There’s been quite a bit of news and discussion of late as the government continues to tighten the screws of the internet (a good overview is Rebecca MacKinnon’s newest post). The blocking of Facebook, Twitter, and other social networking sites has given way to wider blocks on a variety of portals, including bittorrent sites and even the sites of some legitimate internet companies. Things certainly seem to be heading in the direction of less freedoms on the internet.
At the same time, some netizens and bloggers feel that despite the tightening screws, there’s actually more free discussion happening than ever before, thanks to the aforementioned social networking sites and the many netizens willing to “climb the wall”, i.e., find a way of getting around the Great Firewall (see Danwei’s video on the 2009 China Blogger Conference for more on this). Despite the blocks, things like this video (a documentary on Tan Zuoren’s investigation of the shoddy architecture that led to the deaths of many students during the Sichuan earthquake) are still finding their way onto the net:
(The video is only in Chinese, sadly, but if you speak it, we recommend watching it. Apparently, they’re also going to use it as evidence in Tan Zuoren’s trial to attempt to defend him against the charge that he was trying to subvert the state).
Anyway, the questions we put to you today are many: First, how much further do you think the censorship and tightening will go? Second, do you think this policy can be successful? Will there ever be a Great Firewall so tight no one can get around it? Moreover, could the government have an increasingly large dissent problem on their hands as the block stops just affecting the small minority of hardcore bloggers and porn enthusiasts and begins to affect the average Chinese internet user (as illegal purveyors of music, movies, TV shows, mobile content, etc., are beginning to be blocked)? And finally, does any of this censorship do anyone any good?
Also of note: If you weren’t already aware that housing prices in China were a problem, the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences has some news for you: 85% of Chinese families can’t afford a house. According to the article, the average house costs about the same as the average Chinese farmer’s income over thirty years. So, renting it is.