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Google in China - The Big Disconnect

Zonk posted more than 8 years ago | from the quite-a-disconnect dept.

148

wile_e_wonka writes "The NY Times (registration required) has an article about Google's history in China (beginning way before this whole censorship thing). The article, among other things, talks about of Google's head of operations in China, and his goals for the company there. From the article: 'Lee can sound almost evangelical when he talks about the liberating power of technology. The Internet, he says, will level the playing field for China's enormous rural underclass; once the country's small villages are connected, he says, students thousands of miles from Shanghai or Beijing will be able to access online course materials from M.I.T. or Harvard and fully educate themselves.'"

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liberated (4, Insightful)

joe 155 (937621) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164808)

I like the way he talks about the liberating power of technology... so long as you don't want to discuss anything that the government doesn't agree with... or want to find out what happened in Tianamen square, or if you want to have unrestricted access to other webpages. But appart from that it does makes people completely free, free as a (caged) bird

Re:liberated (1)

jrieth50 (846378) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164827)

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...

Re:liberated (0, Flamebait)

rovingeyes (575063) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164948)

I like the way he talks about the liberating power of technology... so long as you don't want to discuss anything that the government doesn't agree with... or want to find out what happened in Tianamen square, or if you want to have unrestricted access to other webpages. But appart from that it does makes people completely free, free as a (caged) bird
Ok now let me change two words in your argument:

"I like the way he talks about the liberating power of technology... so long as you don't want to discuss anything that the government doesn't agree with... or want to find out what happened in Iraq, or if you want to have unrestricted access to other webpages. But appart from that it does makes people completely free, free as a (caged) bird"

Now tell me, are we talking about China or good 'ol USA?

Re:liberated (1)

colganc (581174) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164993)

Where is the US government blocking search results about Iraq that are unfavorable to it?

Re:liberated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165201)

Where is the US government blocking search results about Iraq that are unfavorable to it?

Here :-) [whitehouse.gov]

The Horror! (1)

yintercept (517362) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165478)

Where is the US government blocking search results about Iraq that are unfavorable to it? ... link to robots.txt
I can't believe it! A government web site is using directives in robots.txt to indicate what they want scanned by webcrawlers and what they don't!

I think you have uncovered a big conspiracy here. Looking at the robots.txt file, It appears that what BUSH and CHENEY have conspired to do is to disallow search engine from indexing of the text only versions of the pages on the site!!!!

By disallowing the text only pages, search engines will end up indexing only the propagandist versions of pages that include pictures! I did not know that the corruption in the whitehouse has gone this far. If only Kerry were president, then there would be no disallowing of duplicate content in robots.txt. People would be free, when searching in Google, to see both the content with pictures in it, and content without pictures in it!

Re:The Horror! (1)

CogDissident (951207) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165806)

Actually, they also block a few google videos of "unseemly" acts that our soldiers have done in iraq. Stuff like soldiers swearing at and belittling the iraquis, and shooting a car's gas tank because they're bored.

Re:liberated (1)

aengblom (123492) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165004)

How is the U.S. government censoring the information you're want about Iraq? Oh, wait, it isn't. The U.S. is not perfect, but don't throw away perspective because of it.

correct! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165320)

They didn't censor it, they lied, which is a totally different thing.

Re:liberated (2, Informative)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165448)

How is the U.S. government censoring the information you're want about Iraq? Oh, wait, it isn't. The U.S. is not perfect, but don't throw away perspective because of it.

While maybe not about Iraq, the US government is currently involved in the largest, most far reaching classification nightmare since Nixon. Aside from having made up dozens if not hundreds of new sensitive but unclassified [fas.org] classifications of documents that exempt millions of documents from the FOIA despite their unclassified status, the government was recently caught re-classifying some 55,000 historical documents [nytimes.com] out of the National Archive for no apparent reason other than to cover up historical embarassment on the part of the government.

Classification and secrets in this country are on par with several countries that we criticize for this very thing. The wind is slowly being taken out of the sails of the FOIA, and our right to know as citizens is being whittled away at an unbelievably alarming rate.

This is the most secret administration in the history of the US. Not only have they classified millions of new documents at a cost of billions to the taxpayer that normally would have been declassified in the past (1950s budget information for the CIA, for instance) but the secret re-classification of tens of thousands of documents that have been public for years is a scary, scary precident.

Take the words of the Memorandum of Understanding issued in regards to the now uncovered secret reclassification of documents from the national archive: "It is in the interests of both the CIA and the National Archives and Records Administration to avoid the kind of public notice and researcher complaints that may arise from removing from the open shelves for extended periods of time records that had been public available."

The GP was hardly out of perspective.

Re:liberated (2, Funny)

krewemaynard (665044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166176)

paranoia, cha cha cha

Re:liberated (1)

IAmTheDave (746256) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166251)

paranoia, cha cha cha

You must be one of those "if you have nothing to hide" people.

Re:liberated (1)

Ubergrendle (531719) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165005)

It is not illegal to read about the iraq occupation, write or particpate in commentary about it, or to be politically active in opposing the war. There are some military secrets that are illegal to divulge or share, but even in those circumstances there are constitutional protections -- a legal defense, trial by jury, limitations upon potential punishment.

None of these exist in China. Closed door 'trials', inhumane punishment or execution, and essentially a government whose agents act as thought police. Its shameful we in the west trade with them, and have built up such economic dependency upon their market and resources.

What happened in Iraq? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165024)

We already know the "truth" about Iraq...the anti-Bush liberal media has already informed us how bad Iraq is. Never mind our troops coming back telling us that things are improving and not really bad.
Your hatred of the good ol' USA and love of the brutal Chinese regime sickens me.

Re:What happened in Iraq? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165469)

telling us that things are improving

Phonecalls from the middle east:
Hi mom, I finally got issued some body armor, things are looking up!
Hi mom, the Iraqis finally quit greeting us with open arms and explosive belts, things are looking up!
Hi mom, we've run out of unarmored trucks so now everyone gets to ride in the armored trucks, things are looking up!
Hi mom, the Iraqis are killing each other now instead of killing us, things are looking up!
Hi mom, can you put in a classified ad for used body armor, the government won't pay for the set I had to buy myself, things are...

"I'm not giving them hell. I'm giving them the truth and the Republicans think it's hell."

So things are "improving", you say? Does that mean you're saying that after these few years, Bush and friends finally have their act together?

Insightful??!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165036)

Changing Tianamen Square to Iraq doesn't make this comment insightful.
In fact, it only underscores how repressive China really is and how free the US is compared to them.

