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China Unblocks the BBC (In English)

kdawson posted more than 5 years ago | from the firewall-what-firewall-i-don't-see-any-firewall dept.

Censorship 158

An anonymous reader writes in with news that China has unblocked the BBC Web site — the English-language version at any rate. No announcement was made, because China has never acknowledged blocking the BBC for the last decade. The Chinese-language version of the site has been blocked since its inception in 1999. The article speculates that the easing of censorship may be tied to the upcoming Olympic Games.

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regarding the olympics (3, Interesting)

JeanBaptiste (537955) | more than 5 years ago | (#22862932)

I'd imagine the reporters from other countries will not be censored, through the great firewall or otherwise. If so, they must have a devil of a time separating the chinese from the reporters. Anyone heard anything on this?

Re:regarding the olympics (4, Insightful)

KevMar (471257) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863142)

This will be interesting.

People from all over the world will be visiting and all kinds of reporters will be onsite. How many reports do you think we will see that tell us China blocks part of the internet. Telling us stuff we already told them but they refused to listen.

This will be a big black eye for China because the whole world will be faced with the details and feel the impact.

This could get interesting.

I saw one person mention tor as a work around. I think using a VPN could also work for them.

It is open if you understand English (4, Informative)

hackingbear (988354) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863446)

As I lived in China for 3 years, you can surf most English foreign media websites like CNN, New York Times, etc., most of the times. They don't really care. Because if you are so fluent in English, you already know all about human rights and you are likely a member of the better-off class. In China, like everywhere else, the people that want to and will revolve against the government are the poor people -- never the middle class or rich people. Remember who in the U.S. joint the L.A. riots in the 1990's?

In China, they are most interested in blocking oversea/HK/Taiwan Chinese sites. Like sina.com is a Chinese company operating two sites -- one for domestic and others for oversea with contents not allowed in China.

Re:It is open if you understand English (4, Insightful)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863658)

Actually the middle class has been the core of most revolutions in the last two centuries. You need educated people to lead a revolution.

Re:It is open if you understand English (2, Informative)

hackingbear (988354) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863760)

Yeah... it is like most U.S. presidential candidates of the Democrat party are millionaires. Even bin laden is a millionaire. The mass of the revolution are the poor people.

Re:It is open if you understand English (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864318)

I am not sure but I suspect those cases are exceptions (I wouldn't really count presidents as leaders of a revolution) but it could be a new phenomena for the 21th century. However up to now the upper class is usually the one that has the interest in keeping the status quo - but the middle class has both the talent and the frustration from not having the same opportunities as the upper class to start a revolution. As one of the responders mentioned you do need the masses to follow the leader - but the masses will follow anyone who promises them a better life - its the leaders that generally define the direction of the movement (ie. left vs right, democratic vs dictatorship)

Re:It is open if you understand English (3, Insightful)

LandDolphin (1202876) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863934)

You are right when you say: You need educated people to lead a revolution.

However, while you need educated people to lead, you usually need uneducated people to follow. And there are always more followers then leaders, or at least there should be!

Re:It is open if you understand English (1)

Kaizyn (174682) | more than 6 years ago | (#22864724)

Sure, that's true in the Western world. China, however, is different. If you look at the history of Mao's revolution, you will find that its success came from the rural peasant being at the core.

Re:regarding the olympics (3, Insightful)

Evers (961334) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863470)

How much do you want to bet that the Olympic village and international hotels will have open unrestricted access for all visitors... I don't think the reporters will face nearly as much censorship as you seem to think.

Re:regarding the olympics (3, Insightful)

Auraiken (862386) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863582)

Bet you that china is also clearing out people from the cities that the games are being hosted in as well. Forcing them to move away so that the only people that reporters will have access to are high paid officials, loyals, or paid pretenders. Mod this +1 conspiracy or sadtruth hum.

Re:regarding the olympics (1)

Cassius Corodes (1084513) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863730)

They are already getting rid of anyone who could make the prosperity of china look bad - I'm sure that they will impose restrictions on who foreign reporters can talk to without losing some kind of privilege, on top of which anyone talking to wester reporters would have to be suicidal to say anything critical of the regime.

Re:regarding the olympics (5, Interesting)

mathnerd314 (1212880) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863816)

Bet you that china is also clearing out people from the cities that the games are being hosted in as well. Forcing them to move away so that the only people that reporters will have access to are high paid officials, loyals, or paid pretenders.
You may laugh, but Beijing is planning to kick out a bunch of migrant workers during the Olympics (link [shanghaiist.com] ) to make room for everyone else.

Re:regarding the olympics (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22864484)

apparently, China has mod points

You don't have to bet. Insiders are rather open. (0)

Mactrope (1256892) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864138)

Blogger Richard Stallman pointed to an Atlantic Monthly analysis of the Great Wall of China. It is surprisingly technical and well researched. I have links and quotes here [slashdot.org] .

The short answer is that there will be almost no censorship for foreigners.

Does it get complicated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22864388)

Speaking of your journal(s), a lot of coincidences [slashdot.org] , for sure. Here [slashdot.org] you even stop pretending you posted that other referenced entry with one of your sockpuppets, who amazingly enough has his Slashdot homepage to link to one of twitter's journal entries. Amazing that about the only person other than twitter and Erris to link [slashdot.org] to that same lame journal entry is now having amusing conversations [slashdot.org] with, wait for it, Erris. And of course, Mactrope is super good friends [slashdot.org] with twitter. Let's not forget gnutoo [slashdot.org] demanding to know who [slashdot.org] had modded Mactrope down so unfairly.

That's just an amazing amount of coincidences.

Blogger? (1)

Simian Road (1138739) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864540)

I could have thought of better ways of describing him...

Re:regarding the olympics (4, Insightful)

isomeme (177414) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863908)

I very much doubt we'll see any significant unfavorable coverage from the major corporate news media. All the big corporations are desperate to get or keep access to Chinese markets -- it's hard to ignore a billion potential customers. And they know very well that the Chinese government will remember who said bad things about them when it's time to negotiate licenses and deals.

