Home > Analysis, Opinion, politics, video > On Michael Anti: Behind the Great Firewall of China

On Michael Anti: Behind the Great Firewall of China

Recently a TED video featuring Michael Anti on China’s censorship seems to be making the rounds.  I think Anti does bring some unique insights to the English speaking audience about China that we don’t generally see in Western media; hence I am providing his video below. However, I think Anti can also be a stubborn ideologue who insist on viewing the world through ideological blinders.

Below is a transcript of the video (in quotes) as well as my response.

In the past several days, I heard people talking about China. And also I talked to friends about China and Chinese Internet. Something is very challenging to me. I want to make my friends understand: China is complicated. So I always want to tell the story, like, one hand it is that, the other hand is that. You can’t just tell one side’s story. I’ll give an example. China is a BRIC country. BRIC country means Brazil, Russia, India and China. This emerging economy really is helping the revival of the world economy. But at the same time, on the other hand, China is a SICK country, the terminology coined by Facebook IPO papers — file. He said the SICK country means Syria, Iran, China and North Korea. The four countries have no access to Facebook. So basically, China is a SICK BRIC country.


Hats off to Anti for not piling on another simplistic caricature of China.  China is indeed complicated.  Unfortunately, as the speech continues, the astute listener / reader will realize that Anti brings his own set of preconceived caricatures of China.

In the introduction, one already get a taste of that.  “China is not just a BRIC … but a ‘sick’ BRIC….”

BRIC is a bad place to start to learn about China. The nomenclature was coined in a paper by Goldman Sachs economist Jim O’Neill in 2001, joining mainstream business and economics lexicon starting around 2003. I suspect that the popularity of the term probably has less to do with substance and more to do with laziness.  There is little commonality shared amongst BRIC nations.  They share neither a common history, 1, nor language, nor economic nor political system. Why not simply look at China as China – instead of a BRIC, or a communist country, a totalitarian country, or some other preconceived abstraction?

As for China being sick, I think to rely on what Facebook – a private profit-seeking corporation – says to define norms is ass-backward. After all, Facebook is also heavily embroiled in many controversies. It has run into legal troubles the world over over. It has been accused of intentionally misleading the public and its investors regarding its IPO. It has been accused of partnering with the CIA to spy on its users, U.S. citizens included (see below). Just to name a few…

Anti goes on:

Another project was built up to watch China and Chinese Internet. And now, today I want to tell you my personal observation in the past several years, from that wall. So, if you are a fan of the Game of Thrones, you definitely know how important a big wall is for an old kingdom. It prevents weird things from the north.

Same was true for China. In the north, there was a great wall, Chang Cheng. It protected China from invaders for 2,000 years. But China also has a great firewall. That’s the biggest digital boundary in the whole world. It’s not only to defend the Chinese regime from overseas, from the universal values, but also to prevent China’s own citizens to access the global free Internet, and even separate themselves into blocks, not united.

Every nation – modern nation states, not just “old kingdoms” – build walls. Being able to control one’s boundaries is an essential right of the nation-state. The U.S. builds a “barrier” to its South to keep out economic migrants from Latin America. Both U.S. and Europe relies heavily on invasive border control policies – including ones that reach extraterritoriality – to stem the flows of immigrants.

What about information? Can it be that only totalitarian governments clamp down on information – hence China’s Great Firewall – and that modern, freedom-loving, democratic societies embrace all knowledge and hence does not have a need for such walls?

This type of thinking extolls form over substance, and misses seeing the forest for the trees. The West does not need a wall not because it is more free, but because it has a far more subtle and sophisticated system of monitoring and controlling information.

Norm Chomsky and Edward Herman has described how the propaganda system in the West works. 2  They describe a system how control of information access and control of capital, reinforced by market forces and basic human nature 3, has allowed the governments and a privileged elite in the West to control information.

It’s not just the market. Legally, the U.S. has also continually and openly updated its laws and policies to enable the government to legitimately tap into Internet communications (see, e.g., Patriot Act of 2011).

Technologically, the U.S. government (with many of its Western partners) has been invasively monitoring and controlling information since at least the 1970’s, with programs such as Echelon.  In the Internet era, the U.S. government has had an active hand in helping to start 4Google, Facebook and other social media powerhouses and collaborating 5 with them to spy on a broad base of Internet users.

In light of all this, I find it only natural that China would want to build a wall. Many of the so-called “Free” Internet companies such as Google and Facebook appear to have been drafted as pawns in the U.S. global war for information domination. 6 Before China build up its market and media infrastructure, before its people gain economic parity with the West, 7 the power inequality being what it is, it is suicidal for China to simply submit its information space to the West.

As for the validity of describing the world’s Internet as a free, universal, global Internet and an oppressive Chinese one behind the great firewall, that’s a clear oversimplification.

The world’s internet has long been balkanized by nation.  There is no free-for-all global Internet. Every nation (including advanced Western nations such as France as well as developing democratic ones such as India) retains the right to draft policies and laws in controlling and regulating content on the Internet the way it sees fit.

Today, even after its dramatic pullout of China, Google continues to receive and comply with regularly government requests the world over to remove content from its search engine results. Twitter now has a global system of controls that selectively implements censorship policies of governments around the world.

I may not agree with how the Chinese government handles “freedom of speech” issues in every case. But why should I defer to Google or Facebook or Twitter’s judgement?

Too many times, I find that the basis of accusations of a lack of freedom in China to be rooted more in discounting Chinese histories and circumstances than any substantive issues with “freedom” per se.

In Germany, Nazi books and neo Nazy parties are banned. In France, one cannot express one’s views on certain “genocides” without going to jail. In India, words that incite religious and communal tensions can be banned. Yet when China bans some words it deems harmful to peace and stability, it is deemed reflexively as oppressive and backward.

One can always bitch about this particular policy and that policy, wrapping one’s political preferences in the name of “freedom.” 8 Freedom this and freedom that: it’s really just politics all the way down. I hope the Chinese people don’t fall for that trap.

So, basically the “Internet” has two Internets. One is the Internet, the other is the Chinanet. But if you think the Chinanet is something like a deadland, wasteland, I think it’s wrong. But we also use a very simple metaphor, the cat and the mouse game, to describe in the past 15 years the continuing fight between Chinese censorship, government censorship, the cat, and the Chinese Internet users. That means us, the mouse. But sometimes this kind of a metaphor is too simple.

The cat and mouse analogy is indeed too simple … and not useful.  Rule of law in general can indeed be seen as a cat and mouse game … by criminals, rapists, tax cheats, thieves, etc. Yet most people don’t trivialize the notion of rule of law as such. Whatever the faults with rule of law, most harbor the idea of law as a tool to foster justice and social harmony, not as a vehicle to be undermined and dodged.

Similarly, governance should not per se about cat and mouse. It is about balancing, drafting policies, experimenting. One may not always get what one wants living in a society. But when one doesn’t like some rules or policy, the solution is not to dodge and undermine – play a game of cat and mouse. Rather people should aim to deliberate with the proper authorities, and work together to bring about what’s best for nation, for the society.

Most Chinese I know view governance as an indispensable vehicle to develop the Chinese nation and to empower all her citizens. There is a huge disconnect between Anti’s world and reality.

So today I want to upgrade it to 2.0 version. In China, we have 500 million Internet users. That’s the biggest population of Netizens, Internet users, in the whole world. So even though China’s is a totally censored Internet, but still, Chinese Internet society is really booming. How to make it? It’s simple. You have Google, we have Baidu. You have Twitter, we have Weibo. You have Facebook, we have Renren. You have YouTube, we have Youku and Tudou. The Chinese government blocked every single international Web 2.0 service, and we Chinese copycat every one.

Ignoring Anti’s cheap shot on China, I want to stress that Chinese social platform is indeed different from that in the “free world.” China’s social media platform, such as weibo, is more than a Twitter and Facebook combined, a chimerical chimera that neither Twitter nor Facebook has succeeded in creating.

In important ways, Chinese social media can be argued to reflect the people more – to be more of the people. In a recent study on Twitter usage patterns, for example, a group of researchers noted:

To study the dynamics of trends in social media, we have conducted a comprehensive study on trending topics on Twitter. … we found that the content that trended was largely news from traditional media sources, which are then amplified by repeated retweets on Twitter to generate trends.

Contrast this with a recent study on Chinese micro blogging patterns, for example, where a group of researchers noted:

We found that there is a vast difference in the content shared in China, when compared to a global social network such as Twitter. In China, the trends are created almost entirely due to retweets of media content such as jokes, images and videos, whereas on Twitter, the trends tend to have more to do with current global events and news stories.

Chinese micro bloggers laugh and play, demand justice, argue with each other on all issues of the day, and hold officials to account. By contrast, Western micro bloggers are elitist and conformist.

Anti continues:

So, that’s the kind of the thing I call smart censorship. That’s not only to censor you. Sometimes this Chinese national Internet policy is very simple: Block and clone. On the one hand, he wants to satisfy people’s need of a social network, which is very important; people really love social networking. But on the other hand, they want to keep the server in Beijing so they can access the data any time they want. That’s also the reason Google was pulled out from China, because they can’t accept the fact that Chinese government wants to keep the server.

Google pulled out of China because it does not want to subject itself to Chinese laws and regulations. It’s about preventing a private for-profit company from having your cake and eating it, too – i.e. doing business in China but not adhering to its laws and regulations. Anti is wrong about Google’s problems in China: it’s technically not about where the server is. The Chinese government doesn’t actually care where the server is per se. It is after all not interested in running or “keeping” any computers. It however does demand that any company that does business in China adhere to Chinese laws and regulations. 9 As a normative matter, those who actively subvert Chinese government and society in China should not get an automatic free pass simply because they use foreign tools and software.

Anti goes on:

Sometimes the Arab dictators didn’t understand these two hands. For example, Mubarak, he shut down the Internet. He wanted to prevent the Netizens [from criticizing] him. But once Netizens can’t go online, they go in the street. And now the result is very simple. We all know Mubarak is technically dead. But also, Ben Ali, Tunisian president, didn’t follow the second rule. That means keep the server in your hands. He allowed Facebook, a U.S.-based service, to continue to stay on inside of Tunisia. So he can’t prevent it, his own citizens to post critical videos against his corruption. The same thing happend. He was the first to topple during the Arab Spring.

But those two very smart international censorship policies didn’t prevent Chinese social media [from] becoming a really public sphere, a pathway of public opinion and the nightmare of Chinese officials. Because we have 300 million microbloggers in China. It’s the entire population of the United States. So when these 300 million people, microbloggers, even they block the tweet in our censored platform. But itself — the Chinanet — but itself can create very powerful energy, which has never happened in the Chinese history.

2011, in July, two [unclear] trains crashed, in Wenzhou, a southern city. Right after the train crash, authorities literally wanted to cover up the train, bury the train. So it angered the Chinese Netizens. The first five days after the train crash, there were 10 million criticisms of the posting on social media, which never happened in Chinese history. And later this year, the rail minister was sacked and sentenced to jail for 10 years.

And also, recently, very funny debate between the Beijing Environment Ministry and the American Embassy in Beijing because the Ministry blamed the American Embassy for intervening in Chinese internal politics by disclosing the air quality data of Beijing. So, the up is the Embassy data, the PM 2.5. He showed 148, they showed it’s dangerous for the sensitive group. So a suggestion, it’s not good to go outside. But that is the Ministry’s data. He shows 50. He says it’s good. It’s good to go outside. But 99 percent of Chinese microbloggers stand firmly on the Embassy’s side. I live in Beijing. Every day, I just watch the American Embassy’s data to decide whether I should open my window.

Anti obviously subscribe to the narrative of the Arab Spring as a triumph of people power, harnessed through social media. But then, there are also narratives that cast the Arab Spring in more subversive light (see, e.g., this RT report, or this independent report). I’ll leave it to historians in the future to write the real story. Regardless of their pronouncement, I find it comical today to hear people confound Arab Spring and China together.

The Arab world is the Arab world – with its own unique histories and social, cultural, and political circumstances. China is China. The the Arab Spring arguably arose most fundamentally because of the decades of economic mismanagement and malaise by many Arab leaders. China over the last 30 or so years had pursued its own brand of economic development. It is silly to go about pontificating about China based on what is happening in the Arab world.

As for Beijing’s air, the truth is that neither the Chinese nor U.S. government readings is perfect, and neither is inherently superior or more accurate than the other. Anti’s politicizing of science is cheap. I am glad that the Chinese government is hard at work with scientists on the ground to make concrete improvements in its measurements. More importantly, the government is working unceasingly to improve air quality throughout the city.

Why is Chinese social networking, even within the censorship, so booming? Part of the reason is Chinese languages. You know, Twitter and Twitter clones have a kind of a limitation of 140 characters. But in English it’s 20 words or a sentence with a short link. Maybe in Germany, in German language, it may be just “Aha!”


But in Chinese language, it’s really about 140 characters, means a paragraph, a story. You can almost have all the journalistic elements there. For example, this is Hamlet, of Shakespeare. It’s the same content. One, you can see exactly one Chinese tweet is equal to 3.5 English tweets. Chinese is always cheating, right? So because of this, the Chinese really regard this microblogging as a media, not only a headline to media.

And also, the clone, Sina company is the guy who cloned Twitter. It even has its own name, with Weibo. “Weibo” is the Chinese translation for “microblog.” It has its own innovation. At the commenting area, [it makes] the Chinese Weibo more like Facebook, rather than the original Twitter. So these innovations and clones, as the Weibo and microblogging, when it came to China in 2009, it immediately became a media platform itself. It became the media platform of 300 million readers. It became the media. Anything not mentioned in Weibo, it does not appear to exist for the Chinese public.

Much of this is true. Chinese social media platforms are tailored (optimized) for Chinese characters. Also true: Chinese characters can also be a very efficient medium in conveying information. And also true: the Chinese Internet continues to be an ever more important medium by which Chinese gather, share, debate, discuss news and information.

