Let’s build that firewall higher

This has to be a super-quickie. It seems one of Hu’s top priorities is beefing up the already formidable Great Firewall of China as he presses ahead with his tireless efforts at reform.

China will tighten controls on Internet blogs and webcasts in a response to new technologies that have allowed cyber citizens to avoid government censorship efforts, state press reported Tuesday. Following a call from President Hu Jintao in January to “purify” the Internet, the ruling Communist Party will introduce new regulations targeting blogs and webcasts, one of the nation’s chief censors was cited as saying.

“Advanced network technologies such as blogging and webcasting have been mounting new challenges to the government’s ability to supervise the Internet,” Press and Publication Administration head Long Xinmin said, according to Xinhua news agency.

Long said the government was in the middle of drafting the new regulations. No specific details of the new rules were reported, but Long said they would lead to “a more healthy and active Internet environment,” according to Xinhua.

The Chinese government, which has long maintained strict controls over traditional media, have this year ramped up a campaign to combat the rising influence of the Internet.

“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 in January as he called for the medium to be “purified.”

Aside from the new regulations, the central government also announced this month it would not allow any new Internet cafes to be registered this year. Experts say 30,000-40,000 Internet police are also employed to implement the country’s extensive Internet censorship system, known as the “Great Firewall of China.”

Media watchdog Reporters Without Borders labels China’s government an “enemy of the Internet.” It said last month that 52 people were languishing in Chinese jails for online activities deemed inappropriate by authorities.

Livejournal felt the axe descend a couple of weeks ago. Which blogging service is next? And someone explain to me the logic behind lifting the ban on blogspot and then imposing the same ban on Livejournal and wordpress? Who’s the man behind this curtain, and why is he pulling the strings so randomly?

The Discussion: 22 Comments

I’ve heard that Xanga recently got the cut, but I’m in no position to confirm it myself.

March 14, 2007 @ 12:01 pm | Comment

I have no idea if this is true or not, but I have been told China hates free blog hosting. Virtually all the companies it bans entirely are free. My blog is on Typepad and as far as I know, Typepad has never had a problem.

As for picking and choosing among the free sites, rumor has it that Fulan Gang goes from one to the other to avoid the blocks and the blocking chases FG. Any truth to this? It does sound sort of plausible.

March 14, 2007 @ 12:47 pm | Comment


If that were the case, the ban on Blogspot and Blog-City wouldn’t have been lifted.

As far as Typepad, you must have been one of the lucky ones because they’ve felt the wrath of the Chinese nanny.

China is currently developing their own “internet” system between universities and I imagine this will be extended to the rest of the country once it has been tested thoroughly. The US is doing the same; scary.

March 14, 2007 @ 2:15 pm | Comment

Gordon , Was this from your self or a “Republican” “Think” “Tank” Next question: When does Cheney” Bail to Dubail

March 14, 2007 @ 2:41 pm | Comment

My guess, blogspot is unblocked as a favor to Google for self-censoring Google.cn. Livejournal is blocked because it’s free and huge. WordPress.com is blocked because it’s free and has a lot of momentum and maybe also because the censors don’t know the difference between WordPress.com and WordPress.org. The other blogging platforms that are either blocked or free? I dunno. Somehow those that are blocked came to the censors attention whereas the others are below the radar or don’t have any sensitive material.

March 14, 2007 @ 5:13 pm | Comment

THM — the new system being developed is a technology testbed for high-speed and IPv6 networks. While presumably they’ll want to censor it themselves, the test networks in their current state haven’t got anything to do with the Great Firewall, so far as I know. Ditto the US efforts — look for “Internet2” on Google.

March 14, 2007 @ 5:13 pm | Comment

Thomas, I’m not even sure what your comment is supposed to mean.

March 15, 2007 @ 12:07 am | Comment

Yes, China goverment is an enemy of Internet, an enemy of freedom. i can’t agree with this any more.

March 15, 2007 @ 9:58 am | Comment

IPv6 already exists within many corporate intranets and that is what both China the US are doing right now, building IPv6 for academic and gov’t use. But whoever gets their network operating first and at current internet quality (IPv4) may have first dibs on controlling the central addressing system and therefore controls global addressing and access policy.

