Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Yahoo settles in China dissident case

Yahoo has settled in a long-running case brought by the wife of Chinese dissident, Wang Xiaoning.
Wang wound up in a Chinese prison for circulating pro-democracy blogs after Yahoo handed over personal information to the Beijing authorities.
Chinese journalist Shi Tao met the same fate after he alerted human rights groups to government attempts to censor news reports.
He let it be known that the powers that be put pressure on editors and journalists to suppress reports of the anniversary of the 1989 Tiananmen Square 'incident'.
Yahoo handed Shi's details over to the government on request. Both men are currently in Chinese prisons serving 10 year sentences.
Not surprisingly, this case has received zero coverage in the press here in China. There are a few references in the blogosphere but the vast majority of Chinese people have no idea that this is making headlines across the world.
Quite rightly, much of the attention in the West is focussed on the fact that Yahoo aided and abetted a violation of free speech.
It's none too surprising that China takes a hard line when it comes to suppressing democracy and dissent.
The shocking thing is that a company from the 'free world' will bend over in the name of profit.
Maybe we shouldn't be so shocked. Capitalist companies are amoral.
It's a mistake to think that companies from the US or Europe have western values. They have whatever values the local market wants them to have.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

The heat is on

After weeks of freezing my bits off, the heat has finally been turned on in my Beijing apartment block.
The heat is centrally controlled and we're at the mercy of a bureaucrats whim when it comes to deciding the date for flicking the heat switch.
November 15th was rumoured to be the big day but the radiator's started emitting a gentle warmth this afternoon.
The trouble is that the government like to regulate home heating to save money and, they say, the environment.
This means the 'target' temperature is 16 degrees. Not a very toasty target. Could they not aim for 30 degrees?
That way, even if they fall short by a few degrees we can still enjoy Mediterranean winter in the Chinese capital.
Luckily I've taken the precaution of buying myself some Chinese long johns. It's like a giant baby grow but damn it's cold.
I'm off to slip into the long johns and sit on the radiator while drinking green tea.
Wake me up in spring.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Blogspot vanishes again

Yet again, all blogspot pages are inaccessible from Beijing for no apparent reason. As usual, I can post whatever I want but only those in the free world can read it.
Censorship is, by a country mile, my least favorite thing about living in China.
I'm not sure whether next year's Olympic games will make things better or worse.
During big events, like last month's Communist Party Congress, the censorship is usually cranked up. But when the world's media descends on China's capital next summer, censorship will be a big part of the story if the authorities don't loosen up.
Although the decent people of China may never know it.

Monday, November 5, 2007

...aaaand we're back!

This blog is fast becoming a tracker for the arbitrary web censorship that applies in the PRC.
The latest is that I can now see Blogspot sites again.
As mentioned in previous posts, all Blogger websites had been off limits until the middle of October. There was a brief reprieve and then the blogs vanished again.
Well, now I can post and view the site but there's no way of knowing how long it will last.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Hello YouTube my old friend...

Well, YouTube is now accessible again in Beijing. I've no idea how long it will last but it's good to have an alternative to Chinese state TV.
Alas I still can't view my own blog because the restrictions on Blogspot apparently remain in place.
As usual, there's no announcement or explanation as to why websites are blocked and unblocked. We're all at the mercy of a censor's whim.
But today, the censor doesn't seem like such a bad guy after all.
Now if he could just unblock Blogspot and stop messing with Wikipedia that'd be super.