China’s success in remolding the Internet in the CCP’s image

We’ve all been up to our eyeballs recently in stories decrying censorship and filtering on China’s Internet. This article, however, takes a different turn and explains how China’s efforts to manipulate the Internet are indeed succeeding, and what the implications of this success are for the Internet worldwide.

The Web was conceived as one global medium, by its nature open and free. But countries like China are pushing hard to divide that global network into a system of Balkanized national networks. Censorship of the sort Microsoft acceded to is grabbing headlines, but the more important restrictive measures are taking place quietly—and quietly succeeding.

Consider filtering. Blocking the Democracy Times at the Chinese border is kid stuff. The Chinese state accomplishes much more by filtering not just Web content, but the tools that allow the Internet to function: search engines, chat rooms, blogs, and even e-mail. The idea is to make filtering a basic fact of the Web. And filtering a tool like a search engine has the benefit of subtlety, because to most people searches will feel free even when they’re not. How many of us can tell when something goes missing in a Google result?

The Communist Party’s management of chat rooms works similarly. A post like “Let’s hold multiparty elections” is deleted before posting or soon after. But more crucial is the party’s channeling of chat-room discussions to serve its own interests. The pattern began in 1999, when an American B-2 bomber dropped five 2,000-pound bombs on the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade. State-run media immediately used the Internet to suggest that the bombing was no mistake. As anti-American riots erupted, the People’s Daily, China’s largest Communist Party-owned newspaper, created a Web chat forum to denounce the bombing. Thanks to these efforts, today an astonishing number of Chinese still believe that the bombing was a deliberate attack, and chat-room-fired protests against the United States or Japan are a regular fixture…..

Another Chinese attempt at control involves the Internet’s physical infrastructure. Within China, the Web looks more and more like a giant office network every day, centralized by design. Last month, China announced its latest build-out—the “Next Carrying Network,” or CN2. This massive internal network will be fast, but it will also be built by a single, state-owned company and easy to filter at every step. Its addressing system (known as IPv6) is scarcely used in the United States and may make parts of the Chinese Internet and the rest of the world mutually unreachable. While such things are hard to measure, Internet maps suggest that, powered by projects like CN2, growth in China’s domestic bandwidth is rapidly outpacing the speed of its international connections. Networkwise, China will soon be like a country with a great internal transport system but few roads leading in or out. The goal is an inward-looking network that is physically disconnected from the rest of the world.

Inward-looking, disconnected from the rest of the world — does this set off any bells? Isn’t it an ongoing motif in China’s history, epitomized by the Cultural Revolution? After making so much amazing progress, would they really want to adopt that old stagnating model?

Some of my friends in China assure me the Internet virtually guarantees the eventual erosion of the CCP’s power, as citizens are exposed to its lies and excesses and new concepts of personal freedoms and a free press. After reading this article (and several others like it), I have to question who is really going to come out the winner. Because right now, the CCP is doing a damned good job at using the Net to fulfill its propagandistic agenda. And while there’s anecdotal evidence of the Net being used to fight corruption and initiate reform (as in the Sun Zhigang case), most evidence indicates it is actually furthering the goals of the CCP.

The Discussion: 43 Comments

Interesting article. However, while I realize the point the author is getting at with the example of the Belgrade bombing, that was in fact not an accident. Of course the US government claimed that it was, but it was actually just another victim in the US-Sino spy .vs spy game.

The Chinese government was using that embassy to transmit information to the enemy that was putting coalition lives at stake. Beijing continued to play dumb, so the US did the same….bombs away….ooops. Did we do that??

July 12, 2005 @ 7:43 pm | Comment

I agree with a large part of the article – but his comments about China’s plans for a next-generation network (CN2) are either pure paranoia or just misinformed. CN2 is (as he says) based on IPv6 – which is a protocol developed mainly in the West (and Japan), and which has been about to replace the existing internet structure for about 10 years now. The US has it’s own ‘inward looking project’ called “Internet2” which just connects sites in the US over IPv6. It is simply an upgrade of their system. I’m sure they’ll be busy building filtering and firewalling into their new system, but they’ve already got that. Unless he’s got some evidence they’re actually doing something odd with CN2 he’s got the wrong end of the stick there …

The Chinese internet is bound to be pretty inward looking anyway because, well duh, 95% of content in Chinese will be in China.

