Me and the Internet – Liu Xiaobo
From EastSouthWestNorth (link):
[in translation] Today, there are more than 100 million Internet users in China. The Chinese Communist government is ambivalent in its attitude towards the Internet, and is showing many signs of awkwardness. On one hand, the lame-footed reforms require high economic growth and the main benefit of the Internet is that it is a tool to make money. On the other hand, the dictators are afraid of openness of information and freedom of expression, and therefore they are afraid of the political effects of the Internet. Especially in recent years, the Internet has vastly brought out the awakening of ideas about rights and the defense of civil rights among the Chinese people. This caused the current government to become worried. They have placed great importance on controlling speech and blocking information on the Internet in order to exert ideological control. They invested huge amounts of capital on the Golden Shield project and hired many Internet police. They used economic incentives to force the western Internet companies in China to cooperate with their Internet control.
Yet, insofar as my personal experience is concerned, the effect of the Internet in improving the state of free expression in China cannot be underestimated. Even under the present reality with increasingly severe censorship and more cases of persecution for expression, the Internet has still helped the mainland people greatly.