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Human Rights and a Code of Conduct for China's Web

Zonk posted more than 6 years ago | from the try-to-play-well-with-others dept.

Government 108

Ian Lamont writes "Human Rights Watch is preparing a code of conduct that specifies how major Internet service providers and portal operators should deal with Internet censorship in China. An officer for the group expressed concern that the Chinese government is 'setting the standard on control of the Internet' and also singled out international companies working in China for preemptively blocking access in 'anticipation of requests from the government' rather than waiting for orders from Beijing to block access. China has recently blocked YouTube following the posting of videos about the Tibetan protests, but has been unable to completely stop the flow of Tibet-related information in and out of China, thanks in part to bloggers and others using spam tactics to bypass Chinese filters."

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first post (0, Offtopic)

Beefaroni (1229886) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783630)

w00t

Re:first post (1)

ccarson (562931) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783740)

I think the word you're looking for is: Woo

Re:first post (5, Insightful)

Beefaroni (1229886) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783832)

ok seriously why are why having the Olympics there again?

Re:first post (2, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783976)

ok seriously why are why having the Olympics there again?

They bought the rights to do it.

Hypocritical maybe? (-1, Troll)

qoncept (599709) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783702)

An organization laying out exactly how to act to be considered ethical? What are they, the Catholic church?

Re:Hypocritical maybe? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783804)

Is it up to the Catholic church to establish ethical standards? Isn't it desirable that there are ethical standards? Of course not everyone is probably going to agree on what those ethical standards should be. So does that mean we should just throw out ethical standards and just let people do whatever they want with no standard against which to compare them?

Re:Hypocritical maybe? (5, Insightful)

SleeknStealthy (746853) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783930)

I guess the day the world can't come to the conclusion that oppression is not unethical, is the day that humanity will lose all form of justice. I understand this isn't just about Tibet, but the overall censorship of China's web. However, when a country is censoring its own atrocities from its people it is a global problem.

No one cares of course, China's disregard for environmental and humane concerns of its own people give the rest of the world the cheapest goods.

Re:Hypocritical maybe? (1)

omegashenron (942375) | more than 6 years ago | (#22790270)

No one cares of course, China's disregard for environmental and humane concerns of its own people give the rest of the world the cheapest goods.

Said the American driving a Hummer through the streets of New Orleans. To give the world McDonalds and Coca-Cola.

Re:Hypocritical maybe? (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22790306)

> However, when a country is censoring its own atrocities from its people it is a global problem.

What atrocities are you referring to?

Re:Hypocritical maybe? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783954)


Human Rights Watch = George Soros, Ford Foundation, and all the other main Leftist anti-American groups. All the usual suspects.

Their whole M.O., regardless of their grand talk, is ultimately still just one-world government controlled by the few.

corporate consciousness (4, Insightful)

jacquesm (154384) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783790)

It's interesting that this should even need to be spelled out. Normally you'd expect companies and the people who run them to have enough of a moral backbone that they don't need external input on things like this.

Because quarterly profits are the only yardstick by which management is rewarded / demoted all other considerations have gone out the window. As long as there is not direct link between ethics and profits I highly doubt any of this will make a difference.

Re:corporate consciousness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783932)

quarterly profits are the only yardstick by which management is rewarded

Someone should tell that to wall street, where it appears that management is rewarded simply by incestuous relationships between board members voting each other whatever rewards they wish while the only choice the rest of the stockholders are given is to vote in agreement.

Re:corporate consciousness (1)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783934)

Exactly true, but who's to say that these ISPs will even follow the code that they help write. And what about if they fail to follow it? Obviously they won't do anything to rectify any ethical wrongdoing on their part or government mandated, so why bother if this is just some sort of ethical "contract" with Chinese citizens that doesn't do anything to protect them as customers. It may be a small step, but at least it's in the right direction.
The fact that it is termed a code of conduct seems to me like some sort of appeal to honor that is in Chinese culture. Who knows, that may not be deliberate.

Re:corporate consciousness (2, Insightful)

electrictroy (912290) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784496)

Yeah, why fear the government's censorship

when it's actually *the corporation* that is filling the role of Big Brother? Thomas Jefferson predicted 200 years ago that too much money in the hands of just a few would lead to fewer freedoms for the average citizen. It is now "those few" that we call CEOs and CIOs that are doing the job of censorship.

Re:corporate consciousness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783946)

I doubt there are many CEOs who would agree that they have thrown ethical considerations out of the window. The fact is that where there isn't a standard against which to judge your behavior, it's easy to rationalize and justify small concessions that eventually snow ball into larger consequences. Think about the telephone game and how quickly things get distorted though most people feel that they successfully passed on what they heard and the corruption is the fault of everybody else. Or singing- set a starting pitch, get a group of people to sing without accompaniment and pretty quickly (unless they're a well-trained choir) they'll get out of tune.

Sure, not everyone will follow the ethical standards that are proposed, but at least it will give some standard by which well-meaning companies can keep themselves accountable- rather than to the whims of the current ethical leanings of the leadership.

Re:corporate consciousness (3, Insightful)

houghi (78078) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784072)

It is interesting that although the article talks about China, your comment can be applied internationaly.

Re:corporate consciousness (1)

What the Hodge (1251532) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786056)

Why not just get the UN to say something like when they told the US not to invade Iraq....oh right...

Re:corporate consciousness (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22786596)

Sounds like this is still a few years too late for IBM [wikipedia.org] .

Re:corporate consciousness (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784116)

Normally you'd expect companies and the people who run them to have enough of a moral backbone that they don't need external input on things like this

You must be new to Capitalism. There is nothing more evil than passing up money or turning down profit from any source. Wealth is worth any price. Monetary gain trumps everything. It doesn't matter who dies or how miserable people are, so long as you're making a profit.

Christianity isn't America's national religion like some Christian preachers claim, Capitalism (the worship of money) is. The phrase "if a man asks for your coat, give him your cloak as well" is, to the Capitalist, a supremely evil statement.

Re:corporate consciousness (5, Insightful)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784196)

Because quarterly profits are the only yardstick by which management is rewarded...

It's not just that. Management can be sued by shareholders if it intentionally enters a course of action that decreases profits, even if the action is ethical.

Re:corporate consciousness (2, Interesting)

OeLeWaPpErKe (412765) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785396)

And also let's not forget the politically correct idiots of the left, who'll blast anyone giving politically incorrect truths. Any mention of the reasons why nations block content ( Just an example, over 30 countries have censorship due to this document [wikipedia.org] ) cannot even be said. Same problem with stating that China is a socialist state, with the state providing healthcare, and censorship (they cannot be separated, as people need to be prevented from gaming the system, europe ignores this, and it's social structure is on the verge of collapse).

Re:corporate consciousness (1)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22789242)

I'm not really sure what you mean about 'gaming the system' with regard to healthcare - what can you gain from a national health system other than medicine or the service of doctors and nurses? What would you do with your ill-gotten medical supplies, exactly? If you're talking of insider deals and corruption, why is that any more likely to be a problem in a government system than a private one? Hell, what makes you think that it's impossible to engineer a system that can be both secure and transparent?

Re:corporate consciousness (1)

rtb61 (674572) | more than 6 years ago | (#22791836)

Actually there already is, it is called a social democracy, funnily but sadly enough already pretty well known but not implemented often enough, a government of the people, by the people and for the people. Never ever confuse socialism or any other kind of government with autocracy, monarchy just masquerading in another suit.

So if you want to see the benefits of socialised (for the people) infrastructure, you can only really look at modern social democracies. There are a whole range of fundamentally profound reasons why it is better to invest in free health care, free education and to retain essential infrastructure as being equally accessible, than in the military industrial complex, corporate profits and an ever growing prison population.

Fiduciary duty != maximum profit with no ethics (2, Interesting)

Steve Hamlin (29353) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786812)

Management can be sued by shareholders if it intentionally enters a course of action that decreases profits, even if the action is ethical.

Blatantly incorrect.

The Board of Directors [wikipedia.org] , and Management, DO have a responsibility to act in the best interests of shareholders, see Fiduciary Duty [wikipedia.org] .

However, NOT to the extent that they must pursue every market in every industry in the world.