Re:regarding the olympics (1)

Idiomatick (976696) | more than 6 years ago | (#22864796)

Thats silly. Considering 1,000s of news corporations will be there i'm sure MANY of them will report on w/e they see fit in china. Unless by major you mean fox news. Reuters, BBC and aljazeera will feel no qualms reporting on China. Reuters being the largest news source on the planet..... i'd count it in.

Re:regarding the olympics (1)

isomeme (177414) | more than 6 years ago | (#22864884)

I hope you're right. We'll find out soon enough.

Re:regarding the olympics (1)

SirSlud (67381) | more than 6 years ago | (#22864918)

Well of course, but "Unless by major" .. major means viewership. Viewership is a rather relevant issue within the context of a discussion about whether a particular fact, message, or intent is disseminated.

Re:regarding the olympics (1)

FornaxChemica (968594) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863422)

They should censor foreign athletes too, not just the journalists, to be sure to pocket plenty of gold medails. "You're not allowed to participate, you look like a dissident! Please take example from our hormone-grown and metabolically-challenged athletes who look just so Mao-worthy." I wonder how long before Slashdot is blocked, or is it already?

Re:regarding the olympics (1)

SeaFox (739806) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864222)

I'd imagine the reporters from other countries will not be censored, through the great firewall or otherwise.

I wonder what they'd do with a foreign reporter who was writing articles in Chinese.

Workers Of The World (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22862948)

Unite to smash the repressions of sulphur breathing capitalists [whitehouse.org] .

Vote For Democracy AND Freedom: Vote Communist

PatRIOTically,
K Trout

Poor them (1, Troll)

McGiraf (196030) | more than 5 years ago | (#22862950)

poor them, the level of protection from harmful content by their govenement is getting lower and lower.

Re:Poor them (2, Funny)

sakdoctor (1087155) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863098)

Upon first witnessing the glory and splendour of unfiltered media, they casually, whimsically, decided to destroy it, remarking, "It'll have to go".

Bad publicity (0, Flamebait)

Gothmolly (148874) | more than 5 years ago | (#22862970)

Doesn't this just highlight the censorship that they DO perform? Since Auntie Beeb is considered by many to be respectable and balanced, aren't they the worst to censor? Its not like you're blocking FOX News. China is screwed - they've farked people over for decades, and now the chickens are coming home to roost.

Unblock (0, Troll)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 5 years ago | (#22862988)

Unblock the BBC, that alleged bastion of impartiality. They are about as impartial as Pravda.

Re:Unblock (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22863010)

huh? I get all my news from Pravda. They're very impartial. Unless you're a capitalist pig dog. Which you aren't, are you comrade?

Re:Unblock (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22863972)

I don't know if either of you have read a lot of Pravda lately, but it's full of UFO and Hitler sighting reports, innocent girls forced into animal and cult rituals, and detailed discussions of which country makes better mind control rays. The American, Russian, and Chinese versions all get good and impartial reviews.

Re:Unblock (1)

invisiblerhino (1224028) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863070)

These days it is far too common to claim that a news organisation that reports things you don't like is biased. Isn't that what China have been doing to every media outlet it can? Who exactly do you think the BBC is against?

Re:Unblock (0, Troll)

Wowsers (1151731) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863176)

Who exactly do you think the BBC is against?
The BBC is against everyone it doesn't like (the list is long and pointless to this argument), they long ago gave up being impartial. And being in the UK, you too would resent paying for their propaganda, which is paid for by threat of prison to any non-payer, even if you never watch the BBC and only watch other channels instead - you pay.

Re:Unblock (1)

DavidSev (1108917) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863276)

Not true.
You pay to receive TV signals. Your payments cover public service broadcasts and other such things which is outsourced to the BBC. If you fail to watch it that's your loss, but the laws say that they must be there. If its not a TV licence then it would be a tax. I'm glad I don't have to pay for your TV usage.

Re:Unblock (1)

invisiblerhino (1224028) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863332)

The BBC is against everyone it doesn't like (the list is long and pointless to this argument), they long ago gave up being impartial.
Couldn't you give me just one example? I'm not sure what to do with that comment as it stands.

And being in the UK, you too would resent paying for their propaganda, which is paid for by threat of prison to any non-payer, even if you never watch the BBC and only watch other channels instead - you pay.
The question of the license fee is irrelevant to the impartiality or otherwise of the BBC. As it happens, I do live in the UK, and I agree that it's annoying that you have to pay a license fee even if you don't watch the BBC. I don't mind paying myself, but I don't see that changing until they figure out a way to make the BBC channels inaccessible to non-license payers. The alternative would be to fund the BBC from tax, but that really would be unfair on people who don't watch TV.

Re:Unblock (1)

joggle (594025) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864046)

The alternative would be to fund the BBC from tax
Another alternative would be to fund the BBC with grants by private companies and donations by the public (like PBS in the US). PBS has some of the most balanced coverage of the news anywhere in my opinion, including the BBC (on national PBS news programs, not necessarily shows local to specific viewing areas).

Re:Unblock (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863568)

...the list is long and pointless to this argument...


Of course it has a point. If you're arguing that the BBC has a bias, then providing the list of those individuals, groups, organizations, countries, etc. that it shows a bias towards is pretty much required. If you're not going to provide the list, then it's pretty clear that you are unwilling or incapable of supporting your claim.

I mean do you actually think you're such an important person that we should just take you at your word?

Re:Unblock (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22864838)

The BBC is against everyone it doesn't like

The same is true of pretty much everybody in the world.

(the list is long and pointless to this argument)

Au contraire. Without the list, you have no argument at all.

Expats got around it anyway (5, Informative)

CRCulver (715279) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863002)

On my first trip to China several years ago, the expats I met complained bitterly about the firewall. When I was there last summer, however, it seems that the use of Tor has widely spread in the expat community and now anyone wishing to read English-language media has no problem accessing it.

