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U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speaks Internet ‘freedom’

February 17th, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

A lot has already been written in the Western media about the yesterday U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton speech on Internet ‘freedom.’ In her speech, Clinton singled out China for being “repressive” on the Internet, and for that reason, the predictable narrative is out yet again: U.S. vs. ‘bad’ China, ‘bad’ China, or U.S. being too harsh to, still, a ‘bad’ China. This nonsense aside, I thought the speech was telling of a number of things.

First of all, don’t forget that the U.S. Department of State’s mission is to conduct U.S. foreign policies. In that sense, everything Clinton said were expected and predictable. The biggest give away is near the end of her speech where she said:

The dramatic increase in internet users during the past 10 years has been remarkable to witness. But that was just the opening act. In the next 20 years, nearly 5 billion people will join the network. It is those users who will decide the future.

Indeed, the opinions of those 5 billion people matter as the U.S. tries to shape the world the way she wants. The U.S. wants to have unfettered access to these people over the Internet in similar fashion as the Voice of America (VOA) program. Remember that the VOA is U.S. propaganda. Countries able to jam VOA signals stand a better chance of their citizens siding for their own interests.

It also makes business sense, because American capital has allowed the likes of Google, Facebook, and Twitter to have a huge head-start. The American mentality is why should citizens around the world use anything else when the biggest and the best is available? Better yet, those corporations should only be subject to American law and no one else’s. 😉

I can imagine Chinese Foreign Minister Yang Jiechi calling Clinton after her speech congratulating her on how clever she hid behind the ideologies of ‘freedom,’ ‘democracy,’ and ‘human rights.’ Let’s be real; diplomats around the world can cut through this kind of talks like a sharp knife through butter. Secretary Clinton can make this kind of speech without public scorn on the international stage because the U.S. is super rich and super powerful.

The U.S. has ZERO fear against anybody else on this planet able to take down the U.S. government. The fear of foreign entities brainwashing Americans is also non-existent. (Actually, in China’s case, there’s tremendous fear in the American public and media. The U.S. ruling elites fear not, because they know sinophobia is prevalent; messages from China will automatically be shut down.)



And what Clinton described in her speech is indeed what the U.S. is already doing. Here, the WSJ writes:

A day after Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s pledge to promote Internet freedom, efforts by U.S. diplomats to generate debate on the issue on Twitter-like microblogs in China—which has the world’s most Internet users—ran up against the country’s sophisticated censorship system.

The U.S. will actively evangelize ‘freedom,’ ‘democracy,’ and ‘human rights,’ because for those without a nuanced understanding of these ideals, they may develop faith in the fundamentalist views in them like they do a religion. This case of “generate debate” is peddling this religion. Those around the globe subscribe to this religion above all else will be willing listeners and at times become innocent participants of U.S. foreign policy. American citizens are capable of joining Al Qaeda, so don’t tell me that is not possible.

Clinton is calling on U.S. civil society to join hands with her too. U.S. NGO’s and civil society becomes an extension of U.S. foreign policy. Welcome to the 21st century.

BUT, second of all, this shows how weak the tenet of U.S. foreign policy actually is. As we have written countless of articles thus far on this blog about the Chinese perspective on these ideals, the Chinese views are much more nuanced. (See featured posts on the right-side navigation portion of this blog.) After the failed 1989 Tiananmen protest and the success in China’s reforms in the last few decades, the Chinese have found confidence and a formula to move forward. Coupled with the fact that the U.S. is plagued by government dysfunction, stigma of immoral invasions, and financial crisis, there is not much credibility left in lectures from the U.S. or her media.

The U.S. being the only country on this planet having to veto the by far the most number of resolutions in the U.N., and by far stand the most alone in defeats on ‘human rights’ related resolutions, must resort to ideological pretexts to advance her foreign policy.

I therefore urge everyone in China to view Clinton’s speech calmly. Sure, the U.S. wants to mold China into a shape that best serves U.S. interests. China would like to influence the U.S. too.

Above all else, the U.S. wants a peaceful world (though dominated by her). China wants a peaceful world too. At that strategic level, the two countries are well aligned.

For now, China appears effective in blocking foreign propaganda.

  1. r v
    February 17th, 2011 at 06:13 | #1

    I would not be so sure that US is that immune from the chaos of revolution.

    The GOP may be using the Tea Party to get power from the Democrats, but even the GOP is afraid of the Tea Party.

    The true Tea Partiers may be nuts, but they do not like the Elites in the GOP or the DNC.

    If the US economy keeps going to the dumps, the Tea Partiers may decide to throw a revolution against the GOP and the DNC.

    The Elites may have the Tea Partiers calmed down a little with symbolic gestures like tax cuts, but I think the Tea Partiers may be getting fed up with all the ineffectual DC bureaucrats.