July 12, 2005 @ 7:56 pm | Comment

Speaking of Sun Zhigang, just a quick point, the Southern Metro News, the paper that broke the story of Sun, had a huge picture of the Xinjiang coal mine accident on the front page yesterday with a fairly stinging attack on the safety of coalmines in China. Good to see that the paper hasn’t been completely silenced by the authorities.

July 12, 2005 @ 8:04 pm | Comment

“but it was actually just another victim in the US-Sino spy .vs spy game. ”

Your version is much more believable. I have not seen any US mainstream media gave a slight hint of this version. All of them repeat official line as truth voluntarily.

Not surprisingly, CCP has also lied with its own version.

July 12, 2005 @ 8:10 pm | Comment

Remember all those hundreds of articles several years ago claiming that China couldn’t side-step the march of technological progress and a global Internet would eventually force China to open up and roll back state repression? Hardlt worth the paper they were written on.

As the article+Richard say, the oppostie has actually happened, the Chinese govt have utilised the so-called “global” www in further advancing their stranglehold on the population. Far from the www being a threat to CCP power, it’s now just another authoritarian tool in the CCP’s armory.

It’s also worth bearing in mind that Internet freedoms, or lack thereof, are pretty low on most mainlanders list of priorities. A lot mainlanders I know simply cannot understand why westerners continually get their knickers in a twist about this subject. They simply cannot see what tangible benefits they would recieve if the www were unrestricted and unmolested.

This is one of the fundamental differences, westerners are irate if they want to click onto a certain website but find it blocked. However, we’ve all heard some Chinese opinions of F*L*G, Ep*ch Times, independence movements , news organisations which are perceived to have an anti-China bias etc etc. Why on earth would the average mainlander want to download those sites?

July 12, 2005 @ 8:17 pm | Comment


China OnLine.

Like AOL. Only with more porn and fewer Christians.

July 12, 2005 @ 8:24 pm | Comment

As Henry Kissinger said regarding the bombing of the Chinese embassy: “Our explanations are so incredible that they have to be true. Because if we did it deliberately, we would surely have come up with a better explanation.”

July 12, 2005 @ 8:36 pm | Comment

Daily linklets 13th July

Only in China could research on bird flu be considered a state secret. In a related piece, Howard French notes China’s new war on academic dissent. And Richard notes China’s successful internet controls…which makes claims that Africa should follow C…

July 12, 2005 @ 9:13 pm | Comment

I have long thought that that could have been the reason for the Chinese Belgrade Embassy bombing. Do you have any reliable evidence supporting your ideas?

Sinister machinations. With actions like this by the CCP it is no wonder many foreigners have great and growing suspicions about Chinese motivations and intentions.

May xiaojie should really question
this Internet thing China is doing. What do you think May? Is it good or bad to again isolate China’s heartbeat and brain power and channel it to China’s exclusive internal use and benefit. After all China is now celebrating the 600th anniversary of Zheng He’s world travels, just before the Ming got paranoid and closed up. Ironic that, in comparison to this news about the Chinese Net.

Shouldn’t an organization of computer whizzes and hackers be set up to pry open this Chinese Net? Shouldn’t some enforceable UN protocols be set up to stop what China is trying to do?

I wonder if anyone noted that a few months prior to the vote granting China the 2008 Olympics, China sent gangs of the highest officials to about 5 African countries on “goodwill’ tours and supposedly to stimulate business. As I recall all of those African countries voted in favor of awarding China the 2008 Olympics. Do you suppose there is any connection?

I suspect China needs to be watched even more now. It is feeling and extending its strenght automatically changing the world order. Is China up to good or ill? To extend and assert its power with Chinese characteristics? Some of those characteristics meaning State control of the means of production (notwithstanding denomination as public or private companies – only up to a point), CNOOC is not a true private company as it is under State control (it should not be allowed to buy Unocal), and censorship, State control of all media, lack of an independant judiciary and judicial system among other of more obnoxious Chinese characteristics.

Bashing China here or just telling it like it is? I hope China does not go down the road to empire, at least , not with the worst of Chinese characteristics.

July 12, 2005 @ 9:15 pm | Comment

Martyn raises some good points.

Its interesting that we tend to take these absolute positions:

The Internet will be good for China and uproot all the tired, old institutions!


