China’s Internet “the most open in the world”

This is good to know!

“Our country’s Internet situation is unique. Compared to all kinds of restrictions in foreign countries, China has the most open Internet in the world.”

– Zhou Xisheng (周锡生) Deputy Chief of Xinhua News Agency, Director-General of Xinhua News Net.

From notes taken at the ninth session of the 2009 SCIO Internet News Work Training Session.

Now that that’s settled, please use this as an open thread. That includes those of you who need a proxy to access this site over in the world’s most open Internet.


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: 175 Comments

Is Chinese nationalism any different from other nationalisms? Overwhelmingly a force for good? How so? All nationalism can be seen a force for good….for the nationalist. For those that get in the way it isn’t quite as wholesome…and by this I single out no nationality.
I have read about how what we see happening is part of a power play by different factions in the monolithic CCP – indeed, I recall reading a story that the Turkestan uprising (I think – might have been the Tibetan one beforehand…I’ll have to do some cyber skiving to find the ref…until then you’ll have to accept this anecdote as given…sorry! ;-)) was in a small way allowed to occur because it was advantageous to one faction.
If this is the case, surely it would be better to have a multiparty type of government. If, after all, nationalism is an overwhelming force for good then all parties would have China’s best interests at heart – just have a different way of going about it, no?
No look at that. A discussion…with cool tempers and amicability 🙂

January 11, 2010 @ 11:12 am | Comment

Prepare yourselves for a Fallows masterclass in the next few days. In his own words:

“Upcoming: a business-strategy analysis of China’s negotiating objectives, and a view from the U.S. side. And a reminder of why this matters: quite a bit about the prospects for dealing with climate change, plus the larger prospects for China’s “peaceful rise,” depends on the interpretations of what just happened in Copenhagen, and why.”

Guaranteed not to disappoint.

January 11, 2010 @ 11:44 am | Comment

Typical.This is what we call “plug your ears while stealing a bell”.
The grip is becoming more and more tight.And in the new year they decided to begin with the “Bulletin board system” aka bbs.At the end of last year,the government began to enforce its “Online user interactive service registration policy”,and lifted all existing permissions.In other words,you have to apply for a registration for the “interactive content” on your site(include but not limited to forums,bbs,comment sections,etc.)If you don’t apply or the application is turned down due to deemed “improper contents” on your site,the site will be taken offline without notice and site database(s) be detained for further investigation.
Sounds reasonable,doesn’t it.But in China,you never take anything at face value.In this case,it’s one matter that you send the application,but whether or not the application will pass is another.As far as I know the permission had so far only been given to the site which either are too famous to be taken down or are state owned(wholly or partly).No permission goes to individual site owners.Most of the individual owned Chinese online forums I frequent had been gone through a down time range from less than 2 days to one month and some are still offline.And on a side note,the Chinese isps had blocked the 80 port of all their adsl users which means setup a public http site via adsl(which provides dynamic ip) is no more possible.
To escape from the de facto lockdown,many of the site owners shifted to overseas hosts,which made them vulnerable to the GFW.If things goes on like this,my guess is by the end of 2010,over 90% of Chinese sites with “user interactive services” will be dead or blocked.And what they’ve done(and still are doing) to the net in Xinjiang makes it more disturbing.The government is using the de facto Xinjiang Intranet as a testground for manipulation of the net and observe the reaction of the netizens.A Xinjiang member of an individual owned forum(of course using American host) which I frequent had written a brief introduce to the lockdown and current situation,and also some(hard to obtain) method to bypass the lockdown.But it’s in Chinese and I don’t have time to translate it,yet.Anyway here it is:
And today he made a brief update of current situation,with a mocking tone:
“After taking down almost 2000 sites which were not registered or registered with false infomation,Xinjiang netizens first ushered the grand opening of to major “official site”:Xinhuanet and Xinjiang Intranet is full of joy an elation,The People had expressed that this shows that the government are taking meticulous care of the living of The People.
And at a little over 0 o’clock UTC+8 today,Xinjiang Intranet again ushered two other major sites-sina and sohu.The netizens are blasting with joy!
‘It’s more than enough with sina and sohu,no need for other sites’
‘These two sites which were opened by government do wonders to my study and work,I’m quite satisfied!’
Maybe these will be the headline of today’s morning papers.

