Sunday, February 3, 2008

How censorship within China negatively impacts the whole world.

In October 2007 Reporters without Borders issued a comprehensive report on China's censorship of the Internet. It seems just hours after the report was issued, the head of Internet control in Beijing "circulated an order to websites and ISPs asking them to update their lists of banned key-words" to include phrases contained in the report. Almost immediately China had moved to block the dissemination of the RWB/RSF report.

The Guardian makes the case that censorship in China is bad not only for the Chinese, but for the rest of the world too:
Last week, Hu Jia, one of the country's leading human rights activists, was arrested and charged with subverting state power, his offence being to catalogue miscarriages of justice and post them on the internet.* The truth of the reports is not in dispute; the crime is disseminating them. China incarcerates more journalists and shuts down more publications than any other country. Reporting of infectious diseases such as avian flu or HIV/Aids is considered a breach of state security for which the minimum tariff is penal 're-education' and the maximum is death. The same approach extends to anyone who dares expose the environmental depredations caused by China's hectic industrial expansion. . . .

But Chinese authoritarianism is also bad for the world.

China is now the planet's largest emitter of carbon dioxide thanks to a poisonous power-generation programme. Censorship also makes it harder to check the spread of contagious disease and harder to expose the regulatory corruption that means unsafe goods find their way on to global markets.
The Guardian says the EU must use its economic muscle to stand up not only on behalf of those Chinese who have been silenced, but the world at large. I say it's about time.

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