The Business Judgment Rule [wikipedia.org] protects the Board and Management from lawsuits about normal business decisions, such as:

Hypothetical_Google_Director/CEO: "should we go into China knowing the upside for immediate growth and the potential downside for long-term corporate image problems? No, I don't think so."

No way you a shareholder could sue over that. You certainly could try to vote in a new Board of Directors who are committed to expansion in China, but that is not the same as suing the Board for a breach of duty.

Alternate Explanation for Google's Behavior (1)

tobiah (308208) | more than 6 years ago | (#22790380)

By choosing to censor themselves, Google maintains control over their own operation rather than having China impose external restraints on them. If Google had confronted China with a completely uncensored search engine, the Chinese government would have either set up extensive systems to regulate google, or just shut them out.
Once Google is well established, it will be much harder for China to contain them if they decide to start loosening their self-imposed censorship. And of course, choosing to self-regulate leaves them a much better position to adapt and grow as a business, relatively unfettered by technological and bureaucratic red tape.

Re:corporate consciousness (2, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784274)

Normally you'd expect companies and the people who run them to have enough of a moral backbone that they don't need external input on things like this.
That, is the funniest thing I've read all day.

Why not call out the other governments first, K? (1)

Shivetya (243324) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784352)

Because harping about Corporations while giving the governments of the world a pass is beyond reason.

Look, the IOC with the blessings of governments around the world awarded China the Olympics. Just what in the hell were they thinking?

You bring up ethics and profits as if it were a Corporate issue, its not. Why should any Corporation care when world governments, including the UN, don't?

huh? Do we hold our elected officials and those of other countries to lower standards? Or is because we give into the idea we can't do jack shit about our elected officials but we might be able to embarrass a CEO instead into doing something?

Frankly I think its far more worrisome that as a public we don't hold elected officials to higher standards and worse we don't try because we no longer think we can

Re:corporate consciousness (1)

call-me-kenneth (1249496) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784386)

So far as I can tell, the only way to change this (apart from changing the law to force companies trading with countries unfriendly to what we used to call "the values of western liberal democracy", is for people working at those companies to have the guts to protest against it internally, and as a last resort to resign (making clear the reasons why.)

Of course it's very easy to say that; I've got no wife, kids, or mortgage to maintain so I'm a lot free-er to tell people to get stuffed if I don't like my employer's attitudes. Then again, those were all reasons why I semi-consciously avoided acquiring such encumbrances to my personal freedom to act. Now, I'm a lonely middle-aged man living in small rented accomodation... on the other hand, GOD am I going to enjoy laughing my head off at the bourgouise who let their greed & desire for "normality" get in the way of a rational understanding of the state of the world when they're living in DHS Bed & Breakfast accomodation with 25 alcoholic, mentally ill ESN army vets.

(Not that I'm bitter or anything, you understand... why I just *love* the peace and quiet when I go home... I love not being dragged away from papers about Martian geology and information security to sit through the in-laws holiday photos, or to make small talk with a half-wit in order to get laid that night...

Re:corporate consciousness (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784536)

Normally you'd expect companies and the people who run them to have enough of a moral backbone that they don't need external input on things like this.
You would expect it. I would expect it. However, welcome to the real Earth, where this doesn't happen. I think it may have once, perhaps the great Quaker companies of the 19th Century. These days, running a corporation is:
  1. synonymous with greed
  2. abusing stats to prove your point and cover your ass and brand.
  3. abusing the same stats to ensure Pareto Optimality (i.e. that 20% of your customers are dissatisfied, but you do not need to care.)
  4. comparing your firm to your competitors such that mediocrity is ensured and the status quo is maintained -- of course you call this best practice, and many believe you, but it's exactly the opposite.
  5. ???
  6. Profit!
While the law ensures that no one individual is held accountable for the actions of a corporate committee, the above will never change. If you have any ethics at all, you will not last long at any corporation.

Re:corporate consciousness (1)

b4upoo (166390) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784730)

Frankly it shames me that America allows any commerce with China at all. Nations that use slave labor and violate human rights should suffer complete isolation. I don't think we should allow so much as a phone line into or out of China.

Re:corporate consciousness (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22790418)

> Nations that use slave labor

anything to back that one up?

You can't stop progress (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783820)

FREE TIBET*!!

* limited time offer. No purchase necessary. Offer void in Nebraska, Maryland, or where prohibited by law. Tibet and Free Tibet are registered trademarks of China Inc.

Re:You can't stop progress (1)

Trespass (225077) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785024)

FREE TIBET*!!

* limited time offer. No purchase necessary. Offer void in Nebraska, Maryland, or where prohibited by law. Tibet and Free Tibet are registered trademarks of China Inc.
Holy crap! A joke on Slashdot that was actually funny! :D

Olympic response (4, Interesting)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783824)

The code is due in the next couple of months and comes in the run up to the Beijing Olympic Games that begin in August.
I am interested in what will happen when the Olympics go the China and the press/visitors/athletes respond to the censorship there. I doubt it would change anything automatically but no doubt will put some pressure on the government since it will be under the scrutiny of the entire world.

Re:Olympic response (4, Insightful)

MozeeToby (1163751) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783914)

This is just my gut instinct speaking but... There will be atleast one, probably several international incidents at the Olympics.

Unless the Chinese government totally changes the way they do things, this is inevitable. There will be people taking advantage of the Olympics to do missionary work. There will be people taking advantage of the Olympics to publisize China's many indescretions.

How will the government respond? Are we going to have dozens of people arrested, imprisoned and/or deported? In a way, I almost hope we do, it would open the worlds eyes to just what is happens there, how restricted freedoms really are.

Re:Olympic response (4, Informative)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784096)

How will the government respond? Are we going to have dozens of people arrested, imprisoned and/or deported?
The last time the Chinese government responded to a large gathering of popular dissent, which as you say will surely accompany a high profile global event such as the Olympics, they did it with tanks, tear gas, and machine guns [wikipedia.org] . I suspect that not much has changed since then.

Re:Olympic response (1)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784204)

The last time the Chinese government responded to a large gathering of popular dissent, which as you say will surely accompany a high profile global event such as the Olympics, they did it with tanks, tear gas, and machine guns.
I suspect that the government would have been much more moderate in the Tienanmen Square incident if the crowds protesting were as nationally diverse as the crowds at the Olympics.

That said, I'd be surprised if they would allow any international protester to remain in the country. I think they would also take some big steps to try to disallow any record of a protest to be aired domestically or internationally.

Re:Olympic response (3, Insightful)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784402)

The last time the Chinese government responded to a large gathering of popular dissent, which as you say will surely accompany a high profile global event such as the Olympics, they did it with tanks, tear gas, and machine guns [wikipedia.org]. I suspect that not much has changed since then.

The authoritarian nature of the government probably hasn't changed, but quite a few things have- remember, that was 20 years ago. First, the explosion of portable digital devices- digital cameras, digital video cameras, cell phones, Blackberries, and laptops; second, the explosion of networks, including the Internet and the cellular network, to distribute digital data. Given the number of tourists they are expecting, Beijing will be under greater scrutiny than at any time in its history, and there will be no way to stop the videos once they get out. Third, Beijing is now linked to the United States and the rest of the world by trade. That puts the government in a bind: they want to maintain control, but they also want to keep the money rolling in, and a crackdown on any protests could harm trade with the West. We'll see what happens; the government crackdown in Tibet has been pretty effective, but Tibet isn't overrun with Westerners carrying video cameras and laptops.

Re:Olympic response (2, Insightful)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785668)

My non-crystal ball reading of the Chinese authorities view of Tienanmen incident is that it wasn't supposed to happen. Not even back then. Well probably not due to "human rights" concerns or the casualties, but in any case it was a mishandling of public dissent. I believe that's how they view the incident.

As another poster has pointed out, that was almost 20 years ago. Governments, people, and circumstances change. Why would you think that "not much has changed since then"? (this is intended as a legitimate question)

Re:Olympic response (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786440)

Why would you think that "not much has changed since then"? (this is intended as a legitimate question)
Many of the same people or their hand picked successors and protégés are still firmly in power, they have shown their willingness in the past to use the gun when faced with an afront or challenge to that power, and finally up until very recently in the grand scheme of things the Chinese viewed all outsiders and westerners in particular as "barbarians" or inferior peoples and this attitude has served to lessen their willingness to listen to external criticism from the "barbarians" concerning their "internal affairs" or "state secrets". It is my opinion that this attitude, while less spoken of now that China is part of the WTO is still pervasive, at least among the older generations of Chinese, and particularly so among those old men and party insiders who are in power. Remember that it was Mao who said, "Political power flows from the barrel of the gun" and they still hang his portrait prominently in the very square where they put that maxim to the test and protected their continuing power with the gun.