Alright,so much for the moonshine.
Here I’ll show you people The “Deceive the People Ver.2010″……
What,you can’t see any anomaly?
OK,let me tell you:
The pages on these sites are all static pages which should have gone through careful filtering and censoring.No “user interactive services”,no bbs,no comments,no chatrooms,nothing.The most important part is if you do a trace,you’ll find that the servers which those sites are using are all specially set up INSIDE Xinjiang.”
I believe government is poking around to find the bottomline and doing some researches on the reactions of people that are caged in intranet after they have experienced the internet.I’m afraid once they are done they will try to push the “advanced experience” to all the other provinces of China.And there are hardly any power to even make the government to think twice about it.

January 11, 2010 @ 5:42 pm | Comment

Going back to China censoring Internet, I can understand why YouTube is being blocked. As you know, the Tibetan separatists and their western supporters use YouTube to slender China spread their anti-China propaganda. Such evil secessionist activities are certainly not tolerated by Chinese law. However if China asks YouTube nicely to remove these videos, YouTube will just use the freedom of expression bullshit to turn China down. Never mind that the same freedom of expression rhetorics are conveniently forgotten when they reject videos that they consider antisemitist, racist, or pornographic. So to make YouTube understand that anti-China separatism is as bad as antisemitism, racism, or pornography, China blocks entire YouTube. One day YouTube will realize how much they are losing from the China market and will remove the offending material. When that day comes, YouTube will be unblocked.

January 12, 2010 @ 11:38 am | Comment

“When that day comes, YouTube will be unblocked.”

Correction: if and when that day comes, it’ll be the end of free speech.

You’re confusing the truth with deliberately harmful or misleading content. Most Tibetans just want the world to know their story. Have you been to Tibet recently?

I thought not.

January 12, 2010 @ 11:57 am | Comment

I went to Shangri-La, Yunnan, a few months ago, which is considered a part of “Greater Tibet” by the Dalai. I can tell you that the many ethnic groups there, including the Tibetans, live in harmony. All are excited by the rapidly growing economy and are thankful to the country for significantly improving their living standard.

January 12, 2010 @ 12:04 pm | Comment

“I went to Shangri-La, Yunnan”

Close, but no cigar.

The nearest you could come in Zhongdian to understanding the plight of Tibetans in Tibet would be to speak with some of the monks at the beautiful Songzanglin Monastery. If you were able to find some not too suspicious of you to talk openly, you would not – conscience and honesty precluding – be able to report such a picture postcard existence.

January 12, 2010 @ 12:38 pm | Comment

Oh no,not the Tibet sh!t again.
As to the youtube argument,I cannot see your point,deceive…er,I mean SERVE the people.
If the government is really afraid of the vicious sensational videos will win the hearts of the “unknowing masses”,if they really believe they have the truth in hand,they could make their own sensational videos to win the hearts back.Everyone has the right to choose what to believe.I know people are hard to persuade sometimes but cover the other side’s mouth by force is hardly a good persuasion strategy to me and it will only push the neutral groups away.
Or is it that the government is just not able to come up with the same creativity as the opposite side?From the massive bureaus which make the officer:non-officer ratio of more than 1:26,they just cannot pick out some heart-taking ideas to counter the propaganda head-on?They hate and murdered the blossoming creativity which they can’t control then of course they’ll have some hard times finding some sparks when they need them.
As to the internet manipulation,I recently am having some problems with overseas imagehosts,the images just won’t load inside the GFW but when I access them via encrypted tunnels to bypass GFW the images load up in a flash.Videos,images,”sensitive words”,forum permissions,tapping im services,the government is in a great leap forward towards the elimination of all user generated contents and making the net “read-only” and “harmonized” with their voice only.
Oh and by the way the government is hiring at the beginning of the winter vacation.The job is “Internet content comparison( against the registered info) and domain investigate”.I suspect this has something to do with the incoming “white-list” policy.And the pay is pretty good:two months for the base wage of 2860 yuan and can be calculated by days in service.Oh did I mentioned that the targeted employee group is the “undergraduates”?See?At least our national anthem is creative and farsighted with the lyric “build our new great wall with our own blood and flesh”.
Last time the government decided to close up from the rest of the world,China left behind and rot in ignorance and arrogance then got ass raped for more than one century.And in 21th century the government again proceed to close up from the rest of the internet.People just don’t learn,do they?
Sigh…Sorry for the ranting.Seriously,as a member of the Mongolian ethnic group,I’m proud to be part of the Chinese people,they are smart,industrious and generally good persons.I love them.And every time I think about that they are still being fooled,being manipulated,being squeezed to the last drop by some stupid control-freak bigots,there is a rush of anger that I can’t control,yet.They don’t deserve this,THEY DON’T DESERVE THIS!

