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back to article Beijing removes all online mentions of fleeing activist Chen

China’s online censorship machine flew into overdrive at the weekend to remove all mention of blind human rights lawyer Chen Guangcheng, who fled house arrest and is reportedly now under protection in the US embassy in Beijing. Guangcheng, who has been a vocal campaigner against China’s oppressive one-child policy and has become …

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Boffin

China is in a difficult position

They desperately want to modernize and participate in modern advances. But the bald Internet is such a social shock that it would traumatize their people and could lead to disastrous unrest that would prevent progress - and unseat the government.

I'm not fond of their methods, but I don't envy them the challenges they face.

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Re: China is in a difficult position

Unrest? Well, that tends to happen when you twist, conceal, filter, rewrite and deny the truth for decades, and the public eventually finds out.

I suspect the reluctance would come not from being exposed to the wild west interwebs per se, but to what they might find in the alternative sources that contradicts the "state-sponsored" information.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: China is in a difficult position

If the truth, free speech and open discussion traumatise your citizens, it's a sure sign that there is something inherently wrong with your government.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: China is in a difficult position

..well not China itself, but her people certainly are.

The are looking down the barrel of a gun held by a corrupt power.

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Facepalm

Re: China is in a difficult position

"If the truth, free speech and open discussion traumatise your citizens, it's a sure sign that there is something inherently wrong with your government."

Well, duh. Fascist state discovered to be "inherently wrong" on Internet. Details at twenty-one minutes to eight this evening.

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Re: China is in a difficult position

Agreed. Are the western govs listening then? Because that'll be us in a couple of decades, max.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: China is in a difficult position

Yup, just look what happened to George W. Bush and his team when the public finally learned all the horror of the actions undertaken by his government.

Oh, wait. Nothing. Not even an electoral backlash.

Carry on, China. The message from the West is clear: you can do absolutely anything in complete impunity, as long as it is done in the name of the War On Terror.

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Anonymous Coward

reading this article makes me understand why western governments have been trying to build their own filters and monitoring system under the "Protect IP" and "Think of the Children" flags.

AC, because I always post as AC

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Joke

Don't mention the dissident. I did once but I think I got away with it :)

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Def
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one-child

To be honest, I think every government around the world should be actively discouraging couples from having more than one child. Obviously there's a right way and wrong way to approach this, but as a species we are seriously over populating the planet, and that needs to be addressed sooner rather than later.

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Re: one-child

Democracy and capitalism - causing human misery and environmental damage for the last century :-/

I dunno. There has to be a balancing point somewhere. I believe in freedom but at the same time I can see that too much freedom can be a bad thing. Why should people be free to drive around in three litre gas guzzlers when a one litre frugal engine would suit most of them perfectly well? And yes, why should people be free to have as many children as they want given the obvious strain on our resources?

The flip side of that is that centralised control is usually worse. It isn't good at responding to local issues and is vulnerable to corruption and despotism. Perhaps with modern computing you could resolve the local issue handling in the same way that computer networks can be built to handle localised routing problems. Unfortunately computers are hardly a panacea either as I'm sure we all realise.

Ultimately I think we have to stick with freedom. Let 'the system' organise itself and respond to threats. Hopefully we've built a system that will allow most of us to thrive and ensure that humans don't go extinct. I just hope me and my descendants aren't victims of a 'system adjustment' such as a plague or extreme climate change.

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WTF?

Re: one-child

"Democracy and capitalism - causing human misery and environmental damage for the last century :-/"

As opposed to those states which are non-democratic and non-capitalist - they are such shining paragons of human happiness and freedom, and their environmental record is spotless, like the land itself. And anyone who disagrees will be shot!

I'm really not sure if you're joking or not - but I think Winston Churchill said it best "Democracy is the worst form of government except all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

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Re: one-child

In God we trust. All others, bring data.

People don't actually have that many children once countries modernize. People like to imagine that our growth goes up expotentially but if you look at the data, it always slacks off. Even the poorest countries have much lower birth rates than pre-historic rates.

This demonstrates a key point; not having children is absolutely in the human behavioural toolkit. All human societies today reproduce below their capacity, with modern once producing well below the amount they can actually feed.

Societies with the most social freedom and medical technology do so the very least.

For some people the idea that "you know, we should control people cause like, you can't just have people doing whatever you want" is very -resonant-. And sometimes these people go on to attack freedoms and technology as the enemy here. But the reality is quite the opposite.

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Meh

Re: one-child

It was more of a discussion point. As I wrote at the end I like freedom and I think I agree with what Mr Churchill said. It's the 'least worst' system we've come up with so far. It seems to do more positive things for more people than any other system. What I'm a bit concerned about is how much of a price for that we might end up paying.

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FAIL

Re: one-child

Like forced abortion? That's the reality of life in China today.

Actually, Chen's appeal to the top dogs there to get the constitution and the law observed was rather pathetic: he was talking to wolves about ensuring that the vegetarian menu was adhered to. Just one indication of how out-of-touch even dissidents are with what's really going on, due to the Chinese Communist Party's all-encompassing control of the media.