Re:Olympic response (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787572)

[Not trying to disagree with you, I simply hope to provide you with some facts and some alternate perspective.]

Many of the same people or their hand picked successors and protégés are still firmly in power
*Maybe* true regarding your argument about successors. There's this inconvenience with the current tightly controlled political system in China that you can't simply shrug off mistakes by saying "it's the previous administration's fault!". I say "maybe", you might understand why if I add a few facts.

You might have heard about Zhao Ziyang[1] and his role in the Tienanmen incident. He's often described (by western sources, not Chinese propaganda) as "sympathetic stance toward the student demonstrators". My point is that he's probably not the person who ordered the tanks to roll over them, and probably was against any such proposal. If you look closely notice the black and white photo, the current Premier Wen Jiabao is right behind him. I don't think that he was trying to "police" Zhao, so probably a more or less supportive role. My personal conclusion? The people in power in China now are not those who directly supported the forceful suppression of the protests. You might come to different conclusions, but if you take everything into account and think about it without presupposing a conclusion, it really makes you think.

[1]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zhao_Ziyang#Purged_after_Tiananmen_Square_Protests [wikipedia.org] (a corollary of the unfortunate fact that mainland China has censored wikipedia, is that the politically sensitive stuff there is probably accurate... :-/)

and finally up until very recently in the grand scheme of things the Chinese viewed all outsiders and westerners in particular as "barbarians" or inferior peoples
"Up until very recently" was like more than 100 years ago (probably more like 150 years ago). After defeats in battles with foreign powers (and being outright invaded at a point), there were various movements among intellectuals at that time to "learn from westerners", calls for modernization (following a western model) etc. Nobody since then seriously suggested westerners were "barbarians" or inferior.

and this attitude has served to lessen their willingness to listen to external criticism from the "barbarians" concerning their "internal affairs" or "state secrets".
Not so much due to arrogance than mistrust. I'm pretty sure about that. Nobody in China is stupid enough to claim that western people are "barbarians" or "inferior", but as far as I understand there is a general (overly?) cautious attitude towards western influence, whether they come with good intentions or not. A large part due to the "war" between "western liberal ideals" and "communism" (use of quotes intentional), and the fact that until very recently criticism on China's democratic and human rights status was more of a political tool against China than anything really constructive.

I don't know whether you understand the situation, but this is the reason why the Chinese government is so resistant and indifferent to criticisms by outsiders. Not because they think western people are barbarians...

It is my opinion that this attitude, while less spoken of now that China is part of the WTO is still pervasive, at least among the older generations of Chinese
"Older generations?" More like ancestors ;-p

Well to speak fairly there is admittedly some attitude that the "Chinese" way of doing things is better, but usually that comes with some more or less apparently rational explanation (look up on, eg. "Asian values"). Everybody has some "our way of doing things is better" attitude, I don't think the Chinese is particularly close minded.

Remember that it was Mao who said, "Political power flows from the barrel of the gun" and they still hang his portrait prominently in the very square where they put that maxim to the test and protected their continuing power with the gun
George Washington's portrait is on the one dollar bill but that doesn't mean all his ideas are practiced by the current US administration. Same thing really. The guy who founds a country gets the rights to have his portrait displayed in important places, that's it.

Besides, if you think about it, "Political power flows from the barrel of the gun" simply is a (crude) statement of fact. It's really hard to argue that the converse is true. (Hey, remember why the USA protects ownership of firearms in the constitution??? Precisely because those who wrote the constitution are well aware of this fact) Since he led an army and took control of China by winning a civil war, you really can't blame him for saying that. Stretching it as evidence of a doctrine to use military power to suppress political dissidents is probably quoting him out of context. I'm not saying Mao wouldn't have done so if he was faced with a similar situation, but the quote simply isn't here nor there.

Re:Olympic response (1)

CodeBuster (516420) | more than 6 years ago | (#22788278)

your comment about Zhao Ziyang was interesting, I didn't know that and had not considered that, but then again it is difficult for anyone on the outside looking in to say *precisely* what is going on inside the Chinese government because of their secretive and closed door nature when it comes to certain political matters and particularly ones which they consider to be sensitive like the Tiananmen square incident.

"Up until very recently" was like more than 100 years ago (probably more like 150 years ago).
Yes, but the Chinese culture and history is thousands of years old and it seems logical that things tend to build up momentum and maintain some inertia over time, even as new ideas and culture are integrated with the old, so it is perhaps not unreasonable to talk about things 100 years old when the culture itself is thousands of years old.

until very recently criticism on China's democratic and human rights status was more of a political tool against China than anything really constructive.
Even so, the democratic and human rights questions were and are legitimate.

Well to speak fairly there is admittedly some attitude that the "Chinese" way of doing things is better, but usually that comes with some more or less apparently rational explanation (look up on, eg. "Asian values"). Everybody has some "our way of doing things is better" attitude, I don't think the Chinese is particularly close minded.
It probably comes from the ancient and homogeneous quality of Chinese culture in that there are so many concentrated within China with a common history and traditional value system. This could be contrasted with America where the culture is much more heterogeneous and the people came from lots of different places into more of a melting pot of cultures and ideas. The major influence was of course, the enlightenment ideas of natural law and individual liberty which themselves had their genesis in earlier civilizations (i.e. classical Hellenistic culture in ancient Greece), but I think it is fair to say that the culture of China, being more homogeneous, tends to concentrate the "our way of doing things is better" attitude more than in the American culture. Americans are a practical people for the most part, we try new things and keep what works while chucking what doesn't. I realize that these generalizations may be hopelessly broad, but we we are attempting to speak about broad issues.

George Washington's portrait is on the one dollar bill but that doesn't mean all his ideas are practiced by the current US administration. Same thing really. The guy who founds a country gets the rights to have his portrait displayed in important places, that's it.
True enough.

Besides, if you think about it, "Political power flows from the barrel of the gun" simply is a (crude) statement of fact. It's really hard to argue that the converse is true.
Yes, but very few leaders throughout history have come right out and said as much.

Stretching it as evidence of a doctrine to use military power to suppress political dissidents is probably quoting him out of context.
It might be more precise to say that while it may not fit well with the current or even the Tiananmen situation, it probably is not out of context with regard the source of the quote (i.e. Mao) and the times that influenced him to say it. However, that as you have said, isn't here or there, so the point is well taken.

Re:Olympic response (1)

threefcata (1258676) | more than 6 years ago | (#22792358)

Yes, but the Chinese culture and history is thousands of years old and it seems logical that things tend to build up momentum and maintain some inertia over time, even as new ideas and culture are integrated with the old, so it is perhaps not unreasonable to talk about things 100 years old when the culture itself is thousands of years old.

By saying this you are assuming that culture hardly changes or simply changes in a constant rate. However, Chinese culture has undergone dramatic change over the last 100 years. Say for example, parents used to select spouses for their children, and this is absolutely unchallengeable in the past, a part of our traditional value. However, people choose their partner freely without the hindering from parents, (ok not exactly, parents does express their disgruntle-ness against the partner their children choose if they really don't like him/her. but they have not way to stop them to get married) We are adapting, by throwing away the values that are out of fit to the current situation and adopting new values and practices from outside. For the point that Chinese regard westerners as 'barbarians', well, history books say it, but the people they refer to are limited to those races around ANCIENT China and attack us when they had problem in their region to support people's living there, and it's a quote from thousands of years ago. Nowadays, with the stress on developing economy and with the emphasis on developing science and technology, there is hardly any Chinese ever say or even think that westerner are 'barbarians' or alike. You guys have a lot we need to learn from, and we are learning.

but I think it is fair to say that the culture of China, being more homogeneous, tends to concentrate the "our way of doing things is better"

Just as in the US there is always people criticizing all kinds of things, there are debates, criticism going on all over China as well. I'm not sure, some people may think that 'our way of doing things is better', i doubt it personally. But Chinese culture tend to see things in two perspectives, the positive side and the negative side. So a typical view you will probably get from a Chinese is like 'I like this and this of this thing, but it does has drawbacks such as blah blah blah'. Applying this, 'our way of doing things may be better in some ways, and it also has drawbacks...' is the way we look at our 'way of doing things', and all the other ways of doing things around the world.