January 12, 2010 @ 2:40 pm | Comment

Are these YouTube videos anti-China because the CCP says so? Or are they genuine grievances by a minority group – I ask because there’s plenty of YouTube videos that are anti-US, anti-UK, anti-England, anti-*insert western country of choice* which can be seen in these countries. I suggest you look at any Scottish nationalist video (which are freely accessible in the UK, despite their anti-UK sentiment and secessiontist messages) and decide if the anti-Han (for even the Dalai Lama doesn’t talk of secession) messages are any different.

And please, let us be mature in our replies. I am willing to learn from you as much as you don’t care to learn from me.

January 12, 2010 @ 2:42 pm | Comment

Another story that I can’t see happening in China
I used the BBC so Chinese readers in China aren’t corrupted in any way 😉
The PM doesn’t like the idea, neither does the population but…
“But Sir Hugh Orde, president of the Association of Chief Police Officers, said any march should be allowed to go ahead.

“People have a right to march. People might not like it, but that’s it,” said Sir Hugh,…”
So, no guns there. No shooting. Indeed, a policeman, a high up in the police organisation policeman, saying it is their right – even if the people do not like it.
Would this happen in China?

Now, an example of official Chinese responses to dissent. Here’s the story “Officials said the troops tried to “persuade them to go back home… but the stowaways refused and attacked the soldiers”, Xinhua reports.

“Under the circumstances, the frontier soldiers were forced to defend themselves and injured two stowaways,” the unnamed official was quoted.” Now let’s look at the video, shall we…
Propaganda by the west? I dunno…I just don’t see it that way. Xinhua’s story doesn’t seem to be verified by footage.

January 12, 2010 @ 4:00 pm | Comment

And finally, I think this story is most amusing
“Three times as many New Zealanders think it is morally acceptable for a single person to view pornography on the internet than to download copyrighted video, according to a new poll.”
If I have my stereotypes right, in China it would be the exact opposite 😀 After all, it’s OK to steal intellectual property from westerners, eh? But porn….think of the children!

Goodnight, all 🙂

January 12, 2010 @ 4:13 pm | Comment

Sorry, one more wee story
“Official tolerance is highly variable. Activists and grassroots organisers complain of harassment by the authorities. Websites and publications have been shut down.

And although Shanghai Pride organisers deliberately kept it low key, with no banners or parade, the authorities forced the cancellation of some events.

Despite signs of growing confidence in challenging such actions – last year, gay men faced down police conducting a sweep of a Guangzhou park – most opt for a non-confrontational approach.

Organisers hope to avoid problems by keeping Mr Gay China low-key and did not invite mainstream Chinese-language media.

“Officials could show up and say ‘your fire hydrant is in the wrong place,” said Zhang. “It is still a sensitive issue.””
Still, as the article says, it is progress…of sorts 🙂

Now really I gotta go 😀

January 12, 2010 @ 4:20 pm | Comment

“Officials could show up and say ‘your fire hydrant is in the wrong place,” said Zhang.


January 13, 2010 @ 5:20 am | Comment

In Shangri-La, I spent a long evening at a local bar by the old town with two young Tibetan men and one Hui woman, who was dating one of the Tibetans. The other Tibetan was dating a South Korean woman who was trying to convert him to Christianity. Needless to say this caused quite bit of agony on his part.

We talked about everything. Apparently the inter-ethnic relation in that area was quite good, witnessed by the Tibetan-Hui couple. To my great surprise, they told me that they had no interest in the Dalai. And they believed that Dharamsala was shit hole and can’t understand why some people even wanted to go there. In their opinion Shangri-La was the best Tibetan town (maybe after Lhasa) in the world.

January 13, 2010 @ 5:42 am | Comment

I went to Shangri-La, Yunnan, a few months ago, which is considered a part of “Greater Tibet” by the Dalai. I can tell you that the many ethnic groups there, including the Tibetans, live in harmony. All are excited by the rapidly growing economy and are thankful to the country for significantly improving their living standard.

