Thanks Dave

I just want to thank Dave Winer over at Scripting News for the link today to my post on how the Iraq War is presented by the Chinese media. When I got up this morning I wondered why my e-mailbox was so full, and sure enough it was readers of Dave’s site writing to ask me questions about the media here, especially the Internet.

People need to know that the Internet in China is heavily controlled. I cannot even read my own site without using a clumsy proxy server, since all sites are banned. The government here doesn’t care what we write in English, as relatively few people here can read it. I suspect if I had written this blog in Chinese, I would have been exiled or imprisoned long ago. They seem to be most terrified of sites where people can interact and exchange ideas. All geocities sites are verboten, and we cannot post to any google groups, though we can read the messages. This stifling of free speech, this denial of the most fundamental freedom, is the greatest evidence of just how fragile things really are.

In his book The Coming Collapse of China, Gordon Chang describes the PRC as “a lake of gasoline” (if memory serves me) just waiting for some situation to set it ablaze. After living here, I think that metaphor may be overly dramatic, but the essential argument is sound: China is being held up with matchsticks desperately planted by an oligarchy of paranoid dictators who are concerned with one thing alone, maintaining their iron grip on power, and anything that threatens their power (like free speech) must be annihilated. (Anyone care to remember Tiananmen Square?) As long as that situation remains, the corruption and internal rot will continue to eat away at China until it collapses altogether….

All I meant to do was write a one-line post thanking Dave Winer, and look what happens. Thanks again Dave.

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