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July 20, 2006

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» Important post by Rebecca MacKinnon on Chinese net censorship from Churbuck.com
RConversation I ran into the same phenomenon during my Beijing trip. Western hand-wringing over the Great Firewall is sometimes met with indifference or indignance: Ive met with local Internet entrepreneurs, bloggers, Westerners doing bus... [Read More]

Comments

Loafer

Great analysis Rebecca. Chinese are very sensitive to any Western criticism about their country and the government. The Western media and human rights group, despite all their good intentions, often appear too patronizing to most average Chinese. Beyond the debate on principles, we do need to discuss what is our target audience and how to reach them effectively.

TECHNOLOGOS

While your blogpiece focused on China extremely revealing, comprehensively convincing on chinese concerns and mindsets brief on GOFA Bill in Senate I'd
exercise a devil advocate logic as
it's true global internet problem of corporate ethics which I've discussed in Technologos posts at Blogger.http://technologosinternet.blogspot.com/As Chinese regime and leadership still cling to Leninism as communist ideology, thus it's worth to remember Lenin famous
credo that 'capitalists will eager to sell you a rope on which we can hang them'.

I've posted on my Google Blogger comments enclosed with relevant title: TECHNOLOGOS ON GANG FOUR INTERNET RAT KING - HANG THEM HIGH!
TECHNOLOGOS ENDORSES LEADING HUMAN RIGHTS NGO ESTABLISHMENT EXPRESSED SUPPORT FOR DEBATED IN SENATE BILL the Global Online Freedom Act of 2006 initiated by Chairman Christopher H. Smith. At VITRUVIUS Technologos Videosphere you may view censored films - TECHNOLOGOS AS DIGITAL ARCHITECT AND VITRUVIUS AS DIGITAL FILMMAKER ADVOCATES A CREATIVE COMMONS PARADYGM VERSE PREDOMINANCE IN WEB BLOGOSPHERE VISUAL AND TEXTUAL MONITORING CONTROL AS CENSORSHIP TOOLS. AS TOTAL INFORMATION CONTROL IS IDEOLOGICAL DICTATORSHIP UNDER PRETEXT OF TOTAL WAR RISK INVITE A TOTALITARIAN BIG BROTHER CORPORATE MINDSET PRIVATISING WEB COMMONS WHILE CREATIVE COMMONS PARADYGM PREVENTS IT. TECHNOLOGOS PRINCIPALLY IS CONCERNED WITH ACTUAL AND POTENTIAL ACTS OF VISUAL CENSORSHIP ON PART OF OWNERS OF CINEMATIC SPACE DISTRIBUTORS AS VIOLATION OF FIFTH AMENDMEND OF THE CONSTITUTION AND INTELLECTUAL FREEDOMS GROUND ZERO POINT

http://www.xmail.net/technologos/aindex.html At VITRUVIUS Technologos Videosphere you may view recent problems with visual censorship of video posting newsreals on the problem of Middle East as 'WAR, TERROR AND PEACE' THEME along with ABSTRACT CINEMA arts videos publishing problems that relevant to the TECHNOLOGOS principal concerns with digital space censorship by providers as total war en par with total censorship eventually lead to establishing totalitarion new world order.


hpj

It's great you talk about this problem, Rebecca, but I think your description of how little the West understands China - particularly in the human rights issue - is still a major understatement.

Being a native Chinese and having lived in the West ever since I was teenager, I personally find almost *all* reports, critiques and appeals by the international human rights community so full of factual incompleteness and idealogical ignorance that they are simply insulting. When I read those reports, my anger over the idiocy of their authors is usually no less than my anger over the circumstances they complaint about. Now I am a person who really hates Nationalism, so I cannot even imagine how the average Chinese could ever accept those kinds of "help" from the West.

In my opinion, the international human rights community has been embarrassingly incompetent in their work regarding China, and there is no improvement in sight as they refuse to realize their incompetence. They stay unqualified for any effective work as long as they don't understand the view of the average Chinese - and more importantly, the reasoning behind that view. Sadly, the West - including the international human rights community - has such a low opinion about the modern Chinese ideology (or the alleged lack theirof) that they just don't bother to look at it. This Western superiority complex is a fundamental thing, and even someone as familiar with China as yourself, Rebecca, has apperantly not getting rid of it, if I may say so. Therefore I'm very pessimistic about a change of attitude by the general Western world. In the end I can just agree with Anti that the only way things would change in China is from the inside.

