The Great Firewall of China

 

After an evening with Beijing entrepreneurs discussing plans for a private sector healthcare alternative to the inefficient government hospital network, I found this notice in my hotel room.

IMG_2208 (1)

Chinese Internet censorship is a serious affair, blocking all of my usual virtual private network workarounds.  The effort seems far more thorough than on my last visit a year ago, causing me to wonder whether a Walled Garden will replace the Internet as other governments follow the Chinese example.

But Ricochet remains available.   Chinese authorities apparently appreciate thoughtful, civil conversation.

There are 27 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Perhaps Ricochet has not yet been noticed, or perhaps it is considered small potatoes. How comprehensive is the censorship? Do they block a random foreign blogger that might occasionally let slip a criticism of the regime?

    • #1
  2. user_83937 Inactive
    user_83937
    @user_83937

    Wait, they are blocking Paul Krugman at the New York Times?!  Evidence of the foolishness of central planning!

    • #2
  3. user_280840 Inactive
    user_280840
    @FredCole

    We should devote ourselves to getting Ricochet excluded from China.

    • #3
  4. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    The feeling is mutual.

    • #4
  5. user_44643 Inactive
    user_44643
    @MikeLaRoche

    In the immortal words of Kwai Chang Caine, “As with the circle, all things return.”

    • #5
  6. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    With the continued ascent of China (and soon, India), and the continued decay of western powers, you’ll probably see a lot more walled gardens in the future in many more countries. China has been pretty successful in blocking what they don’t want. It’s probably a cinch that other countries are going to go “Well, why not?”.

    • #6
  7. George Savage Contributor
    George Savage
    @GeorgeSavage

    I am struck by a weird dichotomy: In America you can freely criticize the government but are economically constrained at every turn. Here the constraints are reversed. Last night’s dinner was with a group planning to stand up an entirely new health insurance and health care delivery system–no permission necessary.

    • #7
  8. Yeah...ok. Inactive
    Yeah...ok.
    @Yeahok

    So China has too many people to use our approach? Limited censorship but then maintaining a database of who writes what, who reads what and then sending the IRS to squelch or co-opt anyone who may become annoying.

    • #8
  9. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    It goes to show that there is no simple continuum between freedom and oppression. Americans are simultaneously more free and less free than other peoples, depending on the aspect of society.

    • #9
  10. user_82762 Thatcher
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    George & all,

    Ever wonder just how many people were expressly murdered so Mao’s little vision of reality could be maintained? After the Soviet Union fell we found out the real story. Wonder what the real story is in China. We already know that there is a gulag prison system in the interior that is far worse than Stalin’s. We just don’t have the hard statistics yet.

    …hmmmm…gee maybe that’s why they’re still so sensitive about information flow?

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #10
  11. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    It’s good to see that the old AOL business model still has some life in it.

    • #11
  12. user_82762 Thatcher
    user_82762
    @JamesGawron

    Basil Fawlty:It’s good to see that the old AOL business model still has some life in it.

    BF,

    Thomas L. Friedman, you know “Friedman of the Times”, has endorsed this video about the great wonder that China is today.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #12
  13. Asquared Coolidge
    Asquared
    @ASquared

    I shall never forget the morning I was shaving in my Bejing hotel room with BBC News on in the background.  They started a story about China, and the screen went totally blank about 5 seconds into the story.  It stayed that way for about 3 to 5 minutes, and by the time it was restored, BBC was halfway through the next story.

    The obviously had some guy with his finger on the feed button cutting it off when any foreign news service was broadcasting a story about China.

    • #13
  14. David Knights Member
    David Knights
    @DavidKnights

    I’ve been to China twice.  In 2005, before the Great firewall went up, the best internet service I ever experienced anywhere was in a hotel in Chongqing.  When I went back in 2010, the internet service was universally awful everywhere.

    • #14
  15. Douglas Inactive
    Douglas
    @Douglas

    Aaron Miller:It goes to show that there is no simple continuum between freedom and oppression. Americans are simultaneously more free and less free than other peoples, depending on the aspect of society.

    It also disproves a maxim we’ve heard all of our lives: economic freedom automatically brings political freedom. One of the biggest arguments for liberalizing trade with China over the years has been that such deals… even if they cheated and we got the short end of the stick… would liberalize their society. That hasn’t happened. They keep getting richer, and show no signs of rebelling against their system. Most are quite happy with it. Witness the standing ovation Jackie Chan got with Honk Kong businessmen when he criticized American freedom and how it was unsuitable for China.

    • #15
  16. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    It makes me a combination of angry and sad when I read that this or that company is increasing their presence in China, due to their “huge market”.  I shake my fist at the computer screen and say : Don’t you EVER forget that China is a Communist Country!  They are now in the process of kicking out hundreds of foreign NGOs, who they deem are hurting their society.  We think we’re helping.  They beg to differ.  I have no interest in ever going to China, no matter how great the scenery and the history.  They can do without my direct dollars.

