I ran into the same phenomenon during my Beijing trip. Western hand-wringing over the Great Firewall is sometimes met with indifference or indignance:
“I’ve met with local Internet entrepreneurs, bloggers, Westerners doing business here in the Chinese Internet sector, some diplomats, and some low-level bureaucrats. I’m struck by the degree of disconnect between what the international human rights and free speech community is intending to do, and the way the criticisms of Google, Microsoft and Yahoo! are perceived here on the ground. While the leading international free speech and human rights activists view corporate collaboration in Chinese censorship as part of a global problem which will have a major impact on the future of the internet and free speech worldwide, most people in China who are aware of the issue see the debate mainly in terms of whether or not Internet companies should engage in China. They also see it as part of a larger political agenda to demonize China, or as an effort by Americans to tell the Chinese how to run their country. (See the essay by Chinese blogger Michael Anti, himself no fan of censorship being victim of it himself: “The freedom of Chinese netizens is not up to the Americans.”)
0 thoughts on “Important post by Rebecca MacKinnon on Chinese net censorship”
Americans are good at preaching the wonders of their democracy and the joys of freedom, the benefits of capitalism and free enterprise, but we have this unrealistic expectation that other countries and cultures will simply duplicate the United State in order to achieve our “environment of perfection”. Bullocks. We have to learn that part of freedom is the freedom to interpret what is good about our country and what is not. What fits in another place, another time, and another people – and what things do not.
Whether we like it or not. It will all change in time in any case.
My sense, given the recent steps by the Indian government to block specific IPs, as well as site blockages in the Middle East, is that a cat-and-mouse game will emerge as blog owners seek a way to remain “readable.” Any foreign national affronted by holier-than-thou sentiments about free speech and freedom of expression can point to American hypocrisy on a number of fronts — net filters are common in the workplace, in the home, and indeed in public institutions from schools to libraries.
The issue is more complex than simply blocking a site, but extends to the actions taken against dissident or seditious postings. Jailing a contrarian or critical voice is the ultimate action against freedom of expression, not just making it inconvenient for a browser to see any specific site.
I predict no easy solution and an ongoing game of IP masking and aliasing.