The CCP has coopted the internet and is using it to bend Chinese youth into raving nationalists.

It seems to me that Internet is doing both for China. It’s an engine of economic growth and it has enabled Chinese people to connect with each other and the rest of the world in a meaningful way. But, at the same time, it is effectively used by the CCP to further its propaganda efforts.

I think we tend to fall into the trap of seeing the Internet as more powerful than it really is. It’s depressing and disappointing that the CCP has done such an effective job of managing the net, but that doesn’t destroy all the value its brought to China.

In the end, control of the net is is one aspect of an enormous mechanism that extends into mainstream media, classrooms and daily discourse. In effect, the censorship is just the back-half of a process in which people’s expectations from media have already been shaped. I think that’s one reason why Martyn has experienced the reaction that he has. To have ever seen the net as the key to the unravelling of the CCP was a prejudice.

That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to be scandalized. It just means we need some perspective. I do believe half of our outrage is on our own behalf.

Now, on the coal-mine front, mine disasters seems to have been sanctioned by the government as an allowed topic. There has been pretty extensive coverage in Chinese media for the past several months. I think they’re trying the tactic of shaming the industry into improving. Good luck with that.

July 12, 2005 @ 9:45 pm | Comment

Pete writes:

“CNOOC is not a true private company as it is under State control (it should not be allowed to buy Unocal).”

Why should it not, if CNOOC is willing to pay more for Unocal than anyone else? If the Chinese government wants to take money from its taxpayers and send it to American shareholders, that’s fine with me. My guess is that the money managers and hedge fund operators who are selling Unocal shares have a much better idea what they are actually worth than do Chinese government bureaucrats who are financing the purchase.

July 12, 2005 @ 9:46 pm | Comment

Will, of course there is a huge amount of good the Internet is bringing to China. Huge. I’ve written about it 100 times, and it still holds promise in terms of being a key factor in democratization. The article does indicate however tha China is doing a better job in controlling it than many of us would believe.

July 12, 2005 @ 10:05 pm | Comment

CNOOC is 70% state-owned.

This current Unocal will-they-or-won’t-they-buy-deal is also the latest in a long line of absolutely laughable and shockingly poor investment decisions by mostly Chinese state-owned companies and a handful of private ones.

There are many examples but just off the top of my head, TCL Multimedia (TV maker and “national champion”) aquired Thompson and RCA last year. They paid top dollar for what they thought was a premium brand, RCA. After purchasing however, they soon realised that it WAS a top brand years ago but had long since deteriorated into a bargain-basement, low-end affair.

Last I heard TCL extended their forecast to turn the company around and make it profitable from this year to 2006. Good luck. I expect to see pigs fly first.

The truth is, if China want to continue to pay top dollar for extremely dodgy foreign enterprises, usually way past their sell-by date then we should be beating a path all the way to Beijing.

July 12, 2005 @ 10:13 pm | Comment

Richard: That’s certainly true. And that’s what’s depressing for me. For a long time I believe Dan Gilmore’s old chestnut about Internet censorship. I’m really sorry that China is progressively proving him wrong.

The thing that really interests me here is that it isn’t just technology that is making China’s net strategy effective. It’s how well integrated Internet censorship seems to be in an overall program of propaganda and manipulation that touches people here in many different ways. A lot of the old idealism about the Internet’s power to undermine the CCP seemed to overlook the role of all those other factors.

July 12, 2005 @ 10:21 pm | Comment

Will–This is the killer quote:

“That doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t continue to be scandalized. It just means we need some perspective. I do believe half of our outrage is on our own behalf.”

I.e. Yes, we should be outraged at China’s increasingly tight-grip on the population and use of state power to further mould and control the population…


We desperately need to maintain perspective—the very same thing that a lot of us criticise many Chinese people for lacking. Our priorities and moral standards are not necessarily their priorities and moral standards.

..and most importantly:

How much of our outrage lies with ourselves? How much are we using our own western values to apply to China?
As I said this morning on the latest Chen Yonglin thread, China’s never had what we know as “freedom”. From the Legalist Qin and the Legalist/Confucionist Han to the Legalist/Socialist CCP.

China has thrived on strong governments and national unity. Today most mainlanders don’t want a unmolested Internet, they don’t want democracy or freedom, these things are irrelevant or at least right down there on their list of priorities.

