Posted by: Third Tone Devil | 8 April 2010

New York Times on Chinese Internet censorship

A few days ago, Nicholas D. Kristof argued in The New York Times that while Chinese citizens are often “stand on the government’s side” when it comes to disputes with the West, Internet freedom is one issue where they do not. But today, another article in today’s paper says that the

consensus is that the government is rapidly getting better at its work.(…)

Major cities like Beijing — which last year advertised for 10,000 voluntary Internet monitors — are increasingly taking censorship into their own hands.

Pitted against this are those who argue that government chokeholds on the Internet cannot succeed. Bloggers like Mr. Zhang argue that growing restrictions on Internet speech only inflame ordinary users, and that bit by bit “people are pushing the wall back.”

Or at least trying. At a recent meeting of Chinese Internet leaders in the southern city of Shenzhen, Ding Jian, who heads the Internet company AsiaInfo, proposed that Shenzhen be made a censorship-free zone as an experiment to determine whether China can stomach the chaos of an unfettered Internet. Strangling free speech, one entrepreneur argued, is likely to strangle innovation as well.

The Internet portal NetEase published a report of the meeting. It was quickly deleted.

Another interesting bit is this: “According to one official newspaper editor …  propaganda authorities now calculate that confronted with a public controversy, local officials have a window of about two hours to block information and flood the Web with their own line before the reaction of citizens is beyond control.”

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