Such a glowing, rosy picture of happiness and prosperity, who could bear to have doubts?

January 13, 2010 @ 5:42 am | Comment

Mike, Peter – thanks for the laughs. Everyone should see the video that goes with the article Mike linked to:

Richard is working on a big, problematic document that needs to be finished by Thursday so this site will probably remain un-updated for another day or two. The thread goes on.

January 13, 2010 @ 5:58 am | Comment

That’s the thing, Serve, people generally get along absolutely fine. Heck, if we didn’t, cities wouldn’t exist as we’d all be in our small groups fighting each other.
But the utopic scenario you describe could be applied to any other place that history has shown to be dysfunctional. Yugoslavia was a laissez faire place, where your religion/ethnic group wasn’t of any great concern. Sure, during WWII there were groups that killed anyone of differing ethnicity, but that was in a time of upheaval…past history.
But when Milosevic get into power and, as I read it, tried to Serbianise everyone, all hell broke loose. People that were best buddies ended up pointing rifles at each other, ended up raping their best mate’s sisters. It didn’t take much and it didn’t take long and no one, but no one, was able to stop the process once the madness took hold.
Everyone may be happy today…but how about in 10 years time? Or 20?
Read the history – it doesn’t take much and it doesn’t take many to stoke the flames once the process starts. Look at the Urumqi riots – Uygurs killing Han, then being killed by Han. The army brought peace…but in the right way? Are people there all happy or…is one set of the community more aggrieved?

January 13, 2010 @ 6:33 am | Comment

Who is responsible for generating ethnic hatred? The Chinese government, or the free Tibet activists? To me the answer is obvious.

January 13, 2010 @ 6:51 am | Comment

That’s the thing – who knows. In Yugoslavia, it was the government. When Yugoslavia broke up, it was Serbians who found themselves in new countries (according to Croatians, Bosniaks, etc, etc).
It’s a dance. There’s never just one party fully responsible. The government might do something that it feels promotes peace and stability but which is easily exploited by the opposition. It could be something as innocuous as, say, dismantling unsafe housing (like Kashgar old town) and moving people to new apartments. Sounds like a winner to you and me, but look how many people see it as destruction of a culture. And given the quality of modern Chinese building construction, should one of these new apartments fall….well, you can guess what people will say.
Immigration is also an issue – poor people need places to live and employment, so send them to parts of the country that needs them. Only thing is, the indigenous population are also wanting employment and feel marginalised to some extent by the incomers. Play on a few centuries of colonisation etc and what do you get?
Promote social order by removing agitators…but you don’t know who these agitators really are or who their agents are…so round up likely suspects. Use racial/ethnic profiling to make the job easier. However, this means many innocents are arrested – end result is more of the “bad” ethnic group start to harbour resentment…and we all know how that ends!
I don’t think any one group has 100% responsibility – they both feed off each other. And this can be used by unscrupulous people to their advantage. Many tell me the CCP is riven by factions – what’s stopping one faction using an activist group to embarrass the rival faction or to change the situation to their own advantage?
Saying all that, there’s one sure way to work out what people can do. Coming back to Tibet,-let-Beijing-invite-international-observers-11794.html
“Tibetan activist: if it is our fault, let Beijing invite international observers”

January 13, 2010 @ 7:27 am | Comment

[…] bring this up because it calls to mind a comment I left in the earlier thread: [D]on’t fool yourself about google. They may let you download a song for free. Would they hand […]

January 13, 2010 @ 10:41 am | Pingback

Moreover, as an unrepentant Marxist, I see politics and economics as organic and inseparable.

That’s why your reasoning suffers from the defects of being too deterministic and seeing things only on a linear progression.

January 14, 2010 @ 2:08 am | Comment

[…] But I also can’t ignore the bad, and thus below you’ll also find a post on the censorship of China’s Internet. I’m a big believer in trying to see beyond the box each of has has created for himself, the […]

February 11, 2010 @ 5:05 am | Pingback

[…] bring this up because it calls to mind a comment I left in the earlier thread: [D]on’t fool yourself about google. They may let you download a song for free. Would they hand […]

August 19, 2010 @ 4:39 am | Pingback

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