But also, Chinese social media is really changing Chinese mindsets and Chinese life. For example, they give the voiceless people a channel to make your voice heard. We had a petition system. It’s a remedy outside the judicial system, because the Chinese central government wants to keep amiss, the emperor is good. The old local officials are thugs. So that’s why the petitioner, the victims, the peasants, want to take the train to Beijing to petition to the central government, they want the emperor to settle the problem. But when more and more people go to Beijing, they also cause the risk of a revolution. So they send them back in recent years. And even some of them were put into black jails. But now we have Weibo, so I call it the Weibo petition. People just use their cell phones to tweet.

So your sad stories, by some chance your story will be picked up by reporters, professors or celebrities. One of them is Yao Chen, she is the most popular microblogger in China, who has about 21 million followers. They’re almost like a national TV station. If you — so a sad story will be picked up by her. So this Weibo social media, even in the censorship, still gave the Chinese a real chance for 300 million people every day chatting together, talking together. It’s like a big TED, right? But also, it is like the first time a public sphere happened in China. Chinese people start to learn how to negotiate and talk to people.

Anti seems to have a disdain for the Chinese system. Even in recognizing that platforms like Weibo has energized and empowered many an ordinary people, perhaps in ways more profound that micro blogging affects Western societies, he seems to want to trivialize the entire phenomenon as something infantile.

For example, he said that with the advent of Internet, finally “Chinese people start to learn how to negotiate and talk to people.”  What is he talking about? Chinese people have been talking, discussing, bickering, arguing, deliberating for thousands of years…

Also, in my opinion, there is nothing wrong with having an extra-judicial system such as a redress system. I will write a post about rule of law soon. But laws is at best a limited and imperfect way to administer justice. An extra-judicial practice – such as the redress system carried out publicly for thousands of years in China – can enhance justice today and is not a bad practice for China to carry over into the Internet age.

As for local officials, local officials are also not all “thugs,” as Anti with a smirk pronounced. In the U.S., it seems everyday news that officials here and there are indicted with crimes of some sort (see, e.g., indictments of Mark Adams and indictment of Fidelis Ogbu and Neacacha Jyner). Does that mean all U.S. officials should be called “thugs”? When one recently democratically elected presidents of the U.S. (Bill Clinton) is convicted of obstruction of justice (a criminal offense), are we now justified to smugly refer to all democratically-elected presidents as “thugs”?

But also, the cat, the censorship, is not sleeping. It’s so hard to post some sensitive words on the Chinese Weibo. For example, you can’t post the name of the president, Hu Jintao, and also you can’t post the city of Chongqing, the name, and until recently, you can’t search the surname of top leaders. So, the Chinese are very good at these puns and alternative wording and even memes. They even [use] names of — you know, use the name of this world-changing battle between the grass-mud horse and the river crab. The grass-mud horse is caoníma, is the phonogram for motherfucker, the Netizens call themselves. River crab is héxiè, is the phonogram for harmonization, for censorship. So that’s kind of a caoníma versus the héxiè, that’s very good. So, when some very political, exciting moments happened, you can see on Weibo, you see another very weird story happened. Weird phrases and words, even if you have a PhD of Chinese language, you can’t understand them.

Many people in the West make a big deal of the use of phonogram in Chinese Internet – allegedly to avoid censorship. But how important is censorship really in the big scheme of things? I will write a post soon on a recent study from Carnegie Mellon titled “censorship and deletion practices in Chinese social media” that carried out the first large-scale study of censorship practices on Weibo. The report seems to damn the Chinese government pretty hard. Interestingly, when I followed up with the authors personally on the math, it turns out that little of the anecdotal conclusions drawn can be pronounced with any statistical confidence. It appears that censorship – when it happens – appears to be quite limited – so limited that millions and millions of data points obtained over three months failed to reveal (with any statistical confidence) a pattern.

I find it interesting that so many people want to gloss over how dynamic the Chinese social media is and to focus instead on a few isolated cases of government censorship.

Truth is, if we want to talk about esoteric theory of freedom, why not talk about the U.S. government itself? The CIA’spartnership with Facebook, Twitter, and Google theoretically gives the government unprecedented ability to shape the public opinion. But the net is even wider than that. There appears be many fake accounts in Chinese blog sphere such that many of the so-called voice of Chinese Netizens quoted in Western media are not actually Chinese, but U.S. pawns mouthing Western propaganda – VOA style. 10

Of course, I am not in a position to judge the actual depth and involvement of the U.S. government in Chinese blog sphere. But I do believe that unless you immerse in Chinese blog sphere, you do not have a real picture of the perspectives of Chinese netizens. Merely reading a few “quotes” embedded in sensational stories of Chinese “censorship” in Western media is not going to do it.

But you can’t even expand more, no, because Chinese Sina Weibo, when it was founded was exactly one month after the official blocking of Twitter.com. That means from the very beginning, Weibo has already convinced the Chinese government, we will not become the stage for any kind of a threat to the regime. For example, anything you want to post, like “get together” or “meet up” or “walk,” it is automatically recorded and data mined and reported to a poll for further political analyzing. Even if you want to have some gathering, before you go there, the police are already waiting for you. Why? Because they have the data. They have everything in their hands. So they can use the 1984 scenario data mining of the dissident. So the crackdown is very serious.

Again I can neither dispute nor refute Anti’s claims. But I do take issue of Anti piling on the worst fears he can conjure up about the Internet on the Chinese government.

Generally, it was fashionable in the early days of the Internet to think of the Internet as an unstoppable force of Freedom; however, as people begin to appreciate more the pervasive and persistent nature of the Internet (data about everything, everywhere is logged; someone can always mine such data later for something interesting), it is now fashionable to fear it as a force of Great Control. I tend to see it pragmatically as the dual nature – the yin and yang – of social media. It’s not anything special about the “Chinanet,” Anti notwithstanding. In fact, if you fear the Chinese government turning social media into an all-seeing eye of Big Brother, you should fear equally the U.S. You should fear even more the private, for-profit companies who profess to be guardians of your freedom.

And about 1984: yes George Orwell’s 1984 is a powerful story about how a government can go bad. But just as after watching a horror movie, a child might see a killer or monster at every corner or in every shadow, we should not let fictions like 1984 – however sensational – dictate our worldview. Seeing evil in every government action, every law, every technology, every policy is counter-productive, not productive.

But I want you to notice a very funny thing during the process of the cat-and-mouse. The cat is the censorship, but Chinese is not only one cat, but also has local cats. Central cat and local cats.


You know, the server is in the local cats’ hands, so even that — when the Netizens criticize the local government, the local government has not any access to the data in Beijing. Without bribing the central cats, he can do nothing, only apologize.

So these three years, in the past three years, social movements about microblogging really changed local government, became more and more transparent, because they can’t access the data. The server is in Beijing. The story about the train crash, maybe the question is not about why 10 million criticisms in five days, but why the Chinese central government allowed the five days of freedom of speech online. It’s never happened before. And so it’s very simple, because even the top leaders were fed up with this guy, this independent kingdom. So they want an excuse — public opinion is a very good excuse to punish him.

But also, the Bo Xilai case recently, very big news, he’s a princeling. But from February to April this year, Weibo really became a marketplace of rumors. You can almost joke everything about these princelings, everything! It’s almost like you’re living in the United States. But if you dare to retweet or mention any fake coup about Beijing, you definitely will be arrested. So this kind of freedom is a targeted and precise window.

There is a lot of innuendos and speculations here that I won’t get here. But I want to address two points.

First, I don’t understand why Anti seem to feel so indignant when people are not allowed to indulge in rumors such as fake coups or of the racy details of criminal cases involving high officials and their families. If we care about real deliberation: shouldn’t freedom of speech be about informing – not misinforming – the people? Should people not be expected to have at least the patience to wait for official investigations and facts instead of demanding to live in up-to-the-minute rumor mills? (Some might object, arguing the real modus operandi is to cover up, betting that people’s attention will shift after a few months of “investigation.”  But if things are really so easily forgotten, are they really important issues – or on the same note, can those same “forgetful” people – who require information to be spoon-fed – be trusted to make any rational judgement?)

Second, it’s interesting to see the cat and mouse theme resurfaces in yet another way – this time between central and local government as well. Here Anti seems to intone that central government is actually really evil, but gets away with being so labelled by laying all the blame on the local government.

Perhaps there is some truth in this. I don’t know. But I feel in some ways, this is the basis of all politics.

When one digs deep enough, may one come to see that the root of law is not justice, but the semblance of justice? At the root of democracy may not real people power or accountability, but a semblance of people power and accountability?

So Chinese in China, censorship is normal. Something you find is, freedom is weird. Something will happen behind it. Because he was a very popular Leftist leader, so the central government wanted to purge him, and he was very cute, he convinced all the Chinese people, why he is so bad. So Weibo, the 300 million public sphere, became a very good, convenient tool for a political fight.

But this technology is very new, but technically is very old. It was made famous by Chairman Mao, Mao Zedong, because he mobilized millions of Chinese people in the Cultural Revolution to destroy every local government. It’s very simple, because Chinese central government doesn’t need to even lead the public opinion. They just give them a target window to not censor people. Not censoring in China has become a political tool.

For a while, it’s fashionable to say pervasive the Chinese government carried out censorship.  More recently, it’s more fashionable to pronounce how subtle and sophisticated and targeted Chinese censorship is. For example, a Harvard study published in June, 2012 (original link) concludes:

Contrary to previous understandings, posts with negative, even vitriolic, criticism of the state, its leaders, and its policies are not more likely to be censored. Instead, we show that the censorship program is aimed at curtailing collective action by silencing comments that represent, reinforce, or spur social mobilization, regardless of content. … [T]he leadership … allow[s] the full range of expression of negative and positive comments about the state, its policies, and its leaders…. [L]ooking bad does not threaten their hold on power so long as they manage to eliminate discussions with collective action potential—where a locus of power and control, other than the government, influences the behaviors of masses of Chinese people. With respect to speech, the Chinese people are individually free but collectively in chains.

So China used to be an unforgivingly oppressive society. But today, China has become a society that offers high levels of individual freedom … albeit with little collective freedom?

If so – what’s the fuss? I say, China has merely come to look like the West!

Many thinkers have noted that while individuals in the West may be “free,” collectively they are not. In Unconscious Civilization, for example, Saul discusses how people who are presumptively free can come to toil unconsciously slavishly for an oligarchy in the grip of a stifling “corporatist” structure (dominated by business managers and technocrats) and a dysfunctional democratic structure (marked by segmentation of society into competing interest groups). In the Propaganda Model, Herman and Chomsky discussed how a presumptively free people ultimately submit to living in sterile oceans of information (propaganda) as they relent to market forces and become passive receivers and consumers of information. Through the iron law of oligarchy, Robert Michels explains how representative democracy inevitably becomes but a façade (I like the term “mass opiate” better) that legitimizes the rule of an elite (i.e. an oligarchy).

Even in free West, “the people” 11 –  it appears – never had any real power (i.e. “collective freedom”) either. 12

Anyways, back to the cute recent theories about Chinese censorship from Anti and others.  My main problem is not that I don’t believe the Chinese government censors. It’s the motivation attributed. It presumes too much cat and mouse game (adversarial government – people relationship).

A better assessment is what most Chinese already knows. The Chinese Internet is becoming an important social medium for Chinese citizens to voice, frame, discuss, argue, debate issues of all types. The government recognizes this and will continue to nurture the medium as a platform for  the government to engage with and learn from the citizens at the lowest grassroots level issues of concern for the people, as a platform for citizens to deliberate with each other on important social and political issues, as a platform for the government to implement government transparency. The Chinese seem to be experimenting with building a vibrant system of e-government first and perhaps an e-democracy in the future.

This is serious stuff – not cat and mouse game.

So that’s the update about this game, cat-and-mouse. Social media changed Chinese mindset. More and more Chinese intend to embrace freedom of speech and human rights as their birthright, not some imported American privilege. But also, it gave the Chinese a national public sphere for people to, it’s like a training of their citizenship, preparing for future democracy. But it didn’t change the Chinese political system, and also the Chinese central government utilized this centralized server structure to strengthen its power to counter the local government and the different factions.

So, what’s the future? After all, we are the mouse. Whatever the future is, we should fight against the mouse. There is not only in China, but also in the United States there are some very small, cute but bad cats.


SOPA, PIPA, ACTA, TPP and ITU. And also, like Facebook and Google, they claim they are friends of the mouse, but sometimes we see them dating the cats. So my conclusion is very simple. We Chinese fight for our freedom, you just watch your bad cats. Don’t let them hook [up] with the Chinese cats. Only in this, in the future, we will achieve the dreams of the mouse: that we can tweet anytime, anywhere, without fear.


Thank you.


This is a fitting conclusion for someone wedded to the cat and mouse game. Unfortunately, I believe that ideology has so distorted the worldview of Anti that he sees a ghost in every shadow. Many may find comfort and solace in the fictional and ideologically-based world Anti has created, but for those who care about true possibilities, I invite you to be pragmatic, non-judgmental, and to see China as what it is. China is a recently awakened civilization looking to experiment, to build a peaceful, prosperous, harmonious and just society.

It’s a brave new world. Let’s grab it by the bull’s horn – and not submit to playing petty games of cat and mouse.


