Archive for the ‘freedom’ Category

China says Internet crackdown to be “long-lasting”

January 23, 2009

If you thought even for a second that China might relax Internet restrictions and move closer to free media and free press, forget about it!

During the same week that China censored President Barack Obama’s inaugural speech, the government said its Internet crackdown would be a long one….

China has closed down 1,250 Web sites in its latest crackdown for what it calls ” online pornography”….



BEIJING (Reuters) – China sought Friday to portray its Internet crackdown as a campaign to protect youth from filth and nothing to do with stifling political dissent, with an official promising long-lasting action against “vulgarity.”

China has already detained 41 people as part of the crackdown, but the government’s move was in reality no different from laws in the United States and Europe which also aim to keep children from harmful sites, said Liu Zhengrong, deputy director of the State Council Information Office’s Internet Bureau.

“The purpose of this campaign is very clear,” he told a small group of invited reporters. “It’s aimed at creating a healthy Internet environment for all young people and making the Internet in China safer and more reliable.”


Above: China closely monitors the habits of its 300 million Internet users.  Over 40 people have been detained for disseminating porn on the Internet, and over 3 million “items of online information” have been deleted.

The Internet crackdown has been described by analysts as another step in the Communist Party‘s battle to stifle dissent in a year of sensitive anniversaries, including the 20th anniversary of the crackdown on the pro-democracy Tiananmen Square protests.

“The Internet remains where the battle for information lies and the fact that the government is devoting so much effort at reining it in, in itself indicates how much of a threat they perceive it to be,” said Nicholas Bequelin of Human Rights Watch.

China polices the Internet intensely, quickly removing any content deemed subversive or overly critical of the Party.

The government has closed over 1,200 websites, including a popular blog site, but with an estimated 3,000 new sites appearing daily, the battle to maintain control of the online world is never-ending.


We fully realize that the crackdown on vulgar websites will be long-lasting, complicated and difficult,” said Liu. “We will not abandon efforts to clean up the Internet environment under any circumstances.”

China reeled last year with postings and photos of young Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi cavorting on a beach in the Caribbean with her fiancé.

One of the websites closed in the campaign, which began this month, was, a popular site for Chinese bloggers. Some of the bloggers it hosted had been signatories of Charter 08, a manifesto released in December that called for greater civil freedoms and elections in China.

But Li Jiaming, director of the China Internet Illegal Information Reporting Center, said the government did not have a political motive.

The crackdown had “achieved clear results,” with more than 3.3 million pornographic or vulgar items already identified and deleted, Liu said.

Internet pornography and vulgar content seriously threaten the mental and physical health of youth and threaten to damage the healthy development of the Internet in China,” Liu said, adding that more than 35 percent of web surfers in China were under 19.

“I can tell you very candidly, our work does not have anything to do with political content. People are extremely supportive of this campaign.”

China had looked at similar Internet laws in other countries, including in the United States and Britain, and found common ground, he added.

“We discovered a common goal of all these governments is to ensure that Internet users feel safe when they go online.”

(Additional reporting by Lucy Hornby; Editing by Nick Macfie and David Fox)

Tiananmen Square in 1989.

 China Extends War on Free Speech Hidden by Fight Against Porn into Cell Phones
Chinese censor parts of Obama speech dealing with dissent, communism
 China has close to 300 million Internet users
 Internet: Do You Really Believe China Cares About Porn, Public Morality?

China has close to 300 million Internet users

January 13, 2009

China’s online population, already the world’s largest, rose to 298 million by the end of 2008, almost the same as the entire population of the United States, an industry survey said Tuesday.

The figure is up 41.9 percent from a year ago and is still growing fast, the government-linked China Internet Network Information Centre (CNNIC) said in a report published on its website.

Users in the countryside surged by 60.8 percent year-on-year to 84.6 million, compared with much more modest growth of 35.6 percent in the urban areas, the report said.


The CNNIC report said 117.6 million people accessed the Internet using their mobile phones last year, up 133 percent from 2007.

