Monday, December 24, 2012

When It Comes to Free Speech, Mo Yan Agrees With Father of the Great Firewall: China is an Airplane and Chinese are Passengers

On February 18, 2011, the English language website of the Global Times (published by the People's Daily) published an article about Fang Binxing (方滨兴) entitled "Great Firewall Father Speaks Out." It was originally here - - but was subsequently deleted. Some excerpts:
The father of the Great Firewall of China (GFW) has signed up to six virtual private networks (VPNs) that he uses to access some of the websites he had originally helped block.
. . . .
Fang concedes his Great Firewall doesn't do a great job of distinguishing between good and evil information. If a website contains sensitive words, the firewall often simply blocks everything "due to the limitations of the technology," he says, expecting it would become more sophisticated in the future. 
"The firewall monitors them and blocks them all," he says. "It's like when passengers aren't allowed to take water aboard an airplane because our security gates aren't good enough to differentiate between water and nitroglycerin."
Mo Yan (莫言), the 2012 Nobel Laureate in literature, apparently also feels this metaphor is apt. When asked about censorship in China at a press conference at the Royal Swedish Academy on December 6, 2012, Mo said: "When I was taking my flight, going through the customs ... they also wanted to check me — even taking off my belt and shoes. . . . But I think these checks are necessary."

Mo's position earned him the praise of the Global Times: