Is Anyone Actually Surprised That China Has Blocked Social Media Sites For Tiananmen Anniversary?

from the great-firewall-at-work dept

To be honest, stories about China using its “Great Firewall” to block certain sites are hardly new. They’ve been happening for years. And yet, tons of people have been submitting variations on the news that China appears to have upped the blockade by including sites like Twitter, Flickr, Hotmail and the new Microsoft search engine Bing, recognizing that it’s the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square crackdown which is (not surprisingly) expected to draw quite an online discussion. I wasn’t going to write anything about it, but a few thoughts occurred to me, as more and more people submitted it:

  • Is anyone actually surprised that this has happened? China regularly bans and unbans a variety of different sites, often based on what’s happening in the news. To think that it wouldn’t raise the gates for such an event seems naive.
  • Does it really do any good for the Chinese gov’t? It pisses off those who use those services who are in China, certainly, but it also serves to call more attention to the heavy hand of gov’t censorship in that country. Now, many don’t seem to care one way or another — and so it doesn’t impact those people either way. But for those who do care, it reinforces their feelings about it, but hardly stops news from spreading.

So in the end, I’m still left wondering what the gov’t thinks it accomplishes in being so heavy handed in censoring such sites, other than thinking that if they stick fingers in their ears, they can pretend no one’s talking about this stuff online.

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Comments on “Is Anyone Actually Surprised That China Has Blocked Social Media Sites For Tiananmen Anniversary?”

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Esahc (profile) says:

Re: Re: mindset

The Scorpion and the Frog

A scorpion and a frog meet on the bank of a stream and the
scorpion asks the frog to carry him across on its back. The
frog asks, “How do I know you won’t sting me?” The scorpion
says, “Because if I do, I will die too.”

The frog is satisfied, and they set out, but in midstream,
the scorpion stings the frog. The frog feels the onset of
paralysis and starts to sink, knowing they both will drown,
but has just enough time to gasp “Why?”

Replies the scorpion: “Its my nature…”

rwahrens (profile) says:

not the point

The point is that the Chinese Communist government is managing the news that is available to the Chinese people. There have been lots of stories on the web this week about how the current generation of Chinese young folks either do not know the significance of the occurrence or only know the official version of events.

If you don’t know the truth, there’s nothing to get upset about… which is why the Chicom government manages the news in China.

rwahrens (profile) says:

frog and scorpion

OLD BUT always timely is the fable of the scorpion and the frog. It goes like this:

A scorpion asks a frog for help crossing a river. Intimidated by the scorpion’s prominent stinger, the frog demurs.

“Don’t be scared,” the scorpion says. “If something happens to you, I’ll drown.” Moved by this logic, the frog puts the scorpion on his back and wades into the river. Half way across, the scorpion stings the frog.

The dying frog croaks, “How could you — you know that you’ll drown?”

“It’s my nature,” gasps the sinking scorpion.

brent says:

Re: Re:

I agree that before talking about china one might want to spend some time there. I lived there for 3-4 years and it certainly felt like a much more free country than even our own. I wouldnt go so far as to say it actually is, but china is really trying to turn it around.

Their government for the most part stays out of the normal person’s life as long as they keep to their own. it’s quite nice over there without all the laws and safeties that prevent us from doing lots of things in the US.

JohnRaven,CHT,CSH (profile) says:

>Mike, perhaps you should spend some time in China before
>slamming them at every turn. You might understand thing a
>little better.

Mike doesn’t need to spend time in China to recognize an oppressive government, just as I don’t need to spend time with terrorists to “understand thing a little better” about why they do what they do.

Understanding something doesn’t make it anymore right. I may UNDERSTAND why a drunk driver killed my child, but it doesn’t make it any more right nor does it bring my child back.

The scorpion and frog analogy is good, but a little off the point.

