In Communist China, censorship routes around the net
November 28, 2018 5:23 AM   Subscribe

How China Walled Off the Internet - "The web was supposed to set the world free. China's is censored, but booming anyway." (previously)

also btw...
US citizens w valid passports not allowed to *leave* China. - "Bigger implication: Chinese govt acting as if it has jurisdiction over foreign citizens who are ethnically Chinese or have PRC-citizen family members."

Xi versus Deng, the family feud over China's reforms - "The anniversary of 'reform and opening' has sparked a contest of narratives about who was responsible."

Personal Ties, Meritocracy, and China's Anti-Corruption Campaign - "Analysis of the first phase of Xi's corruption crackdown suggests yes, he was going after the most corrupt. Not mainly a purge."

An Intro to China's Policymaking Process - "How is policy formulated in China? Who proposes it? How does it get refined or amended? With no campaigns and therefore no campaign contributions, how do outside stakeholders influence policy? In this Trivium primer, we'll examine all of those questions, walking step-by-step through the way policies are created in the People's Republic."

The Rise, Fall, and Restoration of the Kingdom of Bicycles - "Toward the end of the Qing dynasty in 1898, the most influential newspaper at the time predicted that 'bicycles will prevail in the future.' ... When the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) came to power in 1949... it embraced the bicycle as a symbol of proletarian progress."

Chinese Prison Camps: The Dark System - "Detainees in Chinese prison camps are systematically abused. Officially, the country has banned such facilities, but the practice continues in secret. This is the story of three men who were traumatized in such a camp."

Sentenced to DEATH for going on a religious pilgrimage? - "China is every bit as bad as Saudi Arabia, but it's so big and powerful that people know they can't really do anything about it, so they turn the other way..."

Beijing's Ground Game in Taiwan Is Growing Smarter - "The Communist Party is getting more sophisticated about influencing local politics in the region."

China Wants a New World Order. At the U.N, NGOs Are Secretly Paid Cash to Promote Beijing's Vision - "When Patrick Ho was arrested at John F. Kennedy International Airport on Nov. 18, 2017, the former Hong Kong government official made one phone call: to James B. Biden, the younger brother of the former U.S. vice president, an acquaintance whose number he had on hand. The well-connected Hong Konger asked Biden for a lawyer. Ho was going to need a good one. The U.S. Department of Justice was planning to indict him for using his connections at the United Nations to bribe a U.N. General Assembly president along with several African government officials... records related to the case — including documents submitted by Ho's own attorney — now connect Ho's alleged payments to promotion of a major Beijing foreign policy push called the Belt and Road Initiative, Chinese President Xi Jinping's signature venture advancing investment and infrastructure projects around the world. Belt and Road isn't about only inking business deals; it offers a sweeping vision of a China-centric political and economic global order, one in which countries depend on China, not the West, for prosperity."

China Is Building a $9 Billion Rival to the American-Run GPS - "The Beidou Navigation System, currently serving China and neighbors, will be accessible worldwide by 2020 as part of President Xi Jinping's strategy to make his country a global leader in next-generation technologies. Its implementation reverberates through the corporate world as makers of semiconductors, electric vehicles and airplanes modify products to also connect with Beidou in order to keep doing business in the second-biggest economy."

From Windfalls to Pitfalls: Qualcomm's China Conundrum - "Huawei had been quietly pouring 15% of its annual revenue, or more than $61 billion, over the past decade to develop technologies that have the potential to become global 5G telecom standards. One such technology is based on Arikan's polar coding theory. To understand why that's important, a brief explanation of 5G standard development is needed."

China's Polar Silk Road – When a town in Arctic Norway transforms into 'the world's northernmost Chinatown' - "Sitting on the rocky coastline of the slate gray Barents Sea, the hilly city of Kirkenes, Norway is located at a literal crossroads between east and west. Russia is only 20 minutes away by car, while Finland lies 40 minutes south."

The Wandering Earth could be China's breakout sci-fi blockbuster film - "An adaptation of Cixin Liu's The Wandering Earth could be China's first breakout science fiction film."

How ZTE helps Venezuela create China-style social control - "Chinese telecoms giant ZTE is helping Venezuela build a system that monitors citizen behavior through a new identification card. The 'fatherland card', already used by the government to track voting, worries many in Venezuela and beyond."