Re:Expats got around it anyway (3, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863260)

That's progress, but not of the sort that the international community is trying to foster.

Keep in mind that part of the reason the International Olympic Committee gave China the games was to create international pressure for change... and not of the TOR variety.

I find it ironic that, despite publicly stating they wanted to create pressure, now the IOC is condemning calls to boycott the Beijing Olympics, amongst other things.

Re:Expats got around it anyway (2, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863654)

Look, the IOC awards cities the right to host the Olympics based upon kick-backs, bribes and the amount of money that the IOC can make out of marketing deals. Any notion that Beijing was awarded the Olympics as a means of forcing China's hands on human rights is laughably inane. Even if it were true, it would indicate such extreme naivete and stupidity on the part of the IOC as to make a pretty good argument for having the entire lot of meaningless hangers-on and power-hungry bureaucrats that make it up disbanded.

The saddest part about the modern Olympics is that the host countries, whether Liberal western democracies or tyrannical monomaniacal regimes, are simply trying to push a pathetic, anachronistic, nationalistic message which has about as much to do with dignity, human rights and fraternity as a neutron bomb has to do with heating your house. Quite frankly, that any country spends a nickel sending a pack of drug-abusing ninnies off to compete against other countries' drug-abusing ninnies is the shame in and of itself. If they are going to insist on these moronic and monstrous nationalist displays, then build the goddamn thing in Elis in Greece, discard that portion of the IOC that goes around trying to get favors and bribes from host cities, instead spending the vast sum to make a premium international sports center, and be done with all this thinly-veiled political-cum-nationalistic crapola.

Re:Expats got around it anyway (1)

Mex (191941) | more than 6 years ago | (#22864790)

"Quite frankly, that any country spends a nickel sending a pack of drug-abusing ninnies off to compete against other countries' drug-abusing ninnies is the shame in and of itself."

I am a close relative of a certain competitor in one of the Olympic sports (not the popular ones, but certainly a difficult art) and I can assure you and vouch that he does not and has never taken drugs of any sort, unless creatine counts.

You come off as very ignorant, insulting, and petty, sir.

Re:Expats got around it anyway (1)

a whoabot (706122) | more than 6 years ago | (#22865020)

I would say creatine counts.

Re:Expats got around it anyway (2, Interesting)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863656)

Keep in mind that part of the reason the International Olympic Committee gave China the games was to create international pressure for change... and not of the TOR variety.

That's wrongheaded, anyway. You don't give a bully what he wants and then tell him it's because you want him to stop being a bully. No, you tell him up front he won't get what he wants until he stops being a bully, and that only as long as he continues to play nice.

This had nothing to do with trying to encourage change in China's government and everything to do with trying to curry favor. We let that particular group of sociopathic leaders grab us by the short-and-curly (and by "us" I mean the entire industrialized world, if you think China is after the United States only you're not up to speed) and now we have to toady up to them. It's ridiculous on the face of it.

Re:Expats got around it anyway (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864284)

That's wrongheaded, anyway. You don't give a bully what he wants and then tell him it's because you want him to stop being a bully. No, you tell him up front he won't get what he wants until he stops being a bully, and that only as long as he continues to play nice.
That's one school of thought and we can see how well it's worked with countries like Cuba, Iran, N. Korea, etc.

Another school of thought suggests that engaging the bully will give you better results in the long term. China is a bully, but the USA engaged them as economic partners and things have changed, albeit very slowly.

Re:Expats got around it anyway (1)

ScrewMaster (602015) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864526)

China is a bully, but the USA engaged them as economic partners and things have changed, albeit very slowly.

Not at all. Let me rephrase your comment so that it is more closely aligned with reality:

China is a bully, and the USA foolishly engaged them as economic partners and now things have not only gone from bad to worse, but have done so with blinding speed. And China's government has not, by all accounts, been changed even a smidgen for the better.

Re:Expats got around it anyway (1)

TehDuffman (987864) | more than 6 years ago | (#22864578)

That's one school of thought and we can see how well it's worked with countries like Cuba, Iran, N. Korea, etc.

It also the school of thought that came from the Munich Agreement and the appeasement of Nazi Germany. Giving into aggressive countries will just continue to show them they can do what they want. Giving Beijing the Olympics was a bad choice as we can see from the recent situation in Tibet. While the Olympics are more about money than anything else they also mean more that simple profit and the Olympic committee may have forgotten that.

Things have worked out in Cuba and NK and Iran to lesser extents. Why the people haven't revolted in those countries is beyond me but they haven't spread the doctrine of hate to neighboring countries it has been contained (much less with Iran but radical Islam is a different and bigger matter).

Of course countries like the US are not perfect and i think that Iraq has been a slap in the face of America that is finally waking us up that we are not the worlds police and we don't have to step in and impose our policies no matter how right we think they are.

About Time (2, Funny)

Selfunfocused (1215732) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863078)

Thank God. China will finally have easy access to Dr. Who.

Re:About Time (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22863174)

they call it Dr. Whong there.

Re:About Time (2, Funny)

bigjarom (950328) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863274)

Thank God. China will finally have easy access to Dr. Who.
Why do you think they blocked it in the first place?

Re:About Time (1)

Potor (658520) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863468)

Dr. Wu - can you hear me doctor?

hmm (-1, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22863110)

Strange how things are different. Just think if http://slashdot.org/ [slashdot.org] was blocked. We wouldn't even know that China sucks too.

Oh NO!

rearry? (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22863164)

rearry?

Slashdot Moderation (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22863202)


is a fucking joke. To quote President-VICE Richard B. Cheney: Go fuck yourselves AND Bush.

Thanks for nothing you motherfuckers.

if you only read mandarin (3, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863242)

what's the point?

