Wall Space: Interview with Rebecca Mackinnon

Last weekend, NPR’s On the Media interviewed Rebecca MacKinnon about the current state of Internet control in China. Listen here: :

BOB GARFIELD: Now, actually on that subject, I wanted to ask you, certainly for 50 years behind the Iron Curtain the populations of the Soviet Union and its satellites were only too well aware of what they did not have access to. Are Chinese citizens by and large aware of the degree to which their view of the outside world is restricted?

REBECCA MACKINNON: I think it varies. There are a lot of well-educated people who travel abroad who are aware of the extent of the censorship. There are many others who don’t notice it because they’ve lived with it their entire lives.

And the other thing is, too, the big difference between China today and the countries of the former Soviet bloc is that one of the big reasons why people in the former Soviet bloc were pushing for change is because they couldn’t get their Beatles and they couldn’t get their blue jeans and they weren’t able to have any fun. You know, it wasn’t all just about politics. And the Chinese people, of course, are able to buy whatever they want and are able to have quite a lot of fun.

And the other thing, though, to point out is that actually a lot of Chinese people, even who study abroad and who read foreign media reports, have decided that they agree with their government’s view that the foreign media is spreading lies against China. And so, you actually get websites devoted to exposing what they feel are the anti-China conspiracies in the Western media.

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