Beta

Slashdot: News for Nerds

×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

China Lifts Bans On Social Media, Foreign ISPs In Free Trade Zone

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the how-magnanimous dept.

China 55

hackingbear writes "Beijing has made the landmark decision to lift a ban on internet access within the Shanghai Free-trade Zone to foreign websites considered politically sensitive by the Chinese government, including Facebook, Twitter and newspaper website The New York Times. The new free trade zone would also welcome bids from foreign telecommunications companies for licenses to provide internet services within the new special economic zone to compete with the state-owned China Mobile, China Telecom and China Unicom; the big three telcos didn't raise complaints as they knew it was a decision endorsed by top Chinese leaders including Premier Li Keqiang, who is keen to make the free-trade zone a key proving ground for significant financial and economic reforms, the sources added. The decision to lift the bans, for now, only applies to the Zone and not elsewhere in China. 'In order to welcome foreign companies to invest and to let foreigners live and work happily in the free-trade zone, we must think about how we can make them feel like at home. If they can't get onto Facebook or read The New York Times, they may naturally wonder how special the free-trade zone is compared with the rest of China,' said one of the government sources who declined to be named due to the highly sensitive nature of the matter."

cancel ×

55 comments

Good job, Beijing (1)

djupedal (584558) | about 10 months ago | (#44937865)

Keep it coming.

Re:Good job, Beijing (1)

networkBoy (774728) | about 10 months ago | (#44938049)

It's a start. And I am happy for it.

Re:Good job, Beijing (1)

idji (984038) | about 10 months ago | (#44939299)

The world's biggest honeypot!

Re:Good job, Beijing (1)

Redmancometh (2676319) | about 10 months ago | (#44940283)

This.

Re:Good job, Beijing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44943427)

Ditto. We have to give credit where it is due, I like the direction China is going in economically and politically. It's not where I want it to be obviously, but there is no good reason to append ten thousand caveats when the direction is positive, we should encourage more of the same. America on the other hand, although more free economically (not by a whole lot really) and much more free in terms of speech, is headed in the wrong direction.

Ask yourself: Forget what America and China are right now. Where do you want to live in 2050? China is becoming more libertarian and liberal (ffs note that I'm talking about angle or direction, not position) while America is apparently launching itself in the opposite direction.

Unless American dramatically revitalizes itself over the next few decades, its future does look kind of bleak to be honest.

Re:Good job, Beijing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44946679)

10$ says that they're trying out the software the took off of Snowden's laptop.

Are they taking notes? (3, Insightful)

wbr1 (2538558) | about 10 months ago | (#44937873)

Good ol' US of A has "Free Speech Zones" for certain things.

Re:Are they taking notes? (1)

mi (197448) | about 10 months ago | (#44938765)

And "Gun Free Zones" for some others.

Competition (-1, Troll)

cpicon92 (1157705) | about 10 months ago | (#44937879)

The US is looking worse and worse...

Re:Competition (1)

i kan reed (749298) | about 10 months ago | (#44937979)

Well, to be fair, the US you can visit any website you want. Unless it's gambling. Or "promotes terrorism". But you know, other than the things that are illegal, everything is legal!

Re:Competition (3, Insightful)

interval1066 (668936) | about 10 months ago | (#44938331)

I'll stain my knickers when the Gov. mows down citizens and students for not being "Politcally correct."

Re:Competition (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44943375)

Better get out the extra strength laundry detergent with bleach:

Ruby Ridge [wikipedia.org]

Waco Siege [wikipedia.org]

You can visit those too (1)

daninaustin (985354) | about 10 months ago | (#44938569)

I don't think there is any prohibition on gambling or terrorism sites. You can visit them, you just can't give them money.

Umm, landmark? (5, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#44937899)

Haven't 'free trade zones' always been about the relaxation of certain local restrictions in the interest of attracting commercial activity? And isn't turning a blind eye to the activity of economically useful foreigners (so long as they aren't too tacky about it, and don't start mouthing off about local politics) a downright venerable tradition?

If anything, this looks like another aspect of China's gradual evolution toward a 'repress smarter, not harder' theory of censorship, where they've gradually relaxed assorted easy-but-grating blanket bans as their technology and techniques have allowed them to get the results they want without as many (upsetting for the user) overt and visible exercises of state power. The most effective controls are the ones you never even notice.

