Thursday, December 19, 2013

2013 Year in Review: Top Examples of State Media Editorials on Free Speech - With Interpretive Memes

In this post the text in italics is from the cited source. The images are courtesy of this blog.

Source: Global Times, "Southern Weekend's 'Letter to Readers' Truly Makes One Ponder" (南方周末“致读者”实在令人深思), January 7, 2013:
Whether these people like it or not, this is common sense: given the current state of China's society and government, the kind of "free media" that these people yearn for in their hearts simply cannot exist.
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Source: Global Times, “US Tech Website Back Online,” January 24, 2013:
GitHub was not the only programming website that had been kept away from Chinese mainland users. Google Code, Google App Engine, SourceForge and several other renowned technical websites have been blocked at times. 
"Some of them were blocked because they contained codes of virtual private network, or VPN, a kind of software that allows users to get over the Great Firewall. Others contained 'sensitive' comments that reveal political opinions," Huang Weilian, a programmer and a renowned IT blogger, told the Global Times, adding that blocking these websites increased the cost of software product development for many Chinese start-up companies. 

Source: Ren Xianliang (任贤良), "Target the Two Venues of Public Discourse, Solidify the Positive Energy of Society" (统筹两个舆论场 凝聚社会正能量), writing in Red Flag Journal (红旗文稿), April 10, 2013:
The Party controls the media, the Party controls public discourse, these are unshakeable fundamental principles for maintaining the Party's leadership, no less than the Party  controls the military and the Party controls the barrels of the guns. And given current circumstances it can only be strengthened, it cannot be relaxed.. . . .When it comes to control, it is necessary to boldly confront all obstacles, even those powerful media outlets, famous web sites, bloggers, and micro-bloggers. Warn those who need warning, ban those who need banning, and silence those who need silencing.
党管媒体、党管舆论,如同党管军队、党管枪杆子,是坚持党的领导不可动摇的基本原则,尤其是在当前形势下只能加强、不能放松。. . . .即使对那些强势媒体、知名网站和名人博主、微博大V,在管理上也必须敢于碰硬,该警告的警告,该禁言的禁言,该关闭的关闭。
After publishing this article, Ren was promoted to Deputy Director, State Internet Information Office.
Source: Global Times, “Hackers, Bloggers and Professors Team Up to Tap into Blocked Microblog Content ,” July 28, 2013:
China's regulation on Internet information lists nine types of banned content, most of which concerns national security, state unity, rumors, pornography and violence. But in practice it isn't always clear where the line is and in the event of a breaking incident, certain words or phrases that are otherwise normal might become sensitive for a period of time.
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Source: Global Times, “Hengqin New Area Aims to Skirt Firewall,” July 24, 2013 :
Local authorities of the Hengqin New Area in Zhuhai, Guangdong Province confirmed Tuesday that they are planning to bypass the Great Firewall by opening special access to the Internet. . . .
If passed, Hengqin will be the first region on the Chinese mainland where local residents can skirt the firewall and get access to blocked websites including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Source: Global Times, “New Freedoms for Banned Books,” July 25, 2013:
The so-called banned books are mainly works by Chinese authors that have been outlawed by the authorities, such as Yang Jisheng's Tombstone: The Great Chinese Famine, 1958-1962, in which the author spent 20 years investigating the reasons that led to mass starvation, including the death of his own father. They can also be books that had some politically sensitive content removed from mainland versions, such as historian Zhang Yihe's The Memories Haven't Vanished, in which she tells the stories of prominent intellectuals who suffered from brutal attacks during the Cultural Revolution (1966-76.)Many mainlanders who buy political books at the Book Fair told the Global Times that they did not feel comfortable talking about it as they were afraid their comments might land them in hot water.
Source: Seeking Truth, "Take Up the Cause of Insisting on a Marxist Approach to News" (自觉坚持马克思主义新闻观), August 16, 2013:
Perhaps the degree of freedom enjoyed by China's traditional media is slightly less than that enjoyed by the media in developed Western countries, in particular the reporting by the Party's newspapers, magazines, radio, and television outlets.
. . . .
At its current stage, China could not endure the consequences of losing control over public discourse. . . . The overall quality of government agency administration and the ranks of Party officials is not high enough, and they are finding it very difficult to adapt to the challenges posed by excessively open public discourse. . . .
. . . .
现阶段的中国,承受不了舆论失控的后果。. . . . 各级政府机关的管理水平和干部队伍的整体素质还不高,很难适应舆论过度开放带来的挑战. . . .
Source: Global Times, “Legal Basis Needed for Dissenting Voices,” August 18, 2013:
A human rights advocate from Guangzhou, Yang Maodong, better known by his pen name, Guo Feixiong, was detained recently. Xu Zhiyong, an activist and legal scholar based in Beijing, was also detained recently. Overseas voices have connected the two incidents and believed the Chinese mainland is conducting a "decapitation" campaign against the human rights movement. Meanwhile, they glorify what Guo and Xu did by calling them "pro-democracy activists." . . . .
Obviously, China has not found a mature way to deal with these confrontational individuals. On the one hand, they play a new role in society and what they do is not all negative. But on the other hand, they pose a danger to the current social governance system and long-term social stability.
Source: Global Times, "Is Chinese Public Opinion Really Constricting?" (中国舆论真的在收紧吗), September 6, 2013, by Zhang Yiwu (张颐武), a professor of Chinese Studies at Beijing University:
Given today's Internet environment, any move toward social governance will almost inevitably be met with debate and consternation. There is nothing at all odd about this. But the fact is that this does not in any way mean that the development of online opinion in China is being subjected to restrictions. On the contrary, this is a step toward "normalization" of online opinion in China, and it is laying the foundation for a flourishing and dynamic Internet for China.
Source: China Daily, "'Like an online king' - celebrity blogger Xue's story'," September 15, 2013:
The noted venture capitalist [Xue Manzi] was detained last month for alleged group sex with prostitutes. His detention sent ripples across the Chinese cyberspace as he was a star blogger with 12 million followers on Sina Weibo, Chinese leading twitter-like blogging service, and was seen as an "online crusader for justice".
. . . .
"My irresponsibility in spreading information online was a vent of negative mood, and was a neglect of the social mainstream," Xue said [in an interview broadcast on China Central Television]. His sober demeanor was different from the arrogance of two weeks ago when he was taken into detention.

Referring to China's latest move to criminalize online rumors spreading, Xue said "freedom of speech cannot override the law".
Source: Global Times, “China Can't Cede Agenda-setting to Western Media,” December 17, 2013:
Columnist Thomas L. Friedman of The New York Times has written an open letter to the Chinese president, demanding China remove the block on Bloomberg's website, and some Chinese-language websites of mainstream Western media such as the NYT and The Wall Street Journal. He also requested visa renewal for correspondents of the NYT and Bloomberg. Their sensitive reports, according to Friedman, are "a warning heart attack."
. . . .
In the past two years, with the development of China's Internet and the public's wider participation in the country's political affairs, many mainstream Western media have been trying to make breakthroughs from topics that the Chinese public is most concerned about. They would create quite a stir or directly set China's political agenda. If successful, they will be at the center of China's public opinion sphere.

No matter if these reports are the result of Western journalists' individual impulse, or collective efforts of the newsroom, they highly conform to the West's strategy in interfering China's political agenda-setting and future policy orientation.

. . . .
Friedman should understand that Chinese authorities are breaching their duty if they allow Western media to work in China unchecked.