Tag Archives: Internet

Chinese media: Enemy’s enemy is my friend

1 Dec

During a war sometimes you do not have many choices. You must optimize your chance to win. Enemy’s enemy is your friend.

The same relationship is experienced by Chinese media confronting with the Internet and the government. They tend to choose the Internet as their ally against the government, even though this ally may sometimes bite them as well.

Internet as a friend with adversity

In a place like China where the free flow of information is a rather luxury, any sign of hope is worth making effort to.

The early 2000s has witnessed the boom of the Internet in China, as well as the start of skyrocketing of Chinese online news, which later proved to be a doom for Chinese media on traditional platforms, especially for the Chinese print media.

Till today Chinese traditional media are still undergoing a complicated relationship with the Internet.

On the one hand they need to fully embrace it as a new platform which is welcomed by their readers; one the other hand they need to keep an eye on it as the Internet is also sabotaging their readership or viewship.

Enemy’s enemy

The Chinese government by no means sees the Internet as a friend.

Concerning the social stability in China, the government has set up the Great Firewall (GFW) to prevent Chinese Internet users from accessing “vicious” foreign websites such as Youtube and Twitter.

A slightly exaggerating explanation of the GFW

Online content in the Chinese Internet context is also under the scrutiny of the authority. Any content that is considered as unfavourable will be “harmonised” and kept out of the public sight.

The Chinese Web browsers, the real power behind the Internet, bear the large possibility of being irritated by the government due to the lack of free flow of information. Some activists have already managed to get over the GFW to see the “outside world”.

Internet as the leverage for free flow of information

Chinese media, have been kept their noses up and therefore been rather sensitive about the current of power rushing forward and back underneath the peaceful sea surface.

They now tend to mingle with the Internet as an important platform to release their news products, as well as a crucial leverage to keep the game on with the government.

By utilising the Internet, the Chinese media hope to see a more open environment for information to be cultivated in China.

As pointed out the Hu Shuli at the Reuters Memorial Lecture, although Internet seems to be dangerous for Chinese people concerning the risk of annoying the government, “it is helping China to grow”.

She also treats the relationship of Chinese government ant the media as “a game of cat and mouse”.

In this game, she said, “The mouse is smarter with modern technologies. While the cat needs to learn what will happen.”

The manipulation over news is possibly to be broken by the Internet as well, as empowered by the Internet, Chinese people can get access to any information (some may need a little technology to get over the GFW).

In the era of the Internet, according to Hu Shuli, “it is hard to fool people”.


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Kindle won’t change anything

3 Nov

Kindle can be used as a tool to browse the Internet

The BBC says yesterday that Kindle can bypass China’s Great Firewall, but it will not change anything about Internet censorship in China.

Another way towards liberty?

By the first glance at this piece of news I am very pleased with it, as there is one more way to get access to the real world. Chinese people are obssessed with the notorious Great Firewall (and I am not saying it good or bad) for many years. As a result, they cannot browse sites like Youtube and Facebook via an IP in China.

The government always tries to convince its people that this is for the consideration of national security and social stability – I myself still think so – but this means that the Internet is not open any more for Chinese people. There are something happening on the cyber space where they actually cannot but theoretically they should get access to.

Since the day that the Wall fell, Chinese people have been looking for ways to get over it. People in China now can log on to those banned sites with the assistance of computer technology.

Kindle’s fancy function – whether it is realized consciously or unconsciously – provides an alternative way for people in China to be able to see the whole landscape of the Internet, which should be safeguarded.

No big change

There is by so far no sign of any agreement between Amazon and the Chinese government. This possibility can be really trivial considering the attitude held by the government towards the American company Google. In terms of social stability, Beijing tend to apply an unswerving stance. There is absolutely no space for negotiation.

The reason why this gray function of Kindle is still on-going instead of being prohibit, is that the government wants it to be there. In other words, the government does not care about the influence of this function…yet.

As a portable e-paper reader, Amazon’s Kindle still lacks popularity. According to the BBC, a Kindle will cost from 1200 (£112) to 3500 (£327) yuan. Although the price is similar to that of a mobile phone, the idea of reading electronically is brand new to Chinese people.

Not until people in all coastal and some inland cities use Kindle to surf the Internet, the government will not call for halt on it. Before this is realized, its influence is rather limited.

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