From the New York Times:
All this underscores, I think, that China is not the police state that its leaders sometimes would like it to be; the Communist Party’s monopoly on information is crumbling, and its monopoly on power will follow. The Internet is chipping away relentlessly at the Party, for even 30,000 censors can’t keep up with 120 million Chinese Netizens. With the Internet, China is developing for the first time in 4,000 years of history a powerful independent institution that offers checks and balances on the emperors.
It’s not that President Hu Jintao grants these freedoms, for he has arrested dozens of cyberdissidents as well as journalists. But the Internet is just too big and complex for State Security to control, and so the Web is beginning to assume the watchdog role filled by the news media in freer countries. [Full text]
UPDATE (6/20/06 8:50 pm PST): The blog started by Nicholas Kristof on Sohu.com is now inaccessible.
UPDATE (6/21/06 5:05 am PST) Kristof’s blog on Sina.com is also gone.)
UPDATE (6/20/06 afternoon PST): Here are two links to Kristof’s blogs in Chinese. And here is an example of the comments Kristof has received on his blog. This one is signed by “A Chinese reader of the New York Times online edition” (translated by CDT):
Ha ha, I saw today’s masterpiece from Mr. Kristof on the New York Times, China vs. the Net. Let me say a few words here about it. Please allow me to be direct. This method to detect the bottom line of freedom of expression on China’s Internet may not be the best. First of all, your test blog has very low traffic so far so even if the censor’s see it, they will not feel threatened.
Secondly, maybe freedom of expression online in China does not have a well-defined bottom line. If you really insist, you may want to be a regular visitor to this forum, where you may learn something.
In addition, my prediction about the general trend of the Internet development in China is, like yours, relatively optimistic. But I am very doubtful about the number of 30,000 Internet censors which is often used in the foreign media. The first time I saw this number was on the Guardian in 2004. Now the real number should have far surpassed that. By the way, Proxy servers aren’t that easy to use in China these days.
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