  1. For example, one is a colonial power (Russia), one was a colony (India), one has a mixed identity as both oppressor as well as oppressed (Brazil), and one is a former proud power that became almost destroyed but not quite (China).
  2. Their original theory is referenced here. 20 years later in the Internet age, the theories remain as relevant as ever.
  3. Human beings by nature like to conform. Human beings also are lazy. The and other characteristics Chomsky and Herman identified explains how an otherwise free society can easily buy into and become captured by a few sources of propaganda.
  4. See, e.g., Facebook & Social Media: A Convenient Cover For Spying; Ex-Agent: CIA Seed Money Helped Launch Google)
  5. See, e.g., theLastWatchDog: Google-NSA collaboration draws alarm, PC World: The Google-NSA Alliance: Questions and Answers (2010), MarketWatch: Group files request for details on Google, NSA partnership. Assange has said that Facebook is an “appalling spying machine” for the U.S. government. See also this RT Video report on YouTube (“Facebook, Google, Yahoo. All CIA Spies for US”)
  6. See, e.g., Tarpley: US gov uses Google proxy to attack China (RT video on YouTube), InfoWars: YouTube’s Parent Google is a Corporate Member of the Council on Foreign Relations
  7. The U.S. for example has a gdp per capita of U.S. $48,387 while China only has a gdp per capita of U.S. $5,414.
  8. For example, recently one hears about how the Chinese have been banning observances of Ramadan in Xinjiang. Of course, there is no ban (Muslims are celebrating the end of Ramadan in China, by the way). Turns out the government has simply been warning people to take careful watch of themselves during fasting. It’s no different than a weather station in California warning people to stay indoors during hot days; or news stations warning people not to drive after Thanksgiving meals.  You can still fast; you can still go out and play; you can still drink. However, please do these things in a safe manner. If public health statements such as these are deemed as oppressive, that’s just opportunistic politicking that I find so common in the West. Recently Germany has decided to ban child circumcision. Some however have called it a trespass against liberty (see e.g., this and this). This is a complicated health policy question; why make it into an issue of freedom? If this is a basic freedom issue, where do things stop? What about religious groups that want schools to teach creationism and reject Darwin? What about religious groups who reject medical treatment for prayers for their children?  What about religious groups that want to force all its women to carry to term all pregnancies, however conceived?  Are these all human rights issues?  Or can individual societies decide for themselves what are sensitive policy questions without raising the specter of rights mongering?
  9. People have been arguing over general choice of law and jurisdictional issues for Internet companies for some time time. The big trend is clear. As this U Penn Law Review article concludes:  “In summary, the assertion of sovereign jurisdiction to protect citizens is likely to advance the fundamental public policy that the rule of law should be supreme to technological determinism. At the same time, the multiplicity of states with jurisdiction over Internet activities is likely to stimulate creativity and new Internet services such as more accurate and selective filtering technologies, stronger security zones and more robust, customized compliance capabilities.” The big picture is clear. China is a sovereign country. Chinese laws and policies are thus to be respected … even if you are an “Internet” company.
  10. A trusted and respected collegue recently explained to me:

    Most people don’t know that Google, Facebook and Twitter all received their orginal funding from the CIA, and that is how they were able to grow so quickly. And today, the US military and the CIA have software that permits one person to control hundreds of fake people in Twitter and Facebook, with forged IP addresses to make it seem their posts originate in China.

    That is why the Chinese government killed Facebook and Twitter in China, and why there was the trouble with Google. It is all about espionage, about sedition, about the US trying to destabilise China and encourage people to start a revolution so the US will be able to move in and control China – as it has recently done with Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Ukraine, Georgia, and so on.

  11. I put the  people in quotes because there is really no such thing as a “will” of “the people”. It’s a figment of people’s imagination. If there is, it can only constructively arise from informed, enlightened political deliberation by the citizens.
  12. Of course, political philosophers such as Marx has also been saying this for a long time. Democracy is irrelevant. It’s the power dynamics that matters. And the power dynamics of Industrial societies is such that the rich and powerful have always structured society to alienate much of the fruit of laborers from the laborers. The dis-enfrenchised mass is then encouraged to fragment into special interests that fight each other, not the rigged system – or the oligarchy behind the system. “The people,” even if individually free, are thus powerless collectively. The recent occupy movement shows just how difficult it is to fight effectively against the system (see also these set of articles from Daily Kos).
  1. tc
    September 1st, 2012 at 13:42 | #1

    I listened to this Anti guy for about 3 minutes. That’s all I can endure.

  2. September 2nd, 2012 at 02:46 | #2

    the thing with the internet is, it is controlled entirely by the united states regime. what they want people to know, they will make it visible. what they dont want to be relevant sinks straight to the bottom of any search engine, therefore makes it invisible to most people. the internet has been censored from the very begining, and the things that really threaten the power structure of western oligarchy is more than certain to be omited. the internet was also invented by the u.s military, so i dont see why they would allow something they can not control. if michael anti is so against censorship as he claims, then can we get some transparency into cia drug traficking, real records on western prescription medicine causing more harm than good, police brutality in western countries, u.s and nato aggression across the world, cia black sites, u.s, and european training, and funding of terorists, sabatoge by western multinational corporations against industries of independent countries, stats and records on u.s military use of depleted uranium, the real uses of “foreign aid”, uncovering the brutality of european colonialism, false flag terror, bio warfare by the usa, the real origins of aids, sars, and bird flu

  3. September 2nd, 2012 at 02:58 | #3

    also whats the deal with these corporate spokesmen like michael anti who always bring up sopa, and acta. i have found more than just one proxy of the western oligarchs who try to bring awareness to sopa. i know they dont give a shit about censorship, so whats their real angle?

  4. pug_ster
    September 2nd, 2012 at 05:03 | #4

    Nothing new here. America’s ‘intellectuals’ who knows nothing about China.

  5. no-name
    September 3rd, 2012 at 03:00 | #5

    Other nations might be SICK, but the US itself is INSANE. The US is insane because it is always of the opinion that it can never do any wrong. Hence it locks up or breathlessly persecutes people like Bradley Manning, Anne Montgomery, Adrian Schoolcraft and many, many others while sentencing aged people to lengthy prison terms which usually means anywhere from 25 to 80 years of continuous incarceration. Other than this, the US with clockwork regularity bombs the living daylights out of luckless humans. When not jailing people or bombing humans, the US pours rivers of money into its propaganda machines to crank out vile messages / information against other nations. Thus the US is an insane nation. Other nations are following in the footsteps of the US due to a mutual love for insanity. For example, read a very recent article at here: http://www.aljazeera.com/news/asia-pacific/2012/06/2012628834520590.html and judge for yourself.

  6. William
    September 4th, 2012 at 02:30 | #6


    Anti is indeed a bit of a right-wing tool (in Chinese terms). But he is very much Chinese and based in Beijing. Bizarrely, he has previously had a run-in with Facebook (Anti is a pseudonym / nom de plume).

    He also has a reasonable following in China – 43366 followers currently on Weibo, where he is a “V” user (the V authenticates people who are famous or semi-famous).


    Yes he comes across as a real news hack. He’s trying to get as many soundbites out there as possible. Or as you say “preconceived caricatures”. BTW Facebook has also got into trouble with EU privacy/data protection rules, if I’m not mistaken.

    But the timing of what you say is a bit unfortunate, as it turns out. You make the sovereign country, laws & regulations point, just a few days before another egregious abuse of these powers comes to light (and only does so – apparently – for factional advantage). I’m talking of course about the Baofusi Ferrari crash, which the SCMP and John Garnaut (Australia) have just written some details about. Garnaut is suspiciously well-sourced, I’ve long thought that he’s being used for factional advantage, look at some of the earlier stuff he wrote about Chongqing.

    Your own personal reaction to this will probably be “arrest the people who covered this up!” which is all very well, but being out there generally to defend China (as I often have been by default, when living outside China and/or feeling homesick) doesn’t mean you can deny / derail / minimize things that are extremely obvious. Chinese censorship / news management powers are massively misused. End of.

    You call for “patience to wait for official investigations and facts” but 3+ months in the case of the Ferrari crash is far too much patience and this is not an isolated case, it’s a typical cover-up.

    More generally, the derailing tactic (ie “look at the US!”) is always tempting and plays very well – with our own crowd, but not with other people. As you yourself say, “Why not simply look at China as China”? Not in comparison to the BRICs (and thanks for pointing out the colonial legacy in Russia, people need reminding!), not in comparison to North Korea, not Vietnam (despite superficial resemblances), not Europe and not the US. It’s not a like-for-like comparison.

    For somebody who talks a lot of sense about the Chinese internet (“they’re too busy enjoying the internet they have, rather than worrying about the internet they haven’t got”), it’s worth reading / listening to Jeremy Goldkorn / 金玉米, a long-term Beijing resident. He’s on Weibo and the Sinica podcasts. Would have been a much better TED speaker, but has the disadvantage of not being mainland Chinese.

    Lastly, I’ve always found it strange how Chomsky never has much to say about China, apart from what he says about the 1978 war with Vietnam. Then when he does say things, he doesn’t seem to have any firm view of China. First he says China is “basically an assembly plant for parts and components that come from the more advanced industrial countries and it’s periphery”, ie a passive extension of the Western economy, then he says “of the major powers it’s been the most restrained in military expenditures. But it is a threat. The threat is it can’t be intimidated” and argues it’s a much more effective global counterweight to the US than the EU. Maybe both are true. (both quotes searchable on zcommunications.org)

  7. September 4th, 2012 at 03:02 | #7


    Yes Chinese censors do cover up. But they don’t just cover up – they also do remove legitimate trash.

    As I think I made clear in this post, as well as all my posts before, I may not agree with every censorship policy and regulation in China, but that doesn’t mean that I have to agree that Chinese censorship is inherently or systematically un-enlightened.

    Now to an issue that I think we disagree. You brought up the recent Ferrari incident in China – and calls timing of my post “unfortunate.” Why?

    Let’s assume (I am presuming this is your point) that the Chinese gov’t is involved in a massive coverup of the Ferrari accident now because some family members of important government officials are involved. For me, if exposing of the story will generate gossips of politics, leading to different factions with government ultimately appealing to the public for political support, I have no problem with nipping all talks.

    I don’t believe in Monday night quarterbacking of politics – definitely not in a reality t.v., gossip, taboidy sense.

    If you to get into real politics in China, join the CCP. Rise up. Do well. And play when you are given the chance. Personality-based discussions. Character-based rumormongering. That’s not part of the discussion.

    The only thing that would make me think twice is if there is if this is a coverup to impede justice – to obstruct justice (don’t want the police to do job of investigating because official’s family is involved). But justice for me need not be publicly administered. If the incident is going to be politicized in a way that affects the security of the nation, then we need to balance, and contemplate justice without exposing the government officials.

    There are a lot of balancing of many issues, the public don’t get a right to know everything. Just as there are legitimate national secrets, there are legitimate political secrets.

    But if you allow this, gov’t officials will get away with everything.

    This is the slippery slope gov’t that can go either way. If there is national secret, gov’t can make everything national secret, too.

    Topic really deserves its own post, but my main point is this:

    political rumormongering is not a human right and need not be allowed. If the Ferrari story was released because of political infighting, it can be nipped and censored. If the story is being censored because of worry about it being politicized, it should be, as exposing infighting is not relevant to public discussions on substantive social, political, economic, etc. issues. Until China becomes a reality-tv style (i.e. Western style) democracy, government officials should not be allowed to make personality-related appeals to the masses for political advantage. Private affairs of government officials should not be publicized / exposed for political effects, to ensure government officials (public stewards) do not get blackmailed….

  8. Charles Liu
    September 4th, 2012 at 11:35 | #8


    Will, FYI the Beijing Ferrari crash was reported back in March:


  9. no-name
    September 4th, 2012 at 22:35 | #9

    Top western media outlets masquerading as global media like to always link or connect China with the issue of scandals even if there actually isn’t one happening at the moment but these same people ignore real political scandals happening or taking place in pro-US nations. In our place for example, there exists 2-set laws to govern the citizenry. This is a very huge scandal but it is ignored by the western media. Example of 2-set laws is stepping on pictures of minority leaders ok but stepping on pictures of big shot leaders not ok and people can be taken in for doing so. Reports of dissatisfaction over this are ignored by the west. Read about events that took place just recently: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2012-08-31/an-malaysia-independence-day-protests/4236730 which has been totally ignored by the hypocritical west.

  10. William
    September 6th, 2012 at 03:21 | #10

    @Charles Liu (how do you make someone’s name turn into a blue link?)

    thanks. those links don’t work when you click on them but I’m not doubting that the crash itself was reported. what seems to have been suppressed is the identities of the driver/passengers.

  11. Charles Liu
    September 6th, 2012 at 09:45 | #11


    Dude u just click reply. It’s definitely reported now, but it’s always “Ling’s son”. So what’s the poor guy’s name in Chinese? If I knew I can Baidu it (here’s a pro tip, Chinese characters form phrases, so space or no space often yield different results.)

  12. William
    September 7th, 2012 at 06:02 | #12

    @Charles Liu
    OK thanks, and I see you can do it more than once to reply to two or more people’s comments.

    Ling’s son: 令计划的儿子令谷 , there you go. Putting it into Baidu, no references to the car accident come up if you just search 令谷, and it gives the “some results censored” disclaimer (根据相关法律法规和政策,部分搜索结果未予显示。).

  13. Sleeper
    September 7th, 2012 at 10:41 | #13

    “It’s a brave new world. Let’s grab it by the bull’s horn – and not submit to playing petty games of cat and mouse.”

    That’s the key of the discussion.

    Only those who would like to bring down the government are happy to talk about “cat and mouse” games. Perhaps they would like to balance the relations between the masses and government, but I don’t think it is smart to turn it into some sorts of hostile relations. If orders and laws go down, there’ll be no more game.

    I can feel that Anti’s speech was a bit incendiary. He’s twisting the relations between Chinese masses and government into the nature of a fight to the death. It’s so hard to believe that Chinese masses and government just lives for fighting against each other, following Anti’s views.

    Luckily, although many Chinese netizens criticize, taunt the government on the internet, most of them are still doing every little thing they can to create a better future, without doging those so called “cats”. After all, it’s human’s consideration about freedom and rights, not “animal’s” that Anti expected.

  14. Charles Liu
    September 7th, 2012 at 13:21 | #14

    @Sleeper “If orders and laws go down, there’ll be no more game.”

    And that’s what really grinds me about the NED. It’s not even the fact my tax dollars are used, but in the event of these money and pressure somehow do bring down the Chinese government, how would a billion Chinese be better off when China suffers from statelessness and overrun by alien believing Falun Gong nut jobs, Tibet independence activists, baptist missionaries armed with guns and bibles?


    Will, if you put the same search words in Google, you might realize why the Chinese government is censoring. If I plug the same search in Google, I see VOA, RFA, Falun Gong, and many other sites financed by the US government via State Dept and NED.

  15. gaijin
    September 8th, 2012 at 00:15 | #15

    The discussion and arguments are fascinating. However I have a question
    that could be answered either by the author, or by anyone that cared to comment:

    Would this article and the comments be censored if they were on Weibo
    or any other Chinese site ?

    My guess is that they would be censored (although they are very pro-China
    and pro-CCP). However I would be glad to hear the opposite. In that case
    I would actually propose to perform the experiment – i.e. translate the whole
    thread to Mandarin put it up on Weibo and see how long it survives.