    There is a point when the fringe gets crazier when they don’t see any results in the long run. (Sort of how all revolutions start, even Bin Laden at some point got fed up and went with his own radical agenda on his own against his own government in Saudi Arabia. It’s not impossible in USA).

  2. SilentChinese
    February 17th, 2011 at 06:34 | #2

    This evanglical streak in the American pysche is pretty sick.
    it shows a fundamental disrespect of other’s opinion as worthy and supreme arrogance.

    on the practical side, they are hoping to drive these as wedge issues in china’s domestic discourse.

    just like ancient athenians…

  3. pug_ster
    February 17th, 2011 at 08:15 | #3
  4. r v
    February 17th, 2011 at 08:27 | #4

    and the Patriot Act just got extended, with key provisions on wiretapping.

  5. SilentChinese
    February 17th, 2011 at 08:48 | #5

    pug_ster :http://news.cnet.com/8301-31921_3-20032518-281.html?tag=topStories1
    ‘Freedom’ indeed.

    they just want to make something legal where NSA already routinely does.
    no electronic communication in this world is secure nor free anymore.

  6. Charles Liu
    February 17th, 2011 at 10:28 | #6

    If Egypt is supposed to be the shinning example of Internet freedom, I’m pretty sure neither China or US are ready for THAT.

  7. Keith
    February 18th, 2011 at 19:33 | #7

    You seem to have completely missed the point of her message. The internet is a democratizing force in the world. Freedom and openness on the internet is the power behind this force. People want to be free just as information wants to be freely shared. Forces that attempt to block these freedoms will be overcome, because that is what the people of the world want, not because it is what the American government wants. Keep missing the point, and you are destined to have the lessons of Egypt visited upon you not from without but from within.

  8. February 18th, 2011 at 22:23 | #8

    @Keith

    The internet is a democratizing force in the world.

    You mean like television, newspaper, radio, telephone, or shortwave radio were too ‘democratizing’ forces? Oh yeah, some nations think leaflets dropped from the sky are too.

    Good governance and freedom from foreign invasions are true democratizing forces.

    People want to be free just as information wants to be freely shared.

    I agree with that.

    Now, compare a Chinese person with a Westerner, who do you think access more free information? Get your best facts and let’s compare.

  9. Keith
    February 19th, 2011 at 05:07 | #9

    @YinYang
    No, I do not mean that the internet is like television, radio, or shortwave. Those technologies are very limited when compared to the openness of the World Wide Web (which many countries do not have full access to). With TV and radio, “information” or “propaganda” only flows in one direction (the same is true with leaflets). With telephone and shortwave radio, only very few people can talk with each other because of the limits of needing equipment (shortwave) or contact information (phone).

    Maybe we are not in agreement with the word “democratizing.” I understand it to mean that it is the people who may decide what to say and what to share with each other, with very little (and only reasonable) limits to their speech. I am absolutely against propaganda of any kind being forced onto anyone. That included here in America, where some people watch Fox News. It is a propaganda network for the Republican Party. I believe people should have the right to choose what they will read, hear, and see from among all of the choices the WWW has to offer.

    I do think that the US government and many American citizens are egotistical and think they know the best form of government, the best financial systems, the best everything, but you and I know that is utter nonsense. Not everyone wants the same things in life, in their government, or in their entertainment, but when they are never given these choices, never given REAL choices, it is not logical to say what they will choose and what they will reject.

    Just as some background info…I have been using Sina weibo for nearly a year. I also use Douban and Renren. I stopped using Facebook, because that site does not respect privacy and gives too much information to their advertisers. Certainly I would not tell anyone that they must use Facebook (or Twitter), but I believe they should have the right to choose to use these services, if for no other reason than to connect with people all over the world.

    What I have found from my short time on Sina weibo is that Chinese people are friendly, hard working, thoughtful and wonderful people. I cannot tell you how glad I am that I have the opportunity to meet so many interesting people and discuss many different things in our lives. I strongly believe that everyone with access to the internet should have the same opportunities to meet and make friends with anyone else in the world on the internet. We are all human beings first and foremost. Politics and nationality should not be very important at all when you consider these issues.

    As for Hillary Clinton, she is one of the worst hypocrites in our government. She talks about wanting the internet to be open to all, but she also wants Julian Assange and Wikileaks to be silenced. This contradiction makes her someone not to be trusted.

    As for who has the best or least restricted access to information, I have to say that America does. No sites here in America are blocked by the government…NONE. It has been my experience on Sina weibo that searches are sometimes disabled if they are about something the government has deemed to be dangerous or disruptive information (Nobel Peace Prize, Egypt, etc.) None of these things would ever be blocked in the United States.