Rebecca M.

Thanks Loafer, great to have you back.

hpj your criticisms are taken on board. Westerners who really care about China all need to spend more time listening to the views of Chinese people. I'd love to find ways to try and foster better conversations and understandings.

Kaiser

Loafer, get in touch! Would love to catch up. Welcome back!

Rebecca, I wish you ran the circus. Admirably balanced post, as usual.

HPJ: I know how you feel, but as someone who bristles at the arrogance and has first-hand, agonizing experience with the demonization of China in the West, I think in taking Rebecca to task and lumping her in with the China-hating zealots, you're barking up the wrong tree.

R - Looking forward to taking a gander at the report you're working on.

mahathir_fan

"This Western superiority complex "

The Westerners are the ones that do not respect human rights and freedom. You can find this littered in the history of our colonization. Which Asian nation that was colonized by the West, say in the 20th century was granted freedom of the press, or fundamental human rights? When our country was colonized, our freedom of the press were non-existent. The West didn't grant us those things. On the contrary, anybody found printing anti British Empire articles were jailed. The court system was a mockery. When our independent fighters organized revolts, they were labeled terrorist. Many imprisoned without trials.

Asian leaders are generally not smart enough to learn how to stiffle fundamental human rights. They received those education from the West. For example, the system used by our "dictators" today, such as Dr. Mahathir in using the Internal Security Act to jail his opponents was a technique learnt from the British. In fact, that law was created by the British.

"British colonial Malaya introduced a set of Emergency Regulations in 1948 during the Malayan Emergency in response to a communist uprising. The regulations allowed the police to arrest anybody suspected of having acted or being likely to act in a way that would threaten security without evidence or warrant, hold them incommunicado for investigation and detaining them indefinitely without the detainee ever being charged with a crime or tried in a court of law."
Src:http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internal_Security_Act

See what I mean? The Chinese government learnt from the British how to detain people indefinitely.

And do you think Dr. Mahathir was smart enough to shut down newspapers that didn't print good articles? No, he is not smart enough. He too learnt that from the British colonial days when presses were shut down and reporters printing pro-independence articles were convicted by a mockery court and jailed.

The Western show of concern about Human rights in Asia, in particular nations that were formerly colonies is just a way of lessening their own personal guilt. It is a way of saying that we are treated badly both by them in the past and by our own elected leaders today and this proves that the astrocities committed by them during those colonial days were not motivated by any feelings of race superiority.

Michael

Always nice to see people from the west caring about China and trying to solve the problems here. Thanks for doing that Rebecca.

I am an army officer in mainland, a bit cynical and frustrated to things happening around me everyday. Ruled under totalitarianism for more than 2000 years, people in China have formed this pacifistic attitude to all the evil and unfairness as long as they don't fall on themselves---to protect themselves and their family. And it seems that most Chinese become cynical and dissappointed after the disillusion of communist dream. After 89 the government, eager to rebuild people's faith, take nationalism and racism as their tools. It is therefore easy to understand why most Chinese refuse to accept help from the west and see it as 'demonization of China' --- cynics don't believe in anything, and angry youths believe nothing but nationalism. I think when the bureaucrats say to Rebecca they want 'rule-by-law' they don't really mean that. No bureaucrats want law coz it only restricts them and shrinks their illegal wallet.

I do agree with loafer that westerners should do more in looking for people who are not that cynical and are willing to listern to you. In spite all of the frustration and dissapointment, I do believe there is still hope in this country as long as we keep challenging and fighting.


hpj

I was far from "taking Rebecca to task and lumping her in with the China-hating zealots". Instead, I was trying to underscore how subliminal the Western superiority complex exists within the mind of all Westerners (except those who have grown up in China, as many examples suggest) that even people who are emotionally well attached to the country - like Rebecca - cannot eradicate that instinct totally, though I do sincerly believe she and others are working very hard on it.