Unless you want to point out where the US government is restricting you from discussing Iraq? Yeah I didn't think so.

Re:Insightful??!! (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165392)

Yeah, that's exactly the problem, "you don't think so".

There are stuff that don't get coverage in the media. Video tapes confiscated by the US army from reporters. News that is forbidden to be released in the press. And you call that freedom of the press?

And besides, the American people are happy in allowing their country to do the things that happened in Iraq. Nobody's trying to stop their government. That's why you can talk all you want. If you are really planning to overthrow the US government (and is becoming a serious threat), you can bet you'll have FBI agents looking for you in no time.

Disclaimer: IANAA (I am not an American)

Re:liberated (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165296)

The straw man argument again?

There are significant discrepancies between Tienamman Square and Iraq, especially in that context.

Tienamman Square involved the killing of nonviolent protestors against the government, by their own government. I am no expert on the matter, but it is my belief that their claims of corruption in the government (amongst other things) had at least a significant portion of truth to them. This is only reinforced by what a social taboo Tienamman square has become in China, as well as the state sponsored restriction of information on the topic.

The matter of Iraq is a reactionary military invasion and subsequent occupation of a hostile state. We had every justification to take military military action against them from the moment they refused to honor their obligation to prove they lacked WMD's.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_Nations_action s_regarding_Iraq [wikipedia.org] [On January 16, 2003 U.N. inspectors discovered 11 empty 122 mm chemical warheads ? components not previously declared by Iraq. Iraq dismissed the warheads as old weapons that had been packed away and forgotten. After performing tests on the warheads, U.N. inspectors believe that they were new. While the warheads are evidence of an Iraqi weapons program, they may not amount to a "smoking gun", according to U.S. officials, unless some sort of chemical agent is also detected. U.N. inspectors believe there to still be large quantities of weapons materials that are still unaccounted for. U.N. inspectors also searched the homes of several Iraqi scientists.]

That, and the major fact that you CAN find information about Iraq, you can raise criticisms against the US government, and you can even get together and protest the invasion of Iraq without worrying about getting squished by a tank! http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/d/d8/Tian asquare.jpg [wikimedia.org]

If in China you try and say that the government needs some reforms, you can be put in jail. And what you say has no sanctity at all - it has no protection under law, but rather is prosecuted.

Think about that. Your post, if reversed so that you said it in China, about Tienamman Square, could land you in JAIL.

And while the fact that some pretty unaccpetable things have been done by our government, they are generally not allowed to propogate, and are rarely sanctioned by law. While this wire-tapping and PATRIOT act nonsense has some strong criticisms against it, I think that the fact that you are so willing and able to criticize your own country disproves your own argument.

Re:liberated (2, Insightful)

jheath314 (916607) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165877)

I'll agree with your main point that the comparison of the United States to China is unfair. Make no mistake; Bush has taken us quite a few steps down that path, but we still have a long way to go before we reach the ugly state of dictatorship confronting the Chinese.

At the risk of going totally OT, I want to pick a fight over this minor point in your post:

The matter of Iraq is a reactionary military invasion and subsequent occupation of a hostile state. We had every justification to take military military action against them from the moment they refused to honor their obligation to prove they lacked WMD's.

Prove to me that you aren't hiding the holy grail somewhere on your property. No, throwing open your doors to my inspectors and digging up your yard won't be good enough... give me *proof* that you didn't hide it in some devious place my inspectors haven't thought of yet.

As you can imagine, proving a negative is somewhat difficult. Given the short window between when inspectors were allowed back into Iraq and the time the US invaded, it would have been impossible for a country as large as Iraq to furnish such proof, even if they had wished to comply in good faith. I was actually pretty surprised by the extent the Iraqis cooperated with the inspections just before the invasion... few countries would tolerate such violations of sovereignty, whether they were hiding something or not. Could you imagine the United States bending over and letting inspectors from other countries in to its most sensitive military bases?

Too bad for Bush and the neo-cons that no WMD were found. Maybe next time they'll let facts guide policy, instead of wishful thinking.

Re:liberated (1)

krewemaynard (665044) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166219)

What concentration camps?

--Love, Hitler


WMDs are easier to hide than camps. Doesn't mean they were never there. For that matter, we found the camps, and some people still don't believe it [wikipedia.org] .

Re:liberated (1, Insightful)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166179)

Sigh. I'm not saying your argument is wrong, but I would like to add a few points.

It is true that in the USA, you won't get put into jail for protesting the war in Iraq. It is true that you won't even get put into jail for calling the President to step down.

HOWEVER.

Protests in the USA mean nothing. People protest against the war in Iraq? So what? Bush gets re-elected, and boasts proudly how the war has helped the world. In the USA, protests has become a means for citizens to vent their anger and to put them under the impression that they have "done something" for their cause -- but just look at what effect that has.

The "protests" that happened in Tienanmen back then was much, much, more serious than what you normally have in mind for a "protest".

I am not old enough to remember what happened in 1989. I live in Hong Kong, and my parents told me that scary things happened even that Hong Kong wasn't part of the PRC back then. There were riots in Hong Kong, home made bombs scattered around. I couldn't imagine what was happening in the mainland back then -- but I'm pretty sure the situation was worse. (a sidenote: the British colonial govt imposed a curfew in Hong Kong back then, so it's not something funny)

From my personal understanding, the students who protested back then took the protest seriously. They really thought the protests "meant something". They really were asking for change. They really believed in their cause. They demanded change, they demanded action, and they demanded to see it. And a substantial part of the rest of the country sympathized with and supported them. And at that time if there were any people who really believe in the ideologies and all that stuff and pursued the ideology with courage and vigor it was these student protestors.

The unfortunate thing was that the reality in China was far from ideal. Yes, I have no doubts whatsoever that the claims of corruption were substantially true. I have no doubts that corruption is a major problem in China till this day (and nobody is denying that. Former Premier Chu (among other top leaders) has spoken about his determination to fight corruption many times before).

So, what you have is a group of determined students who demanded nothing short of immediate change and action, and the unfortunate reality that the problems were so serious and deeply rooted that nothing short of a revolution at the national scale would solve them*. If the protesters were Americans, they'd have sat there for an afternoon or so and returned home thinking "tough luck we didn't get the message through". But no, the protesters stayed. For days. For weeks. And the situation grew tense. And at one point the government realized it's either another revolution in the national scale (read "devastating") unless they did something about it. And the "tank man" is the perfect illustration that nothing less than what was done would suffice.