Re:Olympic response (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22790696)

Having talked with some who were actually in Beijing at the time, I largely agree with your assessment.

My take on it is that the aggression was largely instigated by the protesters who were killing the soldiers - the soldiers had been instructed not to open fire/etc and so couldn't protect themselves. I've read report that the protesters took weapons from the army and used them against them. If there was a single decision to respond (on the part of the army), I'll bet it wasn't taken at the highest level, but at a much lower level and to stop the protesters killing the soldiers. It could even have been started by one person - it would only take one person to open fire to start it, on either side.

Have you seen the BBC video where it appears that the protesters burn a soldier alive?

Of course, moving tanks into the city/etc wasn't the smartest move, but that's my view as a 'westerner' and my understanding of Chinese culture is still quite limited. It's also easy to say in hind-sight.

I also suspect reports on deaths/fires/violence in Tibet are mostly due to the protesters and not due to the authorities. I *strongly* suspect the police and/or army at large were *not* armed with any live guns (probably had those stick things to protect themselves) - it would be simply idiotic to risk anything like that again.

But, yes, this is only my own personal assessment. BTW, they do have this on the TV news in China - in English and Chinese - though it likely has an opposite bias to that as reported elsewhere. I believe it is possible to have neutral news.

Re:Olympic response (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22792298)

I have a less rosy view. If only out of a realistic assessment or common sense. You don't have soldiers don't wield a weapon, and you don't have soldiers who take beatings without retribution. I haven't read any reports saying the police/soldiers were passively receiving beatings, so you could rebut my view if you could point to any such reports.

Tanks in Beijing was clearly a military decision from somebody high up. A lowly officer could never get tanks running around in the capital city. That's almost the equivalent of having tanks parading in front of the White House.

Have you seen the BBC video where it appears that the protesters burn a soldier alive?
No. Any pointers??

I *strongly* suspect the police and/or army at large were *not* armed with any live guns (probably had those stick things to protect themselves)
I don't think I can believe that soldiers don't carry guns in places with violent conflict. (This is not "World War IV" yet ;-p)

Re:Olympic response (1)

dwater (72834) | more than 6 years ago | (#22792624)

I have a less rosy view. If only out of a realistic assessment or common sense. You don't have soldiers don't wield a weapon, and you don't have soldiers who take beatings without retribution. I haven't read any reports saying the police/soldiers were passively receiving beatings, so you could rebut my view if you could point to any such reports.
Well, why would I rebut that view - it's the same as mine. Why would you expect soldiers to take a beating without fighting back? That's my whole point. It could easily have flared up from the ranks, rather than a big evil order from the top.

BTW, I said "I believe it is possible to have neutral news.", when I mean the opposite.
Tanks in Beijing was clearly a military decision from somebody high up.
Agreed, but that is a show of force, not aggression as such. Arguably, it was a mistake, but, as I said, that is from the view point of a westerner and in hindsight.

I don't see any evidence of tanks being involved in any aggression as such. They're next to pointless in such a situation - they only trap their occupants. I guess they could be used to get through blockades and such.

A lowly officer could never get tanks running around in the capital city. That's almost the equivalent of having tanks parading in front of the White House.
I'm not sure I see your point there. It *is* equivalent, I would say.

Have you seen the BBC video where it appears that the protesters burn a soldier alive?
No. Any pointers?? I am referring to the DVD "50 Years of BBC Television news", which I bought, interestingly enough, in Beijing. I can't find the clip on youtube. IMO it does show a glipse of what could possibly be an alternative point of view.

I *strongly* suspect the police and/or army at large were *not* armed with any live guns (probably had those stick things to protect themselves)
I don't think I can believe that soldiers don't carry guns in places with violent conflict. (This is not "World War IV" yet ;-p)
Well, that's a very American point of view, if you don't mind me saying (or did you put too many negatives in that sentence?).

Even in the UK they don't *automatically* have firearms (at least they didn't used to) when there's a riot. There are methods of dealing with big crowds of people without using firearms. They use shields and battons, and use tactics to move and disperse the crowds, and, of course, tear gas and plastic bullets. The latter are controversial in themselves, but I wonder if there would have been equal out-cry if those were used instead (in Tiananmen, I mean).

Re:Olympic response (4, Informative)

esocid (946821) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784100)

The cat concentration camps [dailymail.co.uk] in Beijing have already gotten some bad responses. They are basically culling cats in the city, and it looks like people are being encouraged to give their pet cats to teams who round up cats in the city. The govt says it is to prevent disease, but civet cats wasn't really the problem with SARS so this is just a campaign to clean up their image, which may actually be doing the opposite.

Re:Olympic response (4, Informative)

gnick (1211984) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784124)

...it would open the worlds eyes to just what is happens there, how restricted freedoms really are.
But will the world really respond in any meaningful way? I think most people realize how oppressive the Chinese government is. But, they sell cheap goods, so we (US-centric here) won't interfere with them economically. (As a side note, I have a graphic on my wall that they gave me at work - A bald eagle soaring in front of an American flag with the phrase "Proud to be an American" emblazoned on it. I have it turned and circled to display the "MADE IN CHINA" mark on the back.) They can treat their neighbors however they choose and we respond by putting 'Free Tibet' bumper stickers on our cars. Military interaction would, of course, be disastrous.

The only way that the Chinese government would listen to any outside influence would be strong economic sanctions tied to behavioral changes. And we rely on them so thoroughly at this point that sanctions strong enough to be noticed would be suicide...

Any ideas?

Re:Olympic response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784882)

The only way that the Chinese government would listen to any outside influence would be strong economic sanctions tied to behavioral changes.

From who? The United States?? China is the worlds producer and lender, the US is the worlds largest debtor. The US is not in a position to bargain.

Re:Olympic response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784996)

China is the worlds producer and lender, the US is the worlds largest debtor. The US is not in a position to bargain.
i think that's what GP poster meant by:

And we rely on them so thoroughly at this point that sanctions strong enough to be noticed would be suicide...

Re:Olympic response (1)

Dutch Gun (899105) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785436)

and we respond by putting 'Free Tibet' bumper stickers on our cars
I wonder if those are made in China too...

Re:Olympic response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22787870)

It's good to see that people do think about these issues. It gets even more tangled if you follow those thoughts further:

"But, they sell cheap goods, so we (US-centric here) won't interfere with them economically."

It's even worse than that. I'm not hearing anything about the EU interfering with them economically. Or Russia. Or the middle east. Or South American. Or even Africa. (Actually I've seen some analysis that China's economic policies are seriously messing up Africa's economies; all the sorts of things that Africa could be producing to sell are flooded out by the cheaper Chinese stuff; you can't even make a company in Africa that makes things to sell to Africans).

"The only way that the Chinese government would listen to any outside influence would be strong economic sanctions tied to behavioral changes. And we rely on them so thoroughly at this point that sanctions strong enough to be noticed would be suicide..."

Partly right. As above, you'd need to get a LOT of the world to do this, not just one country (even if that one country were the USA). But on the sanctions side, China is actually in an extremely weak position, since all their power is in the supply of cheap goods; if the world didn't have China to buy from, it could just pay a bit more to buy the same stuff from somewhere else. But if China lost many of its trade partners, it'd be facing a recession. And this is why you don't hear many improve-human-rights-by-boycotting-China arguments, because it's so precariously balanced that *too much* boycott would lead to the masses of suddenly-jobless Chinese rioting and Tienanmen Square 2. We know, right now, this very day, that China still reacts to protests the same way as before.

Re:Olympic response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22790588)

I think most people are just talking out of their ass vis-a-vis Chinese oppression. Yes, we all know the extremities to which the government has gone, but it is actually no different than what other countries do. Tanks in Tiananmen Square? What about Waco, Texas? The US brought a tank to a guy's house. Chinese students don't recognize a photo of "tank guy"? And how many US students would recognize a photo of David Koresh? This is all the same bullshit conducted by governments, everywhere. Whether a government asserts its control over you by A)saying as much, or B)offering you a multiple choice question with the same result every 4 years to fool you into thinking that you have some power over the leadership, the end product is the same.

