weeks ago I would have been hesitant to answer this question, but a friend I trust passed along some interesting information that has given me the boldness to make my own predictions. According to some memos sent between the capital and the head office of our city’s main telecom provider, service is expected to open up during the May holiday of 2010.

There you have it. I’ve bet my money and made my prediction. This is just the halfway point…we have another 5 months to go. Of course, being wrong won’t make me sad if it’s sooner rather than later.

A sad situation, and a vivid reminder of how some things haven’t changed all that much. For all its enlightenment and reform, the party remains prickly and paranoid. Imagine any other great power blocking out the Internet in areas where there is turmoil….

And yes, I know, America has done bad things, too, and killed Indians. But I’m talking now about China. And for China, this is a sad episode, a sign of an inherent weakness and lack of confidence, despite the party’s strength and staying power, which I’ve also written about at length recently.

Update: Looking at this a day later, I think this was a pretty mediocre post. Apologies. I don’t mean to beat a dead horse about the CCP’s prickliness, and I’ve tried to make amply clear that that’s not all the party is about. But this episode just bugged me and raised all sorts of memories of bad experiences I had with censorship in China back in 2003.

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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: 210 Comments

@Richard
off-topic
” but aside from the expensive few like HTC Touch and the iPhone, they make for a less than joyful surfing experience”

Don’t forget new Android phones… quite good at browsing.

back to the topic at hand…
Some of the stratagems used here by our recent visitoir remind me to Arthur Schopenhauer’s
“The Art of Always Being Right: The 38 Subtle Ways to Win an Argument ”

ttp://tinyurl.com/y862qat

December 15, 2009 @ 3:33 am | Comment

“This place loads up too slow, on my 566mhz computer.”
Maybe you are not using the right proxy server…

December 15, 2009 @ 3:38 am | Comment

@Jason
小小寰球,有几个苍蝇碰壁。
嗡嗡叫,几声凄厉,几声抽泣。

蒼蠅還算有自主權。這總比受共匪支配的行屍走肉來得好。

December 15, 2009 @ 5:38 am | Comment

@Richard

I am replying to Jason that being housefly has some sort of autonomy. After all,it was better than being mindless zombies commanded by the CCP.

December 15, 2009 @ 5:41 am | Comment

Very impatient some people are towards China and the CCP. Internet blocking in XinJiang is just a temporary fix for the existing problem. We all know that the officials in Beijing need to review their current minority policies and make changes wherever possible, but this is an on-going task and it takes time. If the democratic countries like America, Canada, Australia or India can set a good example for China on how to treat their own minorities or aborigines, then maybe the Beijing government can at least study and compare their minority policies. But we know they are bad examples for that. What’s more difficult for the Beijing government is that the same minority policy that works for Hui and Miao may not work for the Uighurs and Tibetans. All I am saying is that we need to be more understandable towards the situation China faces today and be patient with the CCP on solving those issues. Unconstructive criticism or name calling can only have opposite affects.

December 15, 2009 @ 9:12 am | Comment

SOC: If the democratic countries like America, Canada, Australia or India can set a good example for China on how to treat their own minorities or aborigines, then maybe the Beijing government can at least study and compare their minority policies. But we know they are bad examples for that.

These countries all admit they made horrific mistakes, inexcusable, in their treatment of minorities a century ago and earlier. They have taken big steps to amend those wrongs anf given the natives considerable advantages to help better themselves and in some cases to become fabulously rich. Does this justify the extermination? Absolutely not. But to say they are bad examples in minority policy, as if they were still slaughtering the natives, if misleading. They’ve taken huge and expensive steps to set things right. I know that China, too, has made huge investments in Xinjiang and Tibet to improve the rights of minorities. The difference is autonomy On the Indian ranches here, for example, the Indians can make their own decisions and do with their land what they will. Too little too late? Maybe, but they are not hacking Americans to death out of resentment/ Wounds like this are hard to heal, and you have to give Australia, the US and Canada high marks for trying to correct their sins.

I am closing this thread in a minute and will open a new one soon.

December 15, 2009 @ 9:55 am | Comment

Oh, you think? I thought you had proof. Or did you mean AFTER their colonial asses were kicked out? But last time I checked, large part of Africa was still in primitive age, it is the Chinese who are building roads, cell phone towers and hospitals there.

Hong Kong under British rule certainly wasn’t at a primitive stage of development, in fact the quality of the roads, railways and infrastructure as well as government was probably better than many first world countries. I’m not trying to say that this makes colonialism OK, just that it is possible to do all kinds of positive things which benefit the “natives” and still be a colonial regime.

If you were a smart guy as Richard said you were, you would’ve known that this is the point when I would ask for proof and evidence. If you don’t show us some verifiable evidence, people would think you simply pulled that out of your behind, and I would think you are just another victim of your “free” press.

Sorry, I don’t have any facts and figures at my disposal. Also I’ve never been to Tibet so I could be wrong. I could probably find some articles on the Internet which would back me up, but if you’re in China then you probably wouldn’t be able to access them – at least not without taking steps to circumvent your government’s control of the Internet. On the other hand you could post an article showing how in fact Tibetans are in control of the economy and I wouldn’t have any trouble accessing it.

From a “propaganda war” point of view, China definitely ought to have the advantage because you can send me all your country’s propaganda unfiltered (and you already do – CCTV is free to air where I live) while we can’t.

December 15, 2009 @ 10:43 am | Comment

Peter, you handle the trolls so well. Keep commenting.

Thsi thread is getting crushed by too many comments and is now closed. There’s a new thread on the Xinjiang digital crackdown directly above – don’t miss the blog post I link to.

December 15, 2009 @ 10:51 am | Comment

[…] The Chinese government maintains that the US-based “World Uyghur Congress” instigated the riots from overseas using the internet and SMS. No communications, no riots, the logic goes. And perhaps this is true, if myopic (fascinating debate on this here). […]

February 8, 2010 @ 11:58 pm | Pingback

[…] The Chinese government maintains that the US-based “World Uyghur Congress” instigated the riots from overseas using the internet and SMS. No communications, no riots, the logic goes. And perhaps this is true, if myopic (fascinating debate on this here). […]

February 15, 2010 @ 6:02 pm | Pingback

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