It's a sad story. I'm not saying that stomping out your own citizens with tanks is "justified", but there really was no other alternative. In China, revolutions are not glorious. They are seen to be (and rightly so) bloody, endless wars, and cause major disasters to society. If a revolution was really to happen, millions of people would have been killed.

Since that event, everybody learnt a lesson. I'm not sure what the lesson was exactly, but I'm sure as hell that extreme cautions were made to avoid the same thing from happening again. And people from outside encouraging something similar to happen again definitely doesn't help.

*: and believe me, a revolution doesn't always help. A look at Chinese history reveals that. And Chinese are "experts" in revolutions... just take a quick glance at Chinese history if you don't know what I mean. The American revolutions are child's play compared with the scale of revolutions that happened in China.

Re:liberated (1)

gfxguy (98788) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165306)

Well, I know you're not talking about U.S.A., since here's your inane post for everyone to see.

Now let's see if people in China can read a blog that contains the phrase "Tiananmen Square".

I love the people in the U.S. writing on blogs and saying whatever ridiculous things they want to say without any problems and without anyone telling them they can't, complaining about censorship. It's just too stupid.

Re:liberated (3, Funny)

Tackhead (54550) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165012)

> I like the way he talks about the liberating power of technology... so long as you don't want to discuss anything that the government doesn't agree with... or want to find out what happened in Tianamen square, or if you want to have unrestricted access to other webpages. But apart from that it does makes people completely free, free as a (caged) bird

Well sure, but liberation.google.com is still just at the invite-only beta stage.

The Sing a Long Song (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165102)

Me chinese. Me play joke. Me give inter to our folk.

That's right boys and girls. Half the internet for half the fun. Try searching for "AI robotics" in goo on the MIT website and get the schematic for a toaster.

Re:liberated (2, Interesting)

liangzai (837960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165112)

Well, I am reading this from China... please enlighten me, what exactly happened in Tiananmen Square (and didn't it in fact happen outside the square)? Is that 1989 pro-democracy movement that ended in a massacre (still outside the square)?

Since I am in China, there is no fucking way I can read your reply (according to your theory).

And since I am in China, I also can't discuss this issue with you here, also according to your theory.

The only thing that is certain is that I can't discuss this in Chinese here. But that is because of the incompetence of Slashdot, which doesn't allow for it.

Re:liberated (1)

king-manic (409855) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165243)

The rally started as a government approved anti-corruption rally. But during the rally it changed into a pro democracy rally. The rally was brutally stopped and the party members involved with approving it were punished.

Re:liberated (1)

Dis*abstraction (967890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166236)

"Liangzai's" point, if I may be so bold, is that there's nothing in your post that every Chinese citizen doesn't already know. In fact, most people in China (particularly among the urban middle class) probably know more about the Tiananmen Square protests of '89 than the average American knows about Kent State in '70.

It's a mystery why we in the West feel a need to impute ignorance on China's citizens. If only they knew how things worked in the West, they'd cast off their chains of oppression! They'd build a government structured on Western principles of freedom, political equality, and justice! While China is certainly heading towards the recognition of individual rights and liberties, including Western notions such as privacy, it's not because our values are "superior" in any objective third-party sense; rather, China's finding these values appropriate for themselves, by themselves, and they're a good mesh with cultural traditions that are thousands of years older than our own.

Re:liberated (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165310)

Are you saying that your government is ineffectual at censorship?

You may or may not be correct, but that is neither Slashdot's fault nor a reason not to seek to repair the corruption that is censorship, and its defenders.

Re:liberated (1)

liangzai (837960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165441)

"My" government is effectual at censorship. It regularly spoofs DNS requests to kiddie porn sites, and it has also shut down a political party's web site. But then again, "my" government isn't Chinese.

Re:liberated (1)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165504)

Your statements appears to equate censorship of the Tianamen Square massacre to attacking kiddie porn sites.

Is a fair characterization of your position?

Re:liberated (2, Insightful)

Dis*abstraction (967890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166114)

Can't speak for "liangzai," but the article tries to convey the idea that Western cultural norms, and specifically our worshipful deference to free speech, aren't universal by any means. Even here in the West, there are limits to freedom of speech--kiddie porn, as has been mentioned, but also things like Holocaust denial and neo-Nazi speech are censored in many parts of what we'd call the "free world." Ultimately the justification is that these policies promote a certain way of thinking, and stigmatize the repugnant; is it so inconceivable to you that Chinese culture might draw the line elsewhere?

This isn't to apologize for the government's repression of Tibetans, or its habit of haphazard and arbitrary detentions (which are growing less haphazard and arbitrary), or any of the rest of it. No government is perfect; the difference, perhaps, is that China's citizens feel theirs is improving, while I'm not so sure you could say the same about ours (I'm American).

Re:liberated (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165330)

Well, I am reading this from China... please enlighten me, what exactly happened in Tiananmen Square (and didn't it in fact happen outside the square)? Is that 1989 pro-democracy movement that ended in a massacre (still outside the square)?

Since I am in China, there is no fucking way I can read your reply (according to your theory).

And since I am in China, I also can't discuss this issue with you here, also according to your theory.

The only thing that is certain is that I can't discuss this in Chinese here. But that is because of the incompetence of Slashdot, which doesn't allow for it.


Woo, China sounds so awesome. Why don't you point us to some popular webpages based inside China that discuss in depth the 1989 massacre (and it's exact location, of course) Better yet, why don't you start one!

Oh, I see you do have a webpage, one that links to a pdf file of a paper that has a section mentioning dissidents and hacktivism. How subversive. The only thing that's certain is that I can't read it because it's not in english. That must only be because of its author's incompetence.

Re:liberated (1)

rtaylor (70602) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165245)

so long as you don't want to discuss anything that the government doesn't agree with.

How is this all that different from Western Countries? All countries have taboo topics that people from other cultures cannot figure out. These restrictions might be new to the Internet but other media (Radio, TV, etc.) have long been regulated and forcibly filtered by Western Governments.

RTFA. You missed a major point.- risk taking. (2, Insightful)

Tungbo (183321) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165557)

The author started his journey fixated on an 'absolutist' stance on freedom of speech, much as you are demonstrating. In the course of developing the article, he came to see that there ARE gradations in such freedom and that insisting on jummping instantly to an imagined 'pure' state may not be that productive.
It's so easy to look pious rather than make the hard choices as Google did.

The most exciting behavior that I read in the article is the exploding level
of voluntary participation, expression, and personal choice to take more risk.
It is NOT the technologies themselves, but the behavior and perception changes
that they enable that will make the biggest difference.

