The Last Bastion of Free Speech

Our Chinese students were very plugged in over Christmas.  Some of them had bought new Ipods and tablets for Christmas, and apparently, enjoying the gift of Internet freedom that America offers.

It’s no wonder they’re anxious to stay as long as they can.  Over in China, the country’s new Communist leaders are increasing already tight controls on the Internet and electronic publishing, according to the Associated Press.

China’s new leader, Xi Jinping and others who came to power in November are anxious about the Internet’s potential to spread opposition to one-party rule.  They insist on controlling information, now that they’re in power, despite campaign promises of more economic reforms.

“This week,” the AP reports, “China’s legislature took up a measure to require Internet users to register their real names, which would curb the Internet’s status as a freewheeling public forum to register complaints and anonymously report corruption and official abuses.

“’They are still very paranoid about the potentially destabilizing effect of the Internet,’” said Willy Lam, a politics specialist at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.  “They are on the point of losing a monopoly on information, but they are still very eager to control the dissemination of views.”

“There are reports that Beijing may be disrupting use of software that allows Web surfers to see sites abroad that are blocked by its extensive internet filters.  At the same time, regulators have proposed rules that would bar foreign companies from distributing books, news, music and other material online in China.

Beijing promotes Internet use “for business and education but bans material deemed subversive or obscene and blocks access to foreign websites run by human rights and Tibet activists and some news outlets. Controls were tightened after social media played a role in protests that brought down governments in Egypt and Tunisia.

“In a reminder of the Web’s role as a political forum, a group of 70 prominent Chinese scholars and lawyers circulated an online petition this week appealing for free speech, independent courts and for the ruling party to encourage private enterprise.

“Xi and others on the party’s ruling seven-member Standing Committee have tried to promote an image of themselves as men of the people who care about China’s poor majority. They have promised to press ahead with market-oriented reforms and to support entrepreneurs but have given no sign of support for political reform.

“Communist leaders who see the Internet as a source of economic growth and better-paid jobs were slow to enforce the same level of control they impose on movies, books and other media, apparently for fear of hurting fledgling entertainment, shopping and other online businesses.  Until recently, Web surfers could post comments online or on microblog services without leaving their names.

“That gave ordinary Chinese a unique opportunity to express themselves to a public audience in a society where newspapers, television and other media are state-controlled. The most popular microblog services say they have more than 300 million users and some users have millions of followers reading their comments.

“The Internet also has given the public an unusual opportunity to publicize accusations of official misconduct.

“Some industry analysts suggest allowing Web surfers in a controlled setting to vent helps communist leaders stay abreast of public sentiment in their fast-changing society. Still, microblog services and online bulletin boards are required to employ censors to enforce content restrictions. Researchers say they delete millions of postings a day.

“The government says the latest Internet regulation before the National People’s Congress is aimed at protecting Web surfers’ personal information and cracking down on abuses such as junk e-mail. It would require users to report their real names to internet service and telecom providers.

“The main ruling party newspaper, People’s Daily, has called in recent weeks for tighter Internet controls, saying rumors spread online have harmed the public. In one case, it said stories about a chemical plant explosion resulted in the deaths of four people in a car accident as they fled the area.

“Proposed rules released this month by the General Administration of Press and Publications would bar Chinese-foreign joint ventures from publishing books, music, movies and other material online in China. Publishers would be required to locate their servers in China and have a Chinese citizen as their local legal representative.

“That is in line with rules that already bar most foreign access to China’s media market, but the decision to group the restrictions together and publicize them might indicate official attitudes are hardening.   Previous efforts to tighten controls have struggled with technical challenges in a country with more than 500 million Internet users.

“Microblog operators such as Sina Corp. and Tencent Ltd. were ordered in late 2011 to confirm users’ names but have yet to finish the daunting task.  Web surfers can circumvent government filters by using virtual private networks – software that encrypts Web traffic and is used by companies to transfer financial data and other sensitive information. But VPN users say disruptions that began in 2011 are increasing, suggesting Chinese regulators are trying to block encrypted traffic.

“Chinese leaders ‘realize there are detrimental impacts on business, especially foreign business, but they have counted the cost and think it is still worthwhile,’ said Lam. ‘There is no compromise about the political imperative of controlling the Internet.’”

The United Nations is urging its members to stifle its public with similar rules.  Obama, who has probably held the fewest press conference of any President of the United States, will have no scruples about passing such Internet restrictions here in the United States.  The only thing that stands in his way is the U.S. Constitution.

Something is very wrong when students from a Communist country seek America’s shores, while American students embrace Communism.  This group happened to be keenly intelligent; all master’s degree students or better in engineering.  Our own students barely pass minimum math and science standards; they opt for the easy way out and think nothing of surrendering their freedom.

These Chinese students are not from impoverished families.  They’re quite well-to-do, instantly dispelling the Communist myth of spreading the wealth.  They know that wealth is nothing without freedom.  They love their homeland of China, but are indifferent to its politics.

America has crossed the border into Socialism and are on the road to Communism and tyranny.  Being as ignorant of American politics as they are indifferent to Chinese politics, the Nephew’s Chinese friends are unaware of the dangers facing freedom of speech, even as they eagerly test out their new tablets on my brother’s dining room table.

Who would have thought that it would be the Chinese who would teach Americans the value of free speech?


Published in: on December 27, 2012 at 8:21 pm  Comments (3)  

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3 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. […] See the rest here: The Last Bastion of Free Speech « Belle of Liberty's Blog […]

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