Internet in The Peoples' Republic...

  ade.h 21:14 10 Jan 2006

Click (formerly known as Click Online) had a very interesting article last week about the huge growth of internet access in China. click here

Just 8% of the population has internet access, but this equates to 100million people, which makes China the third largest internet consumer in the world.

But there is a disturbing downside to this rapid development of the world's most unregulated forum for free speech in a country that, despite its growing capitalist-consumerist side, still has strict controls over communication and the spread of "undesirable" opinion.

According to the article, there is an estimated 30,000-strong police force that is tasked solely with controlling and limiting access to unsuitable websites and monitoring online communications.

In particular, the quote from Steve Ballinger of Amnesty is - if accurate - rather worrying. Even forum moderators have a tough task on their hands, as they try to keep a tight control of their forums in order to stay on the right side of the law.

If you want to find out more, it's worth reading the links at the bottom of the page.

  PurplePenny 21:56 10 Jan 2006

More on The Great Firewall of China at Wikipedia (as mentioned in that article it is one of the sites restricted by the censorship): click here

Interesting that most news agencies are now available but the BBC is still banned. Nice to know that the Beeb is still the one that dictators fear.

  bremner 22:04 10 Jan 2006

"there is an estimated 30,000-strong police force that is tasked solely with controlling and limiting access to unsuitable websites and monitoring online communications".

What more can you expect from a brutal communist dictatorship?

  ade.h 22:08 10 Jan 2006

Another aspect to this that I found a little unsettling - though hardly surprising - is that much of the technology that China's government and its agencies are using has been provided by un-named western companies. I suppose, if one were to play devil's advocate, it could be argued that China would always be able source it from somewhere - but it doesn't change the fact that some western companies are assisting a regime in imposing draconian restrictions on something that we in the western hemisphere take for granted. That said, it is just one example of such policies that have been carried out in many parts of the world over the years, not least in the middle east region.


I think however, that this cannot last forever in China. Gradually, sooner or later, it will be another bastion of the old ways that gets eroded by the modern capitalism and free-market thinking which has begun to lead China into a new era, one in which it can stand alongside the world's other major players. And above all, it's computing technology that's initiating these changes. There's irony for you.

  Forum Editor 00:22 11 Jan 2006

to keep overtly political statements out of this please. I know it's difficult, but unless we do I'll have to lock what could be a very interesting thread.

I go to mainland China two or three times a year to work, and the more I see of it the more I realise that the country really is an awakening giant of colossal proportions. There's no question that the country faces enormous problems - politically, socially and economically - and at times you wonder how on earth they're going to extricate themselves from some of the enormously complex messes they've created - but there's a definite sense of a big country on the move, and a day or two spent in Beijing makes you realise that they have something that is at the same time their biggest asset, and one of their biggest liabilities.........people, millions of them everywhere. All these people, or most of them, watch TV, and now quite a few of them are surfing the web, too. This (even in its censored form) exposes the people to western culture and western materialism, and they like what they see. Want something enough, and you'll strive very hard to get it, and that's what is happening all over China.

I work with Chinese business people, and I see how focused they are, They know that if they are to make it in today's world they must embrace tehnology in a major way, and they're doing it. Some of the best software writers I've ever worked with operate from Beijing,and these people are hungry for work - they'll undercut almost anyone else on cost, and their work is quite excellent.

I stay at the Holiday Inn (the world's largest) when I'm in Beijing, because I like its location and its size, and I'm not alone. The place is awash with westerners just like me - doing business with the Chinese and learning as we go. There's always lots of talk about the great firewall of China, and the problems facing anyone involved in working on the internet there. It's a fact of life, and like all such situations you learn to handle it to a degree.

  Kev.Ifty 00:54 11 Jan 2006

The Chinese government has 'somehow' convinced the major profit making companies to 'censor' the software.

Certain words, like Freedom and democracy when typed into search engines or what ever result in 'no results'

So how come the same companies can't censor searches for things like Child pornography here in the West?

This ain't a rhetorical question, i am genuinely intrigued.


  flaming 02:51 11 Jan 2006

Off the China track but your post reminded me about much media noise some years back about a 'V' chip available for parents to plug in to PCs to stop their children accessing unsuitable material. It would have saved a lot of them from secret contact in chat rooms with people who have sinister motives. I wonder what happened to that?
Yes, why can't child pornography be blocked? I know any censorship is undesirable but, in the case of minors, laws exist in the world outside the net affording them some protection until they are old enough to make their own decisions about such matters.

  flaming 03:53 11 Jan 2006

How interesting. Have you closed this thread?

  Chegs ®™ 09:33 11 Jan 2006

If you setup Skype in "Skype Me" mode,its not long before the chinese start to call.Those that I've had a chat with weren't brilliant at english(not a problem or an insult meant)but I presume that VoIP is outside the remit of the censors as I have been able to exchange URL's (one was even a BBC news item)and discuss the item.I didn't get the impression that the chinese contact was in any way repressed in their responses.

  Chegs ®™ 11:59 11 Jan 2006

click here

Not all hackers are out to create havoc.

  ade.h 15:11 11 Jan 2006

I'm glad that this subject has sparked some interest - though as the FE says, it's probably best to avoid the political debate about China's communist leadership.

Relating to the FE's other comments, one line from an inteview on the programme really stood out for me: an internet entrepreneur was asked whether he thought his and other companies in China could compete with the likes of Google and Microsoft. "Yes of course" he said. "Because they have lost their entrepreneurial spirit and we have not".

This thread is now locked and can not be replied to.

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