Re:liberated (1)

Yvanhoe (564877) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165711)

Block politics if you want, porn if you can recognize it, history as you want to rewrite it.
Still.
Learn science, learn to believe in facts, not ideology. Learn to observe to gather facts. Learn psychology, learn how slogans, ideas are forced into one mind.
Those who still ignore they belong in a democracy will be quick to see it?

Google's Tagline (1)

filesiteguy (695431) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164819)

I've heard through sources that Google's webpage opens with, "A Great Leap Forward."

They thought about, "Smile, you're happy," but then figured it would offend too many and the pigeon rank system would get messed up.

Re:Google's Tagline (1)

hsmith (818216) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164952)

I wonder if google plans to starve 40 million people with their great leap forward.

How the Internet will REALLY be used in China (3, Funny)

skitheboat (901329) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164831)

All lofty stuff in the article about getting "fully educated"... but in reality (as seen in the US and other places), I can envision one billion Chinese reading Slashdot, gambling online, surfing for porn, and watching paint dry [watching-paint-dry.com]

Re:How the Internet will REALLY be used in China (1, Offtopic)

kaufmanmoore (930593) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164838)

Asian porn, best in the world.

Re:How the Internet will REALLY be used in China (1)

Guppy06 (410832) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165357)

"I can envision one billion Chinese reading Slashdot, gambling online, surfing for porn,"

Except that the Beloved Party has made most of those illegal in China, and heavily frowns upon the rest.

The only killer app for the internet in China is to say you're keeping up with the Joneses.

As long as they stay away from Yahoo (1)

eln (21727) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164852)

Otherwise the Internet could just become a way for the Chinese authorities to nab groups that used to be too spread out to effectively contain.

Oh really? (1)

voice_of_all_reason (926702) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164867)

Just like every other technological leap since the hand axe has made people fre--oh wait...

Yeah that's what'll happen. (5, Insightful)

merlin_jim (302773) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164871)

students thousands of miles from Shanghai or Beijing will be able to access online course materials from M.I.T. or Harvard and fully educate themselves.'

Cause, you know, just look at the US - Internet access for the past 10 years has turned the current crop of high schoolers into a bunch of geniuses, all just itching to discover antigravity or write a new sociopolitical theory that eliminates inflation and market swings...

lol of course on the other hand my little brother of 14 is writing better games than I was at 18...

Re:Yeah that's what'll happen. (1)

orzetto (545509) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165388)

Cause, you know, just look at the US - Internet access for the past 10 years has turned the current crop of high schoolers into a bunch of geniuses, all just itching to discover antigravity or write a new sociopolitical theory that eliminates inflation and market swings...

I think the difference is that US students already had access to colleges and universities. The Internet did not improve their study options because they were already pretty good. Chinese villagers of some godforsaken valley, on the other hand, have much less choice.

Re:Yeah that's what'll happen. (1)

merlin_jim (302773) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165437)

Sure - and with the right incentives and educational programs they could certainly be better educated with internet access and without.

But it takes more than just running a wire to someone's home...

Forgot Something (1)

Khammurabi (962376) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164881)

The Internet, he says, will level the playing field for China's enormous rural underclass; once the country's small villages are connected, he says, students thousands of miles from Shanghai or Beijing will be able to access online course materials from M.I.T. or Harvard and fully educate themselves.
He then added, "And then Yahoo will promptly turn over the names of the offending individuals for sentencing."

Getting around Chinas Firewall (3, Insightful)

bigwavejas (678602) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164900)

Unfortunately I think a lot of what's seen in China is going to be censored, even if there are ways to get around their firewall (http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/4496163.s tm [bbc.co.uk] ). I think most people aren't technically savvy enough or too lazy to bother searching for ways to beat the system, but there are those who will (even if its just a handful) and one can only hope the information will disseminate to the average person in China.

Re:Getting around Chinas Firewall (2, Insightful)

Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164973)

I think most people aren't technically savvy enough or too lazy to bother searching for ways to beat the system

You're dead on here. I've read articles on the BBC about how many Chinese people actually support censorship. They, not the government, put pressure on local newcasts to only report "happy news". Many Chinese people view the restrictions as helpful in weeding out unwelcome "foreign influence".

While it might come as a big surprise to Slashdotters, I suspect that the majority of Chinese people know that they are being censored and they really don't care. They are more interested in buying apartments to live in and saving up for more consumer goods than worrying about whether or not they can search for anything under the sun. I also suspect that most Chinese people would be very surprised to learn that many in the west view them as living under a repressive government. I have no doubt that the majority of Chinese people would not make such an assessment themselves.

Re:Getting around Chinas Firewall (1)

maelstrom (638) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165493)

Right you suspect because there are no Chinese who can/would speak out against their government without harsh retaliation. You are probably right that large numbers of Chinese are okay with how they are living, if it was otherwise there would probably be more uprisings. However, there were more than 70,000 uprisings in the rural areas last year. How often do you read about those on the BBC? Why?

Re:Getting around Chinas Firewall (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165595)

Because that is simply not true.

Okay, I don't have any authoritative source to back my claims, but I dare you to show me any solid evidence of your claims.

And you guys wonder why the stuff is censored.

Re:Getting around Chinas Firewall (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165619)

> And you guys wonder why the stuff is censored.

And if you're still wondering why, I should add: It's just a "-1: Not True" mod.

Re:Getting around Chinas Firewall (1)

liangzai (837960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165800)

Dunno what you are referring to here, but the figure 70,000 is public information from the gong'anbu.

Re:Getting around Chinas Firewall (1)

liangzai (837960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165780)

You don't read about them on the BBC because they happen so frequently that they have become boring. And they aren't about big issues like democracy, but about local corruption. Some of them are reported in Chinese media, but even the Chinese can't take an interest in that many incidents. It is just part of life in a country aching of growth and rising inequalities.

educate the peons (2, Funny)

dajobi (915753) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164901)

"students thousands of miles from Shanghai or Beijing will be able to access online course materials from M.I.T. or Harvard and fully educate themselves."
Do MIT and Harvard distribute course materials in Chinese now?

MIT Does (1)

everphilski (877346) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164941)

MIT does OpenCourseWare [mit.edu] . Not sure about Harvard

lost in translation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165126)

If I translate to Chinese with google translate does it get censored?

Re:educate the peons (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165339)

The guy in the article misspelled "re-educate"

Re:educate the peons (1)

Urusai (865560) | more than 8 years ago | (#15166068)

More to the point, do they need Google when people can just type "http://ch.harvard.edu" or some such?

Educating themselves online (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15164915)

Just like they do in the US of A!

