Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Bloggers Unite! 

The New York Times editorial page ("You will never find a more wretched hive of scum and villainy") has an engaging (for once) piece on the ongoing battle between Chinese authorities and bloggers (Hat Tip: WMD). The author encapsulates the effects of the growing numbers of bloggers on the gradual movement toward a modern political system, echoing posts I have made, and one by Jason as well:
"...the Internet is beginning to play the watchdog role in China that the press plays in the West. The Internet is also eroding the leadership's monopoly on information and is complicating the traditional policy of "nei jin wai song" - cracking down at home while pretending to foreigners to be wide open."

The problem with this latest challenge to the stranglehold on information that the Chinese government relies on for its very existence is one of quantity. They may eventually find a way to arrest or silence Mr. Li, the subject of the article, but there are millions more waiting, or already doing the same thing. Noting the authorities recent crack downs on web dissidents, the author reminds us "there just aren't enough police to control the Internet." And what’s more, the internet's ability to disseminate information at lightning speed, and to make overnight celebrities on a global scale (Think Star Wars Kid and that lip syncing video), means that the uproar caused by such a high profile arrest would cause more harm than good.
This, of course, points to a much deeper problem in china, one that relates also to our ongoing discussion of China-Taiwan. A friend over the weekend raised the pertinent question of whether "China" as such will continue to exist long enough to exhaust a time table for invading Taiwan. Some are already predicting that such an invasion will never come, preceded by an upheaval on the Chinese mainland.
So, how should this all effect US policy? China continues ot fight the current against progress and freedom with its grueling attempts at censorship and silencing opposition, but how long will such a measure last? And Taiwan, the US and allies cannot rely on an impending change to deter Chinese interests.

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