    That would make this whole conversation redundant. Any takers ?

  16. Sleeper
    September 8th, 2012 at 01:50 | #16


    This article is too long; and it’s quite a tough job to translate it to Chinese, for there’re not a few complicated words and phrases.

    I may foresee that this article can be survived, but not many people would really like to think about the purpose and debate from this article. Chinese netizens are always impulsive that just simply judge things to either right or wrong, supporting or fighting against the government. Such attitude may be good when uncovering dark sides of the society, but will never be good for reforming the society. Because in many cases, dualistic explanation can’t work.

    PS: are you from Japan? Perhaps non-Japanese would prefer “outsider” instead of がいじん……

  17. September 8th, 2012 at 08:36 | #17


    The root of blog was another blog called foolsmountain. Before that it was speak4china. Foolmountain allegedly got blocked (GFW) we suspect partly because we covered controversial topics (dalai lama, tiananmen, etc.) – partly because we allowed many anti-Chinese posts in the spirit of “balance.”

    This site (hiddenharmonies) however has never been blocked even though – till yesterday (to make site read easier) – we had big bold red hot topics tags of dalai lama, tiananmen, etc. plastered on the top of the front page. (We still have allegedly “offending” “sensitive” terms that also include terms like “democracy” “human rights” and “censorship” on our tag cloud though…and have had for some time….)

    So the censors definitely is not as allergic to keywords as one might think.

    Anyways, I have another post coming about cenesorship in China. One thing we need to remember is that I don’t know if there is one gov’t policy. There appears to be policies of each company, which may be informed by some gov’t policy, but just because one see one internet company delete something does mean that reflects official gov’t policy. Something that gets deleted in Sina might not be on tencent and vice versa. Something that appears to be censored in weibo may not in baidu, etc. According to that study, a large scale studies of deletion / censorship patterns show a very different story than anecdotal evidence of censorship.

    So if you want, go ahead, I give you the permission to translate and post. We request however that you provide us a copy of your translation..

    I know TED links to Anti’s speech are fully available in China. I suspect links to the post will continue to be be available also. I don’t submit that I know weibo’s policy on deletion however. But no one knows Google’s or Twitter’s policy on take downs either – in the end, it their judgement of what is “law.”

    One thing I want to bring up though: technically anyone who post something anywhere – China or American platforms, if I don’t like it, I can always allege I am original content holder (that there is some sort of IP violation), and that site can legitimately take it down without more. There is a dispute mechanism sometimes and eventually you can always go to formal litigation, but most ordinary public use neither. It becomes a game of he said she said. Messy stuffs. How each company deals with these post / take downs – having nothing to do with gov’t – I don’t know… and is beyond my scope of knowledge.

  18. William
    September 8th, 2012 at 09:37 | #18

    @Charles Liu
    The story (with identity) was finally broken just recently by South China Morning Post (HK), rather than any of the list of VOA, Epoch Times etc (you can add China Digital Times to that list, BTW).

  19. gaijin
    September 8th, 2012 at 13:19 | #19

    @sleeper, @Allen.
    Thanks both of you for your responses.
    To put things in perspective wrt to my confusing
    moniker: I am a “westerner” lived in Japan
    for a while and now live in the US – I visit China
    quite often due to my work. As part of the effort to
    form my own opinion about the place, I have been
    reading the posts on this blog for a while now.
    I thought that using “gaijin” would be descriptive
    enough, albeit loaded

    Unfortunately, my Chinese is worse than my
    Japanese (which is not great) so I cannot
    perform the experiment myself.
    However, a month or so ago (when I was last in
    China and tried to access this blog) I got hit by the
    infamous “connection reset”. The explanation
    might be the one by Allen. Of course I can “climb
    the wall” but it is inconvenient and I am busy,
    so I will do so only if there is something very
    important. IMHO, the “wall” and the censorship
    are not absolutes : China is not North Korea –
    everyone knows that.
    However, I doubt that a discussion like this one
    (written in Chinese) would survive long.. And by
    “like this one” I mean a discussion which clearly
    debates the pros and cons of a sensitive topic with
    structured arguments from both sides,
    and not a collection of short tweets loaded
    with innuendos.

    To Allen’s point about Western “censorship”.
    That is quite misguided in my opinion.
    Censorship by invoking copyright laws is
    completely different than what happens in
    China. When you get “censored” in the US
    you have quite a few options: (i) invoke “fair” use,
    (ii) take it somewhere else (even overseas),
    (iii) cleanup the article, (iv) even sue by invoking
    the first amendment if it is important to you.
    The point is that you have options. I doubt you
    have many of these options in China – maybe
    you have none ?

    To make the hypothetical experiment even more
    clear. A while ago someone on this blog posted
    an article with a title: “Why U.S. Soft Power Is Fake
    and Losing”. Do you think that a Chinese article
    with a title: “Why Chinese Soft Power in Africa is
    Fake and Losing” would survive long on
    sina or weibo ?

    Or let’s go a bit further: Do you think that if
    Chinese citizens decided to form a non-profit
    like EFF, would it survive long ? One might argue
    that the question should be whether Chinese
    netizens would even bother to form an
    “EFF with Chinese Characteristics” but that is
    another topic..

  20. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 15:33 | #20

    William and Ganjin,

    What do you think of western coverages on OWS?

    Have you heard H.R.347?

    Because according to H.R.347, the action in 1989 by Chinese government would be justifiable.

    Do you think “free” media and journalists care about the voices of 1.3 billion chinese people? If they don’t, how can they claim “free” media?

  21. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 15:37 | #21

    To Allen’s point about Western “censorship”.
    That is quite misguided in my opinion.
    Censorship by invoking copyright laws is
    completely different than what happens in


    Do westerners even have different opinions ? Frankly speaking, I haven’t heard them say any different POLITIC opinions other than what “free” media and journalists “educated” them. Did you ever say anything your “free” media doesn’t like? please remember in “free” world, it is not government that controls the information. You live in US, you should know the voices of those who favor death penalty (at least 55+%) are censored by “free” media.


    or you consider “government is my b1 tch, why hasn’t the b1 tch delivered yet?” (the SELF-CONFLICT craps by mouth-bigger-than-butt media and journalists) as “differerent” opinions ?

    Do you know Anita Dunn and Zhang DanHong?

    Do you ever pay attention to issues that is not “hot” topic by “free” media? for example, hundreds of russian billionaire were produced under the guidance of univeral values.

    For example, the wide-spread economics mismanagement in “free” world, did you ever think it is a systematic problem? or you take whatever “free” media told you : blame everything on government. If so, then what is so great about the universal value that routinely put idiots in offices?

    For example, when Jack Cafferty called Chinese government goon and thugs, don’t you think it is absurd (if you haven’t, I am sorry to say that you have been brainwashed) to say that after the government pulled 2 X 300,000,000 people out of poverty? (I assume you know the population of US is 300 millions.) What does common sense tell you about this Jack? what does it tell you about ordinary westerners who thought chinese government is one from hell?

  22. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 16:15 | #22

    and I have to say, from what I have seen in US :

    Media and journalists must be regulated.

    There are three fundamental ingredients that make a society better and keep prosperity :

    Scientific management by government, collective efforts and innovations.

    Plus one common sense : Economy >>>>> Politics.
    (If the starting point of your thought is politics, you are brainwashed by some @$$ holes.”)

    “Free” media and journalists, since they controlled information with TV and internet, have destroyed the collective efforts in “free” world, and made it impossible for government to manage scientifically. The last 20 years was saved by innovation (PC and internet), plus borrowed money and cheap labors from China and other countries.

  23. gaijin
    September 8th, 2012 at 16:38 | #23

    I will in the spirit of serious engagement answer your rhetorical questions:

    1) On the coverage of OWS – left a lot to be desired. I was not afraid however,
    to walk up to the demonstrators and engage them in conversation. I have had
    many media outlets to my disposal that helped me form my opinion: from
    CNN/MSNBC/FOX/NPR to fringe local outlets.
    Moreover, I had no firewall preventing me from easily checking
    out what Russian, Arabic, European and Chinese media had to say about the subject.

    2) I know about H.R.374. I also know about the Posse Comitatus Act which supersedes it.
    IMHO, we better leave that subject aside – this is not a legal forum, neither (I hope)
    one where accusers and apologists go at it, ad nauseum.

    3) I do not think that “large” western media care about anything else than their quarterly
    report to Wall street. However, I do think that they are much more polyphonic than
    equivalent Chinese media and that “fringe” outlets are tolerated much more in the West
    than they do in China.

    4) I know about Annita Dunn. What is your point ? That she resigned after she referenced
    chairman Mao and Fox news went after her ? Please…

    5) I also know about Ms. DanHong. Even if I did not I could have found out about her very
    easily, by typing up her name in Google. I also know about a lot of other China personalities and events, and I talk to locals quite often. Moreover, here I have no government watchdog/firewall preventing me from *easily* reading the People’s Daily, the WSJ or anything else I want.

    6) I am a Westerner. All of us have different opinions on many subjects, as do Chinese people. I have met and talked to European Maoists :-), CPUSA members, OWS protesters, Tea Party activists, and even skinheads.

    And now that I performed the penance of answering all your rhetorical questions, could you please return me the favor and answer mine. These questions were neither rhetorical nor accusatory. They were meant to explore the question of how malleable Chinese govt censorship is, or equivalently how tolerant the system is of dissenting opinions/organizations.

    Please remember: not every westerner is out to point a finger at China. There are quite a few of us who just have a benign interest. And we know quite well that China is not North Korea.

  24. September 8th, 2012 at 16:49 | #24

    Despite your experience in Asia, I must say your understanding of China’s internet coverage is pretty poor. In China nowadays, only post that openly instigate the breaking of the law or the spreading of false rumours are censored. It is pretty much any things go now. Unless, the postings border on outright hate speech it will no longer be touched. Due to the amount of internet traffic in China it is simply an impossible task.

    ALL Chinese college students understand English, and easily 50-60% of Chinese population has a rudimentary understanding of English. So in reality, the average Chinese know more about the outside world than an average American.

    For example, even for someone like you who travel to China, you ultimately depended on English source material to get your information about China. There are a bunch of English language sites dealing on subject matter on China. However, all their materials are 2nd hand and sourced from Chinese language websites. So far, there is nothing reported by them that is not break first by Chinese sites within China. The subject matter can be as diverse as political scandal to the latest gossip.

    So in essence, stationing a non-Chinese speaking reporter or journalist in China is a joke. Can you imagine Chinese press sending non-English speaking reporters to US to report on US current affairs? Easily 7/10 of foreign reporters in China are not fluent in Chinese. For example, Melissa Chen despite her Chinese ancestry is non-Chinese speaking. Your simplistic view of what is allowed in the US and what is allowed in China is too much a US vs China argument to merit any useful conclusion. What works for the US work for the US, and vice versa. Can the US education support even a three language education system? In China over fifty different languages are taught in the public education stream.
    For example, if we want to use the lack of native language education as a sign of repression or intolerance of a society, how would the US fared with not a single native American language being taught.

    The subject matter being discussed in China easily match or exceed the scope of the ones in the US. You are simply using your imagination to judge China’s lack of freedom here. If you sincerely want to find out, learn basic Chinese and surf the Chinese websites and that would really open your eyes.

  25. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 16:49 | #25


    If you think the coverage on OWS is acceptable, then hardly anything was censored effectively by CCP.

    You have different opinions? may I ask what it is?

    May I ask who are the most powerful people in US?

    About DanHong and anita dunn, you give me “Please..”? that is ridiculous. Obviously, you don’t understand :


    Maybe you agree that there is meaningless freedom of speech in “free” world, because the voices will not be heard by public unless “free” media and journalists like it.

  26. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 16:57 | #26

    On the coverage of OWS – left a lot to be desired. I was not afraid however,
    to walk up to the demonstrators and engage them in conversation.

    I am a Westerner. I have a different opinions than most every other Westerner. I have
    met and talked to European Maoists (:-)), CPUSA members, OWS protesters as well as
    Tea Party activists and even skinheads.


    See if you try to do something that would damage the interests of the most powerful people in country : the rich and big corps. so comes H.R.347? why was such law never considered before, huh?

    None of what you mentioned pose any threat to the rich and big corps.

    and pls dont claim “I am free” because you can protest against government, that is exact what the rich and the rich-run media want : blame everything on government.

    Since when did unions start fighing against government instead of the capitalists? since TV became popular with which the rich-run media brainwashed people to do so.

    and how about my three “for example”, are they rhetorical questions? you think it is normal that “free” media never seriously talk about ?

  27. gaijin
    September 8th, 2012 at 18:17 | #27

    I think we are not communicating.. I will repeat for the record that I am not interested
    in accusatory comparisons of freedom of the press and efficacy of systems.
    Evidently, you have formed your opinions about that and I am not going to change
    them. Certainly you are not going to change mine – perhaps someone more rational and
    less emotional on this thread (e.g Ray or William) will. And they would do so by answer
    the two questions I posed (from a largely empirical standpoint btw).

    I will repeat them below for convenience:

    1) Would an article written in Chinese and titled something like “Why Chinese Soft Power in Africa is Fake and Losing” make it through the sensors ?
    2) Does an “EFF with Chinese Characteristics” exist in China ? If it does not, would it survive long if it got formed ?

    Yes, my understanding of Chinese media is indeed poor. Maybe even poorer than Wahaha’s understanding of the western media. That is why I am asking the questions after all.. These are simply empirical tests. And to be clear: answer to these questions does not reveal anything about quality of a particular system (i.e. how much “better” or “worse” it is). Telling me to learn Chinese and go figure out for myself the answer is neither a very satisfactory answer, nor very polite 🙂

  28. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 18:29 | #28

    1) Would an article written in Chinese and titled something like “Why Chinese Soft Power in Africa is Fake and Losing” make it through the sensors ?
    2) Does an “EFF with Chinese Characteristics” exist in China ? If it does not, would it survive long if it got formed ?


    My answer to you is :

    Would the three examples I gave ever get any public attentions ?

    The answer is : NO.

    So we agree that there is NO meaningful freedom of speech in “free” world. So the complains about the censorship by “free” media is essentially pooping in his own bedroom.