Beijing to Judge Every Resident Based on Behavior by End of 2020 - "So dystopian and authoritarian as to defy belief: China will judge each of its 1.3 billion people based on their social behavior & adopt a lifelong points program that assigns personalized ratings by 2021."

Want To See Your Dystopian Future? Look at China - "The U.S. needs to stand against the surveillance state."

oh and...
posted by kliuless (28 comments total) 35 users marked this as a favorite
 
Thanks to weak intellectual property protections, they can rip one another off with abandon — not great for rewarding innovation, but O.K. for consumers, who get lots of choices.

It didn't seem to hurt their growth much. Maybe we could learn something from this.
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:13 AM on November 28, 2018 [7 favorites]


This feels like a cherry picked list of the top fear mongering about China articles from the last 3 months.
posted by k8t at 7:10 AM on November 28, 2018 [12 favorites]


The policy-making link in the OP is a really solid introduction to a (slightly idealised) model of the process in China. If anyone’s interested in more detail, this 2013 report [pdf] from the Congressional Research Service on the structure of Chinese government holds up pretty well. Neither of those links pay much attention to the “Leading Small Groups” which set policy goals outside the “normal” system. There are (at least) 35% more LSGs under Xi and are increasingly headed by Xi himself, or close loyalists. The best recent work I’ve seen on LSGs is probably this [pdf]. They’re an increasingly important part of the policy-making ecosystem and increasingly a target for lobbying by more powerful interests, such as the US banking sector. They’re also a good illustration of the increasing centralisation of power under Xi, going along with his abolition of term limits, elevation of Xi Jinping thought, and PLA reform. (Plus perhaps the anti-corruption drive, although as the OP link makes clear, suggestions that this was a political purge may have been overstated.)
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:35 AM on November 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


I don't know how to engage with a post like this, so I'm just gonna point out the top link is very good about discussing a theme I care about. The Great Firewall of China is much more about trade protectionism than it is censorship. I mean the censorship helps, but the real benefit to China's economy is they kept the Internet market for themselves. (The language barrier helps too). There's a whole parallel set of Internet businesses that in many ways surpass what we do here in "the free world" in the services they provide. No other country has succeeded in having such successful home-grown business. But then no other country has been so bold as to ban Google, Facebook, etc.
posted by Nelson at 7:45 AM on November 28, 2018 [11 favorites]


This feels like a cherry picked list of the top fear mongering about China articles from the last 3 months.

🔍 Xianjiang - No Matches
🔍 Uyghur - No Matches
🔍 Concentration camp - No Matches

Yeah, not so sure about that. English language articles about China are pretty reductive and normally tend to fall into either overt boosterism or dark warnings of impending doom - but I thought that this post was pretty good at delivering interesting, rather than depressing China news.( My only complaint would have been that the whole Sesame Credit / social credit thing gets way too much credulous press, and for the moment at least it’s a patchwork of poorly implemented private initiatives trying to cater to some vague wording in long-term policy documents. No need to break out the 1984 references just yet.)
posted by chappell, ambrose at 7:51 AM on November 28, 2018 [6 favorites]


"A group of some of China's smartest students have been recruited straight from high school to begin training as the world's youngest AI weapons scientists."

Some of our leaders seem to think A Handmaid's Tale is an instruction manual; apparently some of China's think the same of Ender's Game. I feel like we got the short end of that stick...

This feels like a cherry picked list of the top fear mongering

It doesn't seem cherry-picked to me; it seems representative of the news coming out of China if you discount the good-news government organs. If there are specific issues with particular articles I think it's worth discussing, but dismissing them as "fear mongering" seems unsupported, given the breadth of sources and perspectives.

Whether China's pivot away from what seemed to be a trend towards increased personal freedom was driven by the Party fearing what people would do with that freedom, and didn't want to risk a loss of control, or if it's truly driven by a lack of tolerance for the corruption that accompanied the economic liberalization under Deng, is unclear, at least to me and in what I've read. But the Deng Xiaoping vs. Xi Jinping philosophical gulf, and attendant shift in official ideology (and thus policy; because policy in China has to be tied, at least notionally, to a basis in official ideology), seems very real.