Right now the US controls 11 1/2 of the 13 master addressing servers. One is in Japan and another is leased out to France but resides in Florida.

China must not be allowed to win.

March 15, 2007 @ 2:10 pm | Comment

Don’t talk about the IPv6 or any other tech nonsense. this firewall is not about IPv6 or others sins brought by advanced technology, but about the political repression against internet freedom.

March 15, 2007 @ 4:42 pm | Comment

don’t mistake me for a CCP apologist, I’m simply following up on Brendan’s statement.

China’s biggest problem with web censorship is that its network is considerably dependent on the US as is most of the world’s. With its own network, it can control not just traffic but root level addressing, which is the heart and soul of the internet.

March 16, 2007 @ 12:12 am | Comment

“the development of socialist culture”? Oh, lord. I’m back in Los Angeles, which can’t hold a candle to China in terms of saturation advertising. I notice this every time I go to China but this time especially – you can’t escape advertising, it’s ubiquitous.

I mean, how does Hu say this stuff about socialist culture with a straight face?

March 16, 2007 @ 8:15 am | Comment


Maybe you just have a warped understanding of the word “socialist”. Socialism in its general form doesn’t stand in opposition to the existence of capitalism, or god forbid, advertising.

Numerous European ruling parties define themselves as proponents of socialist democracy, and none of them are opposed to the accumulation of capital, or bus-stop ads. Imagine that.

March 17, 2007 @ 6:22 am | Comment

By the way, just to respond to the issue that began this thread… I don’t really know if Beijing will achieve all of her aims, but I will say Beijing’s controls have lasted far longer, and remained far more production, than I thought they would initially.

To a certain degree, the firewall is counter-productive to Beijing’s goals; many Chinese trapped on the inside of the firewall are so cynical of official press that they have developed an equally warped, inaccurate view of the societies that lie outside of it.

Perhaps the way out is somewhere in the middle…

The West has centuries of established case law defining what’s considered defamatory speech towards individuals. If I alleged that Jeremiah was stealing from his work with the same cavalier attitude towards the truth that many have with Chinese government officials… I would be liable under Western law.

I think the same type of law can, and should, be extended towards discussion of government and governmental policies. Combine that with Beijing’s “true name” registration requirements… and perhaps you have the right solution for free and responsible speech.

Anyone should be free to say what they’d like, but should remain legally responsible for the validity and consequences of what they say.

All of this is meaningless without a healthy and transparent legal system, of course… which suggests a slow, step-ladder approach to Chinese reform. All focus should be on establishing an independent, legal system that applies the laws of the land fairly and consistently.

March 17, 2007 @ 6:41 am | Comment

Point taken, CCT, but only up to a point. I doubt Marx’s version would easily reconcile with television ads in taxis!

Besides, the Great Firewall demonstrates an insecurity on the part of the central government that I find hard to fathom. A lot of the blocking is arbitrary and seems pointless. For example: blogger, now unblocked. Vox (a pretty small blogging site) blocked. Why? Is it really a case of FLG hopping from host to host, or is it just fulfilling some quota or obscure dictum?

What worries me is the possibility that the blocks are arbitrary because the censorship system hasn’t been perfected yet.

Your citing defamation law opens up a whole other can of worms, but I’m at the office and too jet-lagged to respond. Maybe somebody more eloquent and awake than I can take a moment.

March 17, 2007 @ 7:36 am | Comment


“Besides, the Great Firewall demonstrates an insecurity on the part of the central government that I find hard to fathom.”

We can agree that the central government is more concerned on this issue than you personally are. Here’s where I disagree: the implications of the word “insecurity”.

For some reason, that’s become the primary prism with which many views Chinese government action. Anything that comes out of Beijing is motivated by fear, insecurity, hatred (see: discussion of Starbucks)… some base emotion.

Let me turn the question around for you, otherlisa. In the United States, is the government “afraid” of marijuana? Does the United States government implement affirmative action because it “fears” minorities, or because it “hates” whites? Is euthanasia illegal because the US government is intimidated by suicidal people?

March 17, 2007 @ 12:28 pm | Comment


Okay, one by one.

!. “Is the US government afraid of marijuana?”

I’d say, yes, somewhat. There is also a great deal of money invested in a spurious “drug war” that clouds honest debate considerably. Marijuana was easier to catch coming over the border (because it’s bulky), and every “catch” indicated “success” in the so-called “War.”

