Monday, March 22, 2010

If you are in China you cannot read this.

The wise and powerful leaders of China have decided to shield their fragile citizenry from the wretched horrors of words on a screen.

It always starts out in cases of Government Censorship (tripped another flag) that only some small collection of words cannot be looked at. Obviously there would be no point in restricting information that your economy may depend on for growth.

The Chinese government encourages the development and spread of the Internet, and promotes the opening of the Internet to the outside (world). Discussion and expression on China's Internet are very lively, and digital commerce is developing rapidly. The facts demonstrate that China has a healthy environment for investing in and developing the Internet. China will unwaveringly adhere to a guiding policy of opening up, and it welcomes participation by foreign businesses in developing the Chinese Internet."   
See, China is still cool.

China has a simple solution, Mandatory Self-Censorship.

All companies operating in China must, well I'll let China explain.

Figuring out how to make good on our promise to stop censoring search on has been hard. We want as many people in the world as possible to have access to our services, including users in mainland China, yet the Chinese government has been crystal clear throughout our discussions that self-censorship is a non-negotiable legal requirement. We believe this new approach of providing uncensored search in simplified Chinese from is a sensible solution to the challenges we've faced—it's entirely legal and will meaningfully increase access to information for people in China. We very much hope that the Chinese government respects our decision, though we are well aware that it could at any time block access to our services. We will therefore be carefully monitoring access issues, and have created this new web page, which we will update regularly each day, so that everyone can see which Google services are available in China.
Google Blog
Oh thats not China's response, that was Google.

An unnamed official representing China states.
Foreign companies operating in China must abide by Chinese laws. Google has violated the written promise it made on entering the Chinese market. It is totally wrong in halting (censorship) filtering of its search provider...  
All coverage is provided via China's official news agency.  You can lose quite bit of time reading through the Chinese Embassy press releases, Foreign Minister Q&As. May I recommend you lose at least a few minutes at the winner for all time best government acronym, the Ministry of Science Technology also known as MOST.

I particularly enjoyed this most-posted LAW while looking for the regulations that were so maliciously disregarded by Google. I'll just quote the first Chapter, but really, go read the whole thing.

Law of the People's Republic of China on Popularization of Science and Technology

Article 1
     This Law is enacted in accordance with the Constitution and other related laws for the purpose of implementing the strategy of invigorating the country through science and education and the strategy of sustainable development, redoubling the efforts to popularize science and technology, raising the citizens’ scientific and cultural level and promoting economic and social progress.

Article 2
      This Law shall apply to activities conducted by the State and the community to popularize scientific and technological knowledge, promote scientific approaches, disseminate scientific ideas and carry forward scientific spirit.
For popularization of science and technology (hereinafter referred to as PST), such ways as may make it easy for the general public to understand, accept and participate in shall be adopted.

Article 3
State organs, armed forces, public organizations, enterprises and institutions, anal Grassroots organizations and other organizations shall work for PST.
Citizens have the right to participate in PST activities.

Article 4
PST is a public welfare undertaking and an essential component of the socialist material and spiritual civilization. It is a long-term task of the State to develop the PST undertaking.
The State supports efforts for PST made by people in minority ethnic areas and in outlying and poverty-stricken areas.

Article 5
The State protects the lawful rights and interests of the PST organizations and workers, encourage them to carry out PST activities independently, and initiate PST undertakings according to law.

Article 6
   The State supports all quarters of society to initiate PST undertakings. Such undertakings may be operated under market mechanism.

Article 7
Work for PST shall be characterized by mass participation, socialization and regularity and shall be integrated with practice and carried out in light of local conditions, and take various forms.

Article 8
In PST, the scientific spirit shall be upheld and pseudo shall be opposed and resisted. No unit or individual may, in the name of PST, engage in activities at the expense of public interests.

Article 9
The State supports and promotes cooperation and exchange with foreign countries in the field of PST.

Now, I'm no fancy city slicker Beijing lawyer, but by my count, The government blocking access to Google's services would seem to violate 6 or 7 of these Articles of Chinese Law, and violate the spirit of the Popularization of Science Technology Law in total.
The State supports all quarters of society to initiate PST undertakings. Such undertakings may be operated under market mechanism.

No Thanks, Chinese citizens don't need the customers sent by Google search or the information found by same. Nor are they secure enough in their national loyalties to view random blogs ranging from technology sites like this one to the weekly habits or fern growers. The people of China cannot be exposed to unfiltered YouTube videos of teen Lady Gaga impersonators and clips of cats and puppies falling asleep.

Citizens have the right to participate in PST activities.

Or do they?

Can you say World Trade Organization?  I bet Google can.

No, no, no, the government of China must actively protect its citizenry. Apparently by blocking foreign websites wholesale without regard for actual content.

"Online opinion exchanges are very active in China and e-commerce grows rapidly here. As facts have demonstrated, the environment for Internet investment and development in China is sound," Xinhua

I wonder how much of that exchange of opinion and commerce runs through a Google server at some point in the transaction? Every Chinese language web page that I have ever even remotely understood was translated by Google, and although my count may be higher than most, I'd bet that experience is typical. On this side of the wall, Google facilitates commerce into China. With it's immense population, an increasingly upwardly mobile consumer base, China is as important to Google as Google is to the Chinese people.

As a citizen, I would be vary wary of my government, if it actively tried to block access to the biggest bridge to the global marketplace. But hey, who knows, perhaps the Chinese people appreciate the way their leaders protect them from the rest of us.

If the government of China is to censor me from its people without cause (not cool, China, not cool), the least I could do was to offer my "Lively Online Opinion" on this action.

There is an interesting, but distracting side story with accusations of international espionage, cyber targeting of Human Rights Activists, privacy intrusions, and other high technology skulduggery. China of course denies this fully and completely.

Rather than get bogged down in the details, I suggest we all just wait for the inevitable movie. Somebody call Matt Damon. I was more interested in how the
Chinese people feel about this turn of events. Any of you digital gold farming, boot selling spammers care to comment?


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