China, with 633.8 million mobile phone users, last week issued long-awaited licences for third-generation (3G) mobile phones, which enable faster data transmission and services such as wide-area wireless calls and web surfing.

“With the coming of the 3G era, wireless Internet will have exponential growth,” the CNNIC said in a statement accompanying the release of its report.

China’s fast-growing online population has made the Internet a forum for its citizens to express their opinions in a way rarely seen in the traditional, strictly government-controlled media.

It has stirred up Beijing’s fears about potential social unrest, with the government stepping up control of the web in recent years by introducing measures such as requiring bloggers to disclose their real names.

Internet Limits on Sex, Porn Used to Mask Limits on Freedom, Human Rights?

Read the rest:

China TV Accused of Brainwashing Public

January 12, 2009

Chinese intellectuals have signed an open letter calling for a boycott of state television news programmes.

The letter says China’s Central Television (CCTV) has turned its news and historical drama series into propaganda to brainwash its audience.

The author of the damning letter told the BBC that the action should at least serve as a health warning to the susceptible public.


Woman looks at TV screens on Chinese street

Critics say state news puts a positive spin on domestic stories

The authorities have been alarmed by the latest development.

They tend to accuse the Western media of biased coverage of China.

But this open letter accuses CCTV of systematic bias in its news coverage.


The letter – signed by more than 20 academics and lawyers – lists six broad categories of bias and brainwashing.

It says the state TV monopoly has ignored many stories of social unrest and riots, and whitewashed serious events like the recent milk contamination scandal.

The letter’s author, Ling Cangzhou, told the BBC that its signatories were fed up with the positive spin on domestic news from the central TV station and the negative tone on international events.

Read the rest:

China Arresting Reformers, Tries to Silent Dissent

January 12, 2009

Chinese lawyers, dissidents and academics who signed a document calling for political reform are being harassed by the authorities.

By Michael Bristow

BBC News, Beijing

Signatories to the Charter 08 document have been detained, questioned by the police and put under pressure at work.

The charter calls for a radical overhaul of China’s political system by introducing elections, a new constitution and an independent judiciary.

Despite 30 years of economic reforms, China’s political system has hardly changed in that time.

And the authorities’ reaction to this latest call for reform suggests the country’s leaders still have no appetite for political reforms.

House arrest

Charter 08 was published last month on the 60th anniversary of the promulgation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Read the rest:

Internet: Do You Really Believe China Cares About Porn, Public Morality?

January 11, 2009

Xinhua news agency, the offical news organization of Communist China, says the government has shut down 91 Internet providers for pornagraphic distribution since last Thursday.

China’s Ministry of Public Security and six other government agencies launched the drive against sites that post or link to content that “harms public morality” and corrupts the nation’s youth, Xinhua said.

In a secular society with very little religious or Christian tradition similar to those known in the West, does this explanation make sense?

Probably not.

Consider also that the China Daily web site, managed by Xinhua and the same Communist government, has a special section for images of Chinese lingerie models.

For one thing, the internet is abuzz with postings and photos of young Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi cavorting on a beach in the Caribbean with her fiancé.

China’s doesn’t care much if people enjoy porn or pictures of naked people; but China does care if the Chinese people are allowed completely unregulated and free access to the entire Internet.

China fears that pro-democracy and anti-communists teachings can be available through an uncensored system.

Even as the Olympics began in Beijing last summer, after months of guarantees that all visitors would have full access to the Internet, hundreds of sites were blocked by the paranoid government of China.

Porn is not the problem in China.  The problem faced by China’s government is freedom.

China’s Internet regulations are not about public morality; but they could be about hiding government immorality, corruption and human rights abuses….

Internet Limits on Sex, Porn Used to Mask Limits on Freedom, Human Rights?
China widens “vulgar” online crackdown
Google, Baidu Other Internet Companies Apologize to China To Regain Business
China Arresting Reformers, Tries to Silent Dissent

China TV Accused of Brainwashing Public

Internet Limits on Sex, Porn Used to Mask Limits on Freedom, Human Rights?

January 10, 2009

The government of China has recently launched a major crackdown on Internet sites and search engines that it does not condone.

