Thursday, November 10, 2011

Speaking Freely About China

The New York Times has produced a couple of excellent recent articles about the ongoing and multi-front battle between free expression and pervasive censorship. China will only continue to grow in international significance, but these articles examine a crucial stumbling block to China's success: its suffocating control over political and personal expression within its Great Firewall.

First, Brook Larmer profiles two internet renegades, one an animator who slips through the government's nets with clever cartoons, the other a journalist who races the censors on micro-blogs. It may take a few minutes, but you'll come away with a sense of how millions of Chinese citizens attempt to make themselves heard.

The second piece, written by Edward Wong, looks at one author's attempt to overcome the censorship mindset that cuts his works to pieces even before they even leave his mind. Both pieces really struck me for the courage displayed by individuals who don't know the rules of the game they're playing and have to compete with a team that can change and break those rules on a whim.

I've known several Chinese students in my time, and none of them wished to be protected and "harmonized" to preserve the stony facade of the People's Republic. I only hope that Beijing recognizes this desire before resentment boils over in its hot, crowded pot.

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