Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Our Precious Bodily Packets

Chinese Party chief Hu Jintao has promised to "purify" the Internet without imposing censorship by raising the level of online guidance. ( Reuters) This gives the slogan "Server the People" a whole new meaning. But seriously, Hu has got to get ahead of the curve.

In 2006, China's Internet users grew by 26 million, or 23.4 percent, year on year, to reach 10.5 percent of the total population, the China Internet Network Information Center said on Tuesday. The vast majority of those users have no access to overseas Chinese Web sites offering uncensored opinion and news critical of the ruling party. But even in heavily monitored China, news of official misdeeds and dissident opinion has been able to travel through online bulletin boards and blogs.

Recently a blogger in China made the International news by opposing Starbucks, which is a place bloggers normally love because it provides wi-fi access. Blogherald describes how one Chinese blogger has campaigned against the chain opening an outlet in the Forbidden City in China. The International Herald Tribune reports that he had written that:

The outlet is "a symbol of low-end U.S. food culture" and "an insult to Chinese civilization," Rui Chenggang, an anchor at state broadcaster China Central Television, wrote on his personal Web log. The blog has attracted over 540,000 hits and thousands of responses in Internet chat rooms since last Friday.

You can see how the Chinese Communist Party could lap that anti-globalization message (please open your trade doors, America) up. But things may be different if Chinese bloggers start talking about corruption in high places. Hu's decision to "purify" the Internet is the real life inversion of the classic scene in Dr. Strangelove.

General Jack D. Ripper: Mandrake, do you recall what Clemenceau once said about war?
Group Capt. Lionel Mandrake: No, I don't think I do, sir, no.
General Jack D. Ripper: He said war was too important to be left to the generals. When he said that, 50 years ago, he might have been right. But today, war is too important to be left to politicians. They have neither the time, the training, nor the inclination for strategic thought. I can no longer sit back and allow Communist infiltration, Communist indoctrination, Communist subversion and the international Communist conspiracy to sap and impurify all of our precious bodily fluids.


Blogger summignumi said...

One can only hope that China crumbles from within before the US is confronted by a enemy that has no conscious and will wage war on a level the US has long forgotten how to cope with, I believe the Chinese understand where the Japanese went wrong in their attack on Pear Harbor and have no plan of coming up short in the day of surprise! The Chinese leadership wants to take it place as a super power that their genealogy has been denied and their intellect believes that it richly deserves.

1/24/2007 04:28:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

Imagine the anchor at a U.S. broadcaster griping about the presence in every neighborhood in America of Chinese carry out joints offering MSG- and starch- laden 'low-end Chinese food culture' (the stuff truly is crap).

There'd be no end to the multi-culti hand-wringing. Race-baiting activist groups would feign 'outrage' and demand his ouster. Various self-loathing busybodies would be making pilgrimages to Chinatown to offer pandering apologies to anyone they could find.

1/24/2007 06:04:00 PM  
Blogger Cosmo said...

P.S. Having been to the Forbidden City several times, I can assure those of you recoiling at the thought of a national landmark being soiled by commercialism that the walk in from the south gate is chock-a-block with concessions of all kinds.

Even Starbuck's faux-cosmopolitan look would be an improvement over the shabby stands peddling soft drinks and trinkets.

1/24/2007 06:11:00 PM  
Blogger Red A said...

Starbucks has excellent coffee and food compared to the rip-off chains in China.

What an idiot.

1/24/2007 10:15:00 PM  
Blogger Utopia Parkway said...

Um, the point isn't what the chinese blogger said. It's that he was able to say something at all. Once people get a taste for speaking their mind they won't be likely to give it up so easily.

There have been some other Chinese blogs reported on. In particular a number that are written by young women who talk frankly about sex.

China is a work in progress and the rulers there surely drink from the fire hose.

1/24/2007 10:41:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The PRC cannot hope to contain the myriad views of a hundred thousand people, let alone 1 billion.

Let it all out, I'd say. It's crucial that the chinese culture gets over its aversion to speaking plainly and finding the moderate and comfortable middle ground.

1/25/2007 12:24:00 AM  
Blogger Anointiata Delenda Est said...

I'm so chuffed by my eloquence on the last W (Polonium) post that I'll repeat it here:

"If you read Private Eye, the British satirical magazine, you will be aware of a cartoon character called Hom Sap. He's a Roman yobo, well removed from the patricians. Anyway, he's listening to an orator at the Forum, who says - "All we want is Liberty, Equality, Fraternity"

To which Hom Sap shouts back "Make up your mind".

He means, in his dumb way, that if you have Liberte, you will not have Egalite, not to mention Fraternite.

This is the bit the Americans got right - your constitution must be about human frailty, original sin."

And of, course, this is the bit the Chinese are beginning to taste - their leaders are human.

Now they've got to figure out how to replace them peacefully.

Only been done once - the Anglosphere.

Why the global denial? Explanations, anyone?


1/25/2007 03:24:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Selective leakage of voices, anti-globalisation baiting - old, old news. China naively believes it can "purify" the Internet when dissent is circulating within internal circles.

Seems like they've learnt that censorship simply invites opposition.

1/25/2007 05:24:00 AM  
Blogger TigerHawk said...

I was in the Forbidden City in July and wrote a post about the Starbucks there. Among other things, the staff freaked out when I tried to take a picture of the interior, declaring "no pictures" with great agitation. Now we know why.

I, for one, find it hilarious that Communists now regard the Forbidden City -- the iconic construct of Chinese Communism's original enemy, in a sense -- as a sacrosanct national symbol. The Forbidden City is fascinating and interesting and a great tourist attraction, but it is bizarre that any Communist should regard it as a point of national pride.

1/25/2007 05:35:00 AM  
Blogger Yashmak said...

I can sympathize with the Chinese blogger. It would be something akin to setting up a budget sushi joint just inside the gates of Auschwitz, or having a taco truck parked on the lawn of the White House.

Let's face it, the Chinese aren't really communists anymore, so it's not surprising that many are a bit miffed about affronts to symbols of their national identity. . .even if they DO symbolize a system that would seem an affront to communism.

Alot of people talk about a hypothetical future when we are forced to 'confront an enemy' (China) that is dire threat to our national survival. China may be able to develope that kind of military power, and maybe even the ability to project it. However, I don't think it's going to happen that way at all. For one thing, we're too big a customer of China. They'd be shooting themselves in the bank account, so to speak. I think it's far more likely we'll end up in something like an economic symbiosis with China, too dependent upon one another to risk any sort of real conflict.

1/25/2007 07:52:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Communist by pedigree, nationalist in practice.

I wonder about the Chinese government. They want greatness for their country, but how quickly? How many new toys can they give their generals before they start itching to use them? How long after that until President (and Chairman of the Military Committee) Hu gets swept away by the arrogance and optimism of this most influential group?

With 1 billion people, China has two options. Total control, or freedom consistent with order; and only the latter will bring greatness. Playing it down the middle--their current policy--will only delay greatness; furthermore, the contradictions and tensions that arise from this policy will act to erode the regime's legitimacy in the eyes of its people. If not all of them, a threshold at least.

And they will respond with a nationalist narrative, if we are lucky. A nationlist act, if we are not.

1/25/2007 08:04:00 AM  
Blogger Robert Schwartz said...

How do you say sock puppet in Chinese?

1/25/2007 10:17:00 AM  
Blogger Mike H. said...

Question: We don't know what the definition of is is, how do we discern the meaning of purify?

1/25/2007 12:51:00 PM  

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