BTW since this is obviously related to recent events, people are equally foolish to believe that the Tibetan conflict is a good-guy vs bad-guy affair. The Lamas are not exactly people you would want to put (back) into power. Do some actual research on the subject instead of being blinded by emotional reactions. A "free" Tibet is a noble idea, but would be something completely new for its people. And as long as the US has troops in Iraq/Afghanistan/Korea and asserts sovereignty over Hawaii (which it effectively annexed near the turn of the century, only 50-60 years prior to the invasion of Tibet, which is the same amount of time that has now passed with China in control), it is one of the last nations on earth, second only to the UK (which itself invaded China and squatted on several territories for 99 years) that has a valid, non-hypocritical complaint against Chinese annexation. The British are largely responsible for creating the political atmosphere that led to the Japanese invasion, the resulting destruction of Chinese infrastructure, and the rise of the CCP and what we now have as modern-day China. I think the main reason why the West and especially Britain is so nervous about China is the same reason as why elementary school bullies get nervous when their former victims get a lot bigger and taller in high school.

Re:Olympic response (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22786612)

Don't you guys have better things to do? Busy bashing China is that fun, huh? And that fills gas to the tank and puts money in your retirement account?

Like we Chinese really care if you come to Olympics or not. Better not come at all. We have no time for you crying babies.

Re:Olympic response (1)

threefcata (1258676) | more than 6 years ago | (#22792400)

no no, not the kind of discussion we like here.. stop it..

The world should not do business with China. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22783854)

Businesses like to argue that their presence in China helps the people, even if the full benefit can't be realized due to the repressive regime. That's bullshit. Their presence gives economic power to an oppressive and environmentally reckless government. We should not give the impression that the rest of the world tolerates human rights violations as long as the system benefits us economically.

Internet's impact on history (1)

Hojima (1228978) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783870)

It's going to be interesting to see what role the internet plays in granting the Chinese people more freedom. It's already a force that can't be fully controlled and grants their people some more freedom of speech, and I would bet that there is already an online campaign to take other steps forward.

It's their country (0)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783878)

If the Chinese government chooses to block YouTube, or any site which publishes articles critical of the government, that is their right. Every government, whether you like it or not, has the right to dictate the rules within its boundaries.


To use a very bad example, what if the U.S. blocked access to sites which promote Al Qaeda's agenda? Would that be ok? Shouldn't we be allowed to see that propaganda? Is that on par with what China is doing?

There is no human right to the internet. Billions of people survive every day without being addicted [slashdot.org] to staring at a glass screen from which images produced by radiation appear.

Yes, it would be nice if every government around the world produced a utopian society where everyone could rollick and play as they pleased, where the people could read whatever they wanted, but that's not going to happen anytime in the next thousand years. The best one can do is not support those countries who do have real human rights abuses (China being one in particular) by not buying their products or supporting those who want such abuses to continue.

Re:It's their country (3, Insightful)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783956)

If the Chinese government chooses to block YouTube, or any site which publishes articles critical of the government, that is their right. Every government, whether you like it or not, has the right to dictate the rules within its boundaries.

Wrong. Governments are only valid if they rule with the consent of the people. Otherwise, they can and must be destroyed.

To use a very bad example, what if the U.S. blocked access to sites which promote Al Qaeda's agenda? Would that be ok? Shouldn't we be allowed to see that propaganda? Is that on par with what China is doing?

The US cannot do that, because it has no right to tell people what they can or cannot see. Should the US government do this, it becomes invalid and no longer has the right to govern, and must be overthrown.

There is no human right to the internet. Billions of people survive every day without being addicted to staring at a glass screen from which images produced by radiation appear.

There are rights to be able to read and gather information unhindered by government intervention.

Yes, it would be nice if every government around the world produced a utopian society where everyone could rollick and play as they pleased, where the people could read whatever they wanted, but that's not going to happen anytime in the next thousand years. The best one can do is not support those countries who do have real human rights abuses (China being one in particular) by not buying their products or supporting those who want such abuses to continue.

And here I thought freedom of expression, freedom to assemble, freedom of the press were already human rights. I guess in your mind people don't have those, or that the government "grants" them to us.

Please, do everyone a favor, and move to China.

Re:It's their country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784092)

To paraphrase, you want to overthrow the US government so you can watch child porn, right?

Re:It's their country (2, Insightful)

smooth wombat (796938) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784278)

Wrong. Governments are only valid if they rule with the consent of the people. Otherwise, they can and must be destroyed.


What crack are you on? There are dozens of governments around the world which do not rule with the consent of the people, including ones the U.S. supports. Egypt come to mind? How about Saudi Arabia? Hell, we sent people to Syria to be tortured yet we criticize that governments rule of law. I don't see you or the U.S. government going after them because the people don't give their consent to be ruled by those in power.

The US cannot do that, because it has no right to tell people what they can or cannot see.

Sure it can, just as it has said it is illegal for U.S. citizens to gamble over the internet, visit Cuba or do business with Iran. There are numerous times when the government has told the people what they can and cannot see and has enforced it. Doesn't make it right or mean there is any logic, but yes, it can and has (and continues to do so).

There are rights to be able to read and gather information unhindered by government intervention.

Sure, in a perfect world that would be great but guess what, the world ain't perfect. Governments, within the confines of their own boundaries, can do as they please until their people decide to take matters into their own hands. Obviously the majority of people in China don't feel the need to change things.

And here I thought freedom of expression, freedom to assemble, freedom of the press were already human rights. I guess in your mind people don't have those, or that the government "grants" them to us.

As far as the Geneva Conventions, U.N. Conventions on Human Rights, the U.S. Constitution and various other documents say, yes, those rights exist. That doesn't mean everyone follows them. The U.S., to use a tired example, doesn't fully allow any of its citizens unhindered expression of those rights. There are limits. We simply choose to allow the greatest possible expression of those rights.

China, and other countries, choose to interpret those rights differently. The people are free to express themselves so long as what they say or write doesn't fall under certain prohibited, as defined by the government, topics. Tiananmen Square and Tibet would be two such topics.

I'm not saying it's right, I'm merely pointing out that we in the U.S. think we have all the answers, that we're right while everyone else is wrong, that everyone else should follow us. Sure, that would be nice, but it's not going to happen. People have developed their own governments based on numerous factors including their own cultural foibles.

While you or I might say complete freedom of choice is a great thing, to someone else in another country they might wonder why. To them, having limited choices, as defined by their government, is better than having a thousand choices.

Re:It's their country (1, Interesting)

plague3106 (71849) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784560)

What crack are you on? There are dozens of governments around the world which do not rule with the consent of the people, including ones the U.S. supports. Egypt come to mind? How about Saudi Arabia? Hell, we sent people to Syria to be tortured yet we criticize that governments rule of law. I don't see you or the U.S. government going after them because the people don't give their consent to be ruled by those in power.

I personally believe that we shouldn't be meddling in the affairs of others. That said, it's up to the local population to remove governments which violate their rights. Should they ask for help in doing so, the US should provide it, provided the government which follows rules given the consent of the people.

Sure it can, just as it has said it is illegal for U.S. citizens to gamble over the internet, visit Cuba or do business with Iran. There are numerous times when the government has told the people what they can and cannot see and has enforced it. Doesn't make it right or mean there is any logic, but yes, it can and has (and continues to do so).

Yes, I also didn't say that the revolution should be the first step taken.

Sure, in a perfect world that would be great but guess what, the world ain't perfect. Governments, within the confines of their own boundaries, can do as they please until their people decide to take matters into their own hands. Obviously the majority of people in China don't feel the need to change things.

Which is up to the people in china to decide.

The rest of yoru post talks about the Geneva convention or whatever. My view is the same as those of our founders, classic liberism. This philosophy is about letting people as much freedom as possible while still functioning as a society. I would argue the people in China don't seem to mind because there's a pretty strong propaganda machine chugging along there. The same was done in Nazi Germany and Italy. That doesn't make it right.

