When I was in China last summer for a feature writing study abroad class, our University of Miami group discussed the Internet, freedom of speech and censorship with a number of the Chinese journalism students. What we learned and gleaned from their perspectives was quite interesting.
As you can tell from my occasional China posts, I am very interested in these topics, especially speech/press-related issues. (Shameless plug: Check out our class blog and my stories from the trip).
Here is an excerpt from a New York Times article, Great Firewall of China Faces Online Rebels:
“In recent months, Chinaâ€™s censors have tightened controls over the Internet, often blacking out sites that had no discernible political content. In the process, they have fostered a backlash, as many people who previously had little interest in politics have become active in resisting the controls.”
During our stay, I found a few proxy sites to get around some of the censored sites. One of the strangest sites that was completely censored was Wikipedia.
I don’t have a problem with the Chinese people or China in general. I found the country fascinating and the trip the most enlightening I’ve ever taken. My problem is with the lack of freedom: Freedom of speech, freedom of the press, freedom to peaceably assemble and to protest the government for redress of grievances.
Journalism and free speech are improving with time, mostly due to the power of the Internet. (mobile phones are also playing an important role). The government may continue clamping down in response, but people are gradually pushing back.