China and Free Internet Speech

By John Nixon 24/01/2010


158px-Flag_of_the_People's_Republic_of_China.svg

I try to avoid politics here. We live in our own countries and we deserve (dit-on) the government we elect.
But when we discuss the Internet and Next Generation Networks, we also need to discuss what goes over those networks around the world.
One interesting article about the current Google versus China debate can be found at: http://news.cnet.com/8301-30684_3-10439049-265.html?tag=nl.e496

I have visited China, like most of our readers I imagine, a few times in recent years. And of course I had a broadband internet connection in each of my hotel rooms there.
But to my surprise, always so many of my regular web sites were “unavailable”. And I’m not talking about any site that could be considered politically sensitive, or of doubtful morals.
Just so many sites, of different ilk were “unavailable” on the China mainland.
You cross the border into Hong Kong and miraculously these sites are suddenly available again.
There must be an army of “faithful” monitors who run every site through a translation program that highlights any word or phrase that smells potentially of something unwelcome to their regime. And BOOM, the site is gone!
I have many excellent Chinese friends here in New Zealand. Most have good academic qualifications, and some of them in my own field of Electronics Engineering. Technically they are great, but often still adhere to what they have been taught back home.
OK enough of politics. These people are usually great migrants for New Zealand, but I applaud Google in thumbing their nose to the rampant censorship and spying that goes on over there.
Let’s hope that the Chinese Government sees the light and opens up “their ” internet.


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