China says it “decided to launch a nationwide campaign to clean up a vulgar current on the Internet and named and exposed a large number of violating public morality and harming the physical and mental health of youth and young people.”

But China has, in the past, revoked the rights of  Internet providers to serve the public in China, or has restricted content, for politicial reasons often seen as a violation of free speech.

Internet: Do You Really Believe China Cares About Porn, Public Morality?

Activists say China and Vietnam, in particular, hide corruption, human rights abuses and pro-democracy information from the public — using anti-porn as a justification.  These actvisits say the government actions are blatant censorship and violations of free speech.

In the recent crackdown in China, Google, MSN, Baidu and dozens of search engines and providers were forced to delete content and apologize to the Chinese government.


The action comes in a year of social turmoil due to the economy, mass migration of the unemployed, fear of economic unrest and several anniversaries that may spark unrest within China.

This is the 20th year since the bloody crackdown on pro-democracy protests in Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Analysts see this year as a potential trouble point for China’s Communist government.

But Rebecca MacKinnon, co-founder of Global Voices, an assistant professor of journalism at Hong Kong University, a former CNN correspondent and an observer of China and the Internet, recently discussed with CNN the move by Beijing.  She believes the Internet trend in China is part of a larger global move….

By John E. Carey
Wakefield Chapel, Virginia

Tiananmen Square in 1989.

Read the CNN report:

China widens “vulgar” online crackdown
Google, Baidu Other Internet Companies Apologize to China To Regain Business


The Associated Press reported on January 9, 2009:

China on Friday expanded its Internet cleanup campaign, which had ostensibly been aimed at cracking down on pornography, to shut down a blog-hosting site popular with activists, The site’s founder, Luo Yonghao, said he was notified by the Beijing Communications Administration that the site “contained harmful comments on current affairs and therefore will be closed.”


Tim Johnson of the McClatchy Newspapers reported on this on January 9, 2009:

For one thing, the internet is abuzz with postings and photos of young Chinese actress Zhang Ziyi cavorting on a beach in the Caribbean with her fiancé. (Sorry, I’ll offer no links, just the photo you see of her here.) China Daily this morning calls the hubbub over the photos “an instant online carnival of voyeurism.”

Zhang, who was in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, was voted China’s most beautiful actress last month.

Read the rest:

Chinese Boy Toy Edison Chen


Psst: People, as noted by China and Vietnam, waste a lot of time on the Internet:
China: Porn King Almost Got The Best Of Barack Obama


Other nations have also taken actions against a totally free Internet recently.  The Associated Press reported on December 27, 2008:

A proposed Internet filter dubbed the “Great Aussie Firewall” is promising to make Australia one of the strictest Internet regulators among democratic countries.

Consumers, civil-rights activists, engineers, Internet providers and politicians from opposition parties are among the critics of a mandatory Internet filter that would block at least 1,300 Web sites prohibited by the government — mostly child pornography, excessive violence, instructions in crime or drug use and advocacy of terrorism.

Hundreds protested in state capitals earlier this month.

“This is obviously censorship,” said Justin Pearson Smith, 29, organizer of protests in Melbourne and an officer of one of a dozen Facebook groups against the filter.

Read the rest:
 Australia Moves to Censor Internet


Vietnam has for a long time tried to rein in the Internet and bloggers.  On December 24, The Associated Press reported:

Vietnam has approved new regulations banning bloggers from discussing subjects the government deems sensitive or inappropriate and requiring them to limit their writings to personal issues.

The rules ban any posts that undermine national security, incite violence or crime, disclose state secrets, or include inaccurate information that could damage the reputation of individuals and organizations, according to a copy of the regulations obtained Wednesday by The Associated Press.

Read the rest:
Vietnam imposes new blogging restrictions

 Vietnam: Editors of Leading Anti-Corruption Newspapers Removed
 Media Censorship, Criminalization of Free Press In Vietnam Needs Action

South Korean Arrested, Used Internet to Criticize Government

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China’s milk scandal is a political temblor

January 5, 2009

China’s milk scandal horrifies the public and undermines the authority of a one-party system with a hand in everything.
Selling contaminated baby formula is a heinous enough crime to shock a nation, but China’s leaders know they have a dangerously destabilizing political crisis on their hands.