Moreover and perhaps more importantly, it should serve as a wake-up call to anyone who blithely thought that tide of history would move the world inevitably towards liberal democracy, as was popularly (among Western intellectuals, anyway) espoused in the late 90s.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:00 AM on November 28, 2018 [12 favorites]


We were told that India’s open internet would give it a tech advantage over China.
But it has meant that the google of India is google, the Facebook of India is Facebook, the amazon of India is amazon, the twitter of India is twitter, the eBay of India is eBay etc. while China’s closed internet has allowed the development of domestic equivalents to all of these, creating tech giants now rivaling those in the West.
posted by moorooka at 9:18 AM on November 28, 2018 [18 favorites]


" No need to break out the 1984 references just yet." Okay, sure, they're really not there yet. But they certainly have adopted 1984 references as explicate policy goals, and are working hard to get there. That being said, I feel like the US is haphazardly slipping into the same place without such explicate goals (credit checks to cross borders, credit checks to get employment, credit checks to get housing).

"A group of some of China's smartest students have been recruited straight from high school to begin training as the world's youngest AI weapons scientists." Well, I remember getting a phone call from the Navy's nuclear program at at 17, trying to recruit me (that being said, I certainly wasn't the brightest); military recruiting of bright folks is something a lot of country's do. It's awful, predatory, and also common within both totalitarian country's and would-be democracies.
posted by el io at 10:39 AM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


This feels like a cherry picked list of the top fear mongering about China articles from the last 3 months.

I expected a "whatabout" post first, but this is also a good way to deflect from the actual content of the many, many linked articles.

It's very odd to me how, at least in the last year or so, the comments on every post critical of China on almost any site I visit are quickly filled with comments denouncing the criticism (without, of course, offering any actual substantive response).
posted by Sangermaine at 11:29 AM on November 28, 2018 [9 favorites]


It's really, really hard to find a productive way to engage with an OP that has dozens of links but doesn't give us an actual opening gambit for conversation.
posted by mkuhnell at 11:35 AM on November 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Isn't having an opening gambit pretty strongly discouraged on metafilter anyway? That would make it a get your own blog piece.
posted by Dumsnill at 11:47 AM on November 28, 2018 [3 favorites]


Each technological age seems to have a 'natural' system of government that's the most stable and common

Even before the internet age I felt that the public as a whole didn't have the power to resist modern propaganda (starting with the radio, or maybe even newspapers) - the ratio between the energy and effort to disseminate it by the elites versus the ability of the public to resist it is too high, in my opinion. Now with extra-state PR being close to frictionless in open societies, whether it's RussiaBots influencing elections or PR fluff articles in western media sponsored by the Chinese state to make it look better - I wonder if the world's more open societies will slowly get picked apart by more authoritarian states.

I'm not sure what the counter is - some combination of a more benevolent political class that can't be bought off and can maintain a national identity, which really seems to be fracturing, as well as better education for the public regarding PR and advertising starting as soon as kids are old enough to recognize objects on a screen.

It's very odd to me how, at least in the last year or so, the comments on every post critical of China on almost any site I visit are quickly filled with comments denouncing the criticism (without, of course, offering any actual substantive response).

Reddit definitely has a lot of this.
posted by MillMan at 12:19 PM on November 28, 2018


Maybe I worded that incorrectly, but I think there is just too much information here to get a grasp on without the OP providing a little more direction on what to discuss.
posted by mkuhnell at 12:20 PM on November 28, 2018


Each technological age seems to have a 'natural' system of government that's the most stable and common - "'People power' becomes weak because governments can suppress any rebellion with drones, surveillance, and other expensive weaponry."


THIS.

THese articles are not really about China. China may (MAY!) have a more attuned sense to the natural system of government for an age with interconnected and ubiquitous computers.