    I want to say thank you for giving me a chance to say what I want here. I sincerely appreciate it and hope to continue discussing these things with you. 🙂

  10. silentvoice
    February 19th, 2011 at 09:02 | #10

    While I agree with most of the points raised, I think the Chinese authorities are over-reacting with their censorships and what not…. Most Chinese netizens I believe, are smart enough to know that the US is their country’s strategic competitor. They wouldn’t listen to everything coming out of the US media in the first place. Additionally, most Chinese read Chinese webpages, not the English ones so I can’t see how western media will change Chinese views.

    Some have said that the firewall and censorship are imposed to protect China’s domestic companies (such as xunlei, youku, qq) from competition. This approach I agree. But I do hope that internet censorship could be gradually relaxed and not become even more severe as has happened in the past few years.

  11. r v
    February 19th, 2011 at 10:46 | #11

    I don’t think it’s the direct reading of Western media that the Chinese government is concerned about.

    I think it is the more dangerous and unaccountable aspects of social media and paid propaganda being sent through social networks and emails.

    How will any Chinese individual know if some information coming from the social network is really from their friends and not from some 2ndary sources that traces back to the NED?

    the most effective forms of propaganda are the ones that look like they are “native” or even comes from the average person. And the US government has had plenty of practice at that.

    *Let’s also say that US also ban information on internet based on content. If any ISP hosts videos from Bin Laden, (or some 2ndary organization that have connections to Bin Laden, even if loose connections), that ISP will be prosecuted for aiding terrorists.

    That’s not that different than in China.

    Some may say, 2 wrongs don’t make a right. I say, history is full of dead idealists, and dead idealists don’t make a right.

    *I don’t think the censorship is for protectionist reasons either, since domestic Chinese companies don’t really have much advantages in censorship.

    And it will get gradually better. Chinese censorship will get more accurate, to target specific sources of propaganda and lock them out.

    Internet filtering and censorship will inevitably become the next big thing, because everyone hates spam, everyone censor themselves, and everyone want someone to censor spam for them.

  12. r v
    February 19th, 2011 at 11:00 | #12

    US’s “terrorist watch list” is also a censorship list.

    ISP’s hosting contents for any organization/individuals on the watch list may be prosecuted for aiding terrorists.

    What’s the problem, some may say? Well, you don’t know if you are on the list, there is no legal proceeding to put you on it, or take you off of it.

    Mainstream US media, on receiving a video from a terrorist organization, must send the video/material to US government for security clearance, or may also face prosecution for aiding terrorists.

    *now, most US media self-censor for that precise reason.

    For example, Google removed a video from a Chechen warlord claiming responsibility for the recent bombing in Russia airport.

    http://rt.com/news/youtube-deletes-russian-terrorist/

    *and rationally, a video AFTER the terrorism act, is much less dangerous than a video/email BEFORE inciting terrorism act. (So, it’s obvious how much the US government censors US media, even on the internet).

    *and Let’s not even get started on Germany’s banning of Scientology (talk about the paranoid banning the paranoid), France banning neo-Nazi, Spain banning its separatists.

    ALL of them require ISP’s to censor and filter materials! (Or prosecute them).

  13. scl
    February 19th, 2011 at 12:47 | #13

    American’s war of media propaganda against China has been a miserable failure : VOA will stop Chinese broadcast on Oct. 1 this year. I strongly suspect internet will do better than VOA. Most Chinese know how to use proxy to climb the Great Fire Wall. But most of them do not bother to do so.

  14. Keith
    February 19th, 2011 at 15:21 | #14

    @rv
    You are slightly incorrect about what happens with regard to the “terrorist watchlist” in America. ISP’s and website hosts are not responsible for the content posted by their users. Youtube (owned by Google) removed the video you mentioned because the Russian government asked them to do so, probably because it was glorifying terrorism. America (and Russia) are a little crazy about terrorism right now. And it is a mistake that America will correct eventually.

    There is nothing wrong with viewing that video here in the US. I would not be in trouble for watching it or watching any Bin Laden videos that might be posted anywhere on the net. In fact, the news media (including Aljazeera) often broadcast Osama Bin Laden videos without being prosecuted or censored.

    What happens in a free society is that speech is protected, even speech that the government disagrees with. If the speech is inciting violence or illegal activity, of course it is illegal and will be removed or investigated. You cannot yell “FIRE!” in crowded movie theatre (for obvious reasons this is illegal). You should understand that talking about doing illegal things (in any country) is illegal. Isn’t this common sense?

    Americans have learned not to trust everything they read online. We need to know and can judge for ourselves what sources are trustworthy, and we often need to get confirmation of the facts before believing it. I see more false information on Sina weibo than anywhere on Facebook or Twitter, and it’s BECAUSE of the censorship in China. Most people there do not have a way to verify the information they read BECAUSE they cannot access reputable news media sites online. Every week I find myself correcting or refuting something ridiculous about some celebrity or some photoshopped image of a massive snake or something.