As far as "giving guidelines" about what speech is or isn't allowed; it's censhorship and control, no matter how much you try to spin it. To say the government is allowed to pretend that protests aren't going on in Tibet is simply retarted; people that really believe that will forever be slaves to their rulers.

I suggest you dig more into the philosophy this country was founded on. If you don't like it, please follow my advice, and relocate your residence to China. Then tell me how it's ok for the government to control you.

Either you believe human beings have rights upon creation, or you don't.

Re:It's their country (1)

traveller604 (961720) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784694)

"Wrong. Governments are only valid if they rule with the consent of the people. Otherwise, they can and must be destroyed." So how do you reckon we should go on about destroying the US government? "The US cannot do that, because it has no right to tell people what they can or cannot see. Should the US government do this, it becomes invalid and no longer has the right to govern, and must be overthrown." On the other hand it can fabricate evidence and start wars? "And here I thought freedom of expression, freedom to assemble, freedom of the press were already human rights. I guess in your mind people don't have those, or that the government "grants" them to us." Guantanamo. Need I say more? Go what a hypocrite you are. USA is THE most evil country in the world.

Re:It's their country (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784724)

"Wrong. Governments are only valid if they rule with the consent of the people. Otherwise, they can and must be destroyed."
Obviously there's a limit to this that you miss. The government does have right to limit other rights in cases of national security, in which case this is when it infringes upon China's territorial sovereignty.

"To use a very bad example, what if the U.S. blocked access to sites which promote Al Qaeda's agenda? Would that be ok? Shouldn't we be allowed to see that propaganda? Is that on par with what China is doing? "
Oh yes this is a very bad example, but nonetheless you're speaking as if the US doesn't censor anything that's political. Here's another one: "Yes, what we are looking at is censorship," he said, "but you can censor something that is intended to inflame passions." -US official regarding Iraq

"And here I thought freedom of expression, freedom to assemble, freedom of the press were already human rights. I guess in your mind people don't have those, or that the government "grants" them to us."
Huh? Prove that these are natural inalienable rights in all cases. I'll cite the "fire in a theater" example just as a counterexample.

Please, do everyone a favor, and take a government class.

Re:It's their country (4, Insightful)

vertinox (846076) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784134)

If the Chinese government chooses to block YouTube, or any site which publishes articles critical of the government, that is their right. Every government, whether you like it or not, has the right to dictate the rules within its boundaries.

Rights? Governments have no rights. Rights are inherent to the person and not the state. They can neither be granted nor taken away by the state.

That said, Governments do have sovereignty which I agree that China has. However, the Chinese government does not have the right to torture, murder, or repress the freedom of its citizens. It is wrong and the practice should stop.

Now I will admit, I have a very relativistic western view on the matter, but I don't see how you can say that killing protesters even if they are violent is OK.

Even in the LA riots in the states we didn't have soldiers shooting people indiscriminately without attempts to use non-lethal methods.

At the same time, I will agree that its not our business to go into China forcefully with our military and force them to stop (or any nation for that matter) but it doesn't mean we shouldn't ignore the fact they do such a thing.

Re:It's their country (2, Insightful)

Kelbear (870538) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784636)

No entity has inherent rights. Only the ability to assert his/her/its will.

Even something so basic as having the right to live is meaningless unless they can stop those that decide they don't have that right.

The reality is that moral arguments, the weight of public opinion, is founded on the threat that the public can pose. Some can choose to respect that power, but not everyone will, and clearly many governments do not.

Re:It's their country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22785116)

but I don't see how you can say that killing protesters even if they are violent is OK.
If you're talking about an event that happened almost 20 years ago.... please get over it.

Re:It's their country (1)

bladernr (683269) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787068)

However, the Chinese government does not have the right to torture, murder, or repress the freedom of its citizens. It is wrong and the practice should stop.

From the US Declaration of Independence: That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

The Government in China has whatever rights are given to it by its people, no more, no less. So the government in China does indeed have the right to opress the Chinese, because there is no logical seperation of the Government of China and the Chinese citizen. Without a recognized or enforced equivalent of the US Second Amendment in China, obviously the Chinese defending themselves from a corrupt government is harder, but certainly not impossible. A full popular revolt would be unstoppable.

Most Chinese I know, even those highly critical of the government, defend censorship in the name of social harmony. That is not the same view taken by the common US citizen for instance, but it is the Chinese view. We all view our freedoms and obligations of the government differently.

To give a third example on this point, India, a functioning democracy, employs great restrictions on freedom of speech and those are fully or nearly fully supported by the people of India. It is specifically illegal to make statements to cause social disharmony, and they have all kinds of restrictions on the use of the Indian Flag which would never fly in the US. Basically, they've outlawed being offended. In the US, the Supreme Court in a landmark flag burning case ruled specifically society cannot outlaw an act simply because the act itself is offensive to society. There was actually an article in an Indian newspaper around a month ago comparing the restrictions on the Indian flag with the US defense of Freedom of Expression (the context was someone was arrested for a Flag offense that in the US wouldn't even warrant notice - something like accidentally putting a drink on a Flag or something - my memory fails me a bit)

Different values. You can't judge China based on US values. What the government does is clearly acceptable to the people, who have the right to make that determination over their own lives. At such time the people do not support the government, the government will soon cease to exist.

Re:It's their country (1)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784184)

*DEEP BREATH*

Governments don't have rights, people have rights. Governments have a monopoly on the legitimate use of force and coercion, by popular support or not.

Blocking access to Al Qaeda stuff...Not OK. No censorship is OK in a mature society (Pre-emptively punches slashdoter droning on about shouting fire in a crowded place. Not the same thing K) ...it's a slippery slope

Now censorship works in that it raises the bar high enough so that Joe 6-pack is too lazy to go hunting for the information. There are many Chinese people who honestly have no idea what happened in Tian an men square, or recently Tibet, thanks to this principle.

On the other hand, between a motivated seeker of information, and a cooperative source, censorship can't win. The laws of mathematics (encryption) in this case, is stronger than the law of man.

Are you the chief buyer of walmart? How much say do you really have in where you buy products.

Here is a one way ticket to north Korea, now GTFO.

Re:It's their country (5, Insightful)

fondacio (835785) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784236)

It is a mistake to assume that governments still have unlimited leeway to do whatever they want within their borders. That is why we have human rights: to protect individual citizens against their states, and that's why organisations like Human Rights Watch can express opinions on the human rights situation in all countries, including China. In the past sixty years, these rights have grown from what you would probably call utopian ideals into actual legal rights in international law, so much so that the originally non-binding Universal Declaration of Human Rights [unhchr.ch] , which celebrates its 60th anniversary this year, is now considered to be an expression of customary international law. If a notion of customary law is too vague for you, the fact still remains that the great majority of states have signed the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights [ohchr.org] , which guarantees the freedom of speech in Article 19, which includes the "freedom to seek, receive and impart information and ideas of all kinds". This right can only be restricted in accordance with the provisions of that article. China has signed up to this treaty, although it still has to ratify it. However, as a matter of treaty law it has to refrain from acts which would be incompatible with the purpose of the treaty there's quite a strong argument that arbitrary censorship violates it.

I will be the first to admit that there are all kinds of shortcomings in the protection of human rights through international treaties, but the only point that I want to make here is that you are incorrect when you state that every government "has the right to dictate the rules within its boundaries". That right is no longer absolute, and in large part this is the result of governments providing the stick they are beaten with themselves by signing human rights treaties. It took only sixty years to get where we are now, so the utopian society you mention may be less than a thousand years away.

Re:It's their country (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22786484)

Parent is now at +1 Funny.
Wow.

Re:It's their country (1)

Shadow-isoHunt (1014539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787306)

There is no human right to the internet. Billions of people survive every day without being addicted to staring at a glass screen from which images produced by radiation appear.
"CRT is not a drug. I used to suck dick for LCD. Now that's an addiction. You ever suck some dick for CRT?"

Next on Dr Phil: "CRT used to be enough, but then my left eye started twitching, so I needed more... and then the symptoms worsened, I got headaches... and then, I had to move on to the harder drug, LCD."

Spam? (2, Insightful)

ShiNoKaze (1097629) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783896)

Ok, censorship is bad. Spam is bad. Two wrongs don't make a right... Right? Someone?

