Chinese Censorship and "Opinion Guidance" Update: The Shakespeare Example

The New York Times is reporting that Chinese censors are increasing the strength of the Great Firewall and offers the country's citizens more "opinion guidance."  For example, censors have blocked Google searches for the word "freedom" for the past six months. The Times also offers this telling example of the depth of censorship being suffered by the Chinese people:

If anyone wonders whether the Chinese government has tightened its grip on electronic communications since protests began engulfing the Arab world, Shakespeare may prove instructive.

A Beijing entrepreneur, discussing restaurant choices with his fiancée over their cellphones last week, quoted Queen Gertrude’s response to Hamlet: “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” The second time he said the word “protest,” her phone cut off.

He spoke English, but another caller, repeating the same phrase on Monday in Chinese over a different phone, was also cut off in midsentence.

China has fueled its remarkable economic growth by investing vast amounts in tangible capital, e.g., factories, roads, powerplants, housing, etc. In the next couple of decades, the development of intangible capital will be necessary to sustain economic growth. Intangible capital includes respect for property rights, higher education of its people, and the free flow of information. By the end of this decade, China's leaders will learn that the choice will be censorship or economic growth; they cannot have both.

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  • ||

    When are we going to enforce a no-fly zone on China?

  • Paul||

    No-fly zones in China are hard. Let's do Libya instead.

  • ||

    The second time he said the word “protest,” her phone cut off.

    Huh? There's only one "protest" in the quote.

  • ||

    He said protest a second time after that.

  • Chinese Goons||

    That's it, we're cutting you off.

  • ||

    By the end of this decade, China's leaders will learn that the choice will be censorship or economic growth; they cannot have both.

    Oh, I'm sure they'll find a happy compromise between the two. China is realizing the value of soft power, but that doesn't mean they are going to sacrifice basic hard power for it.

  • Citizen Nothing||

    China -- hoist by its own petard.

  • ||

    Let's see...what do you get when you take a huge, populous country and combine it with crazy growth and a fascist/totalitarian government, and then remove the totalitarian government because it cannot be sustained? Our only other modern example is Russia, and that's not turning out too well.

    It's disgusting to me that all these Chinese, as they experience the beginnings of freedom from poverty, are not able to experience some personal liberty as well. Fuck you, Mao, you mass murdering absolute scumbag.

  • kinnath||

    But high-fucking-speed trains! That proves the Chinese have their shit togther.

  • Swear Monitor||

    It's "high-speed fucking trains," you neanderthal.

  • kinnath||

    Trains can fuck? I never knew that.

  • Brett L||

    Rapidly, it seems.

  • prolefeed||

    It's trains on which you can fuck.

  • Ted S.||

    What do you think the train-going-into-tunnel shot is a metaphor for?

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    When was the totalitarian fascist government removed from Russia?

  • ||

    It was sort of with Boris Yeltsin. He was too drunk to be a dictator.

  • Scruffy Nerd Herder||

    Met Yeltsin once in the 90's at a Johns Hopkins event. Before he even got on stage to give his speech, he was plastered.

  • Paul||

    I can't wait until America elects its first openly drunk political leader.

  • Anonymous||

    Headline reads "President T. Kennedy Has Been Shot (-Glassed)"

  • DJF||

    “””By the end of this decade, China's leaders will learn that the choice will be censorship or economic growth; they cannot have both.””’

    Why not?

    They have access to capitol from the rest of the world
    They have access to technology from the rest of the world
    They have access to the world markets

    Who or what is going to stop them?

  • ||

    They want to move up from merely producing in factories stuff designed by others (whether directed by foreign companies or whether stolen or copied). That, while it's enough to pull themselves up from poverty, isn't enough to be truly First World. However, the knowledge industries require a bit more open flow of information to sustain growth, as the Soviets found.

    Not to say that they couldn't go on for a while, but they're reaching the limit of the easy economic growth (at least for those on the coasts; there's still a lot of poor in the interior who would love some factory jobs.)

  • DJF||

    But they now have the money to buy up design work from around the world and if not buy it they can steal it. As long as you have the designs you can make the product and its the people with the product for sale that get paid.

  • prolefeed||

    It's not just having access to industrial designs. U.S. levels of GDP are predicated on a certain level of openness and freedom, since intangibles like creativity and openness and trust and the freedom to live unusual lifestyles result in economic growth.

