Monday, July 20, 2009

Oppression in the Information Age

- Moussavi reporters in Iran chant "Death to China! Death to Russia!" Russia and China were among the first to congratulate Ahmadinejad for being "re-elected". Iran's people are smart; they're connected; and they'll remember this.

- Turkey calls what China has done in Xinjiang a genocide. Meanwhile, search for articles with positive reactions to China's crackdown and you will find yourself limited almost entirely to Xinhua. Despite China's much more effective blockade of Twitter and other communication technolgoy, information has flowed back and forth between Uighurs in China, the U.S. and elsewhere.

That sound that Ahmadinejad and the CCP are hearing is accountability, and the more technology advances, the harder it becomes to outrun.


Rinchen said...

Even the communist party's massive efforts in terms of investment and infrastructure for censorship of information, cannot ultimately stop the flow of information.

How longer they think they can do it and achieve ends for what kind of long term purpose, surprises me.

Thomas Paine Jr. said...

You're right, it's like trying to stop a dam from crumbling - though I think the CCP is keeping at it because a., SO FAR they've done a decent job of censorship, and b., as the author of FOARP says, the CCP knows they're not likely to stay in power in a China with free elections, because people will realize they're not about China, they're about themselves. Notice how quick China was to recognize Ahmadinejad!

An even bigger problem for the CCP is this. The current loyalty of middle class Han to China's government seems to be based entirely on the CCP's story that "we made this growth possible", and successful pragmatic Han seem to say "fine, we put up with severe restrictions on our freedom in return for growth". The dead-end for the CCP is that as the world economy becomes more dependent on technology, economic growth will increasingly depend on the free flow of information and skilled workers between labor markets. So which is it? Continue to open to trade and innovation and free information and democracy, or turn inward and slow (again)?

*Every* country is changed by the products and ideas it gets from the rest of the world - the UK, the US, everyone - and this is a good thing for all involved. When the Chinese people understand this, they and the rest of us will become better off.