The Seattle Times

The scandal goes to the heart of a covenant between any authoritarian regime and those who surrender freedom. They cede power with the belief, however wishful, they will be better off. Those in power promise to protect them from all manner of hazards, foreign and domestic.

The unraveling of China’s milk scandal has horrified the country. Last week, the chairwoman of a diary company pleaded guilty to producing and selling fake or substandard products. Milk products contaminated with an additive that produces kidney stones has killed six babies and sickened another 300,000.

Company officials knew milk products adulterated with melamine were making infants ill months before the scandal broke in September.

China’s one-party system has opened the economy, but the ties between commerce and government are closely held. Any indictment by public opinion goes to the heart of the legitimacy of power in Beijing.

Chinese authorities cannot maintain the illusion of control with broad failures to deliver. The killer earthquake in May near Chengdu, in Sichuan Provence, stirred outrage on two fronts. Authorities were sharply criticized for not getting emergency supplies to people. A second wave of anger came over grossly inadequate building standards, especially for schools that became death traps.

The milk scandal and trial is a variation on the theme of credibility and competence. As described by reporter Barbara Demick, in The Los Angeles Times:

“The case is turning into a showdown between the Chinese government’s opaque legal system and a consumer culture that increasingly clamors for information and accountability.”

The Chinese are turning to Web sites and texting to vent their frustrations and try to stay updated.

China’s problems compound. The milk scandal is already complicating international trade, with the discovery of contaminated products. Foreign governments, with their own constituencies, talk aloud about their ability to rely on Chinese authorities and inspectors.

The milk scandal is a grievous personal tragedy and a deep political temblor.

China: Free Speech, Poisoned Food, Dead Children

Bush Terribly Unpopular Now, But History May Still “Vindicate” Him

December 23, 2008

The argument for his eventual vindication is stronger than many might expect.

On foreign policy, Bush emphasizes that he pursued a “freedom agenda” and spread freedom to Iraq. While the Iraqi future is far from clear, it is possible that the country becomes a democracy and a reliable ally of the U.S. If that transformation is completed, then it could well be viewed as a turning point in the war on terror.

On the home front, to virtually everyone’s surprise, we’ve avoided a terrorist attack since Sept. 11.

Hard to Argue

So it is hard to argue that Bush’s policies were a failure. The unpopular war may have trashed his party, but it didn’t have the same effect on the country.

Turning to the economy, the pro-Bush argument becomes more of a stretch. First, his accomplishments were few. He passed a relatively small tax cut and was unable to hold the line on government spending.

By Kevin Hassett

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Petition Urges China to Free Dissident

December 23, 2008

More than 160 prominent writers, scholars and human rights advocates outside mainland China have signed an open letter to President Hu Jintao asking him to release a well-known intellectual and dissident who was detained earlier this month. The letter was posted on the Internet on Tuesday.

The letter to Mr. Hu indicates that the case of the intellectual, Liu Xiaobo, is quickly turning into the latest human rights cause célèbre in China and could further embarrass the Communist Party at a time when Chinese leaders are celebrating the 30th anniversary of its policy of “reform and opening up.”

By Edward Wong
The New York times

Among the writers signing the letter are three Nobel laureates in literature — the South African novelist Nadine Gordimer, the Irish poet Seamus Heaney and Wole Soyinka, the Nigerian novelist — as well as other writers who regularly champion freedom of expression, including the Italian novelist Umberto Eco and Salman Rushdie.

Just as notable is the fact that an array of foreign China scholars also signed the petition, possibly risking their access to the country. Academics specializing in Chinese studies are often cautious about taking stands on political issues deemed sensitive by the Communist Party because the Chinese government has a track record of denying visas to people who publicly oppose the party’s views. Some of the scholars who signed the petition are already on the Chinese government’s blacklist, while others still have regular access to the country.

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