An argument is raging in China over images that have been released on the internet showing Edison Chen, one of Hong Kong’s most famous celebrities, engaging in sexual activities with eight of the territory’s top actresses and singers. Hong Kong police have arrested at least eight people in relation to the images, illegally copied from Chen’s laptop. The controversy has surrounded the scale of the crackdown, and the wider question of privacy and censorship on the internet and the media at large.
I am no great internet user but I have been following this Hong Kong news and the flood of responses in the Chinese-language media. Before I left China, in 1997, I became acutely aware that there are four major social phenomena that are thought of as “human needs” in the western world but that have never really been accepted as part of Chinese daily life. These are freedom of religious belief, a free media, an independent legal system, and a “sex press”.