    Maybe you don’t fully understand just how insidious censorship is. Not only does it block ideas that the government disagrees with, it blocks new and great ideas that will help drive a society forward through creativity and knowledge. Censorship stifles creativity. No one knows quite where that censorship line is and are always afraid to cross it, like the Chinese woman who retweeted something about Chinese youth should attack the Japanese pavilion at the World Expo. She was arrested for this and sentenced to hard labor…it’s just speech and it was clearly a joke.

    I would much rather have to verify the information I read than not have access to the information in the first place. I am not a child who needs his parents to protect him from the outside world. I have no need to pretend I am living in the 1900’s to protect me from the modern world and modern ideas. I know that the US does try to use propaganda to convince the world it is always right, but Americans know that we make mistakes. We know our government starts illegal wars, and violates human rights, and supports evil dictatorships. No amount of propaganda can hide these facts from us, just like you probably know that China also engages in imperialism in Africa and South America. The facts are out there to read when there is no firewall blocking the way.

  15. Keith
    February 19th, 2011 at 15:37 | #15

    @silentvoice
    To most of us in the west, it’s very clear that your government does not want you to know about its imperialism, protectionism, and its support for dictatorships around the world.

    I think that the “propaganda” used against China has had the worst effects here in America. Many Americans see China as the greatest threat to our way of life. I believe this is a mistake. I believe that America and China can compete AND cooperate at the same time. I believe that China and America can do great things together. I believe China and America can both succeed more easily by helping each other and compromising on our differences. I believe that China will be the next great super power, but it will not be able to influence the world the America has because of the differences is language and because Chinese people are not allowed to interact with the rest of the world through social networks like Facebook and Twitter.

    I would LOVE for all of my American friends to meet online and make friends with my Chinese friends, but I know it will not happen as long as these artificial barriers are kept in place. Maybe Chinese people think Americans just want to influence them to do what we want, but I think that most of us want the same things in life like freedom, happiness, and peace in the world. Americans are ignorant about Chinese culture BECAUSE we do not have enough contact with Chinese people. I wish this could change.

  16. r v
    February 19th, 2011 at 16:30 | #16

    keith,

    you only get to see the videos after they have been cleared with the US government.

    And Google has in fact put up self-censorship flags on Youtube, allowing any one to mark content to take down, without any government “asking”.

    http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/301374

    “YouTube and its parent company Google have been criticized for hosting videos some lawmakers call propaganda and hate speech.”

    Hmm…. Seems like the West is quite paranoid about free speech as “propaganda”.

    *And censorship is censorship, temporary insanity is hardly an excuse.

  17. Keith
    February 19th, 2011 at 16:51 | #17

    @rv
    As I said, America is a little crazy when it comes to terrorism right now. This will change in the future when ignorant Americans realize that terrorism is not an important threat. Youtube is letting users flag content but then decides internally if that content should be removed. Terrorism IS ILLEGAL. Do you think people should be allowed to openly post videos showing terrorist acts or recruiting others (which is conspiracy to commit terrorist acts and is also illegal)? If this is your example of American censorship, you are grasping at straws. Youtube would also remove content that suggest people should commit murder or start riots. I think you are picking a most extreme example that does not come close to the Chinese form of censorship.

    You are utterly and completely wrong that American media clears their stories with the US government. That is a lie. The American media is not required to contact the US government before publishing a story even if the story is against American interests. I don’t know where you get your information from, but it’s very much wrong and you are misinformed on this subject. If you know anything about American media, you would know how angry the US government is about Wikileaks. Many American newspapers published the leaked documents that make the US government look very bad. These documents were NOT cleared or even shown to the US government before they were published.

    You are also wrong when you say that “censorship is censorship.” That’s the same as saying that punching you is the same as shooting you. Any one with sense can see that they are not the same thing. Speech that is likely to lead to violence or harm is not going to be protected the same way that political speech or commercial speech is protected.

    You are trying to justify censorship of everything because it’s OK to censor some dangerous things. This argument is weak and anyone who values life, freedom, creativity, happiness, and has a logical mind can see right through what you say. It doesn’t take someone clever to realize that you are justifying censorship based on notions that it is all the same. Would you equate a picture of a fuzzy kitten with a picture of someone getting shot in the face? Would you show both pictures to a 5 year old? Silly.

  18. r v
    February 19th, 2011 at 17:12 | #18

    Well,

    We’ll see the future when it gets here.

    “You are utterly and completely wrong that American media clears their stories with the US government. That is a lie. The American media is not required …”

    I never said they are “required”. But they do. Or they risk getting prosecuted for violation of national security under the Patriot Act, which is in force.

    “Censorship is censorship”. I am not aware of any distinction of types of censorship under the Western definition.

    “Many American newspapers published the leaked documents that make the US government look very bad. These documents were NOT cleared or even shown to the US government before they were published.”

    But they do get prosecuted after. Daniel Ellsberg. Pretty “crazy” back then, eh?

