Sunday, February 19, 2006

The Great Firewall of China

I said I had some blog subjects in limbo; tonight's a good night to whip 'em out. That is, if my pirated wi-fi will allow. That's right, I'm in America, and I can use someone else's ISP to Google whatever the hell I want.

Not so much in China.

I read this article last week about Google's censorship of information in China. They launched a new search engine, Google.cn, that complies with the Communist Party's demands on what its citizens can and cannot view. Every time a website under the thumb of China's internet police (currently 30,000 and counting) is searched, two anime characters named Jingjing and Chacha (jingcha is the Chinese word for "police") appear on the screen to remind the surfer that Big Brother is watching. Seriously.

Some people are lambasting Google for "selling out" on their freedom of information mission, but Google feels it's better to reach 20% of a 5th of the world's population that none. Or maybe just their checkbooks feel that way.

See for yourself... if you search google.com's images for "tiananmen square," you get a lot of pictures of tanks. Perform the same image search at google.cn and you get tourist photos. Other "hot buttons" include "Falun Gong," "democracy," and "Taiwanese independence."

It's honestly unimaginable to me that we live in a world where RIGHT NOW, a technologically advanced country like China can still censor information. And they're doing it under the umbrella of a more "harmonious society." A Chinese-controlled newspaper said Jingjing and Chacha are primarily exist to "intimidate, not answer questions." Their official task is to "maintain order" and "publicly remind all Netizens to be conscious of safe and healthy use of the Internet," because the government wants to control the public opinion. CONTROL THE PUBLIC OPINION, y'all! Chinese authorities even blocked The Globe and Mail last month. Who finds Canadians dangerous?

When you were born on this planet, you basically had a 1 in 5 chance of being born Chinese. I imagine books like 1984 and Brave New World are not-so-mysteriously absent from the high school reading list of the average adolescent Chinese. Considering that censorship isn't the worst experience you could have, America seems a little more appealing, no?

I guess we should applaud the fact that Chacha is a woman.

2 Comments:

Blogger krysten said...

hmm. well one of those articles did say that the chinese would have the choice of using the us version of google but it would be very slow, or the chinese-edited google which would be faster. so at least they havent removed the opportunity altogether.

still pretty creepy. i love the difference in pictures between us google and chinese google. hah!

and also they have disabled email and blogging so that the government cant demand people's personal information!

amazing the things people have to live with. but i honestly dont fault google...i guess it could be considered "selling out", but geez, it's not google's fault that that government is psycho!


ps - i love the editing from last post. hope you enjoyed your thai! *wink*

February 19, 2006 7:48 PM  
Anonymous julia said...

what's crazy is that we have countries, highly technologically advanced like China censoring the internet and then countries, poorer than anything we can imagine like Africa where it is believed that if a man with AIDs sleeps with a virgin he'll be cured.

February 19, 2006 9:24 PM  

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