When Xia Shang, a writer, wanted to commemorate the deaths of 58 people in an apartment building fire in Shanghai last week, he turned to the Internet for help. Please read the article in the New York Times here:
Mr. Xia’s offer to buy flowers for the victims, posted on his microblog, was taken up by thousands of netizens. But he quickly found himself at war with the country’s Internet police. First they deleted his post. It was back up hours later, but then seven of them showed up in person at his home and took him away for questioning. Mr. Xia was released after two hours’ interrogation at the police station by “three or four” men he says belonged to the “Internet security police.” The experience left him angry.
“As a tool, microblogs and things will definitely speed up democratization in China,” he said. “But it’s not as free as you might think.”
Mr. Xia’s experience was a striking illustration of how freedom and repression are spreading simultaneously in China, an apparent contradiction that is growing as individual and Internet- and cellphone-based communications challenge authoritarian norms.