A common behavioral pattern by the Westerners who want to "help" the Chinese (or the Arabs, the Africans, the South Americans - you name it) is to say, "We have a solution to your problem, and it's simple: Be like us, do it like we do." Now be honest, how many of you do *not* constantly have those kind of thoughts?

Apart from the pervasive arrogance this way of thinking is nonchalantly demonstrating, a plain logical glance would quickly expose the elemental error in this kind of "solutions": A society cannot simply change one single aspect of its working mechanism. If one thing changes, other things will inevitably need to change, too. At the end of any thorough and objective analysis, it will (or at it should) turnout that systematical adaptation of social processes (which the justice system is principally based upon, btw) is almost never feasible, simply because there are always many factual factors involved which just cannot be changed - like climate, natural resources, population density, and most of all - history (unless you successfully re-write history for a whole nation, by which you would be falling in line with the very enemies you try to combat).

Therefore, it's my strong conviction that the West - and again, the international human rights community in particular - must overcome its "export reflex" and stop raising the knee-jerk questioning of "how (or less ignorantly, what) can this or that nation learn of us", instead ask themselves, "what's the best direction for those people to go within the given specifications". But then again, I don't see why the foreigners would be better equipped to answer that question than the people of the respective nation themselves.

mahathir_fan

A girl is ditched by her ex boyfriend when her ex started to date another girl. To get even, the girl that was dumped started dating another guy and on occasions when she meets her ex would boast about how well she is treated by her new boyfriend and point out to her ex what he is "missing".

This is the dynamics of the relationship between those Westerners who apparently seem to want to help China. They are really there to point out what the Chinese are "missing" out because we kicked them out.

"We have a solution to your problem, and it's simple: Be like us, do it like we do."

You are still giving them too much credit still. They do not believe in human rights. Case in point is Hong Kong.

Where were they when Hong Kong was colonized, and the people of Hong Kong had no self determination, and dissenters were deported to China? Why didn't they encourage an independence movement in Hong Kong(like the ones they regularly do in Tibet) against British rule in Hong Kong or promote freedom of the press and printing of anti British government articles in Hong Kong during that period?

They want to sign off the story as the "good" guys. Noticed how the British showed that they "cared" about democracy in Hong Kong - only when they were about to relinquish power. 5 years or so before they were due to get out of Hong Kong, they finally set up a legislative body composed of Hong kongers. They want Hong Kongers to remember them as the people who brought them democracy, and erase the past 95 years of dictatorship. After the handover of Hong Kong, they continue to criticize the new ruler only to show the people of Hong Kong how they were better under them.

The same pattern is true in many other nations in Asia. They only want to show that they were the better rulers because we kicked them out.
It is like the girl who was dumped by her ex, telling her ex later what he is "missing" out.


Loafer

Three points I'd like to make after reading the comments:

1. The fact that the Western governments inhibited or are still inhibiting democracy and human rights does not disqualify Western media and individuals from criticizing China. What the British government did to Hong Kong was wrong. What the Bush government did at Quantanamo Bay was wrong. What the Chinese government is doing... Oh well.

2. I think we ought to focus less on analyzing media's intentions, but rather on the likely results of their deeds. Few individuals or organizations do things out of pure desire to help. Most people's motivations are complex. Did Mao start the revolution to save China or to fan his ego? Did Hemingway write to voice the frustrations of a generation or to achieve personal fame? Of course the Western media have their agendas and superiority complexes. But if they shut up, who will be there to tell the stories that can't be told in China?

3. As to "leave things to the Chinese to figure out", I think in today's globalized world, that's a bit simplistic. McD and MTV are changing China, just as China is fueling the growth of WalMarts in the US. Globalization means not only the free movement of goods, but also that of ideas. If Western consumer culture is ok in China, then why not other Western cultures/ideas? If we Chinese would like to spread Confucian values all over the world, then why keep the Western values out of the door? Mind you, Chinese intellectuals since the May 4th movement have already embraced the West, to different degrees, but somehow that didn't lead very far...

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