I was going to write another case study on the intrinsic hypocrisy in the rhetoric of freedom – how “freedom” is uttered when useful, and completely ignored when not – using Google’s recent “firing” of an employee who had written a memo that some deemed not politically correct as a basis of discussion.
Interesting story from NYT today titled “Judge Tells Apple to Help Unlock San Bernardino Gunman’s iPhone.”
Here is an excerpt:
WASHINGTON — A judge in California on Tuesday ordered Apple to help the F.B.I. unlock an iPhone used by one of the attackers in the assault in San Bernardino that killed 14 people in December.
The ruling handed the F.B.I. a potentially important victory in its long-running battle with Apple and other Silicon Valley companies over the government’s ability to get access to encrypted data in investigations. Apple has maintained that requiring it to provide the “keys” to its technology would compromise the security of the information of hundreds of millions of users.
I came across this article on the Vineyard of the Saker blog, which I think is worth reading (both the article and the blog in general). I don’t know what fellow Hidden Harmonies bloggers think of other works by Jeff Brown (especially those related to China), but his description of information control methods in the West seems to be pretty spot on.
By the way, my fellow bloggers should be proud of the fact that Hidden Harmonies is listed as a source of good alternative media, in the same mention as Asia Times and CounterPunch no less.
I choose not to copy and paste this essay in its entirety, given that there are multiple hyperlinks in it, which are necessary components that enrich the narrative. While I’m sure there are some automated ways to copy over these hyperlinks, I figured an extra click wouldn’t be too hard. 🙂
A lot has been discussed on this blog recently with regards to censorship, most of the discourse so far have revolved around the justice and standards of censorship. I want to take a different but related direction, and discuss yet another myth propagated by the democracy/freedom advocates – the notion that “free” societies are always more innovative than their “non-free” counterparts. To what extent is this actually true? More fundamentally, where does innovation come from, what actually stimulates innovation? How does innovation come about? I won’t pretend that I have all the answers, but here are some of my observations so far. Continue reading Rethinking the Freedom-Innovation Nexus→
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.
There has been terrible violence in India’s Assam region recently and the violence has spread to other parts of India. Since this is a blog on China, not India, I am not going to dig too much into the cause or even meaning of the riots. But I do want to point out the relatively “favorable” coverage India is getting.
In almost all reports I see, India is cast as the force of stability (and humanity), with the forces of conniving politicians and ethnic-based politics the root of instability. By comparison, when ethnic violence occurs in China, the opposite story is told, with ethnic-based politics held in high regard (under the guise of “human rights”) and any efforts to stabilize the situation seen as somehow oppressive and barbaric.
You see this fairly uniformly across Western media in all Western countries, including even self-professed “independent” news sources such as the global post. Here is a recent article global post had on Tibetan self immolations – which place the blame squarely on China. The Tibetans who burned themselves – and by extension the Tibetans who rioted in 2008 – were seen as oppressed people who had a right to riot, to fight back and were cheered on for their presumptive courage. There was never a reference to the official Chinese perspective on what’s really going on. Continue reading Riots in Assam→
As you may know, there is a heated high-profile war being waged in the U.S. now over a new bill called SOPA (“Stop Online Piracy Act” in the House) and PIPA (“Protect Intellectual Property Act” in the Senate). The bills have been temporarily put on hold, but the issues highlighted by the controversies will not go away.
[Updated March 3, 2011: Please refer to comment below. Apparently, this disabling of the link over at Reddit and deletion of the poster comments were done by the poster himself. I will chalk this up as a lesson I need to be more careful in not reading to much into something that isn’t. I am sorry, folks and also to Reddit.]
An interesting act of moderation yesterday over at Reddit.com yesterday deserves some coverage. I really don’t have an opinion about Reddit itself, except that ocassionally we have traffic from them because their readers reference articles on this blog.
For the last three weeks, we witnessed something extraorgdinary in the Egypt. A unpopular leader is finally brought down by revolts in the street. A gallant people finally brought a hated tyrrant down to his knees.
Yet, if one really think about it, even by the most optimistic of figures, at most (perhaps) one million people at one time or another added together protested against Mubarak over the last three weeks. Egypt is a land of 80 million. That means the vast majority of the people never took to the street over the last three weeks.