    “Would you show both pictures to a 5 year old?”

    They do in France. Not that silly afterall.

    “If this is your example of American censorship, you are grasping at straws.”

    Strange, that’s the same sort of “recruiting” and “terrorist acts” US is accusing others of censoring.

    I don’t know what you are accusing me of being “completely wrong” about.

  19. r v
    February 19th, 2011 at 17:25 | #19

    “Youtube is letting users flag content but then decides internally if that content should be removed. ”

    Self-censorship, as I said. Doesn’t make it free-er.

  20. r v
    February 19th, 2011 at 17:35 | #20

    http://www.scotuswiki.com/index.php?title=Holder,_Attorney_General_v._Humanitarian_Law_Project

    “For the first time in nearly nine years of what the government has called a “war on terrorism,” the Supreme Court on June 21 ruled decisively in the government’s favor — but still stopped short of providing an unqualified victory. The Court ruled, by a 6-3 vote, that it does not violate the Constitution for the government to block speech and other forms of advocacy supporting a foreign organization that has been officially labeled as terrorist,

    even if the aim is to support such a group’s peaceful or humanitarian actions. “

  21. r v
    February 19th, 2011 at 17:36 | #21

    AGAIN:

    for the government to block speech and other forms of advocacy supporting a foreign organization that has been officially labeled as terrorist.

  22. Keith
    February 19th, 2011 at 18:09 | #22

    @rv
    You said, “Mainstream US media, on receiving a video from a terrorist organization, must send the video/material to US government for security clearance, or may also face prosecution for aiding terrorists.”

    In the English language, the word “must” means it is mandatory. You are wrong in the above statement. The media does not have to send their information to the government for any reason unless it is required by a court. Except for terrorism related information, America has checks on the power of the administrative branch through the court system. Maybe you do not know about this.

    No media company or reporter has ever been prosecuted for publishing a story in America. You are lying when you suggest that Daniel Ellsberg was found guilty of anything. The charges against him (under the Espionage Act) were dropped and this law has never been used against a publisher of information since the government failed in its case against Ellsberg and the New York Times for publishing the Pentagon Papers (which made the US look bad during the Vietnam War). So again, you are wrong and trying to mislead people about what happens with regard to censorship in America.

    In fact, even if Julian Assange were in America, he could not be tried and convicted for what he has been doing at Wikileaks because he is a publisher and is protected under the US Constitution even though he is not an American citizen. The newspapers and websites that published the Wikileak documents cannot and will not be tried either, because it is protected speech here in America.

    I think you only pretend to be ignorant. I think you only pretend to not understand the different varieties of speech and the differing levels of protection for them. You quote stories about Supreme Court cases and yet you plead ignorance of the outcome of the case against Daniel Ellsberg and the New York times (from 1971). If anyone still believes you after this, I’ll be quite surprised.

    So if you are done talking about speech that encourages terrorism, I’ll be more than happy to continue beating this dead horse for you.

  23. r v
    February 19th, 2011 at 18:30 | #23

    Keith,

    I don’t like people who can’t read the 2nd half of my sentence. It’s disrespectful to misrepresent what I wrote.

    “…must send the video/material to US government for security clearance, OR MAY also face prosecution for aiding terrorists.”

    Ellsberg’s charges were not “dropped”. The court dismissed his case. But there was a trial. There is difference.

    “this law has never been used against a publisher of information since the government failed in its case against Ellsberg and the New York Times for publishing the Pentagon Papers.”

    But it was USED! There WAS censorship, even in the old days, NOT just today!

    “even if Julian Assange were in America, he could not be tried and convicted for what he has been doing at Wikileaks because he is a publisher and is protected under the US Constitution even though he is not an American citizen. The newspapers and websites that published the Wikileak documents cannot and will not be tried either, because it is protected speech here in America.”

    I doubt you can personally guarantee that. And I doubt anyone would believe your claim here.

    http://www.scotuswiki.com/index.php?title=Holder,_Attorney_General_v._Humanitarian_Law_Project

    “The Court ruled, by a 6-3 vote, that it does not violate the Constitution for the government to block speech and other forms of advocacy supporting a foreign organization that has been officially labeled as terrorist,
    even if the aim is to support such a group’s peaceful or humanitarian actions. “

    READ the US SUPREME COURT CASE above, and WEEP!

  24. r v
    February 19th, 2011 at 18:49 | #24

    YES, the US Supreme Court said, the government can “BLOCK SPEECH and OTHER FORMS OF ADVOCACY” supporting a foreign organization that has been officially labeled as terrorist, even if aimed to support “peaceful or humanitarian actions”.

    REALITY of censorship written in US legal system.

    6-3, cold hard reality.

  25. Keith
    February 19th, 2011 at 18:52 | #25

    @rv
    I meant no disrespect and did not intend to misrepresent what you said, but I believe I addressed both of your points. Media is not forced to turn over their information before publishing it, and if they do not do so, they will not be prosecuted. No disrespect, but your statement was incorrect on both counts.