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Def
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Re: forced abortion

No, obviously not. That's why I said 'discourage' instead of 'prevent' and 'there's a right way and a wrong way'. Discouraging couples from spawning additional children can take many forms. Off the top of my head the most obvious would be reduced child benefits for secondary/tertiary/etc non-twinned children - ie, if you want extra children, you should at least be financially capable of supporting them yourself. That would at least slow down the people who look at having children as a career option.

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Megaphone

Well, isn't that nice to see....?

So, few years back, we watched the Olympic Torch (invented by....oops...nearly invoked Godwin in my first sentence there!) carried through Tianamen Square as it began its noble, symbolic journey. (Good thing they'd scrubbed it clean of blood and removed the tanks, eh?) and as the world and it's wife applauded Chinese "openess" and we watched the media begin its decade's long rattle about "China's acension as an economic power" and it's "inevitable and progressive change towards Democracy" (that's special Chinese Democracy, not proper democracy - Kinda like America), we all new that finally, the most repressed nation in the world had come to it's senses.

Nice to see how it's all panned out for the best and they're no longer oppressing, supressing and restricting it's people's freedoms.

Nice to see how our lovely western technology and lucrative trade deals no longer need to turn a blind eye to such abuses.

Nice to see that our media need not speak of China in anything less than glowing terms.

Ah, China, you shining paragon of democracy, freedom, progress, innovation and economic growth.

We're glad you're our bestest friend.

*smoochies*

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Re: Well, isn't that nice to see....?

"the most repressed nation in the world"

Please tell that to North Korea and to Uzbekistan.

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Re: Well, isn't that nice to see....?

""the most repressed nation in the world"

I think the word the OP is looking for is "oppressed", in which case NK, Uzbekistan etc. probably qualify. It they *actually* mean "repressed", then I believe that would be the United States.

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Bypassing the Great Firewall

"Only those who have the know-how and inclination to set up a VPN to bypass the Great Firewall will get a clearer picture."

Do ordinary Chinese people do that? I'd have thought that whilst a VPN's traffic was private, the existence of the tunnel itself would be pretty obvious, since it uses IP-level protocols that have few other uses. For an ordinary Chinese citizen to use, left alone set up, such a beast would be a bit like flying a big Stars and Stripes from your roof.

But perhaps that sort of thing is actually OK over there and I've just been misled by Imperialist Media Organisations.

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Sir

You can run an SSL vpn on any port you like.

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Re: Sir

Good point. I shall stand corrected.

For extra obfuscation, I suppose one would prefer foreign endpoint to use port 80, so that it looks like an https web-site. And as everyone in the rest of the world moves their web-sites over to https in order to give their own stupid governments the finger, the Chinese VPN will be even less conspicuous.

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Headmaster

Re: Sir

'cept HTTPS uses port 443 by default; 80 is (unencrypted) HTTP, unless you are meaning the rarely-used SHTTP?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Bypassing the Great Firewall

Yes, they do. There are very simple tools to use. Some of them are as simple as a one-file program, just run it, no installation whatsoever, and you're through. Middle-class citizens are aware of them and can use them. However, the Chinese system is not aimed at stopping the individual, but the masses.

You know, the 600-700 millions of poor (though not famished) people they still have, and that'd be more like 1200 millions by now if there hadn't be that One Child Policy. But surely the West would welcome a good half of them when they'd tried to escape starvation.

Lucky the West had the luxury to do its own comfortable social transition to 2 or 3 kids by family at a time when there were still territories to colonize.

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Re: Sir

'cept HTTPS uses port 443 by default; 80 is (unencrypted) HTTP, unless you are meaning the rarely-used SHTTP?

No, I mean you can run https on any port you want, and then connect to it with the addition of a :nnnn at the end of the dns or ip address (where nnnn is the selected port).

Just because default behaviour is to have http unencrypted on port 80, there's nothing to stop you running a secure socket on port 80, or even 8080, or even 53, or 21, or 23, for example.

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Re: Sir

"..you can run https on any port..."

True enough, but enough of a nit-pick that I shall accept the point as made and stand corrected, again. Thanks to you both for hammering my drivel into something approaching sense. Is it pub time yet?

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Re: Sir

"Is it pub time yet?"

Silly question, it's always pub o'clock, isn't it?

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Anonymous Coward

For people willing to check how effective it is...

Click here to see how effective that filtering is on China's biggest search engine (as of right now, not that much, as there is even a link to a blog on Renren):

http://www.baidu.com/s?f=8&rsv_bp=1&rsv_spt=3&wd=chen+guangcheng&inputT=6009

As usual, the filtering seems aimed at preventing rumors to propagate too quickly rather than stopping people to access the information they want if they look for it.

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Facepalm

Censor... Detect... Profit!

Ooooo, so the GFW will tell you that a term is verboten eh? And twitter is signed up for that? So if I published a doc of terms, cross-referenced by what time of day I'd try them each day, all that someone would have to do is note the *absences* in order to figure out what is (cough) not to be concerned about.

So much easier than looking up that "Charles de Gaulle is feeding turtles on the second floor" means the HK stock market has crashed. No?

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