Re:if you only read mandarin (4, Informative)

Applekid (993327) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863392)

Only the relatively well off among the Chinese are educated enough to be literate in English. You know: heads of state-owned companies, those in high levels of government, espionage, and maybe some repatriotized persons. In any case, relatively few people. Of those, they are all in comfortable surroundings made possible by the state. If they start learning about "democracy" and "freedom" they realize that, all in all, they aren't doing too bad themselves. And if those learnings lead to funny ideas about bringing them to within China, the state could easily replace them and any one of their peers would jump at the new opportunity.

The majority of Chinese, the only ones with a smidgen of possibility of success to revolt and start a revolution due to their sheer numbers, are the ones the Chinese establishment wants to keep dumb and oblivious. The ones with perhaps most to gain from a new democratic China.

So much for the classless society communism promises.

mod parent up (1, Insightful)

circletimessquare (444983) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863566)

i couldn't have said it better myself

Re:mod parent up (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22864174)

do realize however that the lower class that you are talking about like communism and mao's days(and not even the new capitalism)

Re:if you only read mandarin (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22863870)

How about college students? They are well-educated to read in English, and most of them are eager to know what they can't find in Chinese media.

Re:if you only read mandarin (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22863874)

So much for the classless society communism promises.

You're incredibly naive. Do you actually believe that China is a communist state? If yes, I might have a bridge to sell you.

Seriously, the fact that someone claims they're something doesn't make it true. Would you point at North Korea and say "democracy doesn't work" because they call themselves a "democratic republic"? Of course not.

That's not to say that communism does or can work - it doesn't, and it can't. But no matter what, communism hasn't got the slightest thing to do with modern China.

Maybe you should go to China and learn Chinese (3, Insightful)

hackingbear (988354) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863936)

I will suggest you to do two things: (1) get a travel visa to China, go to a large city like Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Guangzhou and visit some English corners (if you don't know where to find one, try google [google.com] ; (2) start learning written Chinese and visit the discussion forums of Chinese news website like sina.com [sina.com.cn] for sometimes, especially for discussions about corruption cases, housing prices, or even news when the stock market heads down.

(1) will show you who and how many people are fluent in English; (2) will show you if people there know about "democracy", "freedom" and "equality" and if people can criticize the government or not. don't take my words here. go try the above two things. Of course, you can also choose just to listen the mainstream opinions you have heard from CNN and Slashdot -- that's your right as well.

Re:if you only read mandarin (0, Troll)

zoogies (879569) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864444)

The idea that democracy is the model of perfection for government is one that's just plain wrong, but one that's also taken completely for granted, no questions asked, most of the time. I am not saying that the US model is bad. It's not. But you seem to be saying that China, if it were informed and its people not repressed enough, obviously would trend towards democracy because democracy just rocks so much. Do you really think that a democracy is all that feasible for a country of China's population? Yeah, India is a democracy. And India is also a budding world power, isn't it? I think there are a lot of points that need to be made here. First: "Red China" is not communist except in name. China's economy is not growing the way it has been by being communist. You seem to assume that since the media calls it "communist" China all the time, that companies are all state-owned. I'm no expert on the particulars, but I do believe that is false. Also, there is a huge disparity in well-off-ness, particularly as you go from the cities to the rural areas. This is very, um, communist. The majority of the Chinese don't put much cred into things the government tells them. Let's move away from the traditional western view of those pitiable, brainwashed, and oppressed Chinese populace, mindlessly following what the government tells them. Bullshit. There are a lot of poor people in China. But they're not stupid, mindless government drones incapable of free thought. Which is sometimes more than we can say about the West. This particular view of communist, oppressive, anti-rights China is very much a Western one, and in many ways it has merit, because let's face it, the Chinese government isn't exactly full of angels, and the communist party's history there is not one of sterling uprightness and fluffy bunnies and such. But one thing I hope West will just get over is the feeling that since we live in America, land of democracy and perfection, we can trust the government and media. We can let them tell us how we should think about "Red China", because there's no significant government oversight in what the media says at all. We are free of propaganda and brainwashing, because our free, democratic governments would NEVER do something like that. So to sum up, I do not completely disagree with the things you say, but it looks like you're subscribing wholesale and rather blindly to the Western media view on communist China, and I wanted to add a different perspective. Things are not great, but things are not as BBC tells it either (just look at their coverage of the Tibet riots), and it's time we started questioning our own media, here in the West, and holding it up to the same standards and microscopes we apply to such heavily censored, oppressive regimes as "Red China."

Re:if you only read mandarin (1)

zoogies (879569) | more than 6 years ago | (#22864574)

^ Please don't read the above. Holy cow, I'm sorry, I didn't notice I had "HTML formatted" turned on. -_-

Here it is in paragraphs.

---

The idea that democracy is the model of perfection for government is one that's just plain wrong, but one that's also taken completely for granted, no questions asked, most of the time.

I am not saying that the US model is bad. It's not.

But you seem to be saying that China, if it were informed and its people not repressed enough, obviously would trend towards democracy because democracy just rocks so much.

Do you really think that a democracy is all that feasible for a country of China's population? Yeah, India is a democracy. And India is also a budding world power, isn't it?

I think there are a lot of points that need to be made here. First: "Red China" is not communist except in name. China's economy is not growing the way it has been by being communist. You seem to assume that since the media calls it "communist" China all the time, that companies are all state-owned. I'm no expert on the particulars, but I do believe that is false.

Also, there is a huge disparity in well-off-ness, particularly as you go from the cities to the rural areas. This is very, um, communist.

The majority of the Chinese don't put much cred into things the government tells them. Let's move away from the traditional western view of those pitiable, brainwashed, and oppressed Chinese populace, mindlessly following what the government tells them. Bullshit. There are a lot of poor people in China. But they're not stupid, mindless government drones incapable of free thought.

Which is sometimes more than we can say about the West. This particular view of communist, oppressive, anti-rights China is very much a Western one, and in many ways it has merit, because let's face it, the Chinese government isn't exactly full of angels, and the communist party's history there is not one of sterling uprightness and fluffy bunnies and such.