They want a strong, united, vibrant and wealthy China which will stand proud in the international community.

Unfortunatey, “freedom” and “accountable government” and a whole host of modern political buzzwords mean little here.

All the present problems in China, the unrest, the regional differences, corruption etc etc have little to do with freedom. Perhaps reform is needed, perhaps a whole host of stuff that I can’t even think of is needed but blather onto a your average mainlander about Internet freedom, freedom of speech, accountability etc and don’t be surprised if their eyes glaze over and they start yawning.

July 12, 2005 @ 10:32 pm | Comment

True, but so many Chinese are in jail over this issue of freedom. Most are academics, reporters and students, not your average Chinese person. But I do now some very average Chinese people who love their country but deeply resent the copntrols the CCP places on them, especially when it comes to travel, accessing web sites, etc. As that article last week about the farmers riots said, even if they – China’s rural poor – can’t articulate it the way we in the West do do, their recognition of the concepts of personal freedoms are definitlely increasing. And that’s an important start.

July 12, 2005 @ 10:44 pm | Comment

Let’s assume that Unocal is overpriced so the shareholders get a really good deal and most shareholders are Americans or at least have America’s interests at heart. So China gets a drubbing on the business deal and America gets a pump up on foreign exchange. Is that good enough to justify this deal?

Assume, for arguments sake, that Unocal owns or controls significant petroleum assets. Is it not better to have those assets within the American ambit of interests and control instead of within the State control of a known competitor for petroleum in the form of the Chinese state, a somewhat iffy “friend?”

I am suggesting that US security and national welfare have a place in the equation. And because of China’s opaque international intentions it is a conservative, rational and appropriate position.

July 12, 2005 @ 11:20 pm | Comment

I have some interesting anecdotal evidence re: Gordon’s Chinese embassy bombing claim. One of the trips I took to China a few years ago, around Christmas, I was heading back to LA, and on the plane was a US Embassy security guy – Marine captain or something like that – with the US Embassy in Beijing. He and his family were heading home for some R&R. Anyway, we started talking about the Belgrade bombing, and he said that indeed the Chinese embassy was letting the Yugoslavs transmit from there, the US/Coalition found out about it, and…yes, whoops indeed. Easier for all sides to claim it was an unfortunate accident.

So for what it’s worth, that’s what I heard on a plane back to LA.

July 12, 2005 @ 11:20 pm | Comment

Absolutely, I’m with you all the way but I’m just trying out a bit of perspective and personal observation.

Your “average” mainlander, let’s generalise terribly here, would likely reply to the above by saying that on a per capita basis the actual amount of the population imprisoned for Internet-related crimes in 0.0000? Sure, one’s too many and there’s no excuse for it but there you go.

Restrictions the CCP places on people, as you mention, is generally improving, with the exception of the ever-increasing sophistication of the Internet censors, it’s a lot better than 10 or 20 years ago. Of course, things seems to be going a little backwards at the moment under Hu/Wen but hopefully that won’t change the long-standing trend of improving basic freedoms. This is how most people I’ve spoken to view it anyway.

The farmers grievances mostly relate to official abuses of power or being trampled on by large companies. As I said, this increasingly large problem needs to be addressed, and soon. I think there’s a lot of scope for these kind of freedoms to emerge in China. I know that Echoes writes a lot about this.

I’m just trying to stand back and take a sweeping lateral view of the whole thing and I see that there’s a big difference (again generalising very badly here) between western priorities when we look at China and the priorities of Chinese people themselves.

I think partly explains why sometimes westerners and Chinese people simply can’t debate this subject because we both look at it from such completely different angles.

July 12, 2005 @ 11:32 pm | Comment


Unfortunately I don’t have any online or hardcopy resources to substantiate my earlier comments regarding the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade as that information was passed on to me during a discussion with a close friend who is a navy SEAL and was serving in the area at the time.

July 12, 2005 @ 11:35 pm | Comment

lunch-hour linkage

Global Voices has been redesigned and re

July 13, 2005 @ 12:05 am | Comment

I have heard similar explanations of the bombing incident, but unfortunately can’t place them….

July 13, 2005 @ 12:35 am | Comment


A USMC Captain serving at the Embassy would have been in charge of the US Marine security detachment, i.e., the guards, and would not have anything like the security clearance or access necessary to know anything at all about the Belgrade bombing. He was surely “talking out his ass.”


