Bloggers Beware

Blogging can be harmful for your health in one country in particular:

Police forces across the country have announced the detentions of hundreds of microblog users since last month on charges of concocting and spreading false claims, often politically damaging. For weeks, a torrent of commentaries in the state-run news media have warned popular opinion makers on China’s biggest microblog site, Sina’s Weibo service, to watch their words.
Via NYT | China mounts crackdown


8 thoughts on “Bloggers Beware”

  1. China’s crackdown on bloggers is a manifestation of the weakness of the Chinese government. The party has control over censorship pretty well in the bag but its power does not extend into many other areas of life. For instance, China has food safety problems because the government does not have the power to enforce food standards to companies. I think that the government is using censorship of the Big Vs as an attempt to preemptively avoid rebellion and dissatisfaction in areas that the government does not have full power over and can do nothing about, which would undermine the power of the party and show its shortcomings more than just criticizing the party itself.

  2. The quote from Hung Huang at the end of the article I think says it all. “People will shut up for a month. Then they’ll come back. Maybe not the same people, but another group of people.” China’s policies on censorship, especially online censoring, are like using a band-aid to fix a great, festering wound. You may not be able to see the problem anymore, but that doesn’t mean it has gone away. In fact under the band-aid, there are other forces at work further exacerbating the problem. I am not Chinese, and having been raised in a capitalistic society, can’t even begin to tell the Chinese government how to run their “communist” country, but it would seem to me that they would have much more success at stopping the “slander” that is taking place on the internet if they would look at the cause of the complaints as opposed to the complainers.

    While I agree with the above comment, that these government crack downs are probably preemptive to avoid rebellion or an uprising of the people. A better way to avoid the rebellion would be to fix the problems that are making the people want to rebel in the first place. I can’t help but think of that object lesson where you hold some clay in your hand and squeeze. The harder you squeeze, the more clay will slip through the cracks in your finger. I feel that the harder China cracks down on its people without actually addressing the issues, the more people will become jaded to a “communist” system that is no longer fulfilling their needs.

  3. China is simply putting off the inevitable. No matter how many government controls are placed over China’s internet availability, people are going to slip through the cracks and reach news that doesn’t come from China’s jaded media. The fact that the government has been increasing internet restrictions and cracking down on those they see as dissenters and slanderers since the Arab uprisings prove that they know how easily the internet can be used to change a nation. As the university researcher Wang Wen said: “It’s seriously affecting China’s social stability and political governance.” This is a true statement whether you see it in a negative light, like Wen, or a positive one, like me.

  4. This is a great example of what to do when you feel your control on the population slipping away. Just like the article says, there is no way to stop what is going on. It is like the idea behind Anonymous: if you destroy one, there will be ten more. Really what the Chinese government is doing is fueling the fire. These comments and blog posts are being made because of the oppression that the Chinese are facing. Increasing that oppression by parading around the poster boy of blogging in prison uniforms is only making the desire to speak out grow stronger. I really think this is a symptom of a revolt. If China wishes to remain in control of the thoughts and speech of it’s citizens, it is going to have to change it’s methods to fit in more with the modern way of thinking.

  5. By repressing the right of speech, China is creating resentment for its current government. It needs to give some leeway on the freedom of speech or else the Chinese government will be in trouble. Liberal ideas are going to spread, no matter how hard the Chinese government censors it, because of social media and globalization.

  6. China’s choice of cracking down on these “Big V”s is a waste of the government’s time, money, and credibility. The government can’t honestly expect to elicit any real change by silencing and discrediting these bloggers. They have to understand the concept of a hydra: cut of one head—silence one Big V—and two heads will grow back to replace the first.
    What I find interesting is the Chinese people’s reaction to the crackdown. They’re not really protesting about the government’s new policies so much as complaining about them on the Internet or ignoring them altogether. In the eighties, students were marching in Tiananmen Square about these issues; however now their reaction is very different. Many of the policies the Communist party has put in place in recent years have become more lax, so perhaps this is the right strategy—to wait and let things cool off. But I also am reminded of the “pan and circuses” phrase: now that the Chinese have more stuff—they aren’t going hungry and they can afford to buy and own more than any generation of Chinese have before—if they’ve gotten complacent and aren’t so invested in their own individual political influence.

  7. It’s not surprising for me to read that the Chinese government is cracking down on these “Big V” bloggers. China has always had, or tried to have, tight control of the internet in their country. Try as they might, I think their efforts to shut down these blogs will ultimate be a waste. Blogs and other forms of social media are used more and more often in suppressed countries, where people want their voices to be heard. The government may attempt to make these bloggers and their viewpoints seem illegitimate, but it is hard for me to believe that the whole Chinese population will fall for it. Slowly, but surely these bloggers will gain a greater following and become more legitimate. The Chinese have no had a taste of free speech (maybe not so free) and are going to want more. The internet is a powerful tool.

  8. It seems to me that the Chinese government has resorted to ad hominem arguments to lock the door to open dialogue and political criticism. I don’t know much about the inward social workings of the nation, but I’ve gathered from my limited exposure that its citizens place a great deal of weight on issues of reputation and propriety. It seems that attacking the morality of vocal critics would be a very strategic move on the part of the state, but what does such a strategy say–if anything–of the charges said critics are leveling? What I mean to ask is, what does it matter if Xue Manzi had sex with a prostitute? Does that change the veracity or resonance of his blog posts? Maybe. But it is possible that the issues lie on two separate fields. Tiger Woods might have been unfaithful to his wife, but it doesn’t change the fact that he is a great golf player.

    Sexual impropriety or not, I’m sure that if Xue Manzi has gained a wide following based on his passionate critiques of China, his following will remain loyal to his ideas because those ideas are what found him fame in the first place. If the government proves effective in eliminating Xue Manzi as a threat, they still won’t have eliminated the threat of his ideas if they prove themselves to have held legitimacy. When the driver of a political revolution, big or small, is incapacitated by the very enemy of that revolution, there will always be someone waiting in the wings to take the wheel and carry on where his or her predecessor relinquished control.

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