Censorship in China

This is partially a GQ, but there’s some GD stuff too, so I thought I’d go ahead and start the post here.

In this Weekly Standard article, the text of President Bush’s recent speech at Tsinghua University during his trip to China is reproduced. The article underlines the text that, according to the article, was removed by the Chinese government in the translation appearing in the government press.

I know we have Dopers who are better-connected than I am for these sorts of things (and, hopefully, who speak Chinese), and I was wondering if any of them could confirm the accuracy of the article. That’s the GQ part of the post.

The GD part of the post is to ask is there anything the US can or should do about this sort of thing? Not about this particular speech, of course; the time has passed on that. But consider another article in the Standard discussing American firms bowing to China’s demands for controls on internet access. Is there anything that can be done on that front?

I admit I’m not sharply defining an issue for discussion here. I’m really just interested in hearing what the teeming masses have to say.

Don’t know about the article, but I watched part of Bush’s speech live on CTV, or the government broadcaster. And IIRC heard some of what is claimed to be edited out of the Chinese version. I’m not going to bother to find a Chinese version of the speech and compare it. The article does not say whether the Chinese version of the speech claims to be the entire unedited speech or an abridged version. I do not have to point out that reducing the length of a speech and making it as flattering to whatever agenda one might have is common practice around the world.

It’s no secret that if you want access in China that there is some self censorship or maybe you’ll find reporters barred. But, that occurs in a wide variety of countries and industries. Ask any Wall Street Analyst. Heck, just see how many analysts ever issue a “buy” (as opposed to “raging buy” or “strong buy” or some other call) much less a “hold” or “sell” recomendation for fear that their company will lose out on future capital raising business. China does have censorship, but it’s no where near as widespread as is stereotyped.

Your second link doesn’t work for me. Essentially, I can access all of the internet sites I want to from China, including the Straight Dope. For blocked sites, you can use a proxy server. One of the well known blocked sites in Geocities, and I’m guessing that there were anti government sites on there so they blocked the entire thing. The big issue right now is that many internation ISP’s are refusing to accept email from Chinese websites owing to a massive amount of spam coming out of China. It is likely that the spam doesn’t originate in China, but merely routes through. The Chinese authorities and ISP’s are only now slowly starting to wake up to this issue.

The internet is too big in China to police effectively. Many people access the internet through free email accounts and at internet cafes.

It’s working fine from my PC. Maybe they censored it. :stuck_out_tongue:

Why do we (the US) get so involved in other country’s business (China’s censorship), yet so defensive when it happens the other way around (US death penalty)?

Censorship, IMHO, does nothing to help those in power in China. If anything, with the increasing efficiencies in communications, censorship demonizes those in power more than it helps. But why are we so gung-ho to force them to our way?

We nearly wiped out the native population of this continent. We were one of the last, if not the last, of the western countries to abolish slavery. We had sweatshops and child labor. Many of our businesses grew large on these, and there was much prosperity that helped the US become the powerhouse it is today. One can argue we learned from our errors and we wish to help other countries keep from making the same errors. I think that’s rather condescending, as if we were treating countries like China as children.

I really do not like our government making decisions based on China’s policies, (unless it is doing so specifically because it represents the will of the majority of the population, not just a vocal minority). Individuals and corporations need to make the choices of whether to deal with Chinese companies or buy Chinese products. I’m guessing that a majority of individuals couldn’t care less if it means they’ll save three bucks on a shirt or increase their portfolio returns 200-300 basis points, but I’m a cynic. If I were a Chinese citizen with feelings of dissent, it would be nice to know the US is on my side. However, if I’m a Chinese power broker, I’m insulted by Bush’s remarks, and (depending on how much $$ is involved) would like to tell him to take his Texan panhandle and shove it up his… (or, at the very least, offer him some pretzels).

To conclude, I think our government, for the most part, should stay out of human rights issues (especially considering our own horrible record). I believe that if we are to send a message to foreign powers, it needs to be at the grass roots level - individuals and corporations making conscious decisions to boycott foreign-based products and services of oppressive regimes while supporting products and services of friendly countries.

So, basically, German concentration camps and Soviet gulags are OK with you? The US government has no business in using its influence to prevent abuses?

The State Department recently released its most recent human rights report, including a section on China. Chew on that while you formulate your response.

They are about as OK as the enslavement and near-eradication of this country’s native population, the kidnapping and enslavement of African’s, our own child labor and sweatshop history, and the internment of Japanese-Americans during WW2.