    I must say you really are earning your money on this one. 😉

    You are correct in that I misspoke. The charges were not “dropped,” they were dismissed. This is even more in favor of Daniel Ellsberg than it would be if the charges were merely dropped. The fact that the charges were dismissed means the same charge could not be brought again. If the charges were merely dropped, the prosecution could bring the same charge again. Also, this ruling by a Federal Court judge sets a precedence. So even though the Espionage Act was once used to try this one case, the government LOST that case and it has not been used against a publisher since 1971.

    Although I cannot personally guarantee (and it would not be of any value if I could) that Julian Assange will not be tried under the Espionage Act, it is widely held among Supreme Court scholars that it will not happen. The Federal Government, in this case, the US Attorney General, can make statements that it knows it cannot back up. It makes these statements to look tough and to take a stand against and to discourage actions it does not condone. The Federal Government does not want more government officials to leak documents to the media so it makes threats of prosecution. To this point, the US Attorney General has not convinced a grand jury to indict Julian Assange. Nothing is stopping him from trying to have Assange extradited from Great Britain, and yet this has not happened. The smart money is on what I said, it will not happen. 🙂

    Yes, limited censorship is used in America. I never said it wasn’t. It is limited by law, and those laws are published so that people can know what they can and cannot say or do. I am not weeping over this, but I’m also not 100% in favor of the Patriot Act (which you are misusing to justify your weak arguments). Many Americans believe the “War on Terror” is ridiculous.

    Do you know that the Supreme Court is not the highest power in the America? It is only 1 of 3 equal branches of government at the federal level. The Congress has the power to repeal a law with the agreement of the President. It could happen that the Patriot Act will one day be repealed, and then this argument will all be moot. I personally think the Patriot Act is rubbish and was never needed. I think that the Terrorist Watch List is rubbish and is not needed. I disagree with many things that my government does AND I have the right to publish these statements of disagreement without fear of punishment. It’s a very nice feeling. 🙂

    It’s OK if you do not like me, but I respect your opinions and your right to share them. I also enjoy discussing these things with you.

  26. February 20th, 2011 at 02:10 | #26

    Folks,
    I am a bit late to the party!

    I haven’t had chance to fully catch up to this thread, especially with Keither and RV’s discussion. If you don’t mind, I’d like to focus on this for now:

    Now, compare a Chinese person with a Westerner, who do you think access more free information? Get your best facts and let’s compare.

    Keith replied:

    As for who has the best or least restricted access to information, I have to say that America does. No sites here in America are blocked by the government…NONE. It has been my experience on Sina weibo that searches are sometimes disabled if they are about something the government has deemed to be dangerous or disruptive information (Nobel Peace Prize, Egypt, etc.) None of these things would ever be blocked in the United States.

    Granted, the U.S. media is more “open,” but that does not guarantee Americans are more informed. So, I’d like to offer two data points why the Chinese in fact access more information as compared to the Westerner:

    Google enjoys 10% search revenue from China despite google.cn being shut down. That search revenue comes from Chinese citizens using google.com to search in English for anything you can imagine.

    On the flip side, how many Americans or Westerners do you think search in Chinese on baidu.com?

    Now, look at the number of Chinese students studying in the West and compare that with the other way around.

    As RV has explained, the Chinese government blocks certain web sites because they want to stop foreign propaganda from rallying domestic political opposition. That’s the key purpose. You should know that China was brutally invaded and ravaged by foreigners. This is a lesson that is not going to be forgotten. How much does Liu Xiaobo, Tibet, Tiananmen, and FLG add up in the grand scheme of things? Not much. Remember, it is not that those subjects are completely taboo, rather I think it’s when those issues are used to undermine the Chinese state and sovereignty.

  27. r v
    February 20th, 2011 at 08:50 | #27

    “Do you know that the Supreme Court is not the highest power in the America? It is only 1 of 3 equal branches of government at the federal level. The Congress has the power to repeal a law with the agreement of the President. It could happen that the Patriot Act will one day be repealed, and then this argument will all be moot.”

    Well, your scenario is rather moot until it happens. RIGHT NOW, ALL 3 branches of the US government are in favor of censorship, according to the above cited case LAW!

    “could happen” that the Patriot Act will one day be repealed??!

    I wouldn’t bet on it. It seemed like US forgot about the Espionage Act for only a few decades, and brought it back as the Patriot Act, only bigger and more censorship.

    “Smart money”? Isn’t that the US TV show that talk about supposedly good investments strategies, with Jim Kramer who made all sorts of ridiculous claims and advices?!

    Yeah, quite appropriate label.

  28. r v
    February 20th, 2011 at 09:47 | #28

    “Although I cannot personally guarantee (and it would not be of any value if I could) that Julian Assange will not be tried under the Espionage Act, it is widely held among Supreme Court scholars that it will not happen.”