    Hollywood isn't possible with extreme government censorship of speech and ideas.

    Silicon Valley isn't possible with govrnment controlling which technologies get researched, or what gadgets can be created that enable communication.

    Reason.com isn't possible at all.

    And so on.

  • Highway||

    A new requirement for foreign automakers operating in China is apparently that they are to start 'low cost' Chinese brands, with the primary goal being transfer of Intellectual Property into Chinese hands.

    We'll see if they can make the jump from copying to either refinement (like the Japanese) or innovation (like the US or Korea).

  • Scruffy Nerd Herder||

    So far, I say they can't do it. I've helped transition manufacturing to Shanghai in the past. The cultural differences between Chinese and Japanese/Korean are pretty stark. The Chinese Circle, as it's known, is a huge impediment to trust in business relationships.

  • Alan Vanneman||

    This is the county Obama admires so much. It's easy to see why.

    Protesting: It's not a good thing.

  • ||

    Oh wow, OK I never thought about it liek that before. Wow.

    www.real-privacy.it.tc

  • Trespassers W||

    Huh. I thought the privacy-bot might have something interesting to say about privacy.

  • ||

    The second time he said the word “protest,” her phone cut off.

    He spoke English, but another caller, repeating the same phrase on Monday in Chinese over a different phone, was also cut off in midsentence.

    Assuming that's not an urban legend, that's really scary. Is the Party monitoring every phone call? Do they have voice recognition technology and a system that automatically terminates calls using forbidden words?

  • Scruffy Nerd Herder||

    However it's accomplished, it's impressive.

  • ||

    The second time he said the word “protest,” her phone cut off.

    But, are they high-speed dropped calls?

    As despicable as the ChiCom gummint is, I'm going with Occam's Razor on this one.

  • Tim||

    The 5G China network will feature a 9mm bullet behind every earpiece waiting for a firing signal.

  • ||

    I am also skeptical that this is technically feasible. I am sure that the ChiCom government would love to have this capability, but it would require considerable sophistication to pull this off.

  • Brett L||

    I'd say lots of cheap labor randomly monitoring phones.

  • DNS||

    Am I the only one who read "Opinion Guidance" as "Opium Guidance" at first glance? Considering how ruthless the Chinese were at eliminating those opium dens, it's not a stretch to see Red China going to similar and surpassing lengths to eliminate dissenting opinion dens.

  • Julius Genachowski||

    I wonder if we can do something like this here in the land of the free...

  • MSNBC||

    We'll be exempt, though... right?

  • Media Matters||

    And US, boss?

  • Sgt. (Ed) Schultz||

    I see NOTHING!!!

  • ||

    Friedman approves. All this freedom is just a distraction from the building of infrastructure or something.

  • Abdul||

    Really! When will the US even have a surveillance infrastructure half as sophisticated as the Chinese? Why, a good number of our phone calls go completely unmonitored!

  • Paul||

    Why do you hate stimulus?

  • shrike||

    I don't see any problem with this. Only a Christ-fag would oppose what China is doing here.

  • Paul||

    b-

    Next time talk about how, regardless of the intrusions and lack of liberty, the Chinese futures market is way bullish so none of it matters.

  • ||

    R. Bailey's last paragraph (except for the first sentence) is a mere jumble of unsupported assertions.

    This thought-free sloganeering makes libertarianism look doctrinaire and untrustworthy.

  • ||

    Libertarianism is doctrinaire, but that doesn't make it untrustworthy or thought-free.

  • Brett L||

    Tow the lion, oh Annointed One.

  • ||

    deified1: Predictions, not assertions. Get back to me in 2020.

  • Abdul||

    The phone story reminds me of an anecdote about a 19th century Turkish government official who kept all dynamos out of the country because an engineer told them that they could cause over 900 revolutions per minute.

  • Tim||

    "By the end of this decade, China's leaders will learn that the choice will be censorship or economic growth; they cannot have both."

    They've had lots of both for the last 30 years and it worked out just fine. Except for that Tianmen business...

  • Tank Man||

    I live. But my cell service sucks ass!

  • Anonymous Coward||

    By the end of this decade, China's leaders will learn that the choice will be censorship or economic growth; they cannot have both.

    Given China's history, my guess is the former, assuming the choices are mutually exclusive.

  • ||

    Shanghai Scrap calls bullshit:

    http://shanghaiscrap.com/?p=6481

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