Hm, let's see... (4, Insightful)

greenguy (162630) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164926)

students thousands of miles from Shanghai or Beijing will be able to access online course materials from M.I.T. or Harvard and fully educate themselves

That sounds great... until you think it through. Besides connected villages, this would also requires students who have...

  1. Advanced English, including technical vocabulary.
  2. A high-school education. A *good* high-school education.
  3. Reliable power and Internet connections.
  4. Consistent and extensive access to a computer hooked up to the net. A printer might be nice, too.
  5. Considerable time to study.
  6. Exceptional levels of self-motivation.
  7. No problems with the government, which will inevitably monitor their activities.
  8. No problems with family, which might or might not think this is a good use of one's time.
  9. Etc.


I'm all about the rural poor becoming educated in China and everywhere, but it's going to take more than access to Google to do it.

Re:Hm, let's see... (1)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165095)

You are correct, it is a different mindset. I do not think many rural poor are going to want to study, they are probably more worried about putting food on the table and not stirring up trouble with the censors/govt.

Re:Hm, let's see... (1)

Dis*abstraction (967890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165766)

I think if given the opportunity, many of China's farmers in the countryside would leap at the opportunity to give their children a better education than they were able to receive. Partly this is due to the importance Chinese culture places on education and self-improvement; partly, too, it's a reaction to the deprivation and sense of loss many Chinese of parenting age feel about having been subjected to the Cultural Revolution, which denied them a liberal, open education.

Basically, it would give the rural poor a chance to educate themselves, so the theory goes, without having to move all the way to Guangzhou or Beijing. Understand also that the rural poor are hugely disaffected with their government right now, for various reasons, and they stage protests all the time (which aren't often violently quashed, contrary to the article's implication). The younger generation is already moving to the cities in great numbers.

Re:Hm, let's see... (1)

CmdrGravy (645153) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165133)

1) Advanced English, including technical vocabulary.
2) A high-school education. A *good* high-school education.
3) Exceptional levels of self-motivation
4) ???
5) Profit !

Re:Hm, let's see... (2, Informative)

sielwolf (246764) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165207)

Yeah, his statements are especially interesting considering that China no longer provides free primary and secondary school education. That basically means the entire 800 million sustenance-farming population lost its one way into the Chinese boom. And now all the young Chinese either work on the farm to get enough food to eat or go off to join the unskilled migrant economy. Sitting down for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week to study MIT course work is comically implausible (especially for peoples who indoor plumbing would be a stunning advancement). And it isn't like China is just going to roll out internet and computers next week. Dividing any program budget by 800 million means there isn't much to spend per-rural citizen.

But I doubt there's much interest in that. I mean, why dry up your giant resevoir of hypercheap labor, the very thing keeping your economy chugging along?

Google Freedom 2.0 (3, Insightful)

digitaldc (879047) | more than 8 years ago | (#15164933)

students thousands of miles from Shanghai or Beijing will be able to access online course materials from M.I.T. or Harvard and fully educate themselves.

But what good is an ivy-league education if you can't freely express your ideas?

"fully educate themselves." (4, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15164942)

I wonder if those students in China will be able to fully educate themselves about the events of the Tianamen Square massacre in 1989. I don't mean that they'll only learn about the Communist Party's history of the event, which differs with almost every other account including the eyewitnesses there. But I wonder if they'll be permitted to learn about the thousands of unarmed people that were shot and killed, the Tank Man, and the executions and jailings of the protestors.

If not, then these students won't be fully educated at all.
 

Re: "fully educate themselves." (2, Informative)

liangzai (837960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165192)

You know, I just searched for "Tank Man" on http://www.baidu.com/ [baidu.com] (the premier search engine in China, unaffected by the firewall), and the first link that came up was http://beyondpleasure.blogchina.com/4886647.html [blogchina.com]

It indeed has the picture and the story (in brief), and the page was indeed fetched from within China.

People all know about this, and this information will never go away. But you will not see it discussed in official media or anything like that.

Re: "fully educate themselves." (1)

rvandam (893100) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165384)

I find it very interesting that there is a person purporting (and I pretty much believe him) to be within China, more or less refuting most of the crap that's floating around in this discussion and noone else is paying attention to him. Am I missing something? Is this a well-known Slashdot personality pretending to be from China that I've somehow not noticed in the last 7 years or do most of the current posters just like to hear themselves talk...

Re: "fully educate themselves." (5, Insightful)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165534)

Yes.

I am technically from China as well (Hong Kong) as well, although I have never grown up in any "communist state" (whatever that means).

Most people criticing China's "human rights" problems don't stick to facts, but to proganda by the western media that is almost twenty years old. They like to believe that "my country is better than yours", despite the fact that this is becoming more and more doubtful.

Let me say this: nobody cares about people in China. All they care about is that "American values are better than Chinese values (and you should adopt them at whatever cost, even if it means that you overthrow your own government)". I mean, if anyone really takes a serious look at what actually happens in China, I'm sure they'll suddenly find that their dicks weren't as long as they previously thought.

PS: Of course, there are those who really do care. But those people typically tackle the issue realistically instead of suggesting an overthrow of the CCP or something to that effect.

Re: "fully educate themselves." (2)

liangzai (837960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165588)

I am not FROM China, but I am in China. The crap that is floating around here is typical China bashing stuff. It has some merits to it, but it is skewed and out of proportion. There is a myth that the Chinese are censored beyond belief, when the truth is that the internet censorship is very mild. And there is always this Tiananmen Guangchang issue coming up, as if the Chinese would associate that square primarily with the June 4th incident. They don't. It is a small thing in Chinese history, and also in the square's history. The Chinese are informed about it, and most people know someone who was there.

Americans who think that the Chinese are longing for democracy, that they can't wait until Falun gong becomes legal again, that they want a free Tibet, Xinjiang, Taiwan and what have you, and so on, are clearly delusional and know nothing about China. They are projecting American values on the Chinese, but it simply doesn't work that way.

China has a long way to go, and will probably never have a democracy like the US has (and even less a democracy of the European caliber), but they will have something similar -- perhaps better, and definitely better suited to Chinese conditions.

So my little roll here is just to try to strike a balance. People who gets modded informative for just mentioning the square incident should be modded -5 uninformative, really. It is just too simple to be informative, but it appeals to the usual mob of China bashers who are on an American cultural imperialistic crusade against anything unamerican.

China is much more complicated than that, and China is also in a lenghty process of transition, from planned economy to capitalism, from poverty to wealth, from madness to freedom. I'd rather see a discussion on that process than the usual hoopla on the square.