They do what they do, not because it’s their nature – although perhaps it really is at this point – but out of FEAR. The leaders fear expression, freedom and choice. Why? Because people could CHOOSE to overthrow the government and they would lose power. They do what they do to stay in power. It has nothing to do with what is best for China and its people. It’s all about what is best for those in power.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

Also, there is a good sized segment of the Chinese population that actually thinks its better to have the oppressive government they have than some of the alternatives. Fear of the chaos from the warlord era hasn’t entirely died out yet, though how much of that is exaggerated by the current government to secure their place I do not know.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re:

here’s the problem: if you don’t understand something, how can you say it is wrong?

I have spent a fair amount of time in China in the last couple of years (and will visit again next month). The American version of freedom isn’t the type of freedom that everyone wants.

Most Chinese people I meet actually take great comfort in known that the Government is working to keep an ordered society in place. They are a remarkably free people, I have only every had one person say to me that they envy my lifestyle. For the most part, they live freely, the work, they do what they want, and they live and eat very well. Their children go to university, the communities are supportive of each other, and generally things work out okay.

No, things in China are not like they are in the West in certain situations, but I have never run into a situation where something could not be done because of a stupid regulation, the reasons are often intelligent and show forethought in assumring that problems don’t occur.

WHile controlling social media sites in the west is an unthinkable crime against “freedom”, in China it is seem as a good way to generally keep the peace. They will be able to use the social sites after, they can use it before, but they cannot use it in the key time frame, to avoid having minor dissent look like major dissent.

The Chinese don’t fear their leaders, in fact for the most part they are very supportive and even somewhat loving towards President Hu. Again, if you don’t experience the situation, you cannot comment on it. You want people who fear their leader (and die as a result), please look at North Korea.

So, how long have you spent in China in the last 5 years? How many times have you sat down with real chinese people in china to have dinner, watch the TV news, and chat about the world?

brent says:

Re: Re: Re:

i completely agree, my dad has lived there the last 11 years, i lived there in middle school and visit him twice a year.

much of their lifestyle is very free. you wont see someone spill coffee and then have the ability to sue the company that made the coffee. There is alot more personal responsibility over there and so people dont have to worry about all sorts of regulations on things that usually don’t need regulation but just common sense.

Mike Masnick (profile) says:

Re: Re: Re:

I have spent a fair amount of time in China in the last couple of years (and will visit again next month). The American version of freedom isn’t the type of freedom that everyone wants.

Yup. Which is why I wrote in the post: “Now, many don’t seem to care one way or another — and so it doesn’t impact those people either way.” So why is it that you’re claiming I was presenting things otherwise?

I said many people are fine with it, and believe the gov’t is protecting them (I’ve written that before as well).

Courtney (profile) says:

From the outside world

A commenter over on Current TV, where I first saw this one, posed the question of why we do business with China and not with Cuba. We all know the answer to that one. What I find interesting is that all of two articles I’ve seen have mentioned any reaction at all by the US Gov’t, and the reaction was noncommital. Again, we all know the answer to “Why China if not Cuba?”, but someone should call them out on this one.

One last thing – Apparently, it’s not just the websites being blocked. The London Times is reporting that various people – some of whom had relations or were actually involved with the 1989 protests, and at least one who was merely an advocate for the protestors’ rights – have been taken from their homes and placed under house arrest, or ‘urged’ to leave the capital for the anniversary. Now, I don’t know if this has happened in past years, but if not, it sounds to me like the CCP is getting nervous about something.


Anonymous Coward says:

Yes its more free as long as your kidneys aren’t compatible with someone in power….or you enjoy meditating (falun gong etc)…so you get slammed into prison and tortured then have your organs removed (whilst alive and conscious) and then sold to the highest bidder….

What I don’t get is..why don’t people use random programs to distribute information…such as the chat system in various RPGs….or randomly selected and agreed upon forums etc….China can’t shut everything down everytime there’s an event or they’d pretty much have to block the entire internet 24/7

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