But one thing I hope West will just get over is the feeling that since we live in America, land of democracy and perfection, we can trust the government and media. We can let them tell us how we should think about "Red China", because there's no significant government oversight in what the media says at all. We are free of propaganda and brainwashing, because our free, democratic governments would NEVER do something like that.

So to sum up, I do not completely disagree with the things you say, but it looks like you're subscribing wholesale and rather blindly to the Western media view on communist China, and I wanted to add a different perspective. Things are not great, but things are not as BBC tells it either (just look at their coverage of the Tibet riots), and it's time we started questioning our own media, here in the West, and holding it up to the same standards and microscopes we apply to such heavily censored, oppressive regimes as "Red China."

Re:if you only read mandarin (1)

sjwest (948274) | more than 6 years ago | (#22864554)

May i suggest a book The writing on the wall: China and the west in the 21st century, by Will Hutton

BBC would never criticize Red China (1)

techvet (918701) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863244)

The BBC, which had a backbone during WWII, now has the backbone of a jellyfish and will look the other way as many suffer in China. Many in the American press do the same, ignoring the millions killed by Chairman Mao and successors, but they're more independent and can't be counted on for predictable comments. Hey, is /. blocked as well???

Re:BBC would never criticize Red China (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863672)

Um, they don't seem to have a problem, within their ability, to report on what's going on with the protests in Tibet. The weakness for the BBC, as with any foreign news organization right now, is that China is trying to make it as difficult as possible for anyone to see their violent, tyrannical and oppressive activities. Still, the Tibet story has dominated the BBC's news coverage for several days now, so they don't seem to have a problem in that department.

Submit to the authorities! (5, Funny)

Pharmboy (216950) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863264)

I love the tag at the bottom of the article:

Are you in China? What is your reaction to this story? Is this your first time reading the BBC News website?

Followed by a block to enter your name, address and phone number. Yea right, that's a good idea, log on with your real info and complain about how your government censors you....and leave your contact info.

Re:Submit to the authorities! (4, Funny)

evil agent (918566) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863370)

Yea right, that's a good idea, log on with your real info and complain about how your government censors you....and leave your contact info.

Or the contact info of someone you don't like.

I am posting from China (4, Funny)

Bobb Sledd (307434) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863338)

I am posting my comment from China right now, and I can tell you that [xxxxx] [xx] [xx] [xxxx] and [xxxxxxx] [xx] [xxxx] BBC [xx] [xxxx] so that [xx] [xxx] [xxxx] [xx] [xx] [xxxxx] Chinese government. What I can't figure out is, why is this the only article on Slashdot today? Slow news day? Hmm.

It's Transistor Radios All Over Again (5, Interesting)

coaxial (28297) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863348)

The conventional wisdom [theatlantic.com] is that in the lead up to, and during, the olympics that Great Firewall is going to be deactivated for those with IP addresses originating in parts of Beijing where foreigners are expected to be. The idea is that foreigners will come to China, not see anything a miss and then go back to their home countries and spread the false impression.

It's a page right out Chairman Mao's playbook. When Nixon went China, the handlers routinely gave people on the street transistor radios [time.com] to listen to. That way Nixon and Kissenger would say, "Wow. What a nice scene. China truly is wonderful place." Then as soon as these people were out of sight of dignitaries, goons (I'm sorry, "the advance team") would collect the radios for redistribution to other Potemkin Villages.

As David Byrne said, "Same as it ever was."

I'm going to be in Beijing next month in a hotel down by the Bird's Nest. I'm going to have to check out the Great Firewall.

Re:It's Transistor Radios All Over Again (3, Insightful)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863720)

It won't work though. I have long predicted that this is going to become the protest Olympics. Not like the 1980 boycott nonsense - indeed the exact opposite, everyone goes, and everyone goes (or attempts to) where they like. I would be amazed if all of the major human rights organisations have not very well thought out plans to make public protests at the games. If they protests, it is reported - if they get caught and jailed it is reported (coupled with the "outrage, they kept me in a 3x3 cell" headlines).
If the journo's attempt to go outside the "gated world" you foresee then they will either, a: find the real story and report it (scoop!), or b: have some "obey all orders" state authority tell them they are barred - the journo's will report that (scoop!) and China will still look bad.

This Olympics were only ever going to be a success for China if the media played along with their "lets all play happy families, look everything is nice" game - I was pleased to see the widespread reporting of the Tibet protesters interrupting the torch lighting in Greece (coincidentally I can see the 5 rings depicted as handcuffs becoming a oft repeated protest symbol for this games) - that is indicative that the media aren't going to play the brush it under the carpet game.

I partly feel sorry for the honest Chinese people who want to be proud of their country. And in truth the oppression and censorship isn't really 100 miles away from some practices in the western world (camp X ray, extraordinary rendition being two examples where the moral code of conduct has just been chucked in the fire). But at the same time the Chinese government is just far too easy a target - the appallingly hilarious cold war communist part ways that they attempt to deny the plain truth ("the sky is blue" - reply "no it isn't" end of discussion) is just far too easy to make a mockery out of.

Let the games commence.

Re:It's Transistor Radios All Over Again (3, Insightful)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863814)

I partly feel sorry for the honest Chinese people who want to be proud of their country. And in truth the oppression and censorship isn't really 100 miles away from some practices in the western world (camp X ray, extraordinary rendition being two examples where the moral code of conduct has just been chucked in the fire). But at the same time the Chinese government is just far too easy a target - the appallingly hilarious cold war communist part ways that they attempt to deny the plain truth ("the sky is blue" - reply "no it isn't" end of discussion) is just far too easy to make a mockery out of.


Yes, the US has done some nasty things, but come on, to compare it in any way to the vast machinery of propaganda that PRC uses to control the Chinese people with the idiocies and sins of your average US Administration is pathetic. I didn't notice anybody getting trundled off to jail for reporting on the various abuses. The Administration makes its loud noises, but the NY Times is still there, and still critical of the government.