    Oh by the way, read the following :

    In “free” world, it is media, not government, that controls what public will hear and what public will not hear.

    You only say what “free” media likes to hear.

    and you claim you are free.

    4th grade is the place you should be now before educating others about the greatness of western “free” media.

    If the part of the skull over the area of logically thinking in your brain stopped growing when you were very very young, then I apologize.

  29. gaijin
    September 8th, 2012 at 18:45 | #29

    Just to be clear:

    1) Is your answer to both of my questions NO ?

    2) Did you answer my questions with another question, to which you gave your own answer and then went on tangential tirade ?

    If (1) is true: Thank you but I will wait for verification from someone more coherent, less emotional and more polite (e.g. Ray).

    If (2) is true: I am sorry but I will not be able to continue conversing with you

  30. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 18:54 | #30


    Listen, I never claim China is democratic or there is freedom of speech in China, I don’t even trust the state-run media.

    The points are

    (1) Don’t claim there is freedom of speech in “free” world, or talk like you are on moral high ground on this issues like those mouth-bigger-than-butt “free” media who has messed up with US big times.

    (2) State-run media censors information they don’t want people think about, so does rich-run media in “free” world. At least in China, the state-run media doesn’t enjoy much credibility, which makes it impossible to brainwash people, unlike the “free” media…

    Now I answered your questions, so we can all agree that there is NO meaningful freedom of speech in “free” world.


    BTW, the article you talked about, they appeared in Chinese internet forums, just TV and major newspapers never make it top issues as some “freedom fighters” want to.

    In “free” world If the issue is not what “free” media wants, it never be mentioned in TV, never on the cover page, never get the attention of public, (we all know Kim Kasdashion’s butt is far more important than OWS is), So there is no difference except Chinese people know actually more because there are 500 million internet users in China and state-run media is not well trusted as rich-run media is by people with “free thinking”.

    So what do you complain about?

  31. gaijin
    September 8th, 2012 at 19:12 | #31

    You are more polite and less emotional on your latest response.
    So, despite not having answered my original questions (i.e. being
    on (2) above), I will clarify my intentions more.
    I am not trying to claim any “moral high ground”, neither I am
    interested on passing sweeping judgements on which
    system is “better” or “worse”. I am not a missionary..
    Simply telling me that its the same sh*t everywhere is not a
    satisfactory answer either.

    Answering these questions directly though, would reveal how
    tolerant the system is of dissenting views, and to a certain extend
    how confident it is. Again, I will clarify: confidence is not necessarily
    a good thing – it is very close to arrogance sometimes.

    And now that we are hopefully clear, would you or someone else
    answer the questions ?

  32. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 19:35 | #32


    You didn’t even touch the 3 examples I mentioned.

    I personally don’t give a damn on ANY idealism, including democrap and freedom. For 99% of people, freedom means “give me the f123ing money”.

    If “free” media can’t tolerate different voice, why should state-run media? unless you can convince me those voices are good for the country.

    You can deny it as you like, but when you talked about, you talked like “free” media : we are above you, morally.

    My feeling about them is : they are @$$ holes. Not because their bashing China (what can you expect from @$$ holes?), but their self-claimed righteous.

    They have messed up their own countries, (see their way of reporting on Zimmerman?) They have destroyed two fundamental ingredients in “free” world : collective efforts and scientific management by government. Without these two ingredient, the only direction a country will go is south, south, south…

    “Free” media does bring some benefit to society, but the damage it can cause to a society is too much to take, just as much harmful as the dictatorship in North Korea. So I rather Chinese government has control over TV, and “freedom fighters” have some control of internet, as long as China not go back to as 50s and 60s. And with 500 million internet users, I don’t think the nightmare of great leap and CV will happen again.

    According to old Chinese philosophy Yin vs Yang, the key is : Chinese can hear both sides of the stories, which is better than the situation in “free” world.

  33. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 19:44 | #33

    I also don’t buy the antique “I don’t agree with what you say, but I will fight for your right to say it”, it doesn’t apply for modern society.

    Because an anchor’s opinion can shape the opinions of millions of people, it is unfair to the ordinary people who have no way to let public hear their opinions unless the anchor likes their voices.

  34. gaijin
    September 8th, 2012 at 19:49 | #34

    You went off on an emotional tangent again – even though I made the extra effort
    to explain my intentions. So I am sorry to say that we are done conversing.
    I will wait for Ray or someone else to answer the questions.
    I will repeat below for convenience:

    1) Would an article written in Chinese and titled something like “Why Chinese Soft Power in Africa is Fake and Losing” make it through the sensors ?

    2) Does an “EFF with Chinese Characteristics” exist in China ? If it does not, would it survive long if it got formed ?

    Thanks in advance..

  35. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 19:56 | #35

    Your focus is on the process, my focus is the result.

    Chinese know both sides of the stories while Westerners don’t.

    Whether the government has the confidence or not is not comparable because China never invested lot of money overthrowing the system in west or try to sell China model.

    I can tell you this :

    Newsweek was sold for $1 while Chinese were on the side line with millions of dollars for taking over. (I dont think you know, honest as a man)
    So don’t brag about the confidence “free” media has over their system. They just want to protect their power ( as a judge in a room if you compare the country as a courtroom) and influence, AT ANY COST, EVEN THE FUTURE OF THEIR COUNTRIES.


    Allow me to repeat:

    “Free” media does bring some benefit to society, but the damage it may cause to a society is too much to take (and maybe irreversible), just as much harmful as the dictatorship in North Korea.

    They can effectively destroy two fundamental ingredients in a society: collective efforts and scientific management by government. Without these two ingredient, the only direction a country will go is south, south, south…

  36. gaijin
    September 8th, 2012 at 20:42 | #36


    “Your focus is on the process, my focus is the result.”

    “Chinese know both sides of the stories while westerners don’t.”

    etc etc

    Aphorisms.. I thought I explained myself sufficiently.
    This is why we are done and I am waiting for someone
    more rational/coherent to reply to my questions.

  37. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 21:01 | #37


    FYI, I don’t care win or loss on internet.

    I present my opinions, which (at least I think so) I summarized though my understanding of facts, not papers.

    I believe that everything is judged by results. If not the desired result, the process is not justified.

    The big difference between human society and science is in human society, right process (on papers) doesn’t necessarily lead to right results. The ineffectiveness of western judicial system against criminal is such an example, and I don’t believe human society can be ruled by a book of laws unless there is enough wealth for vast majority of the people, because human behaviors don’t follow the rule of science and are extremely unpredictable unless they are financially secure.

    “Free” media always focus on the process, never mention the results followed by the “right” process, for example, the land acquisition (the process) and infrastructure (the result), hence become bunch of mouth-bigger-than-butt morons or @$$ holes.

    You want to believe their BS, be my guest. The final winner is always economy, not politics.


  38. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 21:07 | #38

    more rational/coherent to reply to my questions.


    Well, it is obvious that your rational/coherent has nothing to do with the FINAL result/facts.

    I take it as you dont care about the final results, maybe you never heard Deng’s cat theory, or you forget the purpose of free information is about letting people know the WHOLE picture, or both sides of the stories.

    and Chinese know lot more than westerners, because in China, there are some professionals who dig everything government tries to hide, day and night and post on internet, while in west, no one expose what “free” media tries to hide from people.

  39. gaijin
    September 8th, 2012 at 21:30 | #39

    Unfortunately for you my friend, science follows a rational/coherent
    process to obtain a robust result.. It also operates on the principle
    that no questions should go unanswered.

    Apparently, you have not figured that out yet..

  40. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 21:34 | #40

    That is pathetic.

    I already said I dont trust state-run media. If there is no censorship by state-run media, why shouldn’t I believe the media.

    You have trouble understanding the basic logic.

    I saw the first article you posted on anti-cnn forum, long time ago. and I have implied such issue not likely appear on TV.

    Why do you keep finding excuse not talking about the 3 examples I gave?

  41. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 21:41 | #41

    For example, “free” media never talk about hundreds of russian billionaire were produced under the guidance of univeral values.

    For example, the wide-spread economics mismanagement in “free” world, did you ever think it is a systematic problem? or you take whatever “free” media told you : blame everything on government. If so, then what is so great about the universal value that routinely put idiots in offices?

    For example, when Jack Cafferty called Chinese government goon and thugs, don’t you think it is absurd (if you haven’t, I am sorry to say that you have been brainwashed) to say that after the government pulled 2 X 300,000,000 people out of poverty? (I assume you know the population of US is 300 millions.) What does common sense tell you about this Jack? what does it tell you about ordinary westerners who thought chinese government is one from hell?

  42. gaijin
    September 8th, 2012 at 21:43 | #42

    You ask:
    “Why do you keep finding excuse not talking about the 3 examples I gave?”

    The answer is very simple:
    Because orderly process and basic civility requires you to answer my two questions
    first. Then I will answer your 3 examples although they are irrelevant to my purpose,
    which I will repeat is to not compare and contrast but to obtain an empirical result.
    Do you understand now ?

  43. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 21:48 | #43

    although they are irrelevant to my purpose,
    What is your purpose?

    Show your ignorance that state-run media is not allowed to censor but “free” media is free to do so?


    I guess that you ask $3, I give you $1 first and $2, and you don’t know you already get $3.

    Ok, here is three dollars : I live in US, I don’t know the answer. but I don’t trust the state media though I don’t see CCTV or chinese newspaper. and I won’t be surprised if such articles never appear in any state-run media.

    Any more excuse? I dont even understand what you try to prove, do you see any article questioning the morality of US appear on US TV or newspaper?

    If no, give your thought on 3 examples.

  44. gaijin
    September 8th, 2012 at 22:06 | #44

    The funny thing is that you seem sure that you
    answered my questions.

    That is both exhausting and hopeless..

    I will check in again tomorrow to see if anyone else
    answered. This has degenerated too much. Goodnight..

  45. September 8th, 2012 at 22:07 | #45

    gaijin said:

    1) Would an article written in Chinese and titled something like “Why Chinese Soft Power in Africa is Fake and Losing” make it through the sensors ?

    Maybe, maybe not. And, since you don’t know Chinese, you have a really retarded ego tho stake such a position. Check out m4.cn. Come back when you deem such sites don’t talk about sensitive stuff in China.

    Would WSJ, NYT, Fox, Guardian, CNN, BBC, NPR publish an article from Noam Chomsky? The censorship in these mainstream Western press have been set up such that Chomsky would never get a chance to have his article appear in them, never-mind someone having to go and take it down.

    That’s the type of tricky censorship the Weterner public have no clue about.

  46. September 8th, 2012 at 22:09 | #46

    gaijin – you have derailed this thread long enough. Come back with something intelligent, otherwise you will be dumped into the spam queue.

  47. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 22:11 | #47

    1) Would an article written in Chinese and titled something like “Why Chinese Soft Power in Africa is Fake and Losing” make it through the sensors ?

    2) Does an “EFF with Chinese Characteristics” exist in China ? If it does not, would it survive long if it got formed ?


    LOL, I dont know how I haven’t answered your question with “I dont trust state-run media”. and I don’t even read chinese newspaper and TV, and you ask me for answer. Are you out of your freaking mind?

    The first is no because I didnt see any “free” media publish such article on their own country either. To insist the answer to such meaningless question is brainless, at least to say.

    the 2nd one : I dont know what EFF is. ( and I googled EFF with Chinese Characteristics, got no answer)

    I will wait your answer on my 3 examples. My prediction is that you are gonna explain what EFF is and ask my answer for 2nd one. Then somehow you find some thing not clear in my answer, and this loop keeps going on and on. The cowardice is unbelievable.

  48. September 8th, 2012 at 22:16 | #48

    The best is to not feed the troll. If you look back at this thread, your response is giving him excuse to continue to derail the discussion. Help flag spam to alert us when you feel that’s what he is trying to do.

  49. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 22:30 | #49

    Thanks YinYang,

    I think here is another SKC here.

    I think I derail the thread somehow too, delete my posts if you think necessary.

    My apology.

  50. Wahaha
    September 8th, 2012 at 22:58 | #50


    I opened the eff.org, I think the site would be blocked because I see this in white paper “Human Rights and Technology Sales: How Corporations Can Avoid Assisting Repressive Regimes”.

    Again, the answers YOU WANT to your questions don’t prove anything because China or any country never launch POLITICALLY INTERNET ATTACK on western system or government, therefore, logically you can’t claim there is political freedom on the side of western media. It is like you can’t claim you are the best chess player while you never even play against anyone.

    In other words, your answer “please..” to my question about Anita Dunn is ridiculous, as a person was even attacked by congressman besides “free” media for simply saying “admire Mao”, that pretty much tell us how intolerate the political environment is to different POLITICAL opinions.

    and after the serious financial crisis in 2008, no1 even questioned the system, that shows how badly people are brainwashed as the economics mismanagement was so widespread.

  51. September 9th, 2012 at 00:40 | #51


    Ahh … the days of FM … of rapidfire spitballs.

    Anyways you wrote:

    To Allen’s point about Western “censorship”.
    That is quite misguided in my opinion.
    Censorship by invoking copyright laws is
    completely different than what happens in
    China. When you get “censored” in the US
    you have quite a few options: (i) invoke “fair” use,
    (ii) take it somewhere else (even overseas),
    (iii) cleanup the article, (iv) even sue by invoking
    the first amendment if it is important to you.
    The point is that you have options. I doubt you
    have many of these options in China – maybe
    you have none ?

    Please re-read my comment. I never equated copyright to censorship, although if you read scholarly work in the area, you will know it is a type of censorship under the guise of “property” – it’s a sort of citizen to citizen censorship, even class-based censorship. Lots of interesting work in this area…

    My point however wasn’t that.

    It was mainly to note that a lot of Westerners get confused when things disappear. Sometimes it’s removed because it was spam, sometimes because of user requests – in the name of profanity, IP ownership, whatsoever. Much of the times it has nothing to do with gov’t or political sensitivity per se. Sometimes it has everything to do with company policy on how to build a vibrant online community. China has several microblogging platforms. They compete with each other for eyeballs. Everyone wants to build a quality site that people can discuss things freely, while minimizing vulgarity and rumorism. You will notice that rarely do all Chinese platforms remove things in unison (show me one documented case when sina, baidu, tencent, etc. all censor the same words!), which you’d expect if the gov’t is behind it all.

