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China - We Don't Censor the Internet 554

Posted by Zonk
from the alternate-reality-china dept.
kaufmanmoore writes "A Chinese government official at a United Nations summit in Athens on internet governance has claimed that no Net censorship exists at all in China. The article includes an exchange by a Chinese government official and a BBC reporter over the blocking of the BBC in China." From the article: "I don't think we should be using different standards to judge China. In China, we don't have software blocking Internet sites. Sometimes we have trouble accessing them. But that's a different problem. I know that some colleagues listen to the BBC in their offices from the Webcast. And I've heard people say that the BBC is not available in China or that it's blocked. I'm sure I don't know why people say this kind of thing. We do not have restrictions at all."
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China - We Don't Censor the Internet

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  • the audience? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by victorl19 (879236) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:07PM (#16659957)
    Despite the fact that many outside of China know that it indeed does exist, this piece of news is more likely intended for those within China.
    • by Kadin2048 (468275) <.slashdot.kadin. .at. .xoxy.net.> on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:11PM (#16660027) Homepage Journal
      Thank you, China. Because every day, when I get up and read the U.S. news, and think "goddamn, our country is going into the toilet," all I have to do is turn to the International section to realize that it could always be worse.

      • by Khuffie (818093)
        And the fact that you do that will only lead to the US go further down the toilet. Just because other countries have it worse means that allowing the US to get even more screwed up is ok.
      • by Firehed (942385) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @02:25PM (#16661499) Homepage
        The best can still suck, and I think we've long since lost that title (assuming anyone outside the country ever thought we had it). It's rather stupid to think how much worse we could have things because it results in us thinking that we have it so great - it just lowers the standard. Think of how much better we could have things and *raise* the standard we're looking to achieve.
    • by ackthpt (218170) * on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:25PM (#16660341) Homepage Journal

      Despite the fact that many outside of China know that it indeed does exist, this piece of news is more likely intended for those within China.

      No kidding. I've met people recently from China and they don't know where we all get off on these things. They claim there are any number of small newspapers and such all over the place. They also think we tend to make a bigger deal of things than we ought and their country is just fine thank you very much.

      Of course, if you grew up never knowing otherwise or thinking outside the box someone has constructed around you, you may be so indoctrinated. Same way Brits appear indoctrinated that they must read in the Sun or News of the World what trollop David Beckham is frollicking around Spain with or Americans feel the overwhelming urge to tell others how they ought to live and behave.

      Those friends and colleagues listening to the BBC webcast, since we don't know otherwise, may be checking for new words or topics they need to add to their filters.

      However you shake it up, China is in for a bit of adjustment when the 2008 Olympics bring people from all over the world into China where they will be expecting access to news and media as they had at home. Perhaps China has already thought of this and is constructing exclusion zones...

      • Four Words (Score:4, Interesting)

        by Yvanhoe (564877) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:39PM (#16660593) Journal
        Tien Anmen Google Images
      • by steve_ellis (586756) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @02:12PM (#16661271) Homepage
        Based on my experience in hotels in China aimed at foreign tourists (so-called 5-star hotels--certified 5-star by the Chinese government), all of them appeared to have unfiltered internet access available. Since many of them are affiliated with big western hotel chains, I'm guessing they get their feeds from their corporate parent, although the government itself may provide unfiltered feeds to hotels targeted at foreigners. I observed this in several major cities (Beijing, Shanghai, Xian & Guangzhou). On the other hand, the great firewall is in place and working very nicely on residential dial-up, DSL, and in internet cafes (my nephew has at times had both dial-up and DSL service).
      • by juuri (7678) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @02:15PM (#16661327) Homepage
        After 9/11 I was dating a girl from the Mainland. She had been in the states for a few years and still had a really positive view of her homeland. One night we were watching one of the tributes to the heroes of that day (she was really into that stuff) and they showed a quick summary of history for the last 25 years. As it was going on they showed the protest in Tienamen square and the student confronting the tank and then being... well you know.

        She had never seen it.

        She had no idea that had ever happened.

        It's hard to put into words how sad she became and the rage that immediately followed towards her homeland. There's a lot governments are good at repressing things in most any country from public knowledge, but the ability to completely hide something from your people that the rest of the world knows about? That's just criminal.
    • Anyone remember Tian An Men Square? I very distinctly remember the words of the Prime Minister's translator: "Not one people died on Tian An Men Square." That mistranslation is a direct quote. That quote led to the moment of my understanding just how fucked the Chinese people are.

  • Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Facekhan (445017) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:08PM (#16659959)
    I think this guy has never had one of his lies pointed out in his face.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by timeOday (582209)
      I know somebody who took a tour of Tiananmen Square [wikipedia.org] just a couple years ago. She asked the tour guide about the brutal supression of the demonstrations in 1989, and how many people died. (The Chinese Red Cross said they'd counted over 2600 dead). The tour guide said that of course he knew about the protests, but nobody had died at all.