    I don’t know why you are making yet another grandiose claim that you won’t back up with any citations.

    What “supreme court scholars”?! Widely held that “it will not happen”?! I don’t think real Supreme Court scholars would be that stupid to make such claims on the verge of guarantees.

    Looking at how the Supreme Court ruled in the case I cited, it’s certainly more probable than your claim.

  29. Keith
    February 20th, 2011 at 15:07 | #29

    LOL It’s pointless for me to post links, because it’s been my experience that nearly every reputable western news website is blocked in China.

    I guess you think your propaganda wins this way. Whatever. Enjoy your isolation. It’s been nice. 🙂

  30. February 20th, 2011 at 15:17 | #30

    “LOL It’s pointless for me to post links, because it’s been my experience that nearly every reputable western news website is blocked in China.”

    I doubt Supreme Court scholars are blocked, not to me, and certainly their quotes are not blocked here.

    I don’t think you know any “supreme court scholars”.

    Ignorance is bliss when you pretend to know it, but can’t quote it.

  31. Keith
    February 20th, 2011 at 15:41 | #31

    I am no match for the propaganda masters of this site. Obviously you all believe that absence of evidence is evidence to the contrary, and believe you are right in everything you say beyond any reason (because you display none). If any of you actually has an American law degree, I’ll consider continuing this discussion with you. Until then, congratulations, your masters will be proud that you were once again successful at twisting the truth and taking quotes out of context. You are certainly experts at what you do and truly earned your stipend on this one. Kudos. 🙂

    Anyone who will justify all censorship become everyone permits SOME censorship truly has a warped sense of logic. It’s the “slippery slope” of extremism and isn’t the least bit compelling.

  32. Keith
    February 20th, 2011 at 15:50 | #32

    yinyang
    Your data points are incorrect. You imply that someone must travel to another country to learn something about it. You imply that because most Americans do not use an awful Chinese search engine (you know that I can do uncensored searches on Google in Chinese) I cannot know as much about China as you know about America. You imply that I can actually learn anything from Chinese controlled (and censored) news media that I cannot learn from reading the same doctored (that means altered) news on world news sites. You imply that a large number of Chinese people study abroad, but per capita, that number is actually not that great of a ratio. I make no claims that American education system is better than Chinese or that going abroad isn’t beneficial, but when I chat with some of my Chinese friends who are studying overseas, they all agree that they enjoy the freedoms they have. Some even curse the Chinese 1 party government and censorship because they are learning so much more about the outside world where they are now.

    This will absolutely be my last comment. It seems that at every turn the other commentators attempt to mislead the readers with half-truths. I really should get back to doing something fun. 🙂

  33. February 20th, 2011 at 18:10 | #33

    I am an attorney in US. Keith.

    I have cited you cases, you have not.

    What you have done, is just shot off your big mouth here.

  34. February 20th, 2011 at 18:15 | #34

    Incidentally, don’t bother with your game here.

    The moderators here know me longer than you.

    If you have “evidence”, cite it, or go home.

    It’s obvious from your words that you don’t have any “evidence”, and you just continuing with nothing but insults.

    My words are “lies” and “half-truths”?!

    http://www.scotuswiki.com/index.php?title=Holder,_Attorney_General_v._Humanitarian_Law_Project

    “The Court ruled, by a 6-3 vote, that it does not violate the Constitution for the government to block speech and other forms of advocacy supporting a foreign organization that has been officially labeled as terrorist,
    even if the aim is to support such a group’s peaceful or humanitarian actions. “

    AGAIN! READ the US SUPREME COURT CASE above, and WEEP!

  35. Keith
    February 20th, 2011 at 18:44 | #35

    [Deleted by yinyang for trolling.]

  36. Charles Liu
    February 20th, 2011 at 19:30 | #36

    Keith, I’m not sure if you realize this – a lot us of us on this US-blog are not PRC citizens. If you think anyone here is getting paid to repeat some propaganda, I’d like to see you substantiate your “50 cent party” insinuation.

    If you can’t then it’s a poor attempt at McCarthyism on your part.

  37. February 21st, 2011 at 00:06 | #37

    So much for “my last comment.”

  38. r v
    February 21st, 2011 at 05:54 | #38

    http://www.nytimes.com/2011/02/20/us/politics/20data.html

    US government is eagerly trying to cover up this bunch, because they got con’ed into spending $20 million for worthless anti-terrorism “software”.

    “National security”, the old censorship handlebar, lives!

  39. silentchinese
    February 21st, 2011 at 09:01 | #39

    Keith :LOL It’s pointless for me to post links, because it’s been my experience that nearly every reputable western news website is blocked in China.
    I guess you think your propaganda wins this way. Whatever. Enjoy your isolation. It’s been nice.