The bombing was an Airforce mission and the USAF has its own special forces spotter teams, to the extent that ground observers were needed. A serving Navy SEAL is extremely unlikely to have the security clearance or access necessary to know what actually happened in Belgrade. Furthermore, if he did know, he committed a felony violation of national security by blabbing to you and ought to be drummed out of the Navy and into a court martial.

Rumors/speculation in line with Gordon’s assertions were floating around the web and some media shortly after the bombing. I am pretty sure both the SEAL and the Captain were merely repeating such reports. I’d be shocked if anyone with a security clearance to know the facts would be so absolutely irresponsible and criminal as to repeat such information.

On the other hand, one must remember Sandy Berger’s pants. . . .

July 13, 2005 @ 1:14 am | Comment

Belgrade, screw-up or intentional?

The screw-up theory:

Speaking on condition of anonymity Tuesday, the official said that no CIA officer with an up-to-date, walking familiarity with the Yugoslav capital was on the targeting team when China’s embassy was mistakenly bombed Friday, killing three occupants and injuring 20 more. Nor, apparently, does the CIA have clandestine spotters in Belgrade helping verify targets picked from maps and satellite photos.

The issue has taken on added gravity because the CIA has admitted it used a partially updated 4-year-old street map and “educated guesses” to select the target, which was thought to be a Yugoslav arms agency.

Gordon’s theory:

According to senior military and intelligence sources in Europe and the US the Chinese embassy was removed from a prohibited targets list after NATO electronic intelligence (Elint) detected it sending army signals to Milosevic’s forces.

The story is confirmed . . . that the Chinese embassy was acting as a ‘rebro’ [rebroadcast] station for the Yugoslav army (VJ) after alliance jets had successfully silenced Milosevic’s own transmitters.

Personally, given what we know about the CIA’s performance pre-9/11 and in Iraq, I’m much more likely to believe the f*ck-up explanation than that it was part of a clever deception.

Given that the three “journalists” killed were in the embassy’s intelligence offices at the time, what I’m guessing actually happened is that China was electronically monitoring US cruise missiles and stealth bombers in Yuogslavia for its own defence purposes (i.e., to get information on US capabilities) and were NOT assiting the Yugoslavs. The US then accidentally bombed the embassy and (fortuitously?) knocking out the Chinese monitoring and killing the monitors. The Chinese, seeing three dead intelligence officers and knowing that they were up to “no good”, assumed that the US found out and did it on purpose.

Think about it. To believe otherwise, one must believe that (1) the Clinton administration, which was so cautious and legalistic in pursuing Osama bin Laden, was willing to throw law and caution out the window and bomb the embassy of a nuclear armed state and (2) the Chinese were willing to give active military assistance to Milosivic against the world’s only superpower.

I don’t buy it.

July 13, 2005 @ 1:46 am | Comment

Martyn wrote,

“I think partly explains why sometimes westerners and Chinese people simply can’t debate this subject because we both look at it from such completely different angles.”

I think Martyn is right. Many westerners tend to think of China in a negative way. Average chinese may not like their leaders, but they understand that China has come a long way in the last 20 years and things are constantly improving in most areas although there are some backwards.

Many Chinese also believe that outside criticisms are often biaed toward China. For example, the human right siuation in China is still far away from the western standards, but it is much better than, say, 10 or 20 year go, let alone 30 or 40 year ago. But people often hear those human right agencies say that the human right siuation is worsening almost every year. How can average Chinese believe things like this?

July 13, 2005 @ 1:49 am | Comment


Let me clarify, I didn’t say that the SEAL I mentioned was involved in what took place, only that he was serving in the region.

While it is true that the USAF has its own SPEC WAR commandos, they aren’t called upon for such missions as frequently as SEAL’s. In fact, it doesn’t really matter which branch of the armed forces is running a mission, if it requires the utilization of special forces the USN SEAL’s are usually involved in some capacity, hence the acronym (SEa Air Land).

I don’t recall seeing such rumors on the net around that time, but given China’s history of behind the scenes involvement in other such events, I wouldn’t be at all surprised to find out that it’s true.

It’s probably one of those things we will never really know.

July 13, 2005 @ 1:55 am | Comment


The link in my comment above leads to a contemporaneous story in the Observer that is consistent with your theory.

