Getting paranoid

China has always tried to keep control of the internet and regulate the kinds of things Chinese people say online. The New York Times reports that this monitoring has reached a new height, with the government requiring bloggers and owners of websites to register with the Information Ministry. The article also reports that users at Internet bars have to provide identification and are given user numbers, but I've never run into that.

There's definitely a fair number of dissidents active online, and what they're doing is certainly admirable. Unfortunately, I don't think their activities are going to have any more effect than mine are in changing the unjust policies of our respective governments.

I wish my Chinese was good enough to read what they're writing and report on how class-bound it is. Since any internet dissident would be an intellectual or student, I suspect most of the internet writing is about elections, freedom of speech, attacking corruption, &c - it's probably not about liberating workers and peasants. But that's just an assumption, someday maybe I can say for sure.

In any case, I've started getting more worried about the government running across my own blogging and deporting me or denying me a visa or something. So I finally took my name off the site. Lame. Probably they don't care, since Blogger is always blocked (tho you can sometimes get around it with a proxy like anonymouse), and it's not in Chinese, but i guess better safe than sorry.


Chris said...

It seems like most of the dissidents you hear about from foreign countries tend to be the more moderate ones, ones with middle or upper class interests. Many of the Iraqi dissidents that have been discussed in the American media, for example, were rich folk who didn't get along with Saddam; there is obviously a somewhat similar situation with the anti-Castro people.

The labor organizer/poor activist people must be way less able/likely to use the means of communication that will make them visible to western media (not to mention the problem of the western media's interest in covering these people.)

Have you run across labor organizers or other working class/poor people activism?

Jake said...

The state doesn't look too favorably on organizers, it generally puts them in jail or mental asylums. The New York Times articles I cited in an earlier post paint a good portrait of the state of labor/peasant activism in China, basically a very large number of very local eruptions of discontent. State repression and media censorship prevent connections being made between these movements.

The government would never tolerate this sort of thing in the capital, so I haven't seen even a hint of it here. It mostly goes on in the countryside or occasionally at rust belt factories that have screwed over their workers once too often in the move toward a more flexible (exploitative) market-based organization of production.