    Funny, I picked up a copy of Economist Magazine in an mid-sized city airport’s bookshop last week, in the closed-off police state – modern day mordor, otherwise known as China.

    Now you may still be right, as Economist may not fit into the “reputable” category…

  40. r v
    February 21st, 2011 at 12:27 | #40

    Here is some other Doomsayings, about US.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OkBtOPvfB_k

  41. r v
    February 22nd, 2011 at 11:04 | #41

    HERE comes some censorship. Wisconsin state capital buildings block access to pro-Union websites.

    http://www.cnn.com/2011/US/02/22/wisconsin.budget/

  42. r v
    February 22nd, 2011 at 11:42 | #42

    Cheese Revolution spreads to Indiana, as another State’s senators flee to stop voting on laws.

    http://www.indystar.com/article/20110222/NEWS/110222004/1001/LOCAL18/House-Democrats-flee-Indiana-stop-votes?odyssey=nav%7Chead

  43. SilentChinese
    February 22nd, 2011 at 12:11 | #43

    @r v

    look at it with perspective,

    at least there is no blood on the streets and mass revolts.
    at least in US people still can try to bring about change/ solve their problems by an organized and orderly and somewhat inclusive political process.
    This is the strength and maturity of the american system.
    it is not something easily can gloss over.
    a stable internal political system is the key to success to almost every long lasting empire.

    Say all the negative things you want about the american system. this is one thing our fellow chinese bloggers should take to heart.

  44. February 22nd, 2011 at 12:28 | #44

    @SilentChinese #43,

    Agreed. I have no problem with censorship per se. Everyone does it, as we’ve discussed numerous times. The fact that China has to engage in more censorship than the West means that China – compared to the West – is more of a tinderbox. While hate speech in the past can spawn riots, political mayhem, maybe even revolutions in the American South, today it is merely a talk show talk topic. On the other hand, political hate speech today can still genuinely spawn unrest in China.

    I am looking forward to the day when China can be as stable or even more stable than the West.

  45. SilentChinese
    February 22nd, 2011 at 12:40 | #45

    @Allen

    IMHO, the problem with censorship is almost trivial, in a system what matters is 1) your people are happy 2) your people your developing to their full potential. as W. Hooper puts it: boundries of government must be broadly compatible with level of idealism in a society.

    if a society wants to censor it is their perogative.

    It is no good that 1) you have a revolution every year. 2) the entrenched establishement is resistent to any call for change.

    people think there is only one dimension to this problem, Stability vs Change, and best one can hope for is to strike a good balance. I think people are smart enough to jump out of this one dimensional paridim. why not try to build a system have both Stability AND rapid change.

  46. SilentChinese
    February 22nd, 2011 at 12:47 | #46

    What intrigues me is I think some of the chinese thinkers is rejecting both the left and right wing vision.

    they think (independent of W. Hooper’s stuff) that “engineers” should rule the country. intriguing.

  47. r v
    February 22nd, 2011 at 13:56 | #47

    “Engineers” are used to work in teams and compromising their divergent opinions to get big projects done.

    And generally, Engineering teams have a top-down hierarchical command structure, with consensus building.

    It’s a model that many Chinese engineers would agree with.

    A Chinese political system with a very technically trained populous would of course find comfort in that system as well.

    *Given the sharp rhetorics being issued by the left and right in US, I wonder if they will have “stability” for long.

    In their hurry to distinguish themselves from the Chinese “stability” vision, the Americans may have inadvertently forgotten their own need for “stability”.

    And now, who knows. It looks like they are all gambling for “take no prisoner” approach.

    A shame for Americans, perhaps a lesson and warning to people of the world. (Along with the chaos in the Middle East).

  48. r v
    February 23rd, 2011 at 11:12 | #48

    http://worldblog.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/02/23/6115419-myanmar-opposition-leader-has-a-few-words-for-china

    Opposition leaders. He….

    They think that China is siding with their government against them. They often say China should stop supporting dictators, with trade, loans, aid, etc.

    Then, when they win their revolutions, they realize, their “democracies” are still too risky for the West. So they turn to China and say, give us trade, loans, aid, etc. and stay.

    It’s all so political.

  49. sam
    May 10th, 2011 at 14:20 | #49

    The sentiment of her speech was entirely appropriate, but the record of human rights cases in the US that have not been redressed tarnishes the credibility of her position in the eyes of countries like china and rightly so.

    the murder of fred Hampton By the FBI in 1969 for example, or the extraordinary rendition of terror suspects who will never stand trail.

    We need to be able to deal with these injustices if we are ever to heal as a nation.

  50. raventhorn2000
    May 11th, 2011 at 07:17 | #50

    The sentiments of Marx, Machievelli, Lenin, Mao, were all entirely appropriate as well for their time.

    But we don’t live under “sentiments”. We live with realities, practical, and the probable.

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