July 13, 2005 @ 2:14 am | Comment

Well Conrad, according to that article it was confirmed by three different sources outside of the CIA so as far as I’m concerned that does lend some legitimacy to the accusations.

BTW, what tags do you use to post cited text in those comment boxes?

July 13, 2005 @ 2:30 am | Comment

Minus the extra spacing, of course.

July 13, 2005 @ 3:33 am | Comment


The above didn’t work.

Just use the html tags for blockquotes. Richard’s site is set up to put blockquotes in boxes.

July 13, 2005 @ 3:38 am | Comment


Your comment confused me so I just re-read the article. What “three CIA officers”????

According to the author, the story came from “senior military and intelligence sources in Europe, specifically, a flight controller operating in Naples, an intelligence officer in Macedonia and an officer in Brussels. Not a CIA officer (or even, it appears, an American) among them and not one of them was in Yugoslavia.

Yeah, if I’m planning a clandestine American airstrike on the Chinese, I’m definately going to inform the air traffic controllers in Napes.

Sounds pretty flimsy to me.

Pretty dodgy.

July 13, 2005 @ 3:48 am | Comment


I didn’t say anything about 3 CIA officers, I said 3 sources outside of the CIA.

The only reason I mentioned that was because of your previous statement about not relying on intelligence from the CIA implicating the Chinese because of their faulty record over 9/11.

Also, I’m not sure what you find flimsy about it. The article isn’t saying that the Americans informed these three sources of their intention to bomb the Chinese embassy. It says that the sources confirmed allegations that the Chinese were using the embassy as a rebroadcasting post.

July 13, 2005 @ 3:59 am | Comment

I know we’re all talking about the not-so-accidental bombing in Belgrade, but back to CNOOC/Unocal for a second.

Unocal controls less than 1% of the world’s oil reserves. Of that a large percentage of its interests are in Asia, primarily in natural gas, not oil. There are no national security implications in CNOOC’s overpaying for Unocal. Oil is a fungible commodity, easily traded and purchased on the open market. Even if China did suspend the delivery of Unocal’s oil to the US for nefarious purposes, there is 99% of the world’s capacity still available.

Indeed it could be argued that the purchase is in the US’s national interest. Not only does it tie China closer to America economically, it is an exchange of China’s massive foreign exchange reserves for tangible assets. China is putting its American dollar reserves to work. If they overpay, it is destroying some of that value (which they may be happy to do, given they’ve got US$800 billion or so to spend). America’s already sold off the farm to China, Japan and others in the form of Treasury bonds and notes. This is just a swap of those bonds for real assets.

July 13, 2005 @ 4:17 am | Comment


I agree with your points. If anything I was more worried about the buyout of IBM than I am Unocal.

I realize that Unocal is well invested in Asia, but if for some reason China decided to suspend oil shipments to the US, couldn’t the US just nationalize the company?

July 13, 2005 @ 4:59 am | Comment

Martyn – re: perceptions of China by foreigners, I think you and I are in violent agreement. That’s why I wrote that I think much of our outrage is on our own behalf. Now it is a mistake to project our values onto the Chinese at large. No doubt some share them, some don’t.

But it is legit to be outraged on the basis of our own values. Because the opposite extreme is the “it’s their own way” detachment that so often leads to the patronizing “not ready for democracy” argument.

Gordon et al – re: US bombing of Chinese embassy. I am extremely reluctant to blame on malciousness that which can credibly be blamed on incompetence. Also, remember that the Clinton administration was far warmer to China than most other recent US administrations.

July 13, 2005 @ 5:43 am | Comment

Simon’s right about the oil. What China calls ‘energy security’ is pretty ludicrous because buying equity in overseas oil firms will do little to provide security. I mean, if the price of oil goes up in one place then it goes up everywhere. There’s nothing China can do to escape the price fluctuations.

It wasn’t so long ago that we had the same situation with some Central Asian oil company, CNOOC wanted to buy it but Exxon just raised their bid, bought it. I don’t know the figures offhand but Chevron must be several times bigger than CNOOC, market capitalization-wise anyway, it’s not poor, put it like that.

There’s no need to nationalise Unical, as well as going against free trade etc, there’s only perhaps a worry that China might aquire some drilling or exploration technology that I don’t know about and put it to military use but I don’t think that’s a major risk. They likely stole that technology years ago…

Anyway, what China are doing now buying dodgy overseas aquisitions is nothing compared to Japan’s huge spending spree in the 80’s. These things tend to be transient.

