« links for 2007-12-01 | Main | Global Voices Seeks Executive Director: Are you the one? »

December 01, 2007



A great post!

I run several "2.0" services targeted towards mainland Chinese and I agree with your opinions. They care about iPods, not politics.

They are used to sites being shut down and users seldom really does anything about. "Oh well, that's to bad" then they Baidu for the alternative.

Challenging the NetNanny will not do anything to "fight" censorship. It's the Chinese themselves who must change first.

Sometime they'll get bored with iPods. We all know that money is only fun for so long, but that's not going to happen any time soon.


It's oddly refreshing that I find myself not the only stranger in this strange land, asking questions and wondering why so many Chinese themselves can maintain their passivity.
I teach at, admittedly, a low quality university, which says it all by Chinese standards and I will say definitively that my students are underprepared, and blissfully kept so, for doing anything that this posting suggests is in the interests of the nation.
The educational system rewards the studious and complacent, certainly not the inquisitive and analytical. My students tell me that one of the purposes of their higher education is that they should improve themselves to make a better society. They are, however, still waiting for their teachers to tell them exactly what that is. They insist that they have free speech already, and democracy for that matter. As one young woman put it without any expression of irony: "We can say anything in our dormitories after dark."


Great article, as usual, Rebecca.

I'm sure you've seen it, but if not, the Christian Science Monitor just published an article by Nick Young on closure of his non-profit by Chinese officials. Slightly different sphere, same problem:


Fay Wang

Dear Professor MacKinnon:
As your 2006 HKU student from Shanghai China, I came back to mainland two months ago. What I found is my two blogs in uniblog using in your class have been blocked, I don’t know why. Ironically, my friends abroad could see my blog but I could not log on. So, I desperately wanted to find another home for my daily blogging. But first of all, I should find proxy servers to get around the blockages, so I could move my previous blog posts to the new home.

So I spent about two days to get the knowledge of proxies and move my posters. I have asked so many of my brilliant friends for help, actually, I could answer your question from your July 1,2005 blog post:< Questions for Chinese bloggers> from my personal perspective view : not as many as Chinese people use proxies as western people thought to be. Although many people know how to use it, and right now, we have some free-download browsers could get around the blockages, and some free web proxy even allows you to surf the web without revealing any personal information.

The reasons why they don’t use it? Many. But I could tell your people tends to be more realistic, I spent one year and all my five-year savings to study in HK, while my friends and classmates spent that savings buying stocks and cars and giving birth……But different from past, we’ve got web, so none of my friends watch TV receiving propaganda news coverage which is always in bureaucratic tone, even my former colleagues in the state-owned TV station; we got information from the web, we watch video in Youtube; we like to read some aggressive comments scolding or exposing some dark sides of our government, but most of them would not pay great efforts to get some information if it is forbidden to read or blocked.

Right now, people care about the rising price of meat and oil which have made the living cost much higher than American citizens’ comparatively; people want to know how to earn more money by buying stocks or houses in a relatively short period of time, although buying stocks is like gambling in Shanghai.

Yes, we complain why Shanghai citizens should pay 7% income on transportation while other country citizens only pay 5% of it; we complain why the price of car license plates in Shanghai jumped to a new high, as high as 50,000 RMB. But we will not protest, will not shout aloud, we just work hard to find more money….But it is unfair to blame Chinese people’s behavior: “Fifty-two percent of Americans say the economy and health care are most important to them in choosing a president, compared with 34% who cite terrorism and social and moral issues,” from WSJ 4th-Dec story-.
Finally, about the free speech, I was persuaded not to take a printing media job earning 4000 yuan per month to realize so-called my dream of becoming a journalism doing real journalism in such a society, people told me to find a more lucrative job. But right now, I was consoled by the fact that at least I could do blogging, although one of my blog post in myspace commemorating my uncle just died of cancer can ‘t be posted because of one word - “culture revolution”, I just changed the Chinese characters into Alphabet “ Ping Ying” to “wen hua da ge ming”, and it works. In fear of my blog being closed again, I opened three blogs for myself right now, just like the old Chinese old saying: A wily rabbit has three burrows. (狡兔三窟).

Last but not least, I love your class, dear professor MacKinnon.


Those who quote the China constitution and insist that China is democratic have either never been to China or they have been to China, talked to Chinese but didn't listen.

There is nothing democratic that is government linked and exists in China. It's a closed system club that rules by oligarchic and autocratic reactionary methods.

Gaz Hayes

"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."

Democracy is when you can vote them out, you idiot. Voting for someone ONCE in high school with no knowledge of what you are actually doing, and having 0 effect on the current leadership at any level whatsoever is NOT democracy and it does not give ANY power to the people. I think you need to take a walk in the real real China instead of being an armchair politician.

Charles Liu

Gaz, "at any level whatsoever"?

The many impeachments on multiple levels not covered by our media should prove you wrong.

- Numerous villiage level impeachments:


- Impeachment of People's Congress representative at provincial level:


- Impeachment of People's Congress representative at district level:


Here's a 2005 OpEd titled "Who Will Impeach RenDa Rep?":


It's IMHO a balanced commentary on the drawn out political process of impeachment no unlike our own.


"Democracy is when you can vote them out, you idiot. "

No, Democracy is when the nation belongs to the people.

Who owns China?
The people. Just look at its name : The PEOPLE's Republic of China.

Who owns China's military?
The people. Again, look at its name. The PEOPLE's Liberation Army.

And need more legal evidence of ownership? No problem. Article 2 of the constitution: All Powers belong to the People.

In China, you don't vote for the President because the President does not subordinate to the People. Instead, the President is a subordinate of the National People's Congress. The National People's Congress then reports to the People. Therefore the People decides who gets into the NPC, while the NPC decides who would best fit to be President.

If the President of China does not perform his job to satisfaction, the NPC can recall the President at any time. The NPC keeps in check the powers of the President.


no matter how loud you cry out your slogan, it won't make wrongs become rights;

and that's not funny.


Rebecca - good post. I have traveled China a lot in the past 15 years. It is getting worse, much worse. The people putting posts up about here about their so called democracy are PRC Govt trolls. No one knows when a so called election occurs. When an election does occur, the load up the buses at the factory and bring people to vote. They tell them whom to vote for. Often there is only one candidate. 5 years ago - the people accidentally voted in the wrong guy - the Govt canceled the results an placed in their puppet, oops... comrade... um... troll? (much better !)

On another note - have you noticed the extremely well written propaganda now in the western hotels in Shanghai? You never see this material in other less well known regions.. even if they are western hotels. Shanghai - the city I adore, has turned into a Disney land for westerners by the PRC. Nothing is real anymore.

By the way - those who travel to China - start looking upwards. Security camera's everywhere, residential area's, rich neighborhoods, poor neighborhoods, everywhere.

The Govt no longer needs a large number of internal spies - High Tech has saved the day.

Here is a closing thought... China is the Republican's wet dream! What they espouse to want - is what China is.
No Child Left Behind Act – check.
No Social Benefits (SS, Medicaid, Medicare, etc.) – check
Total Govt. control of all communications – check.
Only the enlightened are allowed to lead – check.
Illegal to criticize the Govt. – check.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo

Global Voices

  • Global Voices Online - The world is talking. Are you listening?

  • Donate to Global Voices - Help us spread the word
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 10/2004


My book:

Consent of the Networked
Coming January 31st, 2012, from Basic Books. To pre-order click here.
AddThis Feed Button