      Acutally in revisiting the link I just posted, it says: "The Chinese government has maintained that there were no deaths within the square itself, which appears to outsid

      • by Stargoat (658863)
        The pox marks in the outer wall of the Forbidden City that I saw two years ago would suggest otherwise.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by Hitch (1361)
          that impressive...I've never seen plague transmitted by fortification before.
    • by pilgrim23 (716938)
      Halloween is an apropriate day for this tale. Time to carve the Potemkin.......
  • In China, we don't have software blocking Internet sites. Sometimes we have trouble accessing them.

    I didn't lose it, I just don't remember where I put it.

    I'm not lost, I just don't know where I am.

    I'm not paranoid, everyone IS out to get me!

    I'm not sleeping, I'm just resting my eyes.

    Are we really going to trust a nation that doesn't even follow its own constitution [intelligentblogger.com]*? Oh, that's right. There's an escape clause in there that says, "the government can steamroll the people, no matter what the Constitution says.

    • by RingDev (879105)
      "Oh, that's right. There's an escape clause in there that says, "the government can steamroll the people, no matter what the Constitution says. You just can't steamroll each other." Well that's peachy keen."

      Hey! We just got that same clause in our constitution!

      -Rick
    • "It's not dead, it's just restin'."

      Anyone wants to adopt the parrot sketch to this situation?
  • Hmmm (Score:5, Funny)

    by geoffspear (692508) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:08PM (#16659967) Homepage
    Well, if his high-ranking government official collegues are able to get an uncensored Internet feed, that must mean they don't have any censorship, right?
    • by netruner (588721)
      Correct - That's because they're full Party members - they can also turn off their televiewers. Censorship of the proles is necessary to keep them working and shouldn't be counted as true "censorship".
  • by the_skywise (189793) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:08PM (#16659971)
    Technically... in Chinese legalspeek(tm) he's probably right.

    It's not "censorship" it's "protection of the people from incorrect thoughts".
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Tackhead (54550)
      > Technically... in Chinese legalspeek(tm) he's probably right.
      >
      > It's not "censorship" it's "protection of the people from incorrect thoughts".

      I can buy that. My country's lawyers say it's not torture unless there's major organ failure or death.

      The USSR was the failed alpha release. The PRC is the live beta site.

    • He specifically states that the BBC's website is not blocked when, in fact, it is and has been for a long time.
    • That's such a good word. I've never actually heard it used in reference to censorship before; I don't think they even go that far in 1984.

      "Improper", "immoral", "corrupted" thoughts -- even under utter despotism that arguement still leaves open debate. But saying that thoughts are simply and finally "incorrect" is a whole other level of audacity.
    • Mod up! (Score:3, Insightful)

      by nacturation (646836)
      Awesome example. However, I suspect some Chinese official would come back with a response of how Google wishes to promote only peaceful images of Tiananmen Square and they had nothing to do with the image results of an American-based company.
       
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by radtea (464814)
      Three pages of images for China, 10+ pages for the rest of the world.

      So I guess it looks censored because it is censored, and the only question that remains is: why do news organizations allowed themselves to be co-opted by the Big Lie so easily?

      If the government of China announces that 2+2=5, would that be reported too? I guess in a way it is news, that a major world power is governed by a bunch of lying bastards, and that they get away with it because they will torture, kill or incarcerate anyone who po
      • So I guess it looks censored because it is censored, and the only question that remains is: why do news organizations allowed themselves to be co-opted by the Big Lie so easily?

        Because money+money=more money, and ethics+ethics=less money.
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by siufish (814496)

      It's not hard to understand. China did not censor the images. Google, a US company, did. .cn does not mean it belongs to the Chinese government. You can say Google gave in to pressure from the government, but ultimately it is Google's decision.

      Do you get it now? The Chinese government "don't have software blocking Internet sites." Companies who want to do business in China do.

      • Reminds me of the end of the second Planet of the Apes where the telepath says "We don't kill our enemies, Mr. Brent. We make our enemies kill each other" all innocent-like. Even when I was a little kid I knew that was some staggering bullshit he was trying to pull off.
    • The bottom of the page says something to the effect of "We are limiting the results of this search to comply with local laws" (apologies for inexact translation -- I can only read Chinese by way of Japanese).
  • that China has so much respect for tradition.

    Like, for instance, the Big Lie.