    In my next post, I can even show you large scale hard data that shows that. But even without that, you should know from the research I already cited in the post – and from Anti himself – that things are much more complicated than your hypotheticals suggest.

    Serious academics looking into pervasive censorship in China have failed to find any large-scale censorship in China. That’s why the latest updated thinking in the West – who persist to see censorship as a huge thing in China that keeps the gov’t afloat and the people brain-wahsed – is that Chinese netizens are actually individually free – though perhaps not empowered as a group. (Harvard study)


    I know your Chinese is poor and you don’t have first hand experience with Chinese censorship. But at least, check out the Harvard study I linked. Also check Google’s and Twitter’s take down policies around the world – it ain’t just about “copyright” – it’s also about appealing to local norms, adhering to local regulations and policies, catering to local taste and sensitivities (including political sensitivities).

    If you are too lazy to do any of that, I can’t help you.

    To make the hypothetical experiment even more
    clear. A while ago someone on this blog posted
    an article with a title: “Why U.S. Soft Power Is Fake
    and Losing”. Do you think that a Chinese article
    with a title: “Why Chinese Soft Power in Africa is
    Fake and Losing” would survive long on
    sina or weibo ?

    Or let’s go a bit further: Do you think that if
    Chinese citizens decided to form a non-profit
    like EFF, would it survive long ? One might argue
    that the question should be whether Chinese
    netizens would even bother to form an
    “EFF with Chinese Characteristics” but that is
    another topic..

    This is the type of speculations that I will simply leave you to do yourself – as neither my point – nor my interest – is related to entertaining uninformed presumptions masked as vague hypotheticals.

  52. Sleeper
    September 9th, 2012 at 04:51 | #52

    To those who know Chinese, please have a look on this picture:


    (it’s an interview of protestors who fight against the implementation of “national education” in HK, for they thought that CCP is running brain-washing programme in HK)

    I burst out laughing.

    So these pathetic guys would like to talk about brain-washed? They don’t realize what’s the boy speaking was indeed a representation of being brain washed. And this reminds me of a quotation:

    “Slaves will never realize that they’ve been enslaved.”

    It also reminds me another thing. Few days ago a newspaper called “Global Times” which is subject to People’s Daily (top state-run newspaper in China) published an article, to blame Hilary the Secretary of State is “a trouble-maker to China”. While at the same time, another newspaper called “China Youth Daily” which is answer to China Communist Youth League (it’s an organization for introducing new party members to CCP) published an article to blame Global Times that “peddling cheap patriotism”.

    It’s funny that two important sections of CCP spit on each other through the media. What’s more, they weren’t talking about domestic problems, instead they’re talking about foreign policy that should’ve head to the same direction.

    Therefore, is this the freedom SOMEONE expected?

  53. September 9th, 2012 at 07:13 | #53

    I think this whole debate between @gaijin & @Wahaha perfectly demonstrates how western rhetoric still leads the discourse on censorship. Unfortunately, I think western rhetoric will continue to set the framework for this topic simply because freedom of speech is emotionally satisfying, regardless of its actual consequences.

    But back to what I was talking about – the original questions posed by gaijin that sparked this debate was whether this thread or blog would be censored in China. The implicit sentiment is the classical western notion that “criticize us all you want, at least we give you the right to do so”. The classic comeback used by Wahaha is that the West censors too, at which point gaijin starts to point out the qualitative differences between Chinese & western press restrictions; & then the discourse goes on from there…

    I’ve seen this debate too many times, and what I want to point out is that this whole debate still rests on the assumption that censorship is always bad & freedom of speech is always desirable. I want to bring back Eric X Li’s approach to this: who says people deserve liberty & freedom of speech? Why should there be some inalienable degree of rights? If rights are agreed upon by people within a society, why shouldn’t the individual’s degree of freedom be negotiated amongst people, & adjusted according to the circumstances of society?

    Also, what are the actual practical benefits/results of freedom of speech (hmm… this could be a separate topic in and of itself)? Well the most noticeable benefit is that people ostensibly feel better when they have it. Does it ACTUALLY bring about accountability, prevent genocides, keep people better informed, or any of the other things that this freedom supposedly brings about?

    & a final point that’s somewhat unrelated to the aforementioned topics: gaijin brings up a good point about this thread being censored in China. If it was, that would be indeed be (a little bit) counterproductive for Beijing. However, what this actually demonstrates is not a need for freedom of speech, but rather the need for smarter, more limited censorship – a type of information control akin to that of Fox, MSNBC, or NPR.

  54. September 9th, 2012 at 07:14 | #54


    Funny that you bring up the topic of the HK education protests. See my previous blog post on “who’s doing the brainwashing?”:


  55. Sigmar
    September 9th, 2012 at 12:16 | #55

    “Thank you both for your thoughtful replies.. I wish the circumstances were different
    and we could further engage in a conversation about the merits and limits of free
    speech. I honestly believe I can learn something useful from you. I hope that belief
    is mutual. ”

    The conditions of this forum already allows for fruitful discussions. Participants are always game for new viewpoints and knowledge. However, we would like to hear from sincere contributors to the conversation, not people hard-selling and reiterating the same erroneous ideas again and again, even with solid evidence against their assertions.

    “Unfortunately, this will be my last post on this blog. As you will notice my moniker
    has changed not because I wanted to, but because the blog’s overlord decided to
    throw me in the spam queue. Maybe my appeal to both the editors will be successful,
    but for the time being I do not even know if this message will survive..”

    You were put in the spam queue because you were spamming with untruths.

    “Then I asked two hypothetical questions, which seemingly
    touched a nerve. ”

    ‘Seemingly’ doesn’t cut it. The mods aren’t annoyed by your questions, they were responding to your trolling which you admitted in the next sentence:

    “Subsequently I tried to engage the offended party in an adversarial
    yet polite manner. ”

    You were adversarial and the mods put a stop to your inflammatory tendencies, a common practice of mods of forums and blogs in many free and democratic countries and something that is well within their rights. It does not matter whether you feel you were being polite.

    “That apparently disturbed the desired “harmony” of this blog.
    The end result was being labelled a “troll” and “retarded egotist” by YinYang and
    was summarily banned.”
    What was apparent was that YinYang dealt with a troll in a way that is identical to how mods deal with trolls in other forums/blogs. His remarks are spot-on, by the way.

    “Oh yes, maybe he will refer to another post of mine
    on the Huawei related thread – I invite you to read it and draw your own
    conclusions, I will only note that I believe I know very well what I am talking
    about there.”

    What you believe only makes sense to yourself. Many of your assertions in that thread, as well as here, have been objectively shown to be false. You can leave it to your faith in what you say makes sense, and leave it to the mods to deal with chronic liars, as is their prerogative. Oh yeah, stop hijacking this thread with your assumptions.

    “I do not know whether YinYang’s behavior is similar to that of censors
    in China – I would think that they are even clumsier. However, I am pretty sure
    that YinYang’s behavior might as well have been modeled after Bill O’Reilly of FOX news…
    Maybe YinYang’s clumsy reaction reinforces Mr. Unknown’s point: at the minimum
    you need “smarter more limited” censorship – even on this blog 🙂 . ”

    If you don’t know, don’t assume. You might be “pretty sure” about where YinYang’s behaviour was modelled after, but it doesn’t mean what you say is fact. If we want facts from YinYang regarding his behaviour, we’ll ask him. YinYang’s reaction isn’t “clumsy”. The proof: He has dealt with a troll/ spammer fairly and decisively.

    “I will leave it to you to draw further conclusions about the irony of being
    banned/censored from a forum about censorship. This exchange has been quite enlightening to me.”
    Nothing ironic here. This thread is specifically about the benefits and limits of censorship, especially in China, and what has transpired serves as a good case study. This exchange has been enlightening to us as well, because we get to see a troll in action and the steps taken to weed him/her out.

    “Thanks and good luck.”
    You have been exposed as a troll and a spammer. You have received a due response. Thanks and deal with it.

  56. Wahaha
    September 9th, 2012 at 20:50 | #56

    Some of you might think that I am hopelessly western, misguided, ideological,
    or even racist.. Judgements aside, I can assure you that my purpose was simply to
    share information and learn something.


    I really don’t give a rat-ass what kind of person you are, just stop educating others like you are on moral high ground, that is why I asked your thoughts on 3 examples. CCP may be bunch of @$$ holes who work for themselves AND PEOPLE, “Free” media only works for themselves. Look what “free” media has done to their society, everything is about “me, me, me”; lady gaga and Kim K’s butt. WTF?

    So fack off. (yes, fack)

    You have no interest sharing information. You only care if YOUR information can be delivered freely, the reason “free” media cries about the fire wall in China, because they can’t freely “take China down”. My posts were censored too on western forums, so don’t cry a river.

    Learning something, give me a break. Did you learn anything from the 3 facts I mentioned? How can you learn anything when you turn blind eyes to the facts?

  57. no-name
    September 10th, 2012 at 03:54 | #57

    Hey you guys at HH, instead of talking about firewalls (only fools think there’s no need for firewalls), why don’t you guys run an article about the highly selective nature of current news reporting. For example, I found out recently that a ‘dormant’ volcanic mountain (by the name of Mt Fuji) has been described as ready to erupt at any time now but this important piece of news has not been brought up or carried by the major global media outfits. Can it be that our media people today generally care more about the tourism industry than providing real information ? What do you think.

  58. no-name
    September 10th, 2012 at 04:09 | #58

    HH, I am of the opinion that (most) people in the northern hemisphere don’t have a bright future. In fact, they don’t even have much of a future at all. This is because the problem at the Fukushima disaster site has not been resolved till today. From what I know there are thousands of fuel rods left ‘abandoned’ at the site and nobody knows what to do with them. There are 2 types of fuel rods gotten ‘left behind’ ; unused rods and activated rods. The unused rods are not much of a problem but the activated ones are presenting some kind of a sword of Damocles situation for everyone in the northern hemisphere. Now, we are seeing a lot of earthquakes happening here and there. The TV news at my place are filled with videos showing earthquake aftermath as if the incidents were happening right next door. You think I am being too pessimistic ?

  59. no-name
    September 10th, 2012 at 04:21 | #59

    You guys there in charge of this HH blog, what do you think of the dengist clique now holding sway in China today ? I think they are at best a bunch of wimps and at worse a really very sorry bunch of traitors. The papers/magazines/news articles are filled with juicy gossips about ‘the coming-soon leadership change’. Even the dalai high priest has been making some bold predictions (about the incoming boss). Are such gossips harmless and merely gasps of hot air, or is the incoming boss another one of them dengist apologists. Personally, I prefer him to twirl the big stick for a change. The dengists are a terribly disgusting lot. What do you guys think.

  60. no-name
    September 10th, 2012 at 04:31 | #60

    HH, why don’t you guys reprint my articles (at least some of them) in this column. I reside in a region where there is little tolerance for dissenting views. So, I use scribd to publish my thoughts and opinions. However, many of my articles have been regularly blocked or censored. I try to limit my words in my articles so as not to bore the average reader. I truly believe that people of my kind (humans who do not like to follow the crowd/obey bellowings and orders dished out by the big shots) are better treated or tolerated inside China than us over ‘here’. You dare to agree with me on this ?

  61. no-name
    September 10th, 2012 at 04:51 | #61

    One of my articles at scribd can be found at http://www.scribd.com/doc/95544077 and from it you can access other articles. I use public machines to upload those articles but at one place the owner refused to let me do any further uploading after I transferred some politically objectionable material. I went to another place but lately it has been filled with shady characters. Thus I now occasionally do it furtively at home using a free service (like now) but the connection is quite intermittent and unreliable. I have to be fast. That’s what or how ‘democracy’ works for people like me. Bye-bye.

  62. Wahaha
    September 10th, 2012 at 18:55 | #62

    America would be better off with more strikes

    go figure.

  63. collin
    September 10th, 2012 at 19:34 | #63

    Wahaha :human behaviors don’t follow the rule of science

    I agree with this, but it’s pretty funny.

  64. Charles Liu
    September 10th, 2012 at 19:36 | #64

    @Mister Unknown

    Well, the people of HK has spoken. The anti-China vote failed:


    I mean despite of wester press sensationalizing a very minority voice, it’s not a suprise most HKer love their country.

  65. Charles Liu
    September 10th, 2012 at 20:08 | #65

    BTW, TED is available in China:


  66. Wahaha
    September 10th, 2012 at 20:12 | #66


    This is super important.

    That is why very few people outside China can resist the brainwashing by “free” media.

    If a cause follows the rule of science, then right process will lead to right result. “Free” media always focus on process plus tons of “You can’t do this” and “You shouldve done that way”, etc, so their talks are always music to ears. As westerners rarely worry about the results, they are puzzled by “Why don’t Chinese go after freedom, such beautiful and holy stuff?”. Look at their history, the western intelligent put 95% of their energy on the starting points, like constitution and laws, and axiom of science, etc. “Beijing Consensus” is typical western thinking : they want to summarize several starting point of China’s model of economic development. The article I posted above yours is another stupidness led by such idealism.

    Chinese, on the other hands, are far more result-driving, like Deng’s “touching stone then crossing the river”, like the reason for 1989 protest was we believed naively that western democracy would lead to the prosperity of China, and people immediately lost interest in democracy once they saw what happened in Russia. (Pity, westerners never realized this until 2008). In my opinion, this way of thinking is the reason that Chinese didn’t do much scientifically in history before.

  67. September 10th, 2012 at 20:20 | #67

    @Charles Liu

    As expected, western media such as the NY Times are portraying this as “coy political maneuvering” on the part of the CPC & its allies in HKSAR, rather than the genuine will of the people. Take this NYT article for example:


    “Pro-Beijing Candidates Outmaneuver Opponents as Hong Kong Votes

    HONG KONG — Pro-democracy candidates won strong voter support in legislative elections held here over the weekend but failed to capture some key seats because pro-Beijing political parties with greater financial resources proved more skillful in navigating Hong Kong’s complex electoral system.”

    So apparently, unless the electoral outcome favors anti-CPC political factions, it does not count as the “genuine” voice of the people.