Anyway, I agree with Simon’s last point about these deals bringing China more into the global game of nations so to speak and that’s always a good thing in my book.

July 13, 2005 @ 5:51 am | Comment


I’d be interested in your response to the post I just made on THM.

July 13, 2005 @ 6:09 am | Comment

I’ll pop over, I’m actually writing something on ‘blog-it’ now anyway.

July 13, 2005 @ 6:24 am | Comment

conrad, I don’t recall what the fellow’s position was (I probably shouldn’t even said “marine” because I really don’t remember – the only thing I remember with some certainty is the “security” part and I probably filled in that blank), and as you said, it could have easily been heresay on his part as well. But I thought it was interesting that I’d had someone repeat to me the same rumor as Gordon had heard.

July 13, 2005 @ 10:18 am | Comment

Lisa, I’m sure he did “security” as the Marines are responsible for providing US embassy security (along with a non-military security force) and a captain would normally head the detail at a significant post like Beijing.

July 14, 2005 @ 1:53 am | Comment

Several hundred years ago China had one of the most powerful navies in the world. It had ships with cargo holds so vast that you could fit an entire Napolionic era British gallion in to one with room to spare. Its navy sailed further than any navy at the time, or for a hundred years afterward. It collected tribute from across Asia and some believe that it even reached America and Australia. Then the government went into reclusion, ordered the navy to return home, and cut China off from the rest of the world.

In the following centuries every other world power eclipsed China. Europe and Japan sliced the country up and practically colonized the south and east costs of China, and the Chinese people stood still in time, all because the Chinese government sought to go it alone.

It looks like China is repeating its tactics.

July 15, 2005 @ 4:05 am | Comment

Martyn et al,

Although most Chinese want a healthy China, they tend to use that as an excuse for the CCP’s rule. They can’t do anything about their masters, so they try and get through life by pretending it’s ok really. Most are just living a lie. On the other hand a lot of my friends think the CCP is the problem and that things need to change big-time.

I get very annoyed when people start saying things like “China needs a STRONG government” or “Democracy won’t work in China”. When Jung Chang visited my old uni recently, and an Englishman said “oh my Chinese friend says democracy won’t work in China and she gets very annoyed when people suggest it should replace the CCP”, she paused looking confused for a moment. She then said, “what, you’re saying Chinese are too stupid to manage their own affairs?” The room burst into applause.

There is no reason China can’t become a proper democracy, because there has been a proud tradition of debate there – look at the philosophical teachings of Confucius, Mencius and all the other great scholars. Who was it that said “the emperor is a boat and the people the river”? A Chinese friend taught me that saying – that if the Chinese people want, they can sink the boat.

Also let’s look at the society of the 1980s. Zhao Ziyang was making China a far more open and liberal society – if he hadn’t been illegally removed in 1989, China would be much freer today. It can work because he made it work. The lesson is that it has to come from the top at the moment. That’s why the CCP is the problem. It could start China off down the road to democracy by a process of reform – but it won’t.

July 15, 2005 @ 6:31 am | Comment

Back on topic:

If you don’t believe that the CCP is manipulating the internet, head on over to the Chinadaily forums – supposedly the “freest” Chinese forum. Most of the topics focus on how Japan is still guilty for the war, America is imperialist and how the world is run by a Zionist conspiracy. Most of the posts about China that aren’t nationalistic or lavish praise on it are started by non-Chinese.

Also, the mods police the forums regularly deleting posts or attitudes. Someone has a go at you for Iraq – you want to say, “well what about China stopping the UNSC punishing Sudan over Darfur?” Or perhaps you want to talk about how China backs dictators world-wide and inflicts misery by proxy. The mods delete that. So they help create a world where THE WEST is evil and the cause of all the planet’s ills, but China is just a victim of negativity and would do America’s job so much better if people would just let it.

Also talking about mining accidents does the CCP good, because it can be seen as the “knight in shining armour”. Hu Jintao has made a massive thing about fighting corruption, even though most of it is caused by the CCP. Focus domestic problems that can be blamed on greedy companies, and Beijing can take the credit for “dealing” with the problem.

July 15, 2005 @ 6:40 am | Comment

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