Re:Umm, landmark? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | about 10 months ago | (#44938121)

It's not good, but it's still better.

Re:Umm, landmark? (2)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | about 10 months ago | (#44938861)

From the perspective of the convenience of foreign workers(who don't just VPN back to home office anyway) certainly. From the perspective of the state of the Chinese citizen on the internet, nuance might actually be worse:

Consider the analogy of price discrimination:

If you have to set a single price for a good that you are selling, you will be forced to lose customers on the low end(because they can't afford it), lose money on the high end(because they'd pay ten times as much; but don't have to) or suffer some other sub-optimal tradeoff between these two. If you have a price discrimination mechanism, and can charge different customers different amounts, this problem is reduced (poorer customers can be charged less, down to whatever the minimum profitable price is, wealthier ones can be charged more, until even they say the hell with it). In a hypothetical system of perfect price discrimination, everyone gets exactly the price they are willing to put up with, and your only challenge is discerning that price correctly in order to capture all the gains from trade.

Repression is in certain ways similar: because online repression involves breaking things, it's a nuisance whenever you run into it, so the ideal system of repression (analogous to the ideal system of price discrimination) applies only as much as is needed, where it is needed, to the people who need it, while leaving everyone else free to tweet and look at cat videos and things. Not censoring a free trade zone (where outside ideas are inevitably easy to come by, a substantial percentage of the population are foreigners there on business, and employed by businesses who value continued good relations with your customs and other officials..., or comparatively well off locals involved in business there) is a partial price discrimination strategy. Not perfect; but closer than a blanket level of repression. Why block social networks to people who are going to chat, not in Mandarin, to their friends and family who don't live in China? That just annoys them and doesn't improve your control at all. Why filter the internet access, like some penny-ante dictatorship, of people who can VPN back to HQ anyway? It just makes you look repressive without stopping them. Why lean on people who are just here to make money, and won't develop any stupid ideas about local politics, no matter who runs the show, so long as they are allowed to keep doing that?

Re:Umm, landmark? (1)

sc0rpi0n (63816) | about 10 months ago | (#44939561)

And if foreigners use a VPN to access information, you lose all snooping ability. If their connection is not blocked, they will most likely not bother to use a VPN, allowing you to get information on how often they chat with friends, watch cats on Youtube and visit sensitive websites.

Re:Umm, landmark? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44938325)

My thoughts exactly. This lets them give an illusion of progress in one small visible area, while keeping the same policies in place throughout the rest of the country.

in other words... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44938291)

no longer behind the great firewall, but still monitored and logged by the chinese government.

Such a landmark decision (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44938303)

Good job Slashdot, along with other news websites. You're helping the Chinese government make them look like less of disgusting assholes by treating such an obvious right (yes, it's a right and the only people who don't think it is are the aforementioned government) being allowed as benevolent and for the well being of the people of china. How about calling it what it is: An obvious decision that would be more accurately stated as common sense. But no, don't mind me. Keep helping the propaganda machine. I'm sure the people who live in china won't mind since a good portion of them are already thoroughly brainwashed into thinking that their government has their best interests at heart and is just a cuddly little teddy bear.

Re:Such a landmark decision (2)

Jeff Flanagan (2981883) | about 10 months ago | (#44938515)

If you actually cared, you wouldn't post as an AC, which makes you invisible to anyone hiding zero-rated comments (probably most people) unless mods find and up-rate you.

Re:Such a landmark decision (1)

dk20 (914954) | about 10 months ago | (#44942197)

He's now -1 and ignored by more people.

Re:Such a landmark decision (5, Interesting)

jbolden (176878) | about 10 months ago | (#44938599)

Life expectancy doubled 1949-1985
Food poverty fell from 270m in 1948 to 100m in 1985 to almost 0 today
Rural real standard of living per capita has been rising 6.7% per annum. In urban areas 5.5%
Clothing styles have changed as now everyone has adequate clothing for a generation and fashion drives consumer choice
Square feet of living area per person is up about 50% and the quality of housing is much higher
Education in the urban areas is readily available and in rural areas is now often readily available. As contrasted with a few generations ago where education was hard to get.

