China Outlaws Telling The Truth About Communist Party 'Heroes And Martyrs'

from the no-one-does-Orwell-better dept

China's participation in the world market tends to portray the country as far more open than it actually is. China's does have some love for capitalism. Democracy, not so much. There's not much participation in the marketplace of ideas, thanks to continuous, ever-increasing censorship measures.

Nothing's going to change in the near future. The sitting president was just rewarded with the title appendage "for life," thanks to a bought-in (and possibly bought) parliament stripping away term limits earlier this year. Chinese citizens have been rewarded for their enforced loyalty with a government-controlled internet experience and a scoring system that grants/strips perks based on a perverse "morality" algorithm.

Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, as the adage goes. The Chinese government is ensuring Cultural Revolution reruns by forcing the nation to forget inconvenient facts. A new law now makes it illegal to speak ill of the long-dead.

China’s Communist Party has always understood the importance of policing its history.

On Friday, it tightened the screws further with a new law banning the slander of “heroes and martyrs” — figures drawn from wartime propaganda said to have given their lives in defense of the Communist Party or the nation.

Chinese schoolchildren are taught about the heroic deeds of figures who fought against the Japanese during World War II, or who gave their lives for the Communist Party in the civil war with the Nationalists. Memorials to some of the most famous dot the country.

Now, it will be illegal to suggest that those tales might not be wholly factual.

The rewriting of China's history will require the involvement of everyone in the country. Beyond a long list of instructions for compulsory celebrations/commemorations at the local government level, there's also plenty of censorship and compelled speech to be had. Here's how the media will be used to burnish the reputation of "heroes" and "martyrs." (All translations via China Law Translate)

Article 18: The departments of culture, press, radio and television, film, Internet information, and so forth, shall encourage and support the production and promotion of excellent literary and artistic works, and radio or television programs, and publications and with the subject of publicizing or carrying forward, the spirit of heroes and martyrs.

Article 19: Radio stations, television stations, newspaper and periodical publishing units, and Internet information service providers shall widely publicize the deeds and spirit of heroes and martyrs by playing or publishing works on the theme of heroes and martyrs, public service advertisements, and special columns.

And here's what's forbidden:

The names, likenesses, reputation, and honor of heroes and martyrs are protected by law. The names, likenesses,reputations and honor of heroes and martyrs must not be insulted, defamed, or violated through other means by any person, either in public places, online, or through radio, television, film or publications. The names and likenesses of heroes and martyrs must not be used, or covertly used, by any organization or individual for trademarks or commercial advertisements, damaging the reputation and honor of heroes and martyrs.

And this is all tied together with a "see something, say something" program that mandates any attempted slurs of Communist martyrs must be reported to the government immediately and all efforts made to banish it from television screens, newspapers, and the web.

Even historical research must comply with the new law. If historians discover facts that conflict with the official narratives, the facts must go.

Yue Zhongming, a member of the standing committee, said at a news conference that although the law is not intended to restrict academic freedom, it does not give permission to harm the honor of the nation’s heroes.

“We often say there is no banned area of academic research, while there is a bottom line of law,” he said.

China's history will be nothing more than propaganda. The rest of the world should call it what it is: self-serving bullshit, backed by men with guns doing the bidding of government with no moral compass.


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  • icon
    Ninja (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 10:53am

    "If historians discover facts that conflict with the official narratives, the facts must go."

    World Historian: "This [insert Chinese govt-approved martyr here] has a long documented history of being a dipshit."

    Chinese historian: "This [the same martyr above] was a hero that could come back from the dead and who could shot energy blasts from his hand to purify Japanese barbarians!"

    We the Nerds: "So that's the Chinese name for Goku?"

    Trump (because why not?): "COFVEFEFE!"

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2018 @ 12:06pm

    the truth is sweetest...

    when people don't want you to have it!

    conversely, when people do want you to have it... it becomes bitter!