  68. acyang
    September 10th, 2012 at 20:35 | #68

    Charles Liu :
    @Mister Unknown
    Well, the people of HK has spoken. The anti-China vote failed:
    I mean despite of wester press sensationalizing a very minority voice, it’s not a suprise most HKer love their country.

    You are entitled to your own opinion but not your own facts.

    If you bother reading even the article you quoted you will quickly realize that
    the anti-Beijing “pro-democracy” block had the most votes and gained most of the
    directly elected seats. However it does not have most of the overall seats, since 30 out 70 seats are selected and not elected. That twist will give the pro-Beijing block the opportunity to declare “victory” (until 2017 that is).

    That is the problem with facts. You can hide them, you can censor them, but once they come out you can’t debate them. And if you try to spin them too much, you end up appearing disconnected with reality.

    Unless of course you meant that most HKers love Hong-Kong, and not Beijing. In that case, I stand corrected.

  69. Charles Liu
    September 11th, 2012 at 00:13 | #69


    So explain this to us, you think ppl don’t read?

    “Democratic Party chairman resigns after poor showing” – does that square with you “had most motes and gainst most seats”?

    Unless you are claiming many pro-democracy candidates are pro-Beijing and not anti-China?

    “pro-democracy groups failed to capitalise on weeks of angry protest ” – these protests are of extereme minority, as demonstrated by the election results.

    “The unexpectedly poor showing by the pro-democracy camp led veteran Albert Ho to quit as chairman of the Democratic Party” – Right, so succssful he had to quit?

  70. acyang
    September 11th, 2012 at 08:47 | #70

    @Charles Liu

    I would have guessed that after reading my post you would have bothered to check the actual number of votes from some source other than the Gulf Times. Perhaps you did, but you chose to ignore the data and come back with quoting out of context statements without any data/facts.

    Data does not lie.

    Data is here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Kong_legislative_election,_2012

    So, let’s look at the data.

    Total votes for pro-democracy camp: 1,018,552
    Total votes for pro-Beijing camp: 772,487

    I am done.

  71. Charles Liu
    September 11th, 2012 at 09:50 | #71


    Anybody can edit Wikipedia, but what is the truth? Pro democracy is not anti-Beijing or anti-China.

    I don’t see you dispute the facts reported rwt poor showing and leaders quitting in defeat. BTW GW Bush won his presidency on less votes.

  72. HXM
    September 11th, 2012 at 17:49 | #72

    yinyang, to be fair, if you go to http://www.chomsky.info/articles.htm you can see that in the past decade Chomsky has had his articles published in The Guardian, Washington Post, BBC News, International Herald Tribune, The Independent, The Toronto Star, Foreign Policy, the LA Times, etc., although the majority of his articles appear elsewhere.
    At the risk of reigniting the thread, and I hope you can take this as a sincere question without agenda attached, could you recommend a Chinese language Chomsky-like writer? I’m less familiar, but thought Wang Hui at Tsinghua might qualify…??

  73. acyang
    September 11th, 2012 at 18:57 | #73

    Charles Liu :
    Anybody can edit Wikipedia, but what is the truth? Pro democracy is not anti-Beijing or anti-China.
    I don’t see you dispute the facts reported rwt poor showing and leaders quitting in defeat. BTW GW Bush won his presidency on less votes.

    The spin is getting better but still not good enough.

    I will leave aside the hollow argument about Wikipedia’s data accuracy. This can be double checked at http://www.elections.gov.hk/legco2012/chi/index.html. As for the second part: pro-democracy certainly means anti-CCP. I never said anti-China (you can debate the semantics of “anti-CCP” vs “anti-Beijing” but lets assume they mean the same thing).

    I do not dispute facts. Indeed the DP chairman resigned. He was going for more seats and did not get them. He failed and resigned – long standing tradition in HK BTW.

    On the last part of your argument. I do not dispute that GWB won the 2001 US election – that also is a fact. I would have called to the task someone who spun that fact as “more Americans supported GWB with their votes on 11/7/2000″. This is in effect what you did and that is why I called you on it.

    Let’s repeat some facts:
    1) More HKers love HK (and China) than those who don’t. That is an non quantifiable statement but let’s get it out of the way.

    2) More HKers voted for anti-CCP (=”anti-Beijing”) parties than HKers who voted for pro-CCP parties

    3) Because of the contorted electoral system in HK the legislature ended up with more pro-CCP (=”pro-Beijing”) legislators, although they got fewer votes (yes kindof like GWB won in 2000).

    4) Albert Ho resigned because of poor showing of his party (dropped to second in votes in the pro-Democracy camp btw)

    Now, the question is how could one comment on the facts so that they don’t appear like a sloganeering shallow dunce.

    At the risk of appearing pedantic I would suggest to explore the fact that the new HK legislature is even more polarized than the one before it. Albert Ho was more moderate than some of the new faces in the HK legislature’s pro-Democracy block. This does not look good, especially given the upcoming decisions wrt the promised universal suffrage. Now you could start blaming someone for that “non-harmonious” outcome.. I would be willing to bet that you or Mr. Unknown would have a ball blaming the western media for meddling with HK. Someone else would point out that the polarization might be an outcome of Beijing’s decision to promote “patriotic” education and so on.. And you could have a debate/flame-war on interpreting/spinning the results… That would have been a less blatant route to take. That last paragraph btw is just my opinion and not a fact.

  74. Wahaha
    September 11th, 2012 at 19:26 | #74


    Just want to tell you a story:

    Several guys live in an apartment on 1st floor, with the windows of living room facing street.

    Every morning, a stone-face man passes in front of the window, and some of guys feel really annoyed. One of the guys, let us say his name is Albert, can’t take it.

    To keep the stone-face man away from their windows, Albert has tried different ways, but never works. So one day, he starts pooping in the living room every night with windows closed, and turns the heat on, even in July. Then, in the morning, he opens the window and hope the terrible smell will keep the stone face guy away.

    Someone should remind Albert that the stone-face guy is the owner of the apartment.

  75. acyang
    September 11th, 2012 at 23:08 | #75

    Someone should remind you that the stone faced man has a contract to keep these tenants (and Albert) for another 25 years. Also the stone faced guy is very sick, he is rotting from the inside and does not have many years more to live. When he dies his young smiling daughter will take over and the tenants like her.

    Look Wahaha, this was fun but I am not going to engage any further with you even if you try to bait me with another brain fart.

  76. September 12th, 2012 at 01:15 | #76

    How did this thread become a discussion on the HK election? In any case, I think the “brainwashing” post would be a more appropriate thread.

    Be that as it may, standing far away, I want to make a note about this election.

    The voter turnout for the 2011 Taiwan election was over 74%. For an island with a population of 23+ million, that’s not bad.

    HK has a much smaller population (less than 1/10 of Taiwan), but the turnout was less than 53%.

    Compare that with recent Singapore elections where it usually reaches mid 90%.

    I think it’s premature to reach any kind of conclusion about the “voice” of the “HK people.”

    By the way, I’m going to make a translation of recent observations by leading political scientist 朱云汉 from Taiwan on Taiwan’s democracy. Promise it will be interesting…

  77. Wahaha
    September 12th, 2012 at 04:26 | #77


    What can i say? You don’t even mind someone pooping in the apartment you live, .. Yuck!

    BTW, an obvious symptom of being brainwashed is a person judges everything by politics. For example, during mao’s time, chinese rejected anything that is even light year away related to “capital”.

    So, enjoy the smell. Damn, is there anyone who love CCP more than the professional protestors in hongkong? Are you one of them? If you, congratulate, you guys have done great jobs messing up with the economy in hongkong.

    Oh, i forget, albert told you it was ccp’s fault though he and his followers protested against ANY projects by government. My apology, you don’t have the common sense that economy is number 1.

    I am terribly sorry and enjoy the smell. God, ccp should pay you guys for the endless protests that showed the mainlander how much the alternative sucks.

  78. Wahaha
    September 12th, 2012 at 04:40 | #78


    Did you ever google “the black money in swiss bank, wikileak”? Here is the candy that tastes differently from ones Albert gave you : India the list with almost $1500 Billion black money in swiss banks, followed by Russia $470 Billion, UK $390 Billion, Ukraine $100 Billion and China with $100 Billion.

    some other information for you, I am sure your “free” media never tell you that (did you ever search anything that is hid by “free” media or some obvious fact that “free” media turns blind eyes on?):

    According PEW, in last 5 years, 82+% of mainlanders are satisfied with the direction of China.

    Russia produced hundreds of billionaires and the country in deep debt in 90s. Since Putin took the power, it paid back all the debt and had 200 billion surplus, which is used to handle the crisis.

    Oh, here is something that more shocking from “Inside Job” :
    A major theme is the pressure from the financial industry on the political process to avoid regulation, and the ways that it is exerted. One conflict discussed is the prevalence of the revolving door, whereby financial regulators can be hired within the financial sector upon leaving government and make millions.

    Oh, I am sorry, you know only what “free” media has told you, say only what “free” media want you to say, believe only what “free” media wants you to believe; do what “free” media wants you to do. But hey, what can I say ? you are red guard of 21st century!!!

  79. September 12th, 2012 at 09:31 | #79

    You are right, it is obvious around 47% of voters in HK didn’t bother going to the poll. What does that say about those who do not vote?

    And in Singapore, many who voted against the People Action Party, doesn’t necessary hate them. In Singapore the election system pretty much PAP will be in power. Many of those are dissent vote to put pressure on PAP.

  80. September 12th, 2012 at 09:51 | #80


    According PEW, in last 5 years, 82+% of mainlanders are satisfied with the direction of China.

    I know where you want to go with this, but I think Eric Li already made a great articulation last year at the CS monitor of the idea that authoratarianism, democracy, multiparty democracy, whatever, the government always submit to the will of the people. Don’t worry about the color of the cat, just worry about whether it catches mouse – i.e. whether the system delivers the goods to the people.


    Please check it out. It’s worth a read.

  81. Charles Liu
    September 12th, 2012 at 11:50 | #81


    “spin is getting better”

    Wow, since the “anti-China” spin was originally from the Western press I quoted, I really wonder why you didn’t say anything about it then.

    It didn’t come from me, rather the article I quoted. Please read it again.

  82. September 12th, 2012 at 16:08 | #82

    But you failed to mentioned that the “stone-face” guy is the brother of those guys in the apartment. His other brothers and sisters in the building are also stake holders.

    And if bad things happened in the building, both parties lose.

    The problem with politics in HK or Taiwan is it has become a “we vs them” scenario. How is this to anybody’s interest? This is the issue that should be honestly discussed.

  83. acyang
    September 12th, 2012 at 22:45 | #83

    @Charles Liu
    The Western press expressed their opinion but did not misrepresent data. You instead did not express just your opinion, but distorted measurable data. Let’s say that in 2000 someone came out and said “The American people have spoken” after G.W.Bush’s electoral win (or supreme court ruling). You would think of them as ridiculous, wouldn’t you ? That is exactly what you did with your post. You blatantly misrepresented the facts by saying that the “people of HK have spoken”. After that you (and others) retreated on arguments about percentage turnout etc, when the fact of the matter is that in HK’s basic law (i.e. constitution) the voices that matter are the voices of those who vote.

    However the real issue here is that after all this HK’s politics are even more polarized than they were six months ago. As Ray points out the situation ended up in an “us vs them” mentality. The real reason for that is really worth debating with an open mind and without slogans.

    And an open mind (in my opinion) does not mean simply blaming the “evil” western media for everything and calling those who protest CCP’s policies “slaves of the west”. Sure, the western media played their role in this. Nobody can deny that the Western media have more an influence in HK than they have in the mainland. But the pro-CCP media also has as much (if not more) influence and a voice. So why is it that the majority of HK’ers who vote take an anti-CCP stance ? What is so alluring in the narrative of the Western media ?

    Please note that I intentionally use the term “CCP and not “China”. CCP is not China. You seem to be confusing these two. Is that intentional btw ?

  84. Wahaha
    September 13th, 2012 at 04:11 | #84

    The Western press expressed their opinion but did not misrepresent data.

    When it hides the data they don’t like, it is worse than misrepresenting data, because it makes people believe and people would not search for the real fact.

    Misrepresenting data is bad, but when someone out there expose the lie, the agency will not enjoy enough credibility to brainwash people, unlike “free” media.

    CCP is not China.

    In reality, at least for now, China would be taken down without CCP. Anyone who still can’t see this is either those who try to take China down, or a moron politically.

    That is why “freedom” fighters in China are messing up with China so to get rid of CCP : they cry like b1tch when good things happen in China, cheer like hitting jackpot when bad things happen in China.

  85. Wahaha
    September 13th, 2012 at 04:25 | #85


    One, I don’t think that Eric Li’s article will be read by lot of people, even it is consistent with current situation and you even point it to him. The altitude towards CCP by lot of people who love to put themselves on moral high ground is simply hatred.

    When someone hates another group of people or government that has done nothing to him to such extent that he doesn’t even care about the fact that 600,000,000 people have been urbanized, he is hopelessly sick.

    Two, I think Eric Li’s article dismissed the danger in one-party system, it is there, people don’t have a PEACEFUL way to get a new government if you have a really bad government. I don’t know how it will turn out when Economy is really bad (unless the economy in US is even worse).

    The current fight between CCP and “freedom” fighters in China is super great for Chinese people, because there are voices from both sides. Government does have upper hand, but it is necessary for it to be able to carry out necessary economic plans.

    I wouldn’t have been a CCP supporter had not been that what the “freedom” fighters are doing now in China is taking China down. Actually, I think “free” media in “free” world is taking the whole “free” world down, like the article I posted, more strikes are good for America? WTF?

  86. September 14th, 2012 at 10:56 | #86


    Actually, the numbers I cited (voter turnout) were of “registered voters.” In Hong Kong – that’s 3.4 million registered voters out of some 7 million people. If the numbers are based on number of eligible voters, the turnout ratio (for all elections cited above, but especially for Hong Kong) would be even lower.

    The question is – if we are to make any pronouncement on voice of the people – it’s pretty silly when only a small minority of a people vote. If there is so much apathy, the vote can represent any of several things, including money, power, foreign influence, etc., etc.

