Posted on March 29, 2012, in Civic engagement and Censorship and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. I like the breadth and depth of your coverage on censorship in China. I would like to see more analysis of how this is relevant for education, what kinds of sites to students not have access to other than social media sites. Is this causing Chinese educators to come up with their own websites? Also, I think the critique you give about American corporations complicity in the censorship is important, but I don’t see how it’s ironic. At the end of the day, American capitalism is about self-preservation and growth of capital; and in that way, this kind of work to support Chinese censorship makes sense. However, I do think the discursive mismatch between what American media says and what it does is important. Perhaps this is a literacy issue as well, in how American citizens read this kind of news and rarely try to question it?

    • Thank you for your insightful comments Mariam. While we try to analyze as much as we can sometimes the word limit makes it a little difficult on our part to discuss in-depth all the issues in hand. You raise an important point about the Chinese teachers and how they might bypass the censorship system to give their students access to content that they might deem useful. They often do so by using proxy servers or VPNs like others (as I have mentioned in my piece). However, they are also not exempted from punishment for breaking the censorship rules, and there were instances when Chinese educators had to go to jail.

      I think you will find this post interesting where the author talks about using English to gain access to sites that could not be reached otherwise. At one point the author says, “The Chinese government may be very efficient at erasing politically harmful Chinese content off the web and out of reach of even proxies, but it has little control over English content that is posted in other countries.”

      Here is the link to the page: http://www.teachabroadchina.com/wh-english-greatest-weapon-against-censorship-china/

      So basically internet censorship is a choice for the teachers; not an obligation as they do not rely too heavily on using the social media platforms, and work around the systems when/if needed. However, there exists divisions among teachers with regard to supporting the censorship of social media or cultural elements that some deem as Western cultural invasion. The teachers who support the censorship policy may be either pro-government or anti-American. But I would like to ask them the same question (as I have already asked), which is if they considered whether or not the youth are really benefitting from the censorship arrangement.

      On a different note, American corporations’ complicity in the censorship process is not ironic (and you have rightly pointed that out), what is ironic is the discursive mismatch between what the American Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton and the media say, and what its corporations do. In case you would like to take a look: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2010/jan/21/hillary-clinton-china-internet-censorship

      Hope I could answer your questions. Thank you for visiting our blog, and I hope to answer the points you raised more directly in the original post so that it addresses your query. Have a great day!

      🙂

  2. Thank you for your comment partner. I completely agree with you. I certainly had known none of the hurdles of not having full access to information via Internet, and can only imagine the ordeals of dealing with any kind of Internet censorship.

    To answer your question, I do think that it is certainly getting harder for the Chinese government to keep the control that they want over their citizens’ access to information. You are right to assume that the censorship system is experiencing much pressure right now; the students along with people from different sections of lives already found measures to bypass the censorship machinations. The VPNs (Virtual Private Networks), preferred by most Chinese Internet users (who are mostly students and professionals ), efficiently evade the restrictions put up by the Great Firewall. Therefore you can clearly see that the majority Chinese are not really happy about the Internet censorship in China, and have already come up with ways to deal with the Great Firewall.

    Sadly, the Chinese government often cracks down on VPN usage in their constant endeavor to stop the citizens from having access to the free flow of information via the Internet. The US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton criticized the Chinese government for “deplorable” human rights records, and offered financial assistance to help break the Internet censorship in China in 2011. Ironically though it is the American corporations who work to sustain the “deplorable” conditions regarding censorship in China!

  3. Great post, Fatima! I think it is a topic with an extreme relationship to education. Usually, us, people who have limitless access to the web don’t usually realize that still, at the present time, in some countries internet censorship is alive and strong. Do you think is it going to get harder and harder for the Chinese government to continue this censorship? Specially since thousands of chinese students are studying abroad, and are experiencing the joys of limitless access to the web. Do you think these students are creating some pressure to the system, or are they pleased and comfortable with current legislations?

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