  • hmmm... (Score:2, Funny)

    by alx5000 (896642)
    1. Smash up Human Rights.
    2. Get all the International Community busy discussing some nonsensical omfg-lmao statement you make.
    3. Profit.
  • no filters (Score:3, Insightful)

    by yakumo.unr (833476) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:13PM (#16660065) Homepage
    tiananmen square [slashdot.org] didn't happen either, why would we need such a thing as a filter. And no idea what google is talking about [slashdot.org] at all
  • by binaryspiral (784263) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:13PM (#16660089)
    "A Chinese government official at a United Nations summit in Athens on internet governance has claimed that no Net censorship exists at all in China.

    If truth was that easy.

    I'm a millionaire. I own a mansion and a yacht.
  • by Jonsey (593310) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:14PM (#16660095) Journal
    I think I've found Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf's [wikipedia.org] new job.

    Spin for one government is the same as a spin for another government, right?

    Trust The Computer, The Computer is your Friend. Happiness is Mandatory! (I'm dressed as a troubleshooter [wikipedia.org] this Halloween, but an Iraqi Information Minister would have worked as well)
  • by repvik (96666) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:14PM (#16660109)
    I think this:

    In China, we don't have software blocking Internet sites. Sometimes we have trouble accessing them. But that's a different problem.

    should've read:

    In China, we don't have software blocking Internet sites. Sometimes we have trouble accessing them. But that's because the hardware filters doesn't work most of the time.
    • by pikine (771084)
      That's actually correct. Last time I heard about the newest China firewall technology, they were using Cisco's IDS (intrusion detection system) to make these network devices flag censored keywords as intrusion. The network responds to this by dropping the connection and blacklist the origin of attack---websites---for a predetermined period, which results in these websites being blocked.
  • O RLY? (Score:4, Informative)

    by focitrixilous P (690813) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:15PM (#16660119) Journal
    So, searching for any topic on google in china would give the same results, correct?

    US Image Search for Tiananmen Square [google.com]

    China Image Search for the same [google.cn]

    Who doesn't censor the internet, now?

    • Re:O RLY? (Score:4, Funny)

      by cdrudge (68377) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:18PM (#16660207) Homepage
      Well it's obvious that Google.cn just hasn't had the opportunity to index the entire internet. You know that the internet is a pretty big place and Google.cn is still fairly new. Give it 10-15 years and check again.
    • by SeaFox (739806)
      Also interesting, there are only 3 pages of photos on Google China, and 34 pages of photos on Google.com

      I suppose next they'll tell us Chinese people are not interested in their own country?
    • a better demonstration is to use other google image search result from other country in addition (example : iran, japan, germany...). Why ? Because it could be that .com image search people are interrested into tiananmen square image whereas china is not. In other word it could be not a censure but just incidental.
      • by arth1 (260657)

        a better demonstration is to use other google image search result from other country in addition (example : iran, japan, germany...). Why ? Because it could be that .com image search people are interrested into tiananmen square image whereas china is not. In other word it could be not a censure but just incidental.

        Um, no. That could affect the ranking, but not the indexing. Note that the .cn version is only 3 pages long -- anything that references the protests or massacre is pruned.

        An even better example

    • by Abcd1234 (188840)
      Did it occur to you that there simply may not be as many Chinese-language websites (which are ranked higher on google.cn) which contain those particular photos, for whatever reason?
  • Did he move to China?
  • New job (Score:3, Funny)

    by rlp (11898) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:15PM (#16660125)
    Glad to see 'Baghdad Bob' was able to find employment working for the Chinese government.
  • by Ancient_Hacker (751168) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:15PM (#16660131)
    Sometimes when you buy an old radio in Wisconsin, where lots of German immigrants settled, you'll find all the shortwave radio coils have been snipped out. In WW2 the govt censored SW reception by going into people's houses and doctoring their radios so they couldnt puick up far-away radio stations. Not one of the highpoints of the bill of rights.
  • by jcr (53032)
    It's not every day that you can catch a commie telling a baldfaced lie like this. These days, they usually go for the weasel approach.

    -jcr
  • by PoconoPCDoctor (912001) <jpclyons@gmail.com> on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:18PM (#16660201) Homepage Journal
    I think just using the CN in a google search must not be returning the same results, but there's no way for me to test this.

    For instance - plug in the term censorship in the same link that the AC used -

    http://www.google.cn/search?hl=zh-CN&q=censorship& btnG=%E6%90%9C%E7%B4%A2%E5%9B%BE%E7%89%87&ie=UTF-8 &oe=UTF-8&sa=N&tab=iw [google.cn]

    I saw links to Wiki with full articles on censorship in the ROC. Would this work if searched while located in Bejing or anywhere else in the ROC? My guess is no. Other hardware filters are in place.
    • by nuzak (959558)
      The ROC is Taiwan. The PRC is mainland China.
    • by pikine (771084)

      I saw links to Wiki with full articles on censorship in the ROC. Would this work if searched while located in Bejing or anywhere else in the ROC? My guess is no. Other hardware filters are in place.

