Chinese Bloggers Thumb Their Noses At “Self Discipline” – RConversation

Former CNN Beijing bureau chief-turned-blog evangelist Rebecca MacKinnon debunks some of the panic over a recent ‘self-discipline’ agreement blog service providers (including Yahoo! and MSN) signed with the Chinese government last week:

Before doing anything I checked in with some Chinese bloggers. I found people doing the literary equivalent of thumbing their noses with tongues sticking out and making loud “pppllhhhh” noises. They seem to view the pledge as a bunch of bureaucrats making yet another meaningless pledge to justify their existence.

Noting that most Western reporting on the agreement relied solely on a reaction statement from Reporters Without Borders, she goes on to read (and translate) the original agreement herself and finds it somewhat less than cataclysmic:

First, the blog hosting companies pledge they’ll encourage bloggers to use their real names but are not going to “force” them to do so, nor are the blog hosting companies “forced” to require bloggers (or even ask them very strongly) to use their real names. Second, the censorship which the blog hosting companies are pledging to do here is nothing more, I’m afraid, than what all major blog-hosting companies have already been doing for quite some time now. The pledge merely makes existing practices much more public, and what’s more it institutionalizes the process by which companies will warn new users that their content will be censored. [Full Text]