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China’s online censorship

Posted by Michael Bloch in online world (Saturday February 18, 2006 )

*Sigh* – why must the West push its own “values” onto other countries that aren’t yet, and perhaps may never be, ready to accept them.

I’m referring to the issue regarding the major search engines making forays into the Chinese market. Many of us in the West seem to be kicking up a major stink in regards to China forcing these companies to filter out content that they find unsuitable. China should be applauded and encouraged for the concessions they have allowed, not demonized.

China has made huge concessions in the last couple of decades in opening itself up to the West. We’ve been given some great opportunities to do business over there and learn more about their culture. As the old saying goes, “when in Rome, do as the Romans do”. How we can be so arrogant to try and dictate to the Chinese what online content should and shouldn’t be made available to their citizens is rather short-sighted.

China has already threatened to splinter its Internet infrastructure off from the rest of the world if the criticism continues. I know they have the means to and I’m sure it’s not an empty threat.

China needs time. If things are to change in that country, it should be allowed to naturally evolve at a pace they see fit. Subtle pressure, sure, but this outright attack on the Chinese government fueled by ignorance is *not* the way to go about things. They are a proud, intelligent people and have every right to be cautious of the West given our track record.

At this point in time, bagging their government as we can do to our own governments in Western countries is extraordinarily counter-productive. From what I understand, diplomacy is the key to dealing with China. Lobbying by activists should be done quietly and with sensitivity – China will not bend to the whims of the West purely because we start screaming about any injustices we perceive. Those of us who publish on the web should bear that in mind when reporting on these issues.

It may come as a shock to some, but our own governments oppress the people in their lands – just in different ways. For example, here in Australia we lock people up in detention facilities in the desert for years on end. Their crime? Seeking refugee status in our country. It’s disgusting and we’ve been condemned by major humanitarian organizations for doing so.

We are by no means perfect and before we start pointing the finger too much elsewhere, we really need to tidy up our own back yards first. By doing so, we can then become a true model for other countries we arrogantly deem to be “oppressive regimes”.

Make no mistake, as one of my buddies told me some years ago – China is a sleeping giant. When it fully awakes, we want them to be in a good mood :).


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