Re:Spam? (1)

iknownuttin (1099999) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783940)

Spam is bad. Two wrongs don't make a right... Right? Someone?

It is right when you have this:

"Earn big money NOW! See this protest in ACTION! Protest against the Chinese and get RICH!"

OR: "I have been kicked out of Tibet and the Chinese have my millions of dollars! Watch this video of the Tibetan protests and make BIG Yuan!"

See, it can be done ethically!

Re:Spam? (1)

Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784046)

Think of it this way. We use modified viruses in cancer treatment, right? This is kind of the same thing.

Re:Spam? (1)

sm62704 (957197) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784158)

Two wrongs don't make a right

Maybe not, but three lefts do.

American companies exporting censorware (4, Insightful)

matt me (850665) | more than 6 years ago | (#22783980)

It's not just ISPs and sites who can be faulted for co-operating with foreign censors. Much of the censorware used by such governments is developed in America. A great step would be to introduce legislation to expose which companies are selling censorware to foreign governments. This a tool of oppression, and exports should be scrutinized like weapons.

http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/09/opinion/09jardin.html [nytimes.com]

Re:American companies exporting censorware (1)

kabocox (199019) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784214)

It's not just ISPs and sites who can be faulted for co-operating with foreign censors. Much of the censorware used by such governments is developed in America. A great step would be to introduce legislation to expose which companies are selling censorware to foreign governments. This a tool of oppression, and exports should be scrutinized like weapons.

The US is using China to beta test it. Sort of like how the US is using the UK to beta test that whole 1984 big brother thing that they have going on.

You sound silly. Thought control and censor ship seems a pretty basic meme for governments to control their populations with. I can see why any government would want better censorship tools. It'd be pretty silly of us not selling it to them; considering they are one of our top trading partners. Oh. I forgot this is a political issue. Never mind. Go ahead and rant about the evils of the foreign government all you want.

Or... (1)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784050)

thanks in part to bloggers and others using spam tactics to bypass Chinese filters.

Or proxies? That seems like the obvious route to go to me.

like the geneva convention? (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784060)

like the geneva convention stopped atrocities in war? please

human rights watch writing a code of conduct won't convince china of anything. it won't change its ways. if american companies didn't help them, they'd get someone else to help them, or do it themselves

what's more important to you? helping human rights in china? or shaming american companies? the shaming of american companies should be put aside in pursuit of the larger more noble goal: getting free imformation to chinese citizens

how do you do that? writing a code of conduct? preventing china from using your expertise to build their firewall?

no and no

you defeat the great firewall of china with better guerilla apps. anyone who care about this issue should forget about shaming codes of conduct or shushing american companies that helped the technocrats in beijing

instead what you do is you build proxy servers, ip obfuscators, p2p web traffic redirectors, content caching, etc., etc.: you wage war with the great firewall with china, you smuggle content around it, you render all of the technocrat's efforts to screen what chinese citizens see fruitless and pointless and a joke

that's where you put your effort

shaming colluding american companies or writing well-intentioned but pointless codes of conduct means nothing. results mean something

get to writing those guerilla apps if you really care about this issue. shaming american companies or writing ivory tower codes of conduct is pointless if you really want to help regular chinese escape their hermetically sealed tomb of sanitized braindead propaganda

Re:like the geneva convention? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784408)

Sure. Until China completes its national state-run version of the internet and cuts off the actual internet completely.

BTW, your <SHIFT> key is broken. Just FYI.

they'll never do that (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784542)

walling yourself off from the world makes your country go into decline. all countries need an exchange of ideas with the outer world to prosper. the grumpy old men in beijing are controlling bastards, but they aren't stupid

even if only the elite chinese get (censored) access to the outside world, it's still useful to write guerilla apps that help the elite get uncensored info. actually, that's the case now: the mass of the interior of china is still poor, only the rich and middle class on the coastal cities are getting real internet access

Re:like the geneva convention? (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784592)

instead what you do is you build proxy servers, ip obfuscators, p2p web traffic redirectors, content caching, etc., etc.: you wage war with the great firewall with china, you smuggle content around it, you render all of the technocrat's efforts to screen what chinese citizens see fruitless and pointless and a joke
Great post. And quite correct. The above quote is important, and those that have the ability need to do just that. Bear in mind that such things may be happening in your own country before long. i.e. if you live in the UK or the US this kind of firewall/censorship is not impossible, in fact it's very likely to happen sooner than you think.

uh (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784836)

the difference in censorship between the usa/uk and china is the difference between an inch and a mile

yes, plenty obsess over that inch, but this is silly hysteria

i think it is far more fruitful to focus on that mile

Re:like the geneva convention? (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785510)

My (obviously incomplete) understanding is that those in China who really wants access to the information already do.
And those who don't, don't really bother.

It's not like people in China are dying to know the dark side their government... most do, and due to one reason or the other, aren't particularly interested in digging further. Internet censorship is merely icing on the cake, so to speak. Yet most westerners act as if the Chinese were all sheep who believed 100% in government propaganda. Well, no.

Censorship is bad, but I don't think the correct way is to use technological means to circumvent it. Forcing "politically incorrect" content through the Internet simply makes the Chinese authorities more paranoid, and doesn't make things better.

My non-crystal ball reading of the Chinese authorities' concern is not much on the the content than the people who try to disperse the content, and the subtle ideas behind the apparent content -- most people behind anti-Chinese-government propaganda are simply comfortable with ideas I think would reasonably be called treason anywhere else.

I mean, most "politically incorrect" content portray problems inherent in China's political system, some of which logically leads to a "solution" of bringing down CCP, tearing down the constitution etc. One problem with a single party system is that you don't get to point fingers at the previous administration and say "it's all their fault, but WE ARE NOT THEM!". Which is why stuff like Tienanmen lingers for so long and people still seem so worked up on it...

In fact I think most educated Chinese people know what the problems are, but personally I don't see any way to resolve the political problems without a high risk of bloodshed, western powers and entities trying to "fix" China's problem are sometimes perceived to be trying to solve problems which are known (currently) unsolvable....

Of course, there's also ignorance and incompetence, and FUD within the Chinese government... but to think that you could do better than the guys at the top of the Chinese political hierarchy is simply outright arrogance.

regular chinese escape their hermetically sealed tomb of sanitized braindead propaganda
We are not really that stupid... =.= Well, to speak of the truth, I haven't been directly subject to such propaganda, but to my knowledge most people in China (at least those with normal [i.e. censored] Internet access) already know the deal. Can't say for those in the poorer parts of the country who are struggling to get an education though, but those firewall circumvention tools won't help them anyway.

Sorry mate... hate to shatter your dreams but you can't make a difference.....

let me get this straight (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22785708)

your position is that censorship and propaganda don't actually effect people's opinions, and people's opinions stand as they would whether they had completely unfettered access to info, or completely limited access to info

i wish i could be more diplomatic, but i'm sorry i can't: you're a total moron if you really believe that. if you're just playing devil's advocate, you fail

you are basically making the argument that it doesn't matter how tainted or censored your media is. i'm sorry, you're not a moron. you're a stupid asshole

Re:let me get this straight (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786196)

your position is that censorship and propaganda don't actually effect people's opinions, and people's opinions stand as they would whether they had completely unfettered access to info, or completely limited access to info
I never claimed that. My claim is that there isn't a "completely limited access to info", and that firewall circumvention tools don't really help. It *might* solve *some* of the symptoms, but the problem is much bigger than that, and those who tout firewall circumvention tools as a silver bullet simply misses the larger picture or problem.

Specifically my point is that this (at least now) isn't the case in China:

regular chinese escape their hermetically sealed tomb of sanitized braindead propaganda
Since you seem to completely misunderstand my post, your strawman rant on morons and stupid assholes probably don't hold either. At any rate I see no need to start calling each others names.

Perhaps that's because you think I'm one of those pro-establishment people who think human rights and freedoms mean nothing. Well, no[1]. I'm just saying that some uniformed, impulsive attempts to solve problems actually don't help, or even make things worse.