What I was trying to say, and may not have been coherent, is that given our past, who are we to preach to others? It makes us sound like a parent telling his children, “I did that when I was young; you shouldn’t or I’ll punish you”, and sovereign governments don’t take that well. It also looks to every other nation like we are throwing around our weight to make every other nation into a MiniMe of the USA.

Can you imagine the uproar if the EU suddenly restricted trade with the US unless we abolished the death penalty? I don’t see the situation as different.

It really would be great if everyone in every country started treating each other like human beings rather than cattle (not that cattle deserves to be treated as it is, but that’s another story). We’ve found sweatshops here in NYC and have no reason to believe no more exist (STATE LABOR DEPARTMENT SHUTS DOWN SWEATSHOP ); Newsday ran a very disturbing series about 1-2 years ago about the sexual slavery trade, especially from Eastern Europe and Mexico/Central AmericaSmuggled for Sex. Imagine our reaction if China retaliated by bringing up our human rights abuses, current and past. Sure, we try and stop it; so does China (at least enough to try and make a good show - and I’ll admit they fail at even that)

I guess my main fault with the policy is hypocrasy. It would be great if countries didn’t have to learn from their mistakes, but sometimes it might be the only way.

Oh yeah, China’s trying really frickin’ hard to curtail abuses, given that most of the abuses listed happen at the hands of the government.

The US may not be a bed of friggin’ roses, but it isn’t even in the same ballpark with China. Whatever evils may have lurked in the US’s past are no excuse for ignoring abuses in the present.

I would however point out that China is far from a monolithic entity and/or a monothic police state. Abuses certainly happen at the hands of the government, but that is certainly not policy nor condoned. Same as when some redneck cop pulls someone over and decides to put them through the paces based on how they look. The level of abuses has been on a declining trend for 20 years as the same time remedies to the abuses have been increasing. Even the Chinese central government will tell you that there is a long way to go, but at least steady progress is being made.

Agreed. No excuse for ignoring abuses in the present regardless of what country they occur in.

Sure, given the US past, it can look hypocritical, but two wrongs don’t make a right, and we are in a new world order in this century. China has made it clear that they want to be part of this new world order and are finding their way. Because China has such a large population and economy, it is also forcing an adaption of that new world order. Hand in hand with joining that new world order comes a responsibility to abide by those standards. Therefore, China can’t say the US genocide of the American Indians means China today gets a free pass to whack out an ethnic group of their choosing.

Batting .500, better than usual…

First, I am in no way supporting oppressive regimes that deny basic human rights. I don’t believe I’ve ever said that and I’ll respectfully ask you not twist my words to mean that. I do not support the tying of things like entry into the WTO to countries like China ‘cleaning up their act’. I will concede that our own ‘most favored nation’ status is strictly internal and an argument can be made to use that. I also think, economically speaking, it is the wrong way to go, but I’m generally against most economic sanctions and don’t see them as effective.

I looked in the link you provided, wring. Absent was the report on the US. I provided links showing current sexual slavery and sweatshop conditions. We have the Rampart division in LA to handle the extrajudicial activities. We have major multinational corporations buying (or trying to buy) politicians and then trying to leverage their influence (Enron asking not to have its credit lowered). We have FBI agents shooting an unarmed individual with an assault rifle followed by complete silence (being discussed in another thread). Here in NYC, we recently found long-term systemic abuse in property tax assessments. And this is just what is caught.

I’ll repeat that our European counterparts are very against our use of the death penalty, which they consider denying a basic human right. They don’t dangle open trade over the issue (although they might if we weren’t the proverbial 500lb. gorilla). Those in support of the death penalty get very indignant when condenmed by the Europeans, as I expect those in China do when condemned by the US. Difference - we throw our weight around…too much, IMO.


I hate to hijack my own thread, but your facts are a little off there. Credit ratings are handed out by private companies, not government agencies (the two most respected are Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s). Enron asked some White House officials to basically make some phone calls on Enron’s behalf (and, notably, the White House said no), but the decision to lower or not lower Enron’s credit rating was not the White House’s to make. Indeed, it’s entirely possible (and maybe even probable) that even if the White House had intervened that the credit rating companies would’ve decided to lower the ratings anyway.

*Originally posted by Dewey Cheatem Undhow *
DOH! Guess I was too tired while typing. Had three windows open and got confused. Apologies to both you Dewey and wring.

Entirely correct (why I added the bit about trying). But Enron did seek to trade in political favors to influence the outcome. And whomever they called (I seem to recall it wasn’t the White House - maybe the Treasury secretary?) declined to help, something I was heartened to hear.