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.