Re: "fully educate themselves." (1)

Dis*abstraction (967890) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165966)

Bingo. Mod parent up. One thing you have to realize about Americans (and Westerners in general) is that our culture places such a great importance on individual liberties, including freedom of speech, that we don't tend to believe anyone could possibly have other priorities--and if they do, by golly, it's a problem that needs to be corrected, and for their own good!

We're trained to think this way from birth. It doesn't help that almost all the media we're exposed to is our own, which makes it difficult to remember our priorities are not universal.

Re: "fully educate themselves." (1)

rhakka (224319) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165860)

Did you read the article? They talk about those things in depth. Basically, it pays to keep things in perspective. WE live in a country with few restrictions on speech. Any restrictions greater than we are used to already are seen as horrible, backward slides.

The chinese, on the other hand, are coming from the other direction. Things were much worse not too long ago, and they are getting better. Still having some restrictions but having much greater freedom than before is still a step forward.

Sure, it'd be great if they had all the freedoms we have.. heck, it'd be great if our own free speech were a bit freer too... but it's going to take some time to get there. That doesn't mean that what's going on in China isn't cause for hope! It just means they still have some work to do.

Re: "fully educate themselves." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15166008)

They'll learn all about truthiness.

On second thought, they already know about that.

Re: "fully educate themselves." (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15166126)

Well.. Americans have access to this: http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=1363085081 657572837 [google.com] but they don't seem to do anything.

What is so different with China?

Twice the value! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165030)

First the Internet will allow Chinese citizens to become fully educated, for free. Then the Chinese government, at no extra charge, will generously allow them to become fully reeducated. What a savings!

Unless they, too, have an accrediataion cartel (1)

Br._Fjordhr (849213) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165081)

The idea of the internet making education to the masses really has not panned out. It ran into the problem of accreditation and expense. Advanced education, even on-line, remains beyond the means of most people due to it's cost.

This high cost, of education, is kept artificially high by regional accreditation cartels. Of course people can argue that education is free; it is also unmarketable. People do not market their education, in most cases, they market their degrees. There are a number of solutions to this situation. However, there is a vested interest in maintaining the status quo, with it's accompanying high cost.

It will be interesting to see how they work around this problem.

Has it occured to people.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165084)

trotting out the Tiananmen Square massacre that there is likely a large amount of shady actions their own governments have commited, which they will never be able to find out about because they are classified? Yes, this particular event attracted wide-scale media attention, so the secret's out....

That said, people who WANT to find out will find a way. As with any mousetrap, this will breed better (or more determined) mice.

The cat is out of the bag. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165143)

Last night on the radio, while I was semi awake, I heard a piece about the television industry in China. The problem is that they have a capitalist business mode. The TV stations have to make money. That means they need advertisers, and they in turn insist on viewers. So, a station that has crappy programs will go out of business.

The trouble is that the Political bosses can veto programming. So you had the case where the stations were showing historical dramas. The political bosses decided that the historical dramas made the emperors look too good so those were cancelled. They then started to broadcast crime shows. The bosses decreed that those made the party look bad so they were cancelled. Now we're back to historical dramas.

The communist bosses are really between a rock and a hard place. They can't have a capitalist business model and a totalitarian political model. If they crack down on the business people, they kill the economy. If they don't crack down on the businesses, then those will find ways to circumvent the bosses edicts.

They can crack down on the internet all they want but they will make it so it is no good to them either. As the qotd at the bottom of the page says: "You can't have your cake and eat it too."

Re:The cat is out of the bag. (1)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165497)

The communist bosses are really between a rock and a hard place. They can't have a capitalist business model and a totalitarian political model.

Yes they can. It's called facism. It just needs a war or three every decade to keep people in line.

Cryptome CN (1)

The Walking Dude (905913) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165177)

Cryptome CN publishes information, documents and opinions banned by the People's Republic of China. http://www.cryptome.cn/ [cryptome.cn]

Re:Cryptome CN (1)

liangzai (837960) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165852)

Yeah, but it is inaccessible within China (probably because it is located outside China, despite the .cn TLD -- probably in Taiwan). You need http://anonymouse.org/cgi-bin/anon-www.cgi/http:// www.cryptome.cn/ [anonymouse.org] to get to the juicy stuff. Yes, it is that easy circumventing the firewall.

Washpost covered something like this (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165196)

last week in an editorial about the internet changing china [washingtonpost.com] (free reg req'd), and how China is using all this great technology for espionage and supression. (article copied)

They're known as Internet evangelists -- the people who have unwavering faith in the democratizing power of the Internet. It's a term coined by James Mulvenon, deputy director at the Center for Intelligence Research and Analysis, to describe those who cling to the belief that the Internet "leads to 'tulip' and 'orange' and every other possible color and flower of revolutions around the world."

Then there's China.

The Chinese Communist Party, long expected to be a victim of economic modernization and the transformative powers of technology, has instead been learning how to use those powers to its own ends. This isn't merely a matter of the widely publicized blocking of the Internet; the CCP has been learning how to use the Internet as a tool for surveillance.

"China is a clear example of how an authoritarian state can use modern information technologies to sustain itself in power," says Mulvenon, an expert on China and on information technology. They have been using technology to "create both low-tech Leninism -- seizures, arrests, informers -- and an environment of self-censorship and self-deterrence so they don't have to actively enforce."

This helps to explain why, nearly 17 years after the bloody crackdown in Tiananmen Square, there is still no person or movement strong enough to challenge Communist rule. When Chinese President Hu Jintao arrives in Washington this week, he will come as the leader of a party that has defied predictions of its demise because it has always been effective at disrupting its critics. An element of grumbling is accepted, but get together and form a group, whether to conduct soul-soothing exercises in the park or talk political reform, and the party is apt to pay some unwanted attention.

How can China's security apparatus keep track of people in a country as vast as China? By using much the same methods that the United States uses to track terrorist cells. Although the National Security Agency's eavesdropping program has attracted a lot of attention here, in China listening-in is an old habit. It's the way the NSA most likely identified the thousands of people it chose to listen in on -- through a program called Novel Intelligence from Massive Data -- that is the source of real hope for China's communist mandarins.

And that's a story about sifting through data, picking out potential threats by finding unusual patterns in apparently normal behavior. The more modern the economy becomes, the more data people leave behind. As my colleague Robert O'Harrow puts it in his recent book, we are all like comets, leaving bright trails of credit card charges, Web sites we view, traffic cameras we pass, telephone calls we make. For anyone looking for a pattern -- or changes in the pattern -- the more data the better.