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  • icon
    That One Guy (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 12:09pm

    'You are free to lavish all the praise you want on them'

    Yue Zhongming, a member of the standing committee, said at a news conference that although the law is not intended to restrict academic freedom

    Liar.

    'You are free to praise those we name as heroes, but it's a criminal offense to say anything negative about them' is absolutely intended to restrict academic freedom, and in fact that's the entire point of the law.

    it does not give permission to harm the honor of the nation’s heroes.

    If 'accurately reporting history' is enough to 'harm' the honor of the 'nations heroes', then they didn't have any honor to harm in the first place. Much like anyone who demands respect doesn't deserve it, by their insistence that no-one disrespect anyone they hold up as heroes my default assumption is that no-one so named deserves respect.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2018 @ 12:15pm

      Re: 'You are free to lavish all the praise you want on them'

      (Speculation) This law was supported by a present day hero, so speaking ill of the law, including documenting its notable downsides, constitutes defaming a hero, and is therefore illegal.

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      • icon
        That One Guy (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 12:30pm

        Re: Re: 'You are free to lavish all the praise you want on them'

        Not a problem, the 'anyone who demands respect doesn't deserve it' rule applies to past, current and future individuals, so it would also apply to a 'modern hero'.

        As for illegal, given I'm in another country I think I'll go with 'I don't care'(in the same way I couldn't care less if I violated a blasphemy law, which this basically is, from another country), and will exercise my ability to mock obscene laws that those directly impacted might not be able to.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 7 May 2018 @ 9:21am

        Re: Re: 'You are free to lavish all the praise you want on them'

        The current president will now appoint him self "Hero of the China Commodist Party" and all those who speak out against him will be 'defaming a national hero' and will be shot on site..

        ooh, did I just defame the Communists by associating them with a Commode? They both take in the stuff we don't want and flush it away (be it actual crap, or those pesky 'freedoms' and 'liberties' that people think they deserve).

        All your base are belonging to us, Muahaha

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    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 12:56pm

      Re: 'You are free to lavish all the praise you want on them'

      It's interesting. During the formation/discovery of the territory that would later become the state I live in we had expeditions formed by folks we call "Bandeirantes". Your regular school history text book will paint them as some sort of awesome, courageous men but I have been reading stuff recently that show they weren't those heroes but rather a bunch of dipshits that enslaved indians, raped their women, pillaged and did generally awful stuff in their way. You can't deny they were instrumental in forming the state but you can bring into attention their violations and recognize it was not right.

      This has "China wants to hide atrocious stuff carried out by those martyrs not to taint the image of the current state" printed all over.

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      • icon
        trollificus (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 4:17pm

        Re: Re: 'You are free to lavish all the praise you want on them'

        Ah. Did the people who wrote the book you read, correcting the record...get jailed or executed?? And were these bad guys Democrats, Republicans, Teamsters...I mean, yeah, sounds inaccurate, but not strongly protecting the existing government.

        Not so much equivalence, then. But sure, we're evil too. Of course.

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  • icon
    Roger Strong (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 12:14pm

    Those who forget the past are condemned to repeat it, as the adage goes.

    No, this is a prime example of Frank Herbert's version:

    Those who would repeat the past must control the teaching of history.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2018 @ 12:16pm

    The departments of culture, press, radio and television, film, Internet information, and so forth, ...

    I wonder what the department of so forth does. It sounds like it could be a great place to slack off.

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    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2018 @ 12:23pm

    so you're going with the old "yellow peril" cultural xenophobia?

    lol

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 12:32pm

      Swing and a miss

      If that was the best defense you could muster for such a disgusting law, you really shouldn't have bothered.

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    • icon
      Stephen T. Stone (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 4:50pm

      Re: so you're going with the old "yellow peril" cultural xenophobia?

      China has a proven record of governmental control over what its citizens can and cannot read or post on the Internet. This column is not about some imagined form of racism; it is about pointing out the harsh nature of Chinese censorship—ostensibly as a warning against letting the US government do the same thing.