Why shouldn't the Chinese people think their government has their best interest at heart? They are seeing everyday evidence of their government working to make their lives better. As contrasted with the US where the government has pursued a stagnant wage policy for over a generation.

Re: Such a landmark decision (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44939477)

And we'll just skip over the "let 100 flowers blossom" of the cultural revolution...

Re:Such a landmark decision (1)

poity (465672) | about 10 months ago | (#44940197)

Funny thing is, on Solidot [solidot.org] , GP anon would be rated 5, and jbolden would be rated -1.
The common sentiment on Chinese social media would also corroborate those ratings.

A little comparing your own underbelly with other's best faces, plus some cultural ignorance, and you get comedy like this on both sides of the ocean.

Re:Such a landmark decision (1)

jbolden (176878) | about 10 months ago | (#44940287)

A little comparing your own underbelly with other's best faces, plus some cultural ignorance, and you get comedy like this on both sides of the ocean.

That may be true. I'll plead guilty to ignorance. But what do you think is a more fair description?

Re:Such a landmark decision (1)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | about 10 months ago | (#44940377)

>Why shouldn't the Chinese people think their government has their best interest at heart? They are seeing everyday evidence of their government working to make their lives better. As contrasted with the US where the government has pursued a stagnant wage policy for over a generation.

Because people still get poisoned and sometimes die when some food manufacturer puts adulterants in the product to save money. Just last week I found an article about how all kinds of meats that would be considered undesirable in the USA were being faked into being "beef". There's also the fact that the government is pretty darn corrupt at all levels and rule of law and property rights aren't respected. There's the fact that for the first time Communist Party leaders are becoming rich and their children are being simply given the spoils of wealth just by virtue of birth. Yes, some thing are better for sure, but you better believe that among educated and internet savvy people there that they know that things could also be a whole lot better. If you're rich, you can do almost anything you want. If you're ordinary, the rules that you may not like still apply to you.

Re:Such a landmark decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44942081)

Just last week i found an article about how a oil mining operation was built on a floodplain in the US. When the area flooded out thousands of gallons of oil went into the river. All countries have issues, China is no exception. Property rights seem fine, I own a home in Guilin and haven't had any issues.

Re:Such a landmark decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44945537)

Sorry but its not entirely clear if your talking about China or America.

Re:Exactly (1)

mynameiskhan (2689067) | about 10 months ago | (#44941735)

That is exactly what seems to be keeping China together. Capitalist economy but no Twitter. Deal is good.

Re:Such a landmark decision (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44939973)

So, on your last trip to China how did you find things? Were the people concerned or brainwashed?

Or are you like many people here who don't even own a passport?

It's a trap (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44938449)

If NSA can snarf the entire net, so can they

"Free" "Zone" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44938489)

The new free trade zone

Are these like the "Free Speech Zones" the Bush Administration had?

...

Ooooo, I'm gonna get it.

Listen Republican fanbois, you're gonna get a shit load of ammo to give it back to people like me in about 6 or so months. No, I don't mean the BS shit from Fox News, REAL ammo that'll make us Democrats (notice the capital 'D') go "Yeah and Bush signed the Patriot Act into Law! Take that you Government Monitoring Loving Gestapo Wannabes - HITLER LOVERS - and .. and ... and... Dick Cheney (something)! So there!"

....and ..

and...

Keep'in light guys.

There's nothing more annoying than talking to a fellow Liberal and have him go all apeshit Marxist on me and when I explain the failures of that system to them, I get called a "Conservative". Actually, I am a Conservative in many industrialized countries.

...

I'm not so far from you. Just hate the crony Capitalism and I have a different opinion on what will fix it. Robert Reich isn't such a bad guy - contrary to Fox News.

Gimme more shit guys - I'm not so smart - and the more info - real info like gimme DATA - I'll learn.

P.S. I USED to be a Libertarian. And being an a fan of economic history, I cannot see how their philosophy could work - it has never worked in the past - see 19th Century USA.

Took a trip to Shenzhen a few years back.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44938735)

I was over there on a business trip, and stayed at one of the top hotels in town. Not sure how they arranged it, but I was able to get to all the sites that I'm told are blocked by the "Great Firewall". Didn't have to bother opening a VPN tunnel back to my office.

This hotel was part of a famous multi-national chain. Not sure if a Chinese hotel in the same price range would have the same ability.