So, far from threatening party control, the modern technological economy in China can make traditional surveillance more efficient. People's University in Beijing has a "data mining center" that says it "helps businesses improve the profitability of financial, telecom, biological and medical areas." A joint meeting of the Chinese Society of Probability and Statistics and the Institute of Mathematical Statistics in 2005 had several sessions on data mining, including one on "mining massive text data and developing robust tracking statistics." Delivered by a Rutgers University researcher, the presentation discussed techniques used by the Federal Aviation Administration for tracking performance or detecting risk indicators. The abstract noted that the framework "applies to many other domains, including, for example, mining freestyle medical reports for tracking possible disease outbreaks."

Conversations with American military officers and policymakers suggest that U.S. intelligence still has a long way to go before it becomes good at mining data to find bad guys, and there's no reason to think that China is any better at it. But China has already been surprisingly adept at finding people who use the Internet to criticize the government. Xiao Qiang, director of the China Internet Project at the University of California at Berkeley, says China has set up Internet surveillance teams in 700 Chinese cities and provinces. They search for subversive key words in e-mails and Web sites, and have arrested dozens of people in connection with Internet-related subversion.

The Chinese police are updating their technology, holding purchasing fairs where Western companies hawk their wares. Ethan Gutmann, an author and consultant, has alleged that China's police use software that Cisco Systems developed for its routers called "Policenet," which he says keeps track of "work history, family background, political tendencies, imaging, surfing history and e-mail for at least 60 days." And police can access the information, Gutmann says, through handheld devices that scan magnetic strips on new identity cards.

The CCP's tight control on politics seems anachronistic in a society that is rapidly becoming more modern and permissive. "On the surface, we see a pluralism that's very obvious on topics like commerce, entertainment, fashion, sports, romance," says Perry Link, a Princeton University professor of East Asian studies. "This can lead the casual observer to the conclusion that a kind of liberalism has set in, and that's a serious mistake."

Some American businessmen say that technology and capitalism will change Chinese politics. Despite censorship battles, Google last week opened an engineering center in Beijing and adopted a new Chinese name, Gu Ge or "Valley Song." "The trend line is toward more openness over time," John Frisbie, president of the U.S.-China Business Council, told a recent meeting at the American Enterprise Institute. Mulvenon says it could still take 30 years, though -- a lot slower than Internet evangelists would predict.

So far the party has defied the odds. The irony is that modern technology may help it to do so for a little bit longer.

Steven Mufson was The Washington Post's Beijing bureau chief from 1994 to 1998.

Pipe Dream (3, Insightful)

Zebra_X (13249) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165212)

The Internet, he says, will level the playing field for China's enormous rural underclass; once the country's small villages are connected, he says, students thousands of miles from Shanghai or Beijing will be able to access online course materials from M.I.T. or Harvard and fully educate themselves

"Fully Educate Themselves". Not likely. For one, the courses are in english. Two, almost all of the courses on M.I.T.'s Open Courseware site require the purchase of multiple $100+ text books. In addition there is no feedback when following the courses. Unless you understand *how* to learn its very difficult to use these courses effectively.

Those are issues though, that only come to pass when "all the villiages are connected" and by definition reliably powered (which they are not). Furthermore, access is great - however the very nature of learning, long periods of reading, problem solving require that those wishing to learn have a dedicated console, or computer to utilize.

I'm all for educating the masses, I just think that running around spouting this "vision" is disingenuous.

Community Colleges - not Individuals (1)

Tungbo (183321) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165629)

There are thousands of small colleges and school far from the major universities that will benefit from the MIT materials. It is much more afforable for them to get power and internet access than to amass a collegiate level library. There are also many English speaking teachers in China who can craft courses to suit the level of their students. You're right that few studentls can use the materials on their own. But it is a great resoure for teachers.

Let's jump straight to full freedoms (1)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165213)

Wouldn't it be great if one day we all woke up and China, along with every other repressive society, dropped all their inhumane activities and censorship? Wouldn't it be great if, on that day, every Chinese person was allowed to speak and inquire about whatever they want, whenever they want? Of course that would be great, but its not going to happen. Things like that don't magically happen over night. It takes time to move from censorship to free speech.

Unless you believe that this change should happen overnight, how do you expect it to happen? Isn't a gradual move to full freedom of speech better than not progressing at all unless you make the jump in one leap?

Re:Let's jump straight to full freedoms (1)

krotkruton (967718) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165241)

... and apparently I did something wrong, because this was supposed to be a reply to the first poster... oh well.

Re:Let's jump straight to full freedoms (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165318)

...and you forgot to check no karma bonus on your internal dialogue.

Re:Let's jump straight to full freedoms (1)

nuggz (69912) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165698)

Wouldn't it be great if one day we all woke up and China, along with every other repressive society, dropped all their inhumane activities and censorship?
Name one country that has no government sanctioned/controlled censorship or inhumane activities.

Wouldn't it be great if, on that day, every Chinese person was allowed to speak and inquire about whatever they want, whenever they want? Of course that would be great, but its not going to happen. Things like that don't magically happen over night. It takes time to move from censorship to free speech.
In many countries certain things are not allowed to be discussed, and not just National security secrets.
Hate and obscenity laws are two of the significant offenders of free speech.

Even without government censorship powerful groups don't want you to talk or say certain things, remember that silly Cartoon issue. I saw them, they were pretty pathetic. The most upsetting thing to me is that someone would bother to protest them when there are so much more series issues to deal with.

About as ridiculous as suggesting hillbillies - (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165236)

About as ridiculous as suggesting a hillbilly would benefit from online college courses at Peking Duck Univ. Sure, no problem, after you teach the hillbilly some Chinese! Hiyah! I'ma this here doktur Cletus anima at yur survace!

freedom is an ends technology is a means (1)

argoff (142580) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165237)

I think the problem here is that there is a big difference between what he calls "liberating" and what we call liberty. Liberty is a universal end in itself, technology may be a means for that, it may be a means for education too, but when all is said and done - if liberty is not an end in itself then people are not going to be what they were desinged to be. Technology doesn't magically secure and respect peoples free will, people half to do that, and it is clear that people who have power in China refuse to respect that.

Now if he was all goo goo about people using technlolgies to secure their rights and liberties, then that would be a different story, but that's not what I'm getting here at all.

Corrupted Database Gives False Sense of Knowledge (4, Interesting)

rewinn (647614) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165242)

Deliberate data corruption, such as censorship, can give users the illusion that they are well informed when the data permitted through appears authoritative. Ponder, for example, the confidence one felt upon reading cherry-picked information about Iraq; Judy Miller may well have thought she was better informed when in fact she was less informed.