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  • icon
    DocGerbil100 (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 12:30pm

    China's history will be nothing more than propaganda. The rest of the world should call it what it is: self-serving bullshit, backed by men with guns doing the bidding of government with no moral compass.

    So, exactly the same as everywhere else, then.

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    • icon
      That One Guy (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 12:36pm

      Re:

      Propaganda and idolizing past 'heroes' is fairly prevalent across the globe to be sure, but making it outright illegal to question said propaganda and required to praise and 'honor' those the government holds up as 'heroes and martyrs' goes quite a bit beyond that.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2018 @ 1:21pm

        Re: Re:

        but still not that uncommon. There are parts of the world where you can be legally in trouble for denying the holocaust, displaying, or talking about certain things in history in a non-approve of way.

        Each nation has specific taboos that you cannot talk about. Heck even in America while you have freedom of speech, there are a lot of people still able to marginalize people with different or new thoughts about history if they don't fit certain narratives.

        In fact, education in general is exactly just this in a nutshell... teaching people what you want them to believe. Everyone participates in indoctrination. It just happens to only be bad when that indoctrination is something you don't like.

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        • icon
          Roger Strong (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 4:26pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Each nation has specific taboos that you cannot talk about.

          There's one that has long interested me about America. Not a secret, but not talked about either.

          Canadian fighter jets used to shadow Russian long-range bombers coming over the pole. American fighters would take over at the US border. Hours later the bombers would return. Or not; presumably those continued on to Cuba.

          They were set up for aerial reconnaissance, of course. And the US wanted it. "See, we really have all those missle silos. And we'll even open a few for you to confirm that they contain missiles." "See, we really have that much agricultural and industrial capability. Yes, we have the tractors and combines to get produce off the fields. Feel free to count them! And unlike you, we have the rail and road network to get the goods to market." "Take a good look. In any war, nuclear or conventional, you cannot win."

          But long after the cold war ended, you can't tell the American people that Russian bombers were criss-crossing the US.

          (The Russians and Americans are still doing reconnaissance overflights under the Treaty on Open Skies. But not using bombers.)

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          • identicon
            Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2018 @ 5:32pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Are you talking about the 'hostile' US-USSR surveillance flyovers that ended around 1960 due to both the development of SAMs as well as the development of 'spy' satellites?

            And had it not been for those show-stoppers, it might have been an interesting arms race to watch in the decades ahead, with each side alternately creating an airplane that could fly higher and faster than the plane trying to shoot it down. And to think that the SR-71, a plane designed in the late 1950s, still holds the speed record to this day.

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        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2018 @ 5:49pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Each nation has specific taboos that you cannot talk about."

          We live in a society filled with taboos. Even if those taboos gradually fade away and are replaced with other taboos. It used to be that we couldn't say certain 4-letter words. Now we can't say certain 6-letter words, and ironically the people most zealously enforcing the 6-letter taboo are the very same people who most zealously refused to respect the 4-letter taboo.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2018 @ 12:51pm

    is enforcing "history libel" only a bad thing when *THEY* do it?

    The Chinese government is not alone in creating and enforcing "history libel" laws.

    In many countries in western Europe, the act of dissenting with official government-sanctioned WWII history (and in particular regarding Jewish history during that time period) is a serious crime with serious prison sentences. Yet no Western mainstream media publication ever questions this free-speech Black Hole, and even supposed "free speech" crusaders --including Techdirt-- have been uncharacteristically silent when it comes to this particular issue.

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    • icon
      Ninja (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 1:08pm

      Re: is enforcing "history libel" only a bad thing when *THEY* do it?

      I've read stuff that question the numbers and some other facts about the Holocaust (not denying it existed, just questioning the winners version). We created some sort of holy aura around the Jewish that doesn't represent the whole truth. Meanwhile Israel is out there promoting a genocide in a territory that was artificially settled and everybody just ignores it.