(I’m using quotes because I think the whole issue is b.s. and marijuana should be legalized).

2. Affirmative action…

CCT, what the hell are you smoking?! Affirmative action was a well-meaning attempt to address historical inequalities, bring diversity to the workforce and raise the economic/educational status of groups that had suffered from prejudice and lack of opportunity. You can argue about whether it’s effective or not, but how you can even remotely compare this to internet censorship stretches the boundaries of any kind of rational argument to the breaking point.

3. Euthanasia as evidence of fear of suicidal people…

WTF?! This makes so little sense I’m tempted not to respond at all. The debate about euthanasia focuses almost entirely on the terminally ill. There are all kinds of religious arguments (the Christian/Catholic prohibition on the taking of one’s own life), and the whole “slippery slope” debate – would the “right to die” be extended to people in psychic pain? Those with handicaps that are not necessarily life-threatening? And so on. I suppose you COULD argue that the government “fears” the consequences of such a law, but then why not argue that the government “fears” motorists driving without seatbelts? Or that it “fears” unregulated drug industries because of concerns about product safety? Or that it “fears” violent crime and passes laws against that?

In all of these cases, whether I agree with the US government or not (and in very many cases, I do not, especially with regards to actions taken in the past seven years), we are talking about laws that regulate actions and attempt to mitigate the consequences of actions. We are not talking about prohibitions on discussion and information.

The Chinese government fears free and honest debate and access to information on the internet, and so it attempts to censor and regulate it. We’re talking about information, not action. If the government has the support of the people and is not insecure, then what is there to fear from honest discussion? Or even less than honest discussion? Good arguments, good actions and competent decisions can generally stand up to such things.

I’m one of the people on this site who is generally considered “pro-China.” I recognize that the Central Government has a tremendous and complex job to do, and I realize that change doesn’t happen overnight (ask me about Beijing in 1979!) and that compromises are not only necessarily, they are inevitable. But some things are really difficult to defend, and CCT, by reflexively justifying every action taken by the government, attributing every criticism as racism or “not understanding China” and trying to turn things around into irrelevant “you guys do it too!” accusations that don’t even fit the matter under discussion, you’re not doing much to advance your case.

March 17, 2007 @ 1:32 pm | Comment

Lisa, why do you spend so much time addressing such an absurd argument as CCT’s. CCT can provide good comments and dreadful ones, and his latest falls into the latter category. This drawing of false parallels is perhaps the most pitiful and idiotic tactic our friends employ, as we all saw in the recent freedom fries comparison to the Forbidden City Starbucks controversy. There is no logic or thought behind CCT’s statement that the US government fears marijuana just like the CCP fears disharmony. There is no link between the two, and to argue about it is an exercise in slamming your own head against a wall. It marks a new low point for CCT, whose comments I was at times enjoying.

March 17, 2007 @ 3:22 pm | Comment

Ummm…because I’m jet-lagged and his comment was so wacky that it appealed to my own less than ordered level of consciousness, perhaps?

I’ll have a Starbucks and some freedom fries with that too!

Say, I’ve been posting about my recent visit – not TPD material, but have a look if you’re curious.

March 17, 2007 @ 3:40 pm | Comment

CCT, personally, I’ve never really understood your “Logic”. I am sure that you are an intelligent person in bad need of a de-programming. Which is, IMO, a common problem with “Talking” to Chinese people with intelligence. I certainly applaud you for attempting to express your ideas in a foreign tongue BUT I don’t advise you to continue with it.

March 17, 2007 @ 5:39 pm | Comment

To confirm, yes, xanga is down.

I find it odd that blogger only relatively recently became accessible just to witness both LJ and Xanga going down. I hear Myspace is also unavailable, although I graduated from high school long ago, and wouldn’t know anything about that.

March 18, 2007 @ 12:39 am | Comment

TBD, deprogramming CCT? LOL. He probably is the same one going by other handlers in some other places that I know. As much as sometimes I don’t like some of his left-leaning views or why he chose to defend “the great firewall” (a misused term that I hate), he is quite possible the smartest person here.

He seems to write better English than you, doesn’t he?

March 20, 2007 @ 12:41 pm | Comment

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