  87. N.M.Cheung
    September 16th, 2012 at 06:46 | #87

    The so called democratic coalitions may have the most total votes casted, but thay does not mean it’s anti Chinese government. Most of those votes came from professional and middle class that have the illusion of so called freedom and want to maintain status quo with their maids from Phillipine and Indonesia, note that Chinese from mainland are not allowed because of the immigration restriction. There is an anti-mainland sentiment of worrying immigration from mailand overloading the social service and resentment from younger people in the demand of housing from newly rich from mainland competing for housing driven the price high. Since most people in Hong Kong originally emigrated from mainland, some might retain some hatred for Chinese governmemnt, but they should be aware their destiny is inextricably tied to China and any illusion that if they elected their own governor they might counter pressure from China is totally unrealistic. The promise of 50 years retaining their self rule still has 35 years to go, but with many caveats. The retraction of new education policy is not total. Individual school now has the right to implememt it or not. It’s mostly a rear guard action while a few is searching for more promiseland in U.S. or Canada.

  88. N.M.Cheung
    September 16th, 2012 at 09:06 | #88

    Having read your exchange with Wahaha and others I find you are somewhat disingenuous. They have clearly answered your questions. Let me put it in the form you prefer, no and no. So what does that prove? That great Wall exist? That censorship exist in China? And you are a free speech purist and managed to score point? What Wahaha and others point out you completely ignored. Sure, I occasionally saw Chomsky’s articles in main stream media, but there is no real debate even on MSNBC. The Citizen United decision equated money with free speech and who control the money? The 1% or the 99%? When there was a sucide by self immolation in Tibet we have plenty of coverage by main stream media. Yet where is the coverage when thousands of Indian farmers commit suicide, some by self immolation every year? We do not discuss why they did it, whether it’s Monsanto’s genetic engineered seeds or financial pressure or poverty. The total effect is worse than selective censorship while we have the illusion of freedom in our cocoon of comfort.

  89. Sigmar
    September 16th, 2012 at 15:22 | #89

    Apa? Why am I being mistaken for someone else? I could have sworn I did not exchange remarks with Wahaha, even though we may share a common stance.

  90. N.M.Cheung
    September 16th, 2012 at 17:48 | #90

    Sorry, my apology for linking your handle with gaijin. It was my first time entering the site, scanning all the letters got a little confusing.

  91. October 14th, 2012 at 06:51 | #91

    >>Anti’s politicizing of science is cheap. [Link to a website subtitled “Bad Things Happen When Science and Politics Combine]<<

    Using a website arguing against the politicizing of science, to justify Beijing's censorship of air quality data?

    Science NEVER stops data from being published. Ever. Even bad data, incomplete data, the more the better. This is the only real way to stop publication bias and other kinds of biases. Unless it’s simply fraudulent, there is always the possibility that it will create more knowledge than existed before.

    Anti never politicized this issue, from the text quoted. All he said was that he trusts the US data more. Beijing politicized this, by trying to stop publication of data from an outside body.

    I won't say any more here, because I'm not sure about the "countering trolls" policy.

  92. October 14th, 2012 at 09:30 | #92

    More central to the point of the post, there’s this.

    >>Similarly, governance should not per se about cat and mouse. It is about balancing, drafting policies, experimenting. One may not always get what one wants living in a society. But when one doesn’t like some rules or policy, the solution is not to dodge and undermine – play a game of cat and mouse. Rather people should aim to deliberate with the proper authorities, and work together to bring about what’s best for nation, for the society.<<

    So if I (supposing I were a Chinese citizen) wanted to go "deliberate with the proper authorities" – well first of all, can you even tell me who and where the proper authorities are? Can I go walk into the office of censorship and file a complaint? A town hall meeting where this stuff comes up?

    I'm not saying this in order to assert that the Chinese system doesn't work – or at least in terms that simple. Rather, it works precisely by means of the people seeking to undermine it. When enough people show their dissatisfaction with a rule by flouting it, then it eventually goes away, assuming there's no threat to the party. The Art of War makes for a sort of viable governing philosophy, and that is the system as I understand it. I'm not sure if there were any other modes of "deliberation" meant by that statement.

  93. Charles Liu
    October 14th, 2012 at 12:36 | #93


    Instead of asking this question, why don’t you do some research and post your finding? So we can verify your assertion? As of now your don’t have anything to backup your assertion/insinuation.

    You sure there’s no avenue? I remember a while ago in the news some US startup claimed censorship because their service was blocked in China. Turned out they never sought out the relevant telecom industry agency for necessary license.

  94. October 15th, 2012 at 01:23 | #94

    @Charles Liu I have various circumstantial pieces of evidence about how Chinese governance works. I know that the Chinese government operates according to something closer to Chinese “legalism” than rule of law, as we understand the term in the West, where input from below is *not* appreciated.

    I’m not asserting proof of anything here. I’m just saying that the system could appear to work well from the outside, but that could just as easily be despite the rules than because of them. I have not yet seen evidence for the other side (aside from your anecdotal example, clearly not the cause of most censorship.)

    If you want to know how censorship decisions are made in China, the answer is (duh!) typically guanxi. That could be for good or bad.

  95. Sigmar
    October 24th, 2012 at 08:54 | #95

    “I have various circumstantial pieces of evidence about how Chinese governance works.”

    Well, let’s hear them then. If not, what you’re giving us merely exists in the realm of anecdotes as well.

    “I know that the Chinese government operates according to something closer to Chinese “legalism” than rule of law, as we understand the term in the West, where input from below is *not* appreciated.”

    “I’m not asserting proof of anything here.”

    You don’t have proof, yet somehow you know how the Chinese government operates. You’re operating from an already entrenched mindset. Don’t be surprised that nobody in this thread will be convinced by what you say, sorry, speculate. Let’s hope your evidence provide better circumstance than this.

    “I’m just saying that the system could appear to work well from the outside, but that could just as easily be despite the rules than because of them. I have not yet seen evidence for the other side”

    We have not seen anything substantial from you as well. And what’s important is that the system is, using your own words, “appear[ing] to work well from the outside”. And it will remain so until it stops working well from the outside. Then it will be modified. At the meantime, until we have proof that the system is impeded by the rules, the default stance is that it works and that it’s good enough.

    “If you want to know how censorship decisions are made in China, the answer is (duh!) typically guanxi. That could be for good or bad.”

    Actually, censorship decisions in China could just as possibly be typically made from careful and informed deliberation (duh!). That could be good for China’s stability and growth and bad for countries with an interest to see her society break down.

  96. October 24th, 2012 at 10:46 | #96


    Twitter now begins to censor user accounts of neo-Nazis. So – it’s ok to censor groups you don’t like like the Nazis – but not furry ball groups like the Dalai Lama groups that you like?

    This ain’t about freedom of speech folks. It’s about pushing a political agenda in the name of “freedom” – as it has always been – can only be – with “freedom.”

  97. Haneul
    November 18th, 2012 at 17:02 | #97

    Hello Allen, wondering if u know about Anti’s speech structure. I am having trouble distinguishing if his speech is Pro-Con structure or Cause and Effect structure? -thanks

  98. November 26th, 2012 at 20:28 | #98

    In my original post, I commented how many, including anti, subscribes “to the narrative of the Arab Spring as a triumph of people power, harnessed through social media. But then, there are also narratives that cast the Arab Spring in more subversive light (see, e.g., this RT report, or this independent report). I’ll leave it to historians in the future to write the real story. Regardless of their pronouncement, I find it comical today to hear people confound Arab Spring and China together.

    I still will leave to history to judge the true meaning of the Arab Spring, but the more I look at things, the more I have come to conclude that it is really a protest against bad economic policies. To the extent it is about democracy, it is about a faith in democracy to come up with better policies, not about democracy per se.

    Here is an article YinYang recent shared with me. http://www.businessinsider.com/food-prices-and-social-unrest-chart-2012-11

  99. November 26th, 2012 at 20:40 | #99


    I am not sure if I understand your terminology correctly, but in general, I do understand that people who argue free speech often come at it with 2 angles, the instrumentalist (free speech as a means to some greater good) angle and the values argument (freedom as a good in itself). Often people mix the two.

    For me, the instrumentalist angle is problematic because empiracally, I don’t think one can ever prove freedom of speech will lead to a good or bad in general. It always depends on the circumstances. If so – then we might as well discuss the good or bad brought about by a particlar “freedom,” the politics, rather than “freedom” that is really just about the “politics.”

    The values argument to me is a non-starter, because it’s religion. There is never absolute freedom. It’s always about a balance of competing needs. Let’s talk about the “politics” that competition – not some epheremal thing that you believe in. Often, one aruges for certain “freedom” because one doesn’t mind or wants a particular consequence. But when the consequences become costly enough, one always proposes some “reasonable” restriction in light some societal needs or other important rights. It’s your balance – in a particular context – that makes it your unique religion. Don’t make it a RIGHT.

    This is what makes freedom of speech discussions so hard. It’s never about freedom per se. It’s about peeling layers of onions to get at basic presumptions and assumptions. It’s about peeling rhetoric. And then after getting through the layers, you notice, we are talking about “politics” – wrapped in the “religion” of free speech.

    No doubt, this applies to Anti as well…

  100. April 24th, 2015 at 00:53 | #100

    We all know Twitter censors things they or the U.S. gov’t or Western public doesn’t like. Here is another recent example – this time on ISIS.

    For example, consider this short article:

    The war against ISIS is not just being fought in the Middle East but in social media as well. Once ISIS propaganda is discovered and thwarted, ISIS adapts to continue to exploit Twitter.

    Twitter started suspending accounts when ISIS groups started sharing disturbing images and graphic videos of brutal executions of hostages. Linked accounts gave reports on IS land takeover in northern Iraq and eastern Syria giving unlimited access to Twitter users watching from anywhere. However, when Twitter suspended these accounts, there was a spike in the accounts that support ISIS. It is believed that these accounts could have been created in direct response to the suspensions. Another response to suspending the accounts was anonymous posts to file sharing websites. These websites include Justpaste.it, Archive.org and other sites popular with the militant group. Following this, these anonymous posts still eventually end up on Twitter.

    IS uses different techniques, one being the act of using repeated tweets in a short period of time. Other things the study found was that open ISIS supporters do not have more than 50,000 followers. Accounts that show ISIS support has about 1,000 followers. One in five ISIS supporters use English as their primary language. The main locations to find ISIS supported tweets are Syria, “Islamic State,” Saudi Arabia and Iraq. 69 percent of ISIS followers use an Android phone or tablet, 30 percent use an iPhone and one percent uses a Blackberry to follow ISIS supporters on Twitter.

    … there needs to be more complete research on how groups use social media to spread propaganda. … Twitter and the U.S. government should put together a proactive strategy for finding terrorists. Social media platforms need to decide if they want to continue on as is, able to put out fires that erupt or prevent those that are starting the fires to begin with.

    There is a need to walk the fine line of censorship. This is a primary concern for free speech groups. However, realistically social media websites do regulate speech without disclosures or oversight of how suspensions are regulated. However, there is a need to protect children who have accounts on Twitter while militant groups, like ISIS post disturbing graphic propaganda of public beheadings and burning people alive.

    With the Boston Bombing trial just now ending, I’d venture it’s not just about keeping “disturbing graphic propaganda” from “children” … but really keeping social peace.

    This all comes back to censorship.

    The West rides the high horse of freedom of speech when convenient. But when it starts to hurt, it cowers just like any other mere mortal.

    Just another bunch of B.S.

  101. November 15th, 2016 at 08:44 | #101


    Ongoing complaints about misinformation and hate speech on the internet are forcing social-media companies to confront whether they need to take more responsibility for the content on their sites.

    Twitter Inc. on Tuesday said it would let users block notifications of tweets that include specific words, among other moves, in an effort to combat harassment on the short-messaging service.

    On Monday, Facebook Inc. said it would bar websites that post fabricated or misleading news articles from using its ad-selling tools. But it is unclear how Facebook will identify those sites, and they might still appear in the more-heavily-trafficked news feed, a source of news for 44% of Americans, according to Pew Research.

    Both the Twitter and Facebook moves may fail to address many users’ concerns. They show technology companies that have grown into powerful media voices struggling to find a balance between being havens for misinformation and censors of free speech.

    Concerns about false news stories on Facebook intensified during the recent presidential election campaign after erroneous claims were shared widely on the network, such as reports that Pope Francis had endorsed Donald Trump and that the Clinton Foundation bought $137 million in illegal arms.

    Some critics say the social-media sites should do more to promote accuracy and civil discourse. But the companies are wary of prescribing what their users should read or how they should act.

    But Syracuse University communications professor Jennifer Grygiel, who studies social media, said relying on users is inadequate. Instead, she said Facebook should hire more workers to review widely shared articles and remove those that are false.

    “What he needs to do is hire more humans instead of pushing (the responsibility) onto the end user,” Ms. Grygiel said. “Know how much the community is trained in identifying fake news? Zilch.”

    In his Saturday post, Mr. Zuckerberg said Facebook won’t try to separate fact from fiction, because defining the truth is complicated. “We must be extremely cautious about becoming arbiters of truth ourselves,” he wrote.

    Google parent Alphabet Inc. had largely avoided the controversy around internet propaganda, because it doesn’t operate a thriving social network and because its search engine rewards websites that are linked to by established sites.

    When China wants to regulate misinformation, it is presumed to do the worst … to censor “truth.” When Western companies do it, it is deemed as a “balance.”

    And of course, whatever the balance deemed right, the truth is that people ultimately seek final arbiters of truth, such as by going to http://www.factcheck.org, http://www.politifact.com, or “Google” – which has its own “secret sauce” on what is “reputable” or not – or as the above says, who are the “established sites.” It’s hard for the marketplace sort truth from falsehoods afresh for each case (this is why, after all, we have food and drug labeling laws, trademark laws, etc.).

    In the Western liberal order, when you want to be “anti-government” – vouch for “freedom.” When you want to go with government “crackdown”, vouch for “order,” “truth,” “peace,” “respect,” even “love” (as Hillary supporters/protestors would have it)…

    These are all just rhetoric. But you can see how framing the issues already has determined how “freedom” comes out…

    This is the fundamental conflict over “freedom” between East and West… There isn’t really any fundamental concepts over freedom per se, it’s about who get to frame the political issues that are being discussed…

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