      I guess if you bring such things into a debate you'd be a criminal there? And I'm betting some people will fail at reading comprehension and assume I'm some sort of anti-Semitic idiot. Note to you: I'm not, I do believe the Holocaust was a monumental fail for humanity and we should study about it to avoid repeating the atrocities but we must be critical as well. The winning part always tends to build a "more fitting" narrative to whatever happened.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2018 @ 2:06pm

        Re: Re: is enforcing "history libel" only a bad thing when *THEY* do it?

        Norman Finkelstein (a jew, not a "nazi" BTW) in his book "The Holocaust Industry" also makes that connection, insisting that the modern-day Holocaust "industry" as we now know it was specifically created as a shield to protect Israel after its 1967 invasion and continued occupation of the West Bank. Finkelstein insists that before 1967, Jewish suffering under the Nazis was just a dying memory, when suddenly there was a whole new imperative that required exhuming this dust-collecting piece of history, polishing it up, and re-inserting it into the public space for the purpose of turning these Israeli aggressors into victims in people's minds.

        Having not lived long enough, I can't really say whether or not Holocaust stories in the news media and pop culture themes were more or less common before Israel's 1967 conquest, but certainly the many taxpayer-funded Holocaust Museums that virtually every US city now has (and the huge "national" one in Washington D.C.) are very recent creations, something that seems oddly out of place considering that it's something that happened on the other side of the planet that this country had basically no involvement in (not to mention being the only one of history's many recent genocides that gets any attention and taxpayer dollars whatsoever)

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        • icon
          Stephen T. Stone (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 5:08pm

          Re: Re: Re: is enforcing "history libel" only a bad thing when *THEY* do it?

          Finkelstein insists that before 1967, Jewish suffering under the Nazis was just a dying memory, when suddenly there was a whole new imperative that required exhuming this dust-collecting piece of history, polishing it up, and re-inserting it into the public space for the purpose of turning these Israeli aggressors into victims in people's minds.

          Reading someone refer to Holocaust victims as “aggressors“ reminds me of why we keep that “dust-collecting piece of history” alive and in full view: To stop anti-Semitism before it takes hold in our culture and society again. People who joke about the phrase “never forget” nowadays often fail to remember why we must never forget the Holocaust. If you think it cannot happen anywhere else, digest this factoid: The internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II was ruled legal by the judiciary…and that ruling has never been challenged or rescinded. Internment camps sit a simple hop-skip-jump away from the more lethal concentration camps in both function and philosophy.

          We keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, we re-tell the stories of survival and heartbreak and death and destruction and the banality of evil that made the Holocaust such an horrifically effective plan, to stop people from creating a climate where it could conceivably happen again. If you think you are on the side of the fight that wants to prevent another Holocaust, ask yourself why you are willing to write off those stories as “dust-collecting piece[s] of history”. Your answer will tell you whether you would be a rebel or a collaborator.

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          • icon
            Ninja (profile), 7 May 2018 @ 6:59am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: is enforcing "history libel" only a bad thing when *THEY* do it?

            That. I hope I didn't pass the impression of disregarding or saying it wasn't that much of the Holocaust itself but rather the censorious aura that formed around the subject. You can't put in check parts of history without being either censored by laws or via violent reaction from society. You know, nuances and stuff.

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          • icon
            The Wanderer (profile), 7 May 2018 @ 7:13am

            Re: Re: Re: Re: is enforcing "history libel" only a bad thing when *THEY* do it?

            One nit: I think the "aggressors" label may have been intended to refer, not to the victims of the Holocaust, but to the invaders and occupiers of the West Bank.

            That doesn't invalidate any of your points about how important it is to remember the Holocaust (and I thank you for pointing out the thing about the internment camps, as I don't think I'd realized it), but it's still important to avoid mischaracterizing the arguments of one's opponents.

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2018 @ 2:20pm

      Re: is enforcing "history libel" only a bad thing when *THEY* do it?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2018 @ 12:58pm

    Google, et al.

    I imagine Google, Amazon and the rest of the suck-up crowd will be eager to help the Chinese government once again.