    • #16
  17. drlorentz Member
    drlorentz
    @drlorentz

    Douglas:

    It also disproves a maxim we’ve heard all of our lives: economic freedom automatically brings political freedom.

    They keep getting richer, and show no signs of rebelling against their system.

    The maxim should be that economic freedom is prerequisite to political freedom. Just because the first is achieved doesn’t mean the second is. Also, I’d argue that China does not have economic freedom. It’s full of state-owned enterprises and it’s my impression that people are not free to open any business they like and run it as they please.

    I don’t equate increased wealth with economic freedom. Economic freedom may generally lead to freedom, but they are not the same thing and the causality doesn’t run the other way.

    • #17
  18. The Lost Dutchman Member
    The Lost Dutchman
    @TheLostDutchman

    I can understand why they ban the New York Times- the flattery in Tom Friedman’s column probably makes them uncomfortable.

    • #18
  19. user_385039 Inactive
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    Douglas: #15 “One of the biggest arguments for liberalizing trade with China over the years has been that such deals… even if they cheated and we got the short end of the stick… would liberalize their society.”

    RushBabe49: #16 “It makes me a combination of angry and sad when I read that this or that company is increasing their presence in China, due to their “huge market”.”

    Nearly everything is for sale, including principles and certain freedoms.

    • #19
  20. user_352043 Moderator
    user_352043
    @AmySchley

    “I shake my fist at the computer screen and say : Don’t you EVER forget that China is a Communist Country!”

    Having been there as well, I think that communist is such a bad word for them. Communism for them is like being Christian in Europe twenty years ago — there may be a few real believers, but even most of the people who attend the weekly meetings are there because it is seen as what one has to do in order to get promoted.

    The PRC has managed to shift from a communist dictatorship to something more akin to a fascist dictatorship. The problem isn’t the communism or the fascism, it’s the dictatorship.

    • #20
  21. user_129539 Member
    user_129539
    @BrianClendinen

    RushBabe49:Don’t you EVER forget that China is a Communist Country!

    Not to get to technical but even though they call themselves communist  they really have morphed into a Fascist nation.

    • #21
  22. David Knights Member
    David Knights
    @DavidKnights

    Amy Schley:“I shake my fist at the computer screen and say : Don’t you EVER forget that China is a Communist Country!”

    Having been there as well, I think that communist is such a bad word for them. Communism for them is like being Christian in Europe twenty years ago — there may be a few real believers, but even most of the people who attend the weekly meetings are there because it is seen as what one has to do in order to get promoted.

    The PRC has managed to shift from a communist dictatorship to something more akin to a fascist dictatorship. The problem isn’t the communism or the fascism, it’s the dictatorship.

    I generally agree.  Its a party dictatorship.  Its communist in name, but not what we think of when we think of Marxist, Leninist or Maoist communism.  It is nationalist in character, which places it closer to fascism.

    Also, there is tons of internal opposition to the ruling government with regular protests, crackdowns, etc.  It is just that most of them are never publicized.  I do believe that once a middle class develops, a demand by the people for more control over their lives will always eventually follow.

    • #22
  23. Ricochet Inactive
    Ricochet
    @MattEdwards

    The Lantern app is a great way to help those living behind these oppressive firewalls to access the free internet and get information out as well. It  provides a peer to peer proxy service that allows someone in, say China, to utilize your connection.

    https://getlantern.org

    • #23
  24. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Great to see a post by Dr. Savage. Don’t be such a stranger.

    • #24
  25. George Savage Contributor
    George Savage
    @GeorgeSavage

    Nick, thanks for the sentiment. I will try. I love posting, but the interesting part of my life involves 18 hour workdays–en route to Hong Kong now–so it is hard to find enough time.

    BTW, Drudge is blocked here in Beijing, but sweet Ricochet still gets through to my phone.

    • #25
  26. Sisyphus Member
    Sisyphus
    @Sisyphus

    Brian Clendinen:

    RushBabe49:Don’t you EVER forget that China is a Communist Country!

    Not to get to technical but even though they call themselves communist they really have morphed into a Fascist nation.

    I think Communist is still more than applicable. I came across a story not long ago of Chinese urban planners confronted with meeting a housing requirement for a know influx of Western businessmen and engineers. When someone suggested that they make available a varied selection of properties for lease or purchase and let the incoming sojourners sort it out, the planners were flummoxed on many points. How would sojourners choose? What would they be willing to pay? What about any surplus properties? Their workflow was matching qualifying applications into available housing stock, the concept of the Invisible Hand had never disturbed their daily efforts.

    I forget the municipality now, but it obviously wasn’t Hong Kong or Shanghai. For most provinces habits of the last 66 years will require some time and effort to reform.

    • #26
  27. Henry Castaigne Member
    Henry Castaigne
    @HenryCastaigne

    It should be noted that China doesn’t really have a system of private property.

    • #27

Comments are closed because this post is more than six months old. Please write a new post if you would like to continue this conversation.