[1]: Hate to plug offtopic stuff here, but if you think citation is needed on that claim you could google my name, which is "Sidney Fong" together with "protest". Thanks.

i don't know who you are dude (2, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786320)

and i don't care who you are. all i know is that whatever your points are, they seem inane and frivolous

here's my point, across which all of your points break: the more access there is to more media sources, no matter what the source, and the more you are allowed to pursue that media without fear of repercussion or censure, the healthier the body politic, and the healthier the society

meanwhile, your points fall secondary to that, and they do not overrule my larger point. such that the conclusions you seem to be making amount to little more than counterproductive cynicism about humanity. for example: yes, you can have all the free media you want, you're still going to have uninterested fools. no shit. this is true of all societies

but the whole point is you will have LESS uninformed fools. and if that fact carries no weight with you, if that point fails to make an impression on you, then you're an empty useless negative cynic

Re:i don't know who you are dude (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22786600)

the more access there is to more media sources, no matter what the source, and the more you are allowed to pursue that media without fear of repercussion or censure, the healthier the body politic, and the healthier the society
I agree with you. Totally.

My point is firewall circumvention tools will only be used by those who are interested in knowing what their government doesn't want them to know (unless you're going to write a worm that spams infected hosts about Tibet, Tienanmen and whatnot). And those who wish to know those things already do, so it's not much help.

but the whole point is you will have LESS uninformed fools. and if that fact carries no weight with you, if that point fails to make an impression on you, then you're an empty useless negative cynic
My point again, writing firewall circumvention tools don't lead to less uninformed fools. Maybe it would be of some convenience to those who are already seeking out censored materials, but you've got to tell me how your wonderful tools is supposed to reach uninformed fools.

my god (1)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787352)

so there is absolutely no one firewall tools will help? you can't imagine how a curious student might be able to get the tools and pass them out to friends? this escapes your imagination or is impossible for you to contemplate as a possibility? everyone who wants the info already has clean unfettered access?

are you continuing to try to make a stupid point out of sheer stubbornness or what?

the firewall tools will let more people get more info. it will enable curiosity that is not being fulfilled now, it will get into hands through various channels

i can't possibly believe you are trying to tell me otherwise, that you can't imagine how the obvious isn't obvious

what do the logistics and curiosity on display in this story mean to you then? (my submission) [slashdot.org] if you can understand the censorship and desire and distribution in cuba in the abstract sense, why do you think these concepts do not also apply to chinese censorship and desire and distribution there? what does supply and demand mean to you?

where do you live? hong kong? taiwan? is it possible that your ability to access is a little superior than someone in nanjing? harbin? lanzhou? you can't imagine someone there who would like info but can't get it? who would get tools and spread them around? do you need some asshole in new york city to make you aware of the obvious? really?

please tell me you are just arguing out of stubbornness

Re:my god (1)

sydneyfong (410107) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787852)

You stretch my points to the extreme.

so there is absolutely no one firewall tools will help?
Firewall tools will help. A bit. Not much.

you can't imagine how a curious student might be able to get the tools and pass them out to friends? this escapes your imagination or is impossible for you to contemplate as a possibility? everyone who wants the info already has clean unfettered access?
I can. I can also imagine the student obtaining information without using the firewall tools (to give an example, a few days ago I was in Guangzhou, and I could assess slashdot without any hacks. With all the discussion on Chinese politics and stuff on Tienanmen, Tibet etc. that's probably a starter). I can imagine the student creating such tools himself. There are many ways...

the firewall tools will let more people get more info. it will enable curiosity that is not being fulfilled now, it will get into hands through various channels

i can't possibly believe you are trying to tell me otherwise, that you can't imagine how the obvious isn't obvious
You assert your statements again and again without giving at least SOME explanation, while I've given mine. Maybe you missed something??

where do you live? hong kong? taiwan? is it possible that your ability to access is a little superior than someone in nanjing? harbin? lanzhou?
I live in Hong Kong. As mentioned, I was in mainland China a few days ago, and out of curiosity I tested a few sites to see whether they could be assessed. Slashdot was perfectly fine. Wikipedia was outright blocked. Searching for "July 4th" (i.e. the Tienanmen square incident) on google resulted in google being blocked for a few minutes. Everything else seems OK. I could ssh to my machine back home (Hong Kong). Obviously accessing wikipedia through the ssh connection worked. So, yes, I'm well aware that my access is not just a little superior than those living in the mainland.

you can't imagine someone there who would like info but can't get it? who would get tools and spread them around? do you need some asshole in new york city to make you aware of the obvious? really?
You can't imagine Chinese people smart enough to be able to circumvent the firewall themselves? It's not like Chinese people are so stupid that they NEED your tools to circumvent the firewall...

I'm "arguing" because I think *you* misunderstand, and many people misunderstand, and I think your misunderstanding makes things worse for actual freedoms in China (for reasons I've outlined in my first post in this thread). I've put "arguing" in quotes because I really am not, I'm trying to give you another perspective, and if you don't accept it that's fine. You'll be going off thinking that I'm stubborn, and I'll be thinking the same to you.

Ok my final attempt.

Look, I'm not against firewall tools per se. I'm not saying that they don't matter. I'm saying they don't really matter as much as you think they do. I've given my reasons for my claim. Take it or leave it. There's no reason to get emotional here...

Re:my god (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22787902)

Everything else seems OK
Uh... "everything else" must be qualified with "that I've tried" (which isn't a lot of sites). But then I wasn't there on a project for reverse engineering the blacklist....

Re:like the geneva convention? (1)

Shadow-isoHunt (1014539) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787546)

you defeat the great firewall of china with better guerilla apps.
What about turning China into a giant LAN, stopping all the traffic and forcing them to take down the firewall? It wouldn't be too hard to do.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_great_firewall_of_china [wikipedia.org]

Packet filtering. Terminate TCP packet transmissions when a certain number of controversial keywords are detected. This affects all TCP protocols such as HTTP, FTP or POP, but Search engine pages are more likely to be censored. Typical circumvention methods are to use encrypted protocols such as VPN and SSL, to escape the HTML content, or reducing the TCP/IP stack's MTU, thus reducing the amount of text contained in a given packet.

Connection reset. If a previous TCP connection is blocked by the filter, future connection attempts from both sides will also be blocked for up to 30 minutes. Depending on the location of the block, other users or Web sites may be also blocked if the communications are routed to the location of the block. A circumvention method is to ignore the reset packet sent by the firewall.


So, take two gig-e links - one on each side of the firewall - and start spoofing pre-negotiated conversations like crazy, isolating all the Chinese IPs from the rest of the world... I think you could use a few pcap files, tcpreplay and a perl script to do it. I've got no idea how much that would disrupt international business on their end, or if the Chinese government would even care, but it'd be interesting to see none the less.

Start in the USA first (4, Insightful)

sunderland56 (621843) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784122)

Can we get a code of conduct here in the USA about ISPs not blocking content? And, can we get Comcast to sign it?

Re:Start in the USA first (3, Insightful)

internetcommie (945194) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784268)

Wouldn't it be more important to get Comcast to follow it?

Instead of a "code of conduct" for the ISPs (4, Interesting)

iminplaya (723125) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784130)

Let's create a workaround and eliminate the need for for them entirely. That would be much more likely to bring about the desired result.

2 internets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 6 years ago | (#22784472)

i know this has been discussed before, but essentially there is just another net forming over there. One that is self-censored and more heavily scrutinized and filtered. I worry that limiting access and exposure of the US and western "internet bigwigs" such as google and yahoo, will only force china to grow their own fully complacent companies to fill these niches...thus further detaching their public from the freedom of information they so desperately should have access to(as they have no choice but to rely only on these sources)

But I guess the question here is, how much (or even *can) these companies "play ball" without actually becoming the very antithesis of the internet and losing clout in the modern world for such violation of values.

SPAM tactics (1)

brenddie (897982) | more than 6 years ago | (#22784894)

funny how you can use what is generally a bad thing and use it for "good" purposes. Theres always something good to be learned even from the worst.

Easy (1)

rrohbeck (944847) | more than 6 years ago | (#22787940)

how major Internet service providers and portal operators should deal with Internet censorship in China.
Put a prominent link to TOR and other anonymity tools on your home page.

Are you not doing the same thing (1)

omegashenron (942375) | more than 6 years ago | (#22790286)

If you put in place a "code of conduct" are you not yourselves

'setting the standard on control of the Internet'

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