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    • icon
      DannyB (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 2:35pm

      Re: Google, et al.

      Rarely does anyone consider that for China to build its great firewall, it purchased equipment from US manufacturers that was capable of implementing this on a large scale.

      Maybe those manufacturers should be remembered for their role in the imprisoning and torturing of thoughtcrime in China -- in exchange for a quick buck.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 5 May 2018 @ 9:16pm

        Re: Re: Google, et al.

        "to build its great firewall, it purchased equipment from US manufacturers"

        Thankyou Cisco.

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 May 2018 @ 11:24am

        Re: Re: Google, et al.

        I remember these sorts of things when they have their ads on tv espousing how they are a good neighbor and are constantly doing good things for you because they are sooo good.

        I laugh, change the channel and laugh at some other crap.

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        • icon
          DannyB (profile), 7 May 2018 @ 6:42am

          Re: Re: Re: Google, et al.

          I remember when TV once had channels. It was when there was this thing, I think it was called, "cable tv" or something like that.

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  • icon
    Peter Banks (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 1:17pm

    I wonder how the 'winners' of your country will historically portray Trump et al. when he is long dead and forgotten by today's generation?

    Will your history books reflect the egregious harm he has perpetrated on the World at large?

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    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2018 @ 2:35pm

      Re:

      Sure they will. Of course, they might just be trying to make Richard Martyr Nixon look good...

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      trollificus (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 5:39pm

      Re:

      I remain unconvinced that the hyperbolic, hysterical and borderline insane claims about what Trump "has done to the world" will be remembered as accurate. Or rather, about as accurate as, say, the logic that "Obama has made the world safe for peace, give him the Nobel Prize." prior to his inauguration.

      And I say that as someone who has no delusions that Trump has any virtues at all beyond not being Hillary. I mean, a little self-awareness please?

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      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 6 May 2018 @ 11:30am

        Re: Re:

        It depends.
        There will be many things published and there will be many people reading. It would be interesting to know which version of this insane clown assault will be more popular in the future. Will it be the detailed full of facts version or the watered down excuse laden song of denial? Either way there will the steadfast supporters and there will be those who have accepted the facts.

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  • identicon
    Pixelation, 4 May 2018 @ 1:26pm

    Chinese communist mantra

    All your truth and lies are belong to us!

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  • icon
    DannyB (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 2:33pm

    Right to be forgotten

    Maybe the truth about Communist Party 'Heroes and Martyrs' has a right to be forgotten?

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  • icon
    Toom1275 (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 4:45pm

    And of course, the government gets full control over choosing who these "heroes and martyrs" are. While Tank Man and the victims of Tiananmen Square would certainly qualitlfy under most objective views, you won't find them being protected by this law.

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  • identicon
    Daydream, 4 May 2018 @ 4:58pm

    Never speak ill of the dead.

    Speak positively of them instead. Highlight their accomplishments, their good deeds for the community, what inspired them, what made them happy.

    Especially, emphasise their potential, what they could have done for the world if their lives weren't cut short, if communities weren't torn apart by war and violence.

    As for whoever wronged them...say nothing about them. Denounce the sins themselves, not the sinner. Murder and robbery and slavery should be remembered for the harm they've done to innocents, but the monsters who did those deeds don't deserve to have their names passed down through history.


    Basically what I'm saying is; if the law is to never say bad things about these 'heroes' and 'martyrs', don't. Talk about what their innocent victims went through, decry the harms done to them without a mention of the perpetrator.

    And if this Chinese government still tries to prosecute you for speaking ill of their heroes, when you've never spoken a word against them, then that is an admission beyond all doubt that what you're saying is true.

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  • icon
    trollificus (profile), 4 May 2018 @ 5:44pm

    I get it, logically sound.

