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December 01, 2007

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Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Is Web2.0 a wash for free speech in China?:

» The Benefits Of Web 2.0 In China -- Too Limited from China Law Blog
Rebecca McKinnon, who knows and understands China's internet better than just about any other Westerner, is out with a pretty comprehensive post on how Web 2.0 has not delivered the speech goods many predicted for it. Have to be intentionally vague her... [Read More]

Comments

Inst

Professor, the quality of your insight is exactly as one would imagine from your credentials. Beyond that, I have absolutely nothing to say.

mahathir_fan

I was extremely pissed off when those Tibetan protestors who hung a banner on the Great Wall was let off so easily.

Its a disgrace because if those protestors were Chinese citizens instead of Canadian citizens would they have been let off so easily? I think not.

I am also reminded of several Chinese citizens who were alledgedly mistreated by Malaysian law enforcement officers who sought major help NOT from the Chinese embassy in Malaysia but from the Malaysian Chinese Asssociation. It is in the constitution:

"Article 50. The People's Republic of China protects the legitimate rights and interests of Chinese nationals residing abroad and protects the lawful rights and interests of returned overseas Chinese and of the family members of Chinese nationals residing abroad."

Also, China as the world's largest democracy has to put its people on a pedestal. Treat foreigners as 2nd class, put harsher punishment on foreigners, but treat own citizens like gold, for it is stated:
"Article 2. All power in the People's Republic of China belongs to the people. "

michele ferrero

Dear Mrs MacKinnon,
I have lived in China for a number of years and I fully agreee with your analysis. Internet is as much a tool for new ideas as paper is for books: certainly not a tool which the powerful Chinese leadership cannot easily control.
Best regards
Michele Ferrero (currently in Israel)

mahathir_fan

"As long as China's urban elites continue to live well and enjoy their lives, will more than a few freethinkers and courageous souls like Zhai Minglei be bothered to challenge the status quo? . If I was a betting kind of person, my money would be on "no."

Lately I've given a few talks around town titled "Will the Chinese Communist Party Survive the Internet?" My answer - for the short and medium term at least - is "yes."

Western media pundits and many policymakers have a tendency to assume that the Internet will ultimately bring democracy to China."


Actually, I think China is already a Democracy. If it is Communist, then it must already be a democratic nation. Communism = Democracy. However, Cold War propaganda has disassociated that equation to mean quite the opposite. If you were brought up in America or a Western nation or a nation that embraces Western values like Hong Kong, then you must have been taught when you were young that Communism is the anti-thesis of Democracy.

But we don't have to look very far to read the thoughts of a political leader prior to the Cold War - Adolf Hitler. Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf (Chapter 2) that Communism was a Democratic system to make every one equal, thus it would fail:

"The Jewish doctrine of Marxism rejects the aristocratic principle of Nature and replaces the eternal privilege of power and strength by the mass of numbers and their dead weight. Thus it denies the value of personality in man, contests the significance of nationality and race, and thereby withdraws from humanity the premise of its existence and its culture. As a foundation of the universe, this doctrine would bring about the end of any order intellectually conceivable to man. And as, in this greatest of ail recognizable organisms, the result of an application of such a law could only be chaos, on earth it could only be destruction for the inhabitants of this planet."

So you see, Communism before the Cold War had always meant Democracy. It was cold war propaganda that turned it the other way round. When all the nations after WWII turned into Communist nations, they all harbored hopes to achieve Democracy. That's why they appended to their official names the words "Democratic". "The Democratic Republic of _____ ". "The People's Republic of _____".
That way, its own citizens for ages to come will always remember that their nations were founded on the principles of democracy.

Article 2 of China's constitution also implies that China is a democracy when it said, All Powers belong to the People.

So democracy is absolutely consistent with Communism. In fact, if a country is not democratic, then it isn't Communism.

I'm not politically active, so these are just based on what I read. When I read, I am cautious. People are always trying to influence others, so I always make sure that I read what the other guys have to say.

For example, when i read the Bible, or when my church pastor says one thing, I also read about what the Jews have to say on that same subject because I know jews don't believe with a lot of things that Christians believe in. So I try to open my ears to all sides.

Finally, yes, I think changes will happen. Right now, a lot of people are enjoying their lives. That itself is human rights and freedom.

I can live in the most free nation in the world, yet it is no use if I do not first have Financial Freedom. What is the use of giving me the right to purchase a lobster for dinner if I do not have the money to buy it?

The people are happy because they are enjoying Financial Freedom. It is no use to have political freedom if there is not yet first financial freedom. But soon inflation will set in. Cost of living will up. Their financial freedom will be eroded. They will start to borrow money and they will be enslaved by debt. Once they are enslaved by debt, they will no longer feel free. Then a slightest push will set them off.

So yeah, when the Chinese people become enslaved by debt, we will see changes. Make sure housing prices continue to rise, make credit cards easily accessible to its people, and build more casinos. Export more luxury brands to push inflation higher. With these their financial freedom shall be eroded, and they will fall back down from their utopia state of mind. When being enslaved by debt, they work just to pay off their bills, they will want other forms of freedom (like free press or free speech) to compensate for their diminished financial freedom.


Charles Edward Frith

All intelligent comments and yes its true that maturity is only ever earned not learned. Even Web 2.0 is not without its limitations and thus I'm left with a hypothetical discourse in my head should we ever meet. Keep up the good work.

Phil

Why doesn't someone start talking NOW, about boycotting the Beijing Olympics?

Alexander

I'm quite interested in your comments regarding the influence of mobile technologies on the evolution of Chinese society. You might be interested in an article by Paul James called 'Forms of Abstract Community.' It is a history of methods community building and maintenance through technological changes, from the Church through to newspapers and television. It is an older article, so it doesn't cover the Internet etc. but you might be interested in it all the same.

Rory MacKinnon

Actually Mahathir, China couldn't be called a democracy in any conventional Western sense. Its political leaders are not decided through general elections, but appointed at a Party conference which up until this year has been closed to all but Party officials.

Charles Liu

Well, the NPC deputies, who goes on to elect higher level of government, are elected by local Peopel's Congress deputies.

And local People's Congress are directly elected by the people, thru an open nomination and primary process similiar to what we call "sausage making" in ours.

That's indirect election. For example Beijing's district election please see Google search below.

amoiist

Web2.0 was expected to give more options for free speech to Chinese netizens. But we now know that it was wrong - we have been over optimistic to the status quo. Thanks to the CCP, more and more Web2.0 websites are blocked or to be blocked.

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