The Great Wall of China
Photo by Karl Randay
Statements that are less-than-friendly about the party and its people has always found a good resting place in cyber dumps. I can only say with awe the effectiveness of the Chinese filtering agencies, whoever they are, in trafficking the web. This great firewall has drawn strong criticism from voices in and outside of China. Some argued that censorship is necessary. No matter which claim is more true, many believe that relaxing censorship is only a matter of when, not if.
A sign of loosening grip on censorship came this year as BBC is accessible again after years of being banned. It is significant, as the Chinese version is finally viewable in parts of China. In many ways, the banning of English contents do less harm, as the majority of Chinese do not read them, but allowing BBC Chinese version to reenter China shows the change of mindset.
The misfortune of Si Chuan (SzeChuan) earthquake is grieving. In retrospect, the tragedy showed a sign of greater transparency as the Chinese states media reporting about the incident was very forthright. Many would have expected that a grave incident of such magnitude would caused China to “cover up” by exercising more selective reporting.
Of course, several roses don’t make a bright picture. Those who are familiar with states censorship know all-too-well that sites such as Wikipedia are non-existent. Even Goliath Google becomes the David in the face of China, as Google succumbbed to censoring sites. Sites that Google has agreed to censored are listed here. Yes, and for people residing in China, this year’s famous ban word must be 家乐福 (the Chinese name of French hypermarket chain Carrefour) as it returned zero search results in Baidu. Carrefour fell victim to (mis)guided nationalism. The short-but-significant censorship took place after a squabble broke off between the French and Chinese government.
Some hope that the Olympics is the watershed. There are already many significant websites previously banned now being accessible in China. Blogger Isaac Mao, has compiled a unbanned list which includes Reuters.
These are happy time for China’s netizen, the question remains – Will it still be free flow after the Games?