    One would hope you'd have enough time to clearly explain the rhetorical victory you've achieved as you're being hauled off.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 4 May 2018 @ 6:37pm

    Truth is only scary to ones who do evil

    They would rather hear about made up stories than about how they targeted certain healthy groups for imprisonment and organ harvesting for profit. They would rather filters keep you from learning about the billionaires buying their way out of convictions or the poor being poisoned by environmental disasters. Millions of poor can die each year so long as they do it quietly and away from the cameras.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous, 4 May 2018 @ 9:59pm

    I can't believe it.

    Nobody thought to send this post to 4chan or whatever the choice irreverent meme site exists today? Shame on you.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Bruce C., 5 May 2018 @ 9:05am

    Yet another variation on...

    "The Right to be Forgotten". Only the inconvenient facts are suppressed.

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  • identicon
    I am in China right now, 5 May 2018 @ 10:22am

    China's does have some love for capitalism. Democracy, not so mu

    Tim, your a great writer. But in your article, it seems to elude you that you could replace China with USA in any paragraph, and still be telling truth.

    Have you been outside the offices of Techdirt lately? But this, from your article could have been written about Los Angeles, New York, or anywhere USA:

    China's history will be nothing more than propaganda.
    The rest of the world should call it what it is: self-serving bullshit, backed by men with guns doing the bidding of government with no moral compass....

    China has clear morality at the pedestrian level- and even the poor have homes, vehicles, and can employ themselves selling anything.

    I am here in China right now-and their military trolls, censorship, human flesh search engines...Twitter/Weibo, Baidu/Google, Tinder/Tantan dating app- are EXACTLY THE SAME, with only cultural nuance and bias separating them.

    The real issue, which no one speaks out loud, is that NSA-Israel-Britain (in that order) is mediating our discourse along sectarian lines- Sheldon Adelson v Soros and Saban

    It is amazing here in China-I havent seen a single MRAP at a donut shop, or peeople getting shot in the back for saggy pants.

    In America, I was mobbed, harassed, stalked, databased, harassed online and off for criticizing the sectarian, religious fanatic surveillance state that America is, by LEOs and community policing and NGOs and SJWs for decades because of peace activism, anti-apartheid/Israel activism,and criticism of the US police state.

    Here, not so much as a bad look from any bao-an/police officer, not even once.And no one wears Karl Marx beards either, though all of those deep cover democracy subverters employed by DHS and its armies of Constitution destroyers all seem to favor the jihadi tactical beard.

    US V THEM is really Ich, Du, and even that needs a makeover.

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  • identicon
    I am in China right now, 5 May 2018 @ 10:31am

    p.s. I got a notice from Twitter awhile back, warning me that I had "tweeted, retweeted, or liked" an account related to so called Russians hacking the 2016 elections.

    And I said to myself: is this somehow worse than Facebook censoring Palestinian accounts, or China employing the EXACT measures that the Pentagon uses in online mobbing, and offline surveillance?

    The answer is: I am in China now.

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  • identicon
    A.G. Nostic, 5 May 2018 @ 5:43pm

    "government with no moral compass"

    I'd argue that it's a very different moral compass than what you're used to. China used Confucianism for far too long for Communism to replace it. In fact today's modern "Communist" Party far closer resembles Confucianism of old (in it's dictates and beliefs) than it resembles any type of Marxism. It's always been about control and order and I for one wouldn't be to surprised if Xi or one of his later successors starts bringing up the 'Mandate of Heaven' again.

    Chinese leaders for centuries fought over and had been graded on how well they could bring 'order' and 'prosperity' to the masses, with little thought given to the individual freedoms or desires of those at the bottom. Propriety and filial piety were standards for keeping said order, so seeing said rules being established is nothing new; and in fact a return of old (Confucian) rules the old Communist party had smashed (rightly) so many years ago.

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  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 5 May 2018 @ 10:25pm

    So China is part of North Korea now?

    No wonder they had no interest in doing much about Rocket Man. They were too gobsmacked at how easy it is to set up a new Imperial System.

    I guess they watch endless replays of their edited versions of The Empire Strikes Back.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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