Got this scintillating tidbit from Huffingtonpost.com via Yahoo News: China’s government announced that it would only allow the posting of “heathy and civilized” material on news websites. Yahoo paraphrases (and quotes) the original Xinhua News Agency story:
Sites should only post news on current events and politics, according to the new regulations issued by the Ministry of Information Industry and China’s cabinet, the State Council. The subjects that would be acceptable under those categories was not clear.
Only “healthy and civilized news and information that is beneficial to the improvement of the quality of the nation, beneficial to its economic development and conducive to social progress” will be allowed, Xinhua said.
“The sites are prohibited from spreading news and information that goes against state security and public interest,” it added.
We all know there are depraved governments in this world today (Uzbekistan and North Korea come to mind and even perhaps our own at times) but to think that in this day and age the government of the largest nation on earth lives somewhere east of Alice in Wonderland and west of 1984–well, it’s astonishing!
I’m also tickled that Yahoo News would be reporting this story because of their craven collaboration with said government which allowed the latter to catch a New York Times reporter accused of alleged spying and send him to jail for 10 years. Here’s what the story had to say about Yahoo’s involvement in the case:
Earlier this month, a French media watchdog group said e-mail account information provided by Internet powerhouse Yahoo Inc. helped lead to the conviction and 10-year prison sentence of a Chinese journalist who had written about media restrictions in an e-mail.
I’m glad to see Jerry Yang isn’t censoring Yahoo News at least (even though he’s willing to help China do the same to a New York Times reporter).
But in case you aren’t outraged enough by the Yahoo News story, if you’re a blogger there’s even more outrage to come:
The government also recently threatened to shut down unregistered Web sites and blogs, the online diaries in which users post their thoughts for others to read.
The idea of this government, or any for that matter, trying to force blogs to register or to be shut down is beyond repugnant. Blogs do not exist at the favor of a government. They exist at the favor of the web and its denizens. The state doesn’t determine what’s on the web and if they do–woe unto us.
Interesting to note that a New York Times article yesterday placed this development in the broader context of overall Chinese government policy:
Mr. Hu [China’s leader] and Mr. Zeng [China’s vice president] ha[ve] been rolling back what they argued had been a dangerous trend toward liberalization in the media and civil society.
In May, [they] convened top officials to warn that just as governments in Ukraine, Georgia and Kyrgyzstan had been toppled, the government in China could be, too. They argued that the United States had fostered social unrest in those places and had similar designs on China, said people who said they had been told about the speeches.
They have since forced nongovernment organizations that focus on the environment, legal aid, health and education to find government sponsors or shut down. Many groups are also under pressure to stop accepting money from the United States and other foreign countries.
The leadership has also fired editors at publications that defied orders from the party’s Propaganda Department, including, most recently, the bosses of the elite Workers’ Daily newspaper and its associated publishing house, party insiders said. They have also tightened rules on foreign investment in China’s television industry.
Although campaigns against China’s increasingly diverse media happen periodically without lasting effect, several observers said the latest crackdown had been waged with an intensity that suggested that top leaders were paying more attention to the issue than they had in the past decade.
As a group, bloggers should organize to put the spotlight on China’s outrageous behavior and hold them up for the ridicule they so richly deserve. I’ve already started with my previous post on Yahoo’s servile compliance with that Chinese government order. Keep their feet to the fire!