Re:Took a trip to Shenzhen a few years back.. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44939121)

As a foreigner you are only allowed to stay in certain hotels. Not sure if it has anything to do with allowing you unfettered internet access or to spy on everything you do while there. (maybe both) Just try to book a hotel that a normal Chinese person would stay in, you will find it almost impossible.

Re:Took a trip to Shenzhen a few years back.. (1)

Zontar The Mindless (9002) | about 10 months ago | (#44939627)

I've never been refused a stay at any Chinese hotel, but some obviously cater to foreigners, and some obviously do not.

Re:Took a trip to Shenzhen a few years back.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44944927)

Try any hotel from the Hanting Express chain. No foreigner admitted. Well of course, these are cheap motels, but the equivalent, somewhat upper level Motel 168 has no issues with laowais...

Re:Took a trip to Shenzhen a few years back.. (1)

gauauu (649169) | about 10 months ago | (#44939719)

As a foreigner you are only allowed to stay in certain hotels. Not sure if it has anything to do with allowing you unfettered internet access or to spy on everything you do while there. (maybe both) Just try to book a hotel that a normal Chinese person would stay in, you will find it almost impossible.

That was not my experience. I've stayed in nice hotels that cater to foreigners, and a number of crappy hotels (by American standards) that generally cater to locals. Neither was any more difficult to book (other than the language barrier at the small hotels that aren't used to foreigners). At any of the hotels, you just had to show your passport when you arrived. All the ones I stayed at (other than in Hong Kong) had sites blocked by the Great Firewall.

I will say that the nice hotels I stayed at were only in Beijing. I've stayed at cheaper ones in a number of other cities.

Re:Took a trip to Shenzhen a few years back.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44940203)

This is Factually Untrue.

On the multiple times I have been to China I have never been told where to stay, or had any other restrictions placed on me. In fact, I stay in the house I own in Guilin (Guangxi china) which i "purchased" several years ago (well yeah, the 99 year lease thing).

When I needed internet access i went to one of the many local internet Cafe's (really cheap). The only thing they ever asked was my age as they have restrictions on high-school kids to prevent them from spending too much time there.

As far as doing what a "normal chinese person" would do, lets see...

I've rented cars (with a driver) and taken the train train and traveled a fair bit there. Once or twice they tried to convince me not to buy "common" tickets (mostly because they thought i had money and could afford the higher end tickets). After a bit of back and forth they gave in. There is an airforce base in Guilin, and i have never tried to enter but i think it would be reasonable for them to block my access.

As for "spying" never noticed, and never checked in with anyone. Once i took a train from Guilin to Beijing (around 2,000 KM's). I went to the train station and bought tickets. I then got on the train without issue. Never had to submit any documentation, never asked for my passport, etc.

When i go there I do what the locals do. I go shopping in the same places they do, etc.

For the record, I travel on a Canadian passport and I am NOT Chinese.

Any other inaccuracies you want to post?

Re:Took a trip to Shenzhen a few years back.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44944311)

I've lived in china for a decade and there are hotels that are not permitted to host foreigners. There are also various clubs that will refuse to let you in, just because you're not chinese, they'll tell you foreigners aren't welcomed.

Re:Took a trip to Shenzhen a few years back.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44944665)

Wrong, asshole. I'm currently living in China for 4 years straight. Some hotels, even in big cities like Beijing, will refuse to serve foreigners. Some won't. Most netbars also require you to have your passport copied. You're just one of many dumb motherfuckers who comes here a few times and claims, "Oh, I know everything, let me tell you about it." Fuck you.

Re:Took a trip to Shenzhen a few years back.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44946303)

Such colourful language. Really proves your point to swear multiple times doesn't it. Know a good sign of maturity, swearing and carrying on in a public forum.

So tell me, is slashdot blocked in China or not? Many people post on here it is, while some say its not..

I've NEVER carried my passport to any cafe and never been refused service even though i went to a differnt one almost every day on one of my trips there.

I never claimed i know everything, that is a statement you made. I just said i've never been refused any service anywhere. Even when i purposely went to places foreigners would not normally go (reservoir outside Guilin for example).

Lastly, "refuse to serve foreigners" is not the same as not being allowed to stay. They may be the same, but the hotel may just not want them, you are unclear as to why.