Or they may be wrong. But nothing about what they're doing is necessarily peculiar to China or likely to stay there.
posted by ocschwar at 12:26 PM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


It's very odd to me how, at least in the last year or so, the comments on every post critical of China on almost any site I visit are quickly filled with comments denouncing the criticism

I have noticed this too and I really think it has something to do with Trumpism, Brexit, flatlining living standards, the failure of the Arab Spring and similar developments making people feeling much more negative toward liberal democracy as compared to the Chinese political and economic model; from the West’s current trajectory who are we to be setting any sort of example?
posted by moorooka at 1:39 PM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


Maybe I worded that incorrectly, but I think there is just too much information here to get a grasp on without the OP providing a little more direction on what to discuss

I agree with this and apologize if my comment seemed sarcastic.
posted by Dumsnill at 2:02 PM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


the amazon of India is amazon, [...] the eBay of India is eBay etc

What about Flipkart?
posted by Apocryphon at 2:05 PM on November 28, 2018


Flipkart is a big company but it is a subsidiary of Walmart with a market cap of about $20 billion. Compare this to the $500 billion market cap of AliBaba Group (which is not a subsidiary of any US corporation)
posted by moorooka at 2:38 PM on November 28, 2018 [1 favorite]


And Flipkart kind of proves the point in that it’s main competition in India is also a US-owned company: Amazon India
posted by moorooka at 2:43 PM on November 28, 2018


It's very odd to me how, at least in the last year or so, the comments on every post critical of China on almost any site I visit are quickly filled with comments denouncing the criticism

It's because the current administration is very anti-China and has been ramping up rhetoric and accusations, which is perceived by some as a deflection of Russian influence, and so in an enemy-of-my-enemy sort of way some people on this site think the Chinese government isn't so bad, when it's entirely possible that both Putin and Xi aren't great and both nations' governments do not have America's best interests in mind.
posted by Apocryphon at 5:13 PM on November 28, 2018 [2 favorites]


As an American of Chinese heritage I'm scared as shit by China holding Victor and Cynthia. I felt this burst of visceral fear that they can just decide that someone's American-ness doesn't matter, strip them of something so integral to their lives and identities and decide that because of their background they are under Chinese jurisdiction.
posted by storytam at 6:24 PM on November 28, 2018 [5 favorites]


I'm in the China studies profession so I have a stake in getting the facts straight. To the readers who would warn us off fear-mongering, as well as colleagues who think that Chinese Social Credit is no big deal, I would submit that the problem is vast disparities in wealth and power and ever fewer means of redress, exactly as in the USA. The situation is a bit more dramatic in China because ordinary citizens haven't ever had an ACLU, a desegregation mandate, a Freedom Riders Movement, an Operation PUSH, a draft resistance movement, a Watergate investigation, etc.-- or rather, when they did have similar things, seventy or more years ago, these were swiftly swept up by the CCP which closed off further oppositional activities except when they could be exploited to shore up the CCP's power. Complacency is ill-advised. What happens in China will be proof of concept. Human beings are better off in societies that tolerate, indeed welcome, opposition.
posted by homerica at 2:20 AM on November 29, 2018 [6 favorites]


To the readers who would warn us off fear-mongering

The fear mongering comes in two flavors. THe old fashioned yellow peril bullshit, and the technodystopian peril.
Which is unfortunate because it would indeed be prudent for us all to be afraid of the latter. Very afraid.
posted by ocschwar at 5:45 AM on November 29, 2018


China is definitely influencing opinion overseas.
posted by grumpybear69 at 5:57 AM on November 29, 2018


Al-Jazeera - Taiwan: Spies, Lies and Cross-straits Ties

Chinese operatives funding fringe unification parties and skirting Taiwanese electoral law, collaborating with organized crime figures.
posted by Apocryphon at 9:27 AM on November 29, 2018


I'm not sure what the counter is -

Massive solar flare. We're about due for one. It'll fry the computer systems and power grid, and by the time the survivors manage to put things together again decades down the road, the political system will pretty much have been rebooted. And given how much information is stored online now, huge amounts of knowledge may be permanently lost.

Alternatively, even if China's system is a huge success, they'll still only have maybe a hundred years before climate change causes a major collapse. The lesson from Archaeology is it doesn't matter how successful your political system is, if the climate changes.
posted by happyroach at 11:20 AM on November 29, 2018




Inside China's audacious global propaganda campaign - "Beijing is buying up media outlets and training scores of foreign journalists to 'tell China's story well' – as part of a worldwide propaganda campaign of astonishing scope and ambition."
posted by kliuless at 6:06 AM on December 11, 2018


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