Governments, by their very nature, will abuse the rights of people under their control (citizens and non-citizens alike). The key here is not that any country have some sort of perfect government, but that the key checks of a free press and the freedom to voice one's opinion are sacrosanct.

Re:It's Transistor Radios All Over Again (1)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863920)

I am not commenting on any symmetry of press freedom - that is very obviously different. What I was commenting on were other forms of moral and civil liberties. Hundreds dead in the Tibetan protests over the last few weeks is obviously something that is far away from a western mirror image, but there are plenty of activities (particularly the Bush administrations') that if they were going on in China there would be a western "outcry" and moralising about it - yet it goes on here and seems to be accepted. I mean look at the wiretapping situation - free unaccountable will to snoop on anyone's activities in any facet of their lives, online and offline - there are no checks and balances in that - and nothing seems to be changing.

Re:It's Transistor Radios All Over Again (1)

rahvin112 (446269) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864378)

Snooping is one thing, using that snooping in a court is another thing. Remember, even though Bush is breaking the law and the telecommunications companies were complicit in it, the simple fact is that none of the information obtained can be used to put a single US citizen in jail. Part of the ongoing fight at Gitmo is to make sure that none of the information gained can be used in any court anywhere including those where they try to take away constitutional rights from non-citizens.

It's one thing to allow your government to listen and a completely different matter to allow your government to listen then use that against the citizens. This is the big difference between the west and China. Sure our governments listens, but without a court order and some reasonable suspicion to get the warrant none of listening can amount of much of anything, in China they execute you for portraying the state badly to the world and your own words can be used against you without any checks on the abuse of government.

Re:It's Transistor Radios All Over Again (1)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 6 years ago | (#22864616)

Sure our governments listens, but without a court order and some reasonable suspicion to get the warrant none of listening can amount of much of anything,
Come on, that is just a half twist on the "if you are doing nothing wrong then it doesn't matter that we are intercepting your mail" age old argument that is a total fallacy in any argument about privacy. There is *no* moral authority coming from the US on this unless there is a reasonable suspicion to enable listening in the first place - otherwise you are just in a 1984 "as long as you abide by the law you have nothing to worry about" trap.

Re:It's Transistor Radios All Over Again (3, Interesting)

MrPloppy (1117689) | more than 6 years ago | (#22864762)

Yes Western countries dont need to have vast machinery to control the media and citizens because the media organisations are quite happy to do it themselves. Yes "the key checks of a free press and the freedom to voice one's opinion are sacrosanct." but it makes no difference because dissenting voices are drowned out by the establishment. For example in the UK the coverage of Palestine and Israel is unfairly biased towards Israel. http://www.gla.ac.uk/centres/mediagroup/bnfi_reviews.htm [gla.ac.uk] Its not just on this topic the same pattern can be seen again and again eg Iraq.

Great Wall fun (1)

fliptout (9217) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863928)

If you're going to be in China, try to hop over to Xian- in my opinion, the Terracotta Warriors blow away the Great Wall. Simply because all the "touristy" sections of the great wall seem rather fake to me after being rebuilt. I've been to the Badaling and Mutianyu sections near Beijing, and they are alright, though Mutianyu is marginally better in my opinion. Other sections seem less traveled, which might make for a more "authentic" experience. The more remote the better.

Also, don't forget to bargain at the Great Wall or other touristy places, or you will get totally screwed like the silly laowai that you are. Offer 1/10th the asking price and walk away if they don't concede.

Re:Great Wall fun (1)

coaxial (28297) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864106)

Thanks for the advice! I'd like to avoid the touristy parts if I can, but at the same time there are certain things such as Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City that you just have to see since they are unique in the world.

I should definitely try to schedule some time to go to Xian. I can always take a train I guess. A friend of mine in Beijing suggested the the Hou Hai and Xiang Shan neighborhoods in Beijing places to see. Any other advice?

Re:Great Wall fun (1)

ForestGrump (644805) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864470)

True story.

One time at the great wall, I was coming down and walking through the tourist trap. Saw a chairman mao watch [google.com] where mao would wave to you. Thought it was cute.

The thing with tourist traps is they all sell the same stuff. Don't like one vendor, move on to another! I asked the first vendor how much it was, she says like 40 RMB. I say 25. She gets upset and tells me I'm unreasonable. I move on.
I get to the bottom of the hill and ask the vendor how much. he says 80. How about 25? He proceeds to tell me how it's leather and a wind-up, etc. Well, the lady up the hill opens at 40, so how about 30? He agrees. All that for 10 RMB (which is ~1.25US).

So there you go. Don't trust the price they give you (esp if it's at the end of the street b/c those are the first you see and tend to be the most expensive. But decide how much hassle is a dollar or 2 and the bargaining hassle. Sometimes it's just easier to not fight the price as much.

Lack of ackowledgement != denial (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22863356)

Now, before you all go conspiracy-tastic here, remember that not ackowledging something is different from officially denying something. I mean, our governments refuse to acknowledge plenty of miltary hardware, bases and so on that BLATANTLY EXIST. In the eyes of respective governments this is all in the best interest of the state and by extension it's population. So...facist-tastic away!

Asymmetric Information... (1)

Fysiks Wurks (949375) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863362)

Why is it we are appalled at the Chinese Government's heavy handed censorship yet every capitalist business participates in a similar use of an asymmetry of information? You don't know what I do therefore you pay me to for access/product/whatever and I don't know what you know so the same applies in reverse!

Yes, I prefer that I have as free access to as much information as possible.

Re:Asymmetric Information... (1)

Angostura (703910) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863704)

Because when you are working for a capitalist business you are being paid for your time and in return the capitalist business expects you to carry out assigned tasks rather than browsing Facebook?

