has been away on business in Shanghai for the past week. I received a
frantic email from her, “the blog won’t come up!” she exclaimed.
There was nothing
wrong with the blog. I checked Typepad, the server– everything was
But it wasn’t working in China. The internet is being censored with the help
of American companies including, Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Cisco.
According to Wikipedia,
employs an internet police task force, estimated at more than 30,000,
which has been known for some time, attention is mostly focused on
their work as censors and monitors. Countless critical comments
appearing on Internet forums, bulletin boards, blogs, vlogs or any
major portals such as Sohu and Sina are usually erased within minutes.
The banning appears
to be mostly uncoordinated and ad-hoc, with some sites being blocked
and similar sites being allowed or even blocked in one city and allowed
in another. The blocks have been often lifted for special occasions.
One example was the New York Times which was unblocked when reporters
in a private interview with Jiang Zemin specifically asked about the
block and he replied that he would look into the matter. During the
APEC summit in Shanghai during 2001, normally-blocked media sources
such as CNN, NBC, and the Washington Post suddenly became accessible.
Since 2001, the content controls have been further relaxed on a
permanent basis, and all three of the sites previously mentioned are
now accessible from mainland China. In fact, most foreign news
organizations’ web sites are accessible, though a small number
(including BBC News) continue to be blocked.
Here in the states,
thoughts of Tienanmen Square, conjure up images of massacre and the
lone “tank man.” However, as Andrea tells me, when you search for
"Tienanmen Square" in China, all you see is government sponsored
information and photos of smiling tourists.
Google, whose informal corporate motto is “don’t be evil”, is finding that moral compromise is the cost of doing big business in China.