Re:Took a trip to Shenzhen a few years back.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44946685)

Why are others stating the same view (they never had problems with hotels)?
Why get all excited and swear at me and not the rest of the posts?

On the train trip from Guilin to Beijing we met a nice young couple who was on vacation in Guilin and returning home. We asked for hotel recommendations in Beijing from them (locals sometimes have good info). I wouldn't think that Beijing natives would recommend a "tourist only" hotel to another Chinese and we had no issue with the hotel they recommended even though there was one chinese and the rest of the group were foreigners.

PS.

I've been to small villages where they have to walk to the well to get water as they don't have indoor plumbing or electricity. They are really poor areas and things one would assume China wouldn't want published and never had an issue.

Re:Took a trip to Shenzhen a few years back.. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44941307)

That is patently false. I've never had a problem moving around China or staying anywhere I wanted, except during unrest.

Re:Took a trip to Shenzhen a few years back.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44944601)

As a foreigner you are only allowed to stay in certain hotels.

hey benjfowler...sorry I mean anonymous coward, you need to press your case my friend, don't let these likely commie shills push you around.
I'm sure you have cellphone videos and such...show some backbone and defend your statements...

Re:Took a trip to Shenzhen a few years back.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44942979)

I too visited Guangzhou when it was part of the Shenzhen Special Economic Zone. For those that remember, it was an area of China where capitalism was allowed. Eventually those rules were applied to all of China.

Where I'm going with this is, one has to wonder if this Shanghai Free Trade Zone will follow a similar developmental arc. Whether it is a type of trial run for all of China, in other words.

If so, then this would be a significant step in China allowing freer access to information and the internet. I wouldn't get too excited as it is probably not the end of the Great Firewall of China. The Chinese are big on making small, careful steps and keeping control. And yet it is positive and movement in a forward direction.

kerning (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44938831)

China Unicorn. Does it fart rainbows?

Dangle the bait and find out who is biting (1)

Squidlips (1206004) | about 10 months ago | (#44940109)

This is just to facilitate spying. A great way to see who is visiting which sites.

Just in Shanghai last week (1)

Ralph Barbagallo (2881145) | about 10 months ago | (#44940341)

The Great Firewall seems inconsistent. Sometimes I was blocked on 3G from visiting Twitter, FB other times not. Wifi was spotty as well, but usually blocked. I used a VPN to access the Internet most of the time. But keeping the VPN up was tricky. Using the Internet in China was absolutely useless as a Westerner trying to get anything done. Such a weird place, they have a maglev train but you can't drink the water. #priorities

Great news! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44940347)

It is a positive step for China, which the other day was embarrassed by forcing that confession. In the long term, China's leaders know that they cannot forever surpress their dissidents. They've actually been pretty good about treating some of their dissidents lately.

Today's dissidents become tomorrow's politicians; brutal surpression can never be a long-term solution.

China is loosening its censorship apparatus. You can access some of its social media sites, if you're clever enough. I won't say any more about that, except that you should sign up. Hint: Android apps.

We only need a few more companies to (1)

Ralph Ostrander (2846785) | about 10 months ago | (#44941369)

Endorse communism then we can become communistic too, copornistic is not much different.

Good Job China! (1)

mynameiskhan (2689067) | about 10 months ago | (#44941691)

China simply proves that it is not as bad a Iran in blocking places where anyone can speak against it. While China gives freedom intentionally, Iran did it by error.

Well (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44941959)

That was unexpected.

Does not matter (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44942103)

I'm sure they prefer their own chinese version of facebook and twitter already.

China already allows some of this (2)

Balthisar (649688) | about 10 months ago | (#44942939)

A lot of big, western companies — like mine — already provide our own internet infrastructure and have access to the internet at large. All of our employees are free to read the New York Times, American version of Google, or have FaceBook accounts. And if we don't mind going through the company servers for stuff at home, the company VPN works everywhere in China.

The point of this move in the FA, though, is that China will license private ISP's to provide this service to anyone or company in the free trade zones. *This* would be of great convenience, and I wish I were in this zone. I use China Telecom now and have 50 Mbs fiber service. It's fast as hell and dirt cheap (by American standards), but my connection slows to a crawl as soon as I start routing all of my traffic through a single, private VPN pipe to Germany or California or Sweden.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...