Re:Asymmetric Information... (1)

Da Fokka (94074) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864076)

Because you can choose the businesses you are dealing with to a large extent, while you can't choose another government. Theoretically, in a liberal democracy you have some influence over your government but this is not true in China. And even in the west, there often is very little to choose. That's why the guys who wrote the US constitution were pretty smart when they wrote down a list of subjects the government should not govern.

mr bean (2)

Is0m0rph (819726) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863404)

A win for China, they finally get to watch Mr Bean!

ironic... (3, Funny)

alewar (784204) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863524)

I tried to watch a couple of shows online from the BBC website but I wasn't allow because I don't live in the UK, I was blocked by the BBC itself.

In China, China blocks BBC but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22863660)

I tried to watch a couple of shows online from the BBC website but I wasn't allow because I don't live in the UK, I was blocked by the BBC itself.

...in rest of world, BBC blocks you!

Re:ironic... (4, Insightful)

Itninja (937614) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863832)

That different because your were being blocked for western capitalist legal reasons. It's only ethically wrong when it's for eastern communist legal reasons. Duh!

USA is a police state, China is free. (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22863670)

I'm a white European living in China (the People's Republic). I used to live in USA for 2 years. Comparing those two countries I have no doubts China provides more freedom than USA. USA is practically a police state nowadays. As a white male in China I'm treated like a god. I can do almost whatever I want to. I'm not interested in so calle 'political freedom' as it is bullshit I believe. It really doesn't matter who'll win the USA election. Whether it is Barack, Clinton or McCain. It doesn't change ANYTHING. USA is (and will be) a servant of Jews and the president is a dummy. There is no essential difference between the Communist Party in China and USA government. In China you can do your time for critizing government, in USA you can go to jail for clicking a fake 'pedo links'. The latter is worse for me. I'm a loyal guest on the Chinese soil. I support Chinese communists for what they are doing to its country. I can do teenage girls in poor Chinese region without any problems. There are no Jews in China. Food is great. Prices are small. Pirated software everywhere. Even pedophilia is accepted. The only thing you can't do is critizing authorities. But who gives a fuck about critizing authorities if he has money, high living standards and teenage girls??? Think of it, especially you Americans. You are nice fellows so I really feel sorry for you. Herman.

Re:USA is a police state, China is free. (2, Funny)

brkello (642429) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864050)

Thanks for the laugh. You are confusing freedom with people being impressed with a (relatively) large penis.

And the BBC blocked... (2, Insightful)

br00tus (528477) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863700)

...Sinn Fein from talking for years, even though Sinn Fein MPs were being elected to the British Parliament. When Gerry Adams appeared on television, an actor would have to read his lines. Even documentaries covering events in Ireland from decades ago ran into problems. And as this pertains to the BBC, we we won't even get into the British government banning books like Spycatcher and so forth.

Yaa, it's always the slant-eyed reds who won't bow down to the US who are the censoring types who kdawson has to post "news" articles about again and again and again. Never mind that people in the US who sell PAID-FOR satellite access to Al Manar [nytimes.com] are thrown into prison to rot. Never mind that the Great Firewall of China was mostly built not in China but by the largest companies dotting the San Francisco Bay area. As Easter just ended, a quote from old JC - look not for the speck in your neighbor's eye when you have a log in your own.

Re:And the BBC blocked... (4, Informative)

MLCT (1148749) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863762)

Stop talking bollocks. The Thatcher government banned Mr Adams from all broadcast media in the UK, the BBC (along with ITN and all the other UK broadcasters) had no choice but to do it or they would be prosecuted - it has bugger all to do with the BBC themselves.

Re:And the BBC blocked... (5, Insightful)

MrSteveSD (801820) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863838)

The BBC also refused to show the Star Trek Next Gen episode "The High Ground" because Mr Data mentioned that terrorism sometimes works and that Northern Ireland became independent. Also a while back the BBC had an open discussion on Google's collaboration with censorship in China. A few people pointed out that the BBC also engages in censorship and the BBC deleted their comments. In the end they had to give up as a torrent of people started to complain. If you look at the BBC's "Have Your Say" today, you will see that all discussions are totally locked down and pre-moderated despite the BBC's initial promise of an open discussion system.

The more general issue though is that the BBC (and other outlets) engage in widespread self-censorship. Just look at the way the BBC handles the official statements of different governments. When it comes to Russia the BBC treat them with suspicion and try to second guess them and look at all the possible ulterior motives. When it comes to the US or UK, there is no such analysis and the arguments become confined within the narrow parameters laid out by those governments. So BBC discussion of Iraq becomes an analysis of how our good intentions have gone wrong, or why we messed up with the intelligence, rather than trying to look at any possible ulterior motives etc.

Re:And the BBC blocked... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#22864048)

Have you seen the sort of crackpots that frequent HYS? It'd be the cesspit to end all cesspits (except 4chan) if it wasn't moderated heavily. As it is, the whole section's little more than loonies screeching at each other.

Re:And the BBC blocked... (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864066)

Mod parent Insightful.

Totally correct. People forget that the BBC is, and always has been, a propaganda tool for the UK Government -- probably an espionage tool too.

My first thought on seeing this article was that the most likely reason was a deal done by the BBC / UK Government and China -- i.e. not that China was becoming more liberal, but that the BBC had agreed on certain censorships.

Re:And the BBC blocked... (1)

meringuoid (568297) | more than 6 years ago | (#22864870)

People forget that the BBC is, and always has been, a propaganda tool for the UK Government

Not always a terribly effective one, though. The phrases 'Did you threaten to overrule him' and 'Peter Mandelson is certainly gay' spring to mind.

cat and mouse. (4, Interesting)

apodyopsis (1048476) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863722)

Whenever I visited China, I always had a feeling of playing cat and mouse with the unseen and much hypothesised great firewall. BBC back then? no chance. but you could hunt around and use other UK based new sites - daily main, guardian, thesun (if desperate), the times. Sometimes they would grind to a halt and I imagined my unseen monitor in the great firewall office checking what I was doing - then, as if he/she decided I was not a subversive threat, it would spring back into life. Other times I would VPN or proxy and find any site I wanted - but at a pitifully slow rate as if everything I did was intercepted and checked by my unseen intermediary. Other fun things that had odd effects on the speed on which pages would load would be to proxy them through the dialectizer - I always imagined one severly culterally puzzled state firewall operator calling his boss. The 'net access was always different depending on where I hooked up - im the 5* hotel in shezhen was always the fastest, in the office soso, in a street cafe you could forget it.

