Or so says The Standard, Tuesday, July 15, 2008. Inspired by StacyJill’s incredulousness (is that a word?) regarding internet censorship in China:
“It was this whole report on how people in China have no idea that they are being censored on the net. That instead of getting a screen telling them that they are “blocked”, they get a 404 error. They also mentioned this report that said that a majority of the people interviewed didn’t mind being censored… come on.. so not true, right?! ;-)”
I got to thinking back to my experiences in China (meaning the country) and the real belief that China (meaning the State, this case) actually can and does control everything within China (and sometimes without.) When I was in China I found the internet censorship hilarious. But effective. I could get gmail if I was really tenacious and I could get MySpace and Facebook occasionally. I could not access my blogsite/wordpress at all and Wikipedia was also blocked. I understand from foreigners there that the way they choose to censor is very random, which is actually more effective because a permanent block of a site would allow people to break through the firewall or whatever. I have no idea but they sounded like they new what they were talking about. I suppose random roadblocks would be more effective in all aspects of life, especially in that they would be harder to rebel against, because they might not be there on the day you chose to rebel.
Of course, the net censorship is but a small part of China’s attempts to control all elements of everything that might infiltrate the population. They blocked a Canadian earthquake rescue team from going to Sichuan because, well I don’t know why, but it was a specially trained disaster team and they were denied visas. They also blocked Google searches when Edison Chen’s scandal broke… but neither of these two things mattered much in the end; the Canadians sent their supplies in through Hong Kong ex-pats and had a holiday while the Chinese officials looked like idiots, and downloaded photos of Edison and all his bits were selling like hot cakes on the street for 10 yuan a piece.
But the thing is China really believes they have it all under control. And, as Stacy heard on NPR, the people don’t seem to mind. There are numerous editorials by people (especially young people) who support the government’s censorship because the “Western Media” is so damaging to China that there is no need to allow it, and that there is nothing that needs to be seen that is blocked. One of my Hong Kong students told me with complete earnestness that China had to keep such tight reins on things because China’s population was too big and unpredictable to be allowed any chance at mayhem and anarchy. When I said that it really seemed to be an illusion of control, he said that was good enough. I don’t know, but I think he is right. It appears that everyone is more comfortable operating under the illusion that the Chinese government is the omniscient leader and enforcer and most people simply don’t ask, don’t ask.
So, as far as the Olympics are concerned, there will be:
- NO RUNNING NAKED
- NO MATCHING CLOTHES*
- NO GETTING DRUNK
- NO OPENING UMBRELLAS
- NO CARRYING A LARGE NUMBER OF COINS IN YOUR POCKET
- NO POLITICAL BANNERS
- NO RELIGIOUS BANNERS
- NO COMMERCIAL BANNERS
- NO MILITARY BANNERS
- NO HUMAN RIGHTS BANNERS
- NO ENVIRONMENTAL BANNERS
- NO ANIMAL PROTECTION BANNERS
[This banner has been banned because, according to sources in The Standard, it “would be unfair to athletes from other countries.”]
*If you have been to China you will know already that this is a national pastime in the literal sense, however, they mean no people in large numbers wearing shirts with the same design in this particular case.