I had an interesting chat with a friend from Egypt a couple of nights ago. We were friends from graduate school. He told me that while most people he knew did not think highly of Mubarak – who is deemed by most to be unsympathetic to the people, tolerant of corruption, and incapable of bringing prosperity to Egypt – most also did indeed fear instability and violence. Continue reading The Narrative on the Egyptian “Uprising” / “Revolution”→
Fareed Zakaria of CNN’s GPS recently interviewed Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. It’s a great interview, and I am glad to learn that CNN agreed to not make commentary on what Premier Wen said. In exchange, CNN was given permission to ask whatever they wanted. Zakaria acknowledged “it was one of the most open and frank discussion he has ever seen with a Chinese leader.”
Here is the interview from tudou.com:
(Looks like I linked mistakenly to the 2008 interview on Tudou.com in my original post. Tudou still has the 2010 interview in fragments. Here is the correct interview video from CNN.com in its entirety.)
I recall during the dot com explosion in early 2000, the typical Western media narrative was that a rising Internet population in China would somehow bring down the Chinese government. Of course, that didn’t materialize. At that time, I predicted, instead, a bigger audience would challenge the Western media narrative on everything related to China. As of 2010, the Chinese Internet population reached 400 million – about the total population of the U.S.. Looking at comments at some Western media outlets, I think it’s fair to say that increasingly, the narratives are being challenged by pro-China perspectives. The Chinese government still enjoys very popular support (Pew Global Survey – 87% of Chinese positive of China’s direction).
Now I predict Western media will begin a phase of rampant censorship of pro-China perspectives across the West. Or, they will close down ability for readers to comment in their articles altogether.
Champagne corks are undoubtedly popping in Redmond on reports that Google is planning to close its Chinese search service.
Google will try to maintain its other operations in China but this is unlikely to succeed. Any foreign business requires the approval of the Chinese government. Google has shown itself to be in opposition to the Chinese government — this is an untenable position.
This also means that Google will unlikely be able to take part in joint ventures with others in China. In early February, Reuters reported that Google is a member of a consortium led by Disney, to buy a large stake in Bus Online, a large Chinese advertising company.
It’s difficult to see how this deal will go through with Google as a member, if it is an opponent to the government.
Events of the last week in Iran have been widely reported by the world press. Not long before, the press also reported on the 20th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square incident of 1989. Were these two distinct events reported in a similar manner or were they treated as different and unique events? Let’s take a look at each and see what we can find.
1) Who are the good guys and who are the bad guys?
Based on the coverage I’ve seen, both governments were cast as being in the wrong and both protest movements as in the right. In the case of China, the government sent in tanks and used live ammunition to break up a protest movement that was alleged to have turned violent. Most of the reporters in the world press were located in or near the same area, and their reports reflected what occurred in that vicinity. Analyzes of this event in most cases pointed to the government as the culprit and the demonstrators as being victims and responding in a suitable fashion. Is this an accurate assessment? The Chinese government attempted to confiscate film of the event from foreign sources but those attempts were successfully evaded in most instances.
There’s a new phenomenon sweeping China. Back in January on a Chinese web page, a new video made its way from there into the hearts of internet users all across the country, spawning a wave of related items such as cartoons, documentaries and grass-mud horse dolls.
According to Reuters, China is relaxing restrictions on the media to report “negative” news promptly and without clearance from the top. Could it be that some in the authority read what Roland had to say at ESWN regarding the pointlessness of competing with Chinese Internet users and bloggers?
The central government did many things right in response to the Weng’an riots. Beijing’s campaign to treat “sudden incidents” with more openness was also obvious; a full news conference revealing the government’s version less than 2 days after the riot is pretty unheard of by Chinese standards. Reporters from around the country and world flooded into Guizhou without limitation (according to one reporter on site, as many as 140 reporters were present for a banquet last night). Citizen blogger/reporters, like Zola, also reported from the scene. Senior provincial leaders were also sent to Weng’an to provide high-level attention; Shi Zongyuan, the Party chief for Guizhou province, was on the scene leading that first investigation team within two days.
By anyone’s standard, these should all be considered positive steps in the aftermath of this type of crisis. But it didn’t completely work; for many Chinese, online tempers still flared. Here’s one key, representative quote behind the public frustration:
Shi Zongyuan pointed out, “6.28” incident started for a simple reason, but was used by a small number of people with ulterior motives along with the participation of evil, organized criminals.