      ROC (Republic of China) actually refers to a "government in exile [wikipedia.org]" that currently resides in Taiwan.

      The proper name for China is People's Republic of China, or PRC.

  • Now, if the UN were to wrest control of the internet from the US, they could allow China to handle its operations.

    After all, they're already running their own network quite efficiently, and with no censorship whatsoever.
  • I mean, really...this guy comes out to the U.N. with a comment he just cannot later deny. What else could happen other than this becoming a huge deal with dozens of more reports citing examples of how their filtering works. I don't understand how this guy actually thinks he could get away with such a thing!?
  • I hereby dub this clown Bejing Bob.
  • by Phat_Tony (661117) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:25PM (#16660329)
    Just like Tibet has always been a part of China, but was momentarily mislead by the dangerous oppression of the Dalai Lama, until the people of Tibet rose up with the welcomed support of their Chinese brothers in a glorious revolution to overthrow their Buddhist oppressors and rejoin their traditional homeland.
  • I was just in China (Score:3, Informative)

    by todesengel (722281) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:25PM (#16660337)
    and I tested this out. Searching for "Tiananmen square" yields plenty of results, but 90% of them weren't accessible. I never had any other "connection problems" other times I was on the web.
  • google knows all (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:26PM (#16660365)
    1. go to http://images.google.cn/images?q=tiananmen [google.cn]
    2. look at the bottom left of the page, there's a string of chinese characters
    3. use google language tools to translate that string.
    4. it says: "According to local laws, regulations, and policies, some search results are not shown."
    5. indeed, search for "tiananmen" in http://images.google.com/images?q=tiananmen [google.com] and compare

    no censorship! just local laws, regulations, and policies. some results are not shown, big deal.
  • I think I have just discovered where the old Iraqi Information Minister has ended up....
  • In China, we don't have a "great" wall blocking our border. Sometimes we have trouble navigating the difficult terrain or sometimes see inaccurate satellite photos. But that's a different problem.
  • "We don't censor." - China
  • And we don't torture.
  • by Lead Butthead (321013) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:37PM (#16660547) Journal
    The PRoC government doesn't censor the internet. The private sector companies does it for them, "voluntary."
  • First of all, the official ws lying: China does censor the Internet and vigorously pursues people who send or receive pornography and politically sensitive material (ask the Falun Gong or Catholic communities).

    Then why does the official lie? This is part of the process of achieving your objective by using deception. It is a respected strategy in China, Japan, and Korea. It has its roots in "The Art of War" by Sun Tzu, along with other "Bin Fa". A good description of dealing with Asians can be found in, "The
    • Quite.
      Put more simply:
      Too many people will tie themselves in mental knots trying to prove the existance of a lie, while the liar simply smiles and moves on to his next task.
      Cognitive dissonance is a wonderful tool for the manipulative.


  • Denial is a wonderful river, just not a great way to run your life, or country.

    Sad thing is no-one was there to repute him, after the fact doesn't change the previous message, so it just adds another brick on the preverbial firewall.

  • So, when they're sitting on the United Nations Human Rights Council, do they say "We do not have capital punishment. I have heard that some people die while in prison, but we do not know the reason why. We will look into it."
  • Yes yes... (Score:3, Funny)

    by spiritraveller (641174) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @01:51PM (#16660805)
    I'm sure I don't know why people say this kind of thing.

    If I were from China, I would probably be sure that I didn't know too.
  • I repeat, there are no American companies filtering Internet in China!
  • by sckeener (137243) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @02:36PM (#16661693)
    Offtopic> Does anyone else see CN and think 'Choatic Neutral?'

    China's not evil.

    They play Chaotic Neutral so the paladin in the party with detect evil won't beat them up.

    Ok...I'm a geek.

    And I'm single.
  • by erikdalen (99500) <erik.dalen@mensa.se> on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @02:38PM (#16661731) Homepage
    Here's some proof that it exists:

    First open Baidupedia ( a Chinese wikipedia clone): http://baike.baidu.com/ [baidu.com]

    Then try to search on some censored word like: (falun gong)

    You should now get a "Connection reset by peer" message

    Now you won't be able to access any page on that server for at least 30 minutes.
  • by pestilence669 (823950) on Tuesday October 31, 2006 @04:09PM (#16663377)
    I happened to work at a company who's primary mission was to liberate the Chinese from their firewall. I believe the motivation was to encourage promote democracy through free speech. It was backed by some pretty influential agencies. Our products worked using a special blend of encryption and peer-to-peer redirection to provide anonymous Internet access.

    Using our software: every site in China works as expected. Without our software: all censored sites are blocked.

    To say the great firewall doesn't exist is an outright lie.

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