Thursday, January 27, 2005

China's Independent Minds: "Thank You, Internet!"

The great contradiction of China's recent economic growth is that the country's leaders are trying to accommodate some degree of capitalism—including the embrace of computer technology—while trying to prevent freedom from spreading into the political realm. One mechanism they rely on is the "Great Firewall of China," which is supposed to keep young Chinese from engaging in a free exchange of ideas over the Internet. But this article indicates Chinese netizens' growing impatience with these restrictions.

"Cracks in the Chinese Wall," Emily Parker, Wall Street Journal, 1/27/05

"Indeed, the sudden media silence after Zhao's death only caused many to realize that something was seriously wrong. 'I'm too young, I don't understand the reasons or the results, I pay a silent tribute. This morning I couldn't connect to any overseas Web sites, and I realized that something had happened. What I really don't understand is...[why it's necessary to put so much effort into] blocking all overseas Web sites, it's as though they have a guilty conscience.' Another said, 'I live in Guangzhou, and that night I wasn't able to access two Hong Kong TV stations, so I realized immediately that something major had happened, it turns out that general secretary Zhao had died!... In this era, how much longer can you block information?'...

"China's leaders may hope that prosperity will help justify maintaining a wall to block information. But the cracks are beginning to show. Amid all the sadness and frustration expressed online, there was one ray of hope: 'Thank you, Internet, for giving us one last place to speak!' "