My conclusion was that the firewall was very very definately real, and the moment it found a foreign news story, the wrong keyword then suddenly wierd timelags and delays in page lookups would occur as my unseen companion blocked or cleared at whim. I also could of sworn that the system could tell the difference between the net being accessed from a posh hotel occupied by Western Engineers and a street cafe.

Tibet a factor (5, Informative)

trainman (6872) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863792)

The current Tibet situation is probably also a factor in the dropping of the BBC block. "What?!?!," you're probably saying, "But China likes to hide that kind of stuff from their citizens, they don't like news getting out about unrest." Ahh, but this is a special situation.

When it comes to Tibet, the more Western media that gets in the better for the Chinese government. There is an intense vein of nationalism in China when it comes to Tibet. With outpourings of rage about "biased" western media, distorted facts, and CIA plots to break up China. The more Tibet-sympathetic reports that come from the West and leak in the China, the stronger this nationalism seems to get, and the more the people, even the poor, rally around their government.

My other half is a Chinese national, we've had some very intense conversations lately, and she's sent me links to views coming out of China about the Tibet situation. Ordinary Chinese see this as a direct attack on their sovereignty.

Many Chinese are learning English, especially the under 20 crowd. In the major eastern cities it's now required for all students in elementary school. If the government can channel their unrest against the Imperial West who's trying to break up their country, it takes the heat off the government. The Chinese government has long used nationalism, an us vs. them mentality, to deflect attention from itself domestically.

Of course they certainly wouldn't be the only country doing this, it's a long standing tradition for any unpopular regime. If you can draw this line between you and another group, and get your people to rally around you on some point, you can easily manipulate and pacify a population.

Re:Tibet a factor (1)

MightyMartian (840721) | more than 5 years ago | (#22863924)

When it comes to Tibet, the more Western media that gets in the better for the Chinese government. There is an intense vein of nationalism in China when it comes to Tibet. With outpourings of rage about "biased" western media, distorted facts, and CIA plots to break up China. The more Tibet-sympathetic reports that come from the West and leak in the China, the stronger this nationalism seems to get, and the more the people, even the poor, rally around their government.

My other half is a Chinese national, we've had some very intense conversations lately, and she's sent me links to views coming out of China about the Tibet situation. Ordinary Chinese see this as a direct attack on their sovereignty.


The pretext used for the invasion of Tibet was pretty damned flimsy. There had been brief periods of meaningful Chinese control in Tibet. By their argument, China ought to have been invading any number of countries in East and Southeast Asia.

It's like Germany seizing Strasbourg, France seizing New Orleans, England seizing Aquitaine, the Vatican seizing Central Italy, the UK seizing Massachusetts, or the Spaniards seizing most of Latin America. Just because some country has at one time or another had real or nominal sovereignty of a region (and let's remember, China's relationship with Tibet was mainly as an irregularly-enforced tributary state) doesn't mean it's infinite and unlimited.

China's invasion of and importing of Chinese into Tibet (with the essential purpose of overcoming and ultimately extinguishing the Tibetan people) was as blatant an act of colonialism as the Treaty Ports had been when the Great Powers forced them on China. That a government that has so frequently decried Western Imperialism (and in some cases rightfully so) has done precisely the same thing is bad, but to have a bunch of people overawed by the flawed logic that allows them overlook this behavior in their own government is a sad testament to just how evil nationalism truly is.

Re:Tibet a factor (4, Interesting)

trainman (6872) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864186)

The pretext used for the invasion of Tibet was pretty damned flimsy. There had been brief periods of meaningful Chinese control in Tibet. By their argument, China ought to have been invading any number of countries in East and Southeast Asia.
Actually, from an intellectual level, listening to her side of the debate on what justified the invasion is quite interesting. She firmly believes, from her childhood education, that the Chinese government was "liberating" Tibet when they went there. Just like they believe the CCP was liberating the rest of the country from dictatorial oppression during the revolution.

There is strong belief that the Dali Lama was an illegitimate monarch who enslaved his people. And it's fascinating how the West and China see him so completely differently. Cruel dictator? The Dali Lama? Surely not.

But of course listening to arguments on why there IS democracy in China is fascinating too.

She did admit that one reason for the invasion was to create a defensive barrier, to take control of a strategic area when it came to mountain fortification. But yes, the idea of historic control of Tibet by China, by that argument Italy should claim control of most of Europe, they controlled it 2000 years ago (a longer claim then China over Tibet). And from the history I've read, for parts of this period, the control was the other way around - Tibet controlled large parts of China, they weren't always pacifist monks. :)

That a government that has so frequently decried Western Imperialism (and in some cases rightfully so) has done precisely the same thing is bad, but to have a bunch of people overawed by the flawed logic that allows them overlook this behavior in their own government is a sad testament to just how evil nationalism truly is.
Indeed it is my friend, nationalism is a scary thing which has probably in one way or another lead to most wars in human history. But it's such an easy emotion to exploit, the us and them. The idea you can externalize and blame another group for all your problems. And until we wake up and stop listening to the Bushs of the of the world when they say "you're either with us or against us," and see the world instead as shades of gray, I don't see much changing.

Pot meet kettle. (1)

owlnation (858981) | more than 5 years ago | (#22864094)

I guess the Chinese may also have figured that there's no point in blocking a site from a more restricted country than them. The UK or China -- which one has the 5 million security cameras again?

Another theory (1)

damburger (981828) | more than 6 years ago | (#22864688)

It might be that the BBC hasn't said anything vaguely challenging since Greg Dyke left and it was turned into a mouthpiece for New Labor (sic) and the middle England I-reckon-right brigade that supports them.
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