How, then, can the data corruption be exposed, and who is motivated to do it?

One approach is maximizing the number of links to censored pages [wikipedia.org] , to alert the censored individual that their data is corrupt. However there must be more effective techniques.

Perhaps more important, there must be a way to motivate individuals to fix this data corruption; forgive me for being cynical, but if there were a way to profit from the repair, that would be a powerful motivator.

Re:Corrupted Database Gives False Sense of Knowled (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165581)

If you RTFA, you'll note they bring up this point. Google.cn already lets you know when it's censoring results, of course. Beyond that, apparently the Google guys were initially considering banning ALL links to restricted subjects; for example, they'd eliminate all links to Falun Gong, rather than allowing only the government's anti-Falun Gong propoganda. But for whatever reason, they decided not to do this.

Personally, I wish Google.cn would just display all its results, but have the censored links in red, non-clickable text with a note saying the government won't let you see that site. But maybe that'd piss off China too much.

They're not even close... (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165283)

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/tankman/vi ew/ [pbs.org]

In the 6th video, university students in China are shown the picture of the Tank Man. They have no idea of who he is or what he is doing. They are unable to put the picture in any kind of social context or even guess what is going on in the photograph. China has a long way to go.

A different tack (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165432)

Let's see, how many ways can slashdotters try to inflict irony? I think I'll give it a... nah. After the first one, everyone else is just a copycat.

So I'll try a different tack. I'll say that Google's presence in China doesn't change the human rights playing field. You can argue that Microsoft and Yahoo, who store user data in China and thus leave it under China's jurisdiction, make online searches and mail a dangerous prospect if you want to discuss taboo topics. They make China a harder place to live. Google, while it does not and cannot improve human rights in China, also does not make it worse by providing services there.

I think they are right in that it's not their place or in their power to pressure the Chinese government. That's *your* government's job.

While you're at it, tell Yahoo and Microsoft to store their data where China can't get at it.

And it just so happens that.... (1)

danpsmith (922127) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165489)

...you yourselves benefit from the experience, correct? I'm sorry but I'm going to have to question Google's reasoning here. I understand if you talk about markets, and how it's important for profits or this or that, but to act like it's in China's best interest to have Google there, come on. It's in Google's best interest to have Google there. I'm not saying that MS and Yahoo aren't doing the same thing with less press coverage, but let's not call a fart a perfume just because we liked who farted more. The average Chinese person isn't going to be liberated by the fact that Google has put in place a censored search engine, with or without a message. The only way the Chinese people will liberate themselves is through violent overthrow, most likely, just like all other revolutions in history. Or, and get this, they could fall like other forms of "communism", by the fact that this type of government system leads to poverty and eventually crumbles. But guess what, with Walmart, Google, and every other mulit-national corporation more than happy to do business with a fascist dictatorship, the economy continues to thrive, so there goes that idea.

Re:And it just so happens that.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15166228)

CONGRATS YOU BROKE THE CODE!

    On its own merit, a communist system cannot thrive long term and ultimately its downfall is due to the repression of free thought. Without true free thought and expression, advances in all areas and especially in technology and commerce never happen and ultimately there is a broad stagnation across the board ala the USSR or (insert other repressive regime here).

      But having Western corporations willing to do business in China, this natural progression towards stagnation or entrophy if you will is delayed if not completely eliminated.

      In contrast to the mafia rackets found in Russian markets which many Western Corporations found to be inhospitable or too restrictive to do business in effectively, China is relatively free of this and so business thrives and the relationship continues with the Communist regime allowing significantly more free commerce, with a twist of course.

      In Russia, real growth and prosperity never occur due to the overreach of the politburo and its corrupt elite (see Yukos Oil Indictment) in addition to mobsters that control all aspects of life there, business learns this lesson and pulls out leaving Russia no better off than a decade ago.

      Where is the Russian economic juggernaut, never happened and never will.

      Ultimately the current Russia will once again crumble under its own weight and the only solution this time would be a real revolution with millions storming the Kremlin, first raiding the toilet paper stores of course since its just been too long.

      So by doing business with China, you are continuing to administer artificial economic life support to an entity that would die on the vine otherwise.

      So the best interest served becomes commerce for both Western corporations and the communist regime which allows just enough freedom to not drive people to desperation and revolt.

      Give them just enough but not too much so they would never risk what little they really have!

     

educate themselves online? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#15165609)

Learning the material using online coursework from MIT or Harvard is a great thing.

But it's possession of the degree, not knowing the material, that gets you the interview, isn't it? And this attitude is particularly pronounced in China and other asian cultures. Get the paper. I've heard Chinese refer to a prestigious degree, many times, as a "golden key."

Not that accessing material online isn't great in an of itself, but pretending that the rural masses can "fully educate themselves", like it's going to change their lives, is really nonsensical.

Could *any one* of these self-educated rural people get a job at Google, in the US or China, without a formal university education? No. Not even as a receptionist. At Google, even more than other companies. And in China, even more than other countries.

I don't know ... (2, Insightful)

constantnormal (512494) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165630)

... what the answer here is -- I'm not entirely convinced that access to a censored internet will somehow eventually blossom into a democratic China, nor am I entirely convinced that it is possible (or impossible) to effectively censor the internet.

But I AM convinced that if the Chinese were to completely block outside content, creating a Chinese intranet with only government-approved content, it would be a stable system, and would satisfy the Chinese people's need for contact and communications... and would also be a horrible thing to have happen.

So I reluctantly support the western net services doing business in China under Chinese totalitarian rules.

But I do wonder how the Chinese authorities are going to deal with the influx of lots of tourists at the Olympic games, many of whom will want to photograph Tianamem Square and will inevitably ask a lot of awkward questions. If the Chinese want to interact with the West, they cannot avoid these things.

Recent PBS Frontline espisode (2, Insightful)

Retired Replicant (668463) | more than 8 years ago | (#15165835)

In recent Frontline episode on the Tianamen Square "Tank Man" (really a report on China's political and economic evolution since the massacre), it made it seem that the Chinese government has stopped funding public education in rural areas. Peasants now have to pay to send their children to school, which most can't afford. It seems as though China is working very intently on keeping the rural peasants ignorant and illiterate, so that they can be more easily controlled and exploited by the government, Western corporations, and the "new Chinese capitalist elite" in the big cities. I find it hard to believe that the Chinese government would allow this incredibly valuable slavelike underclass to learn enough to read web pages. The only ones who will benefit are the new Chinese capitalist elite, who have a similar vested interest in keeping the underclass ignorant.
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