When Internet Blocking Fails

 An internet not coming to a computer near you …

CCP gets more paranoid than usual around June 4 of every year, particularly those years a multiple of five from 1989.   This year is 30 years since the Tian’anmen massacre.

I was in Chicago around June 4 of 2009, but I made the 2014 anniversary.  Internet blocking began early in May.  Every foreigner in China gets accustomed to internet and social media blocking, but in 2014 the online ban was nearly total.  It was a lesson in how particular the censorship could be.   You know, it’s China – it’s complicated.

How to End June 4, et al.

 

A Country That Controls the Internet Should be Able to Control the Calendar

A few years ago, it was reported in the Australian Financial Review that senior party members in the Chinese Communist Party were reading deTocqueville’s The Old Regime and the Revolution.  This was at the suggestion of Xi Jinping, who apparently wanted to call attention to the fate of leaders who ignore the people in favor of corruption and the easy life.  The end times of the French monarchy is a good model for what rulers should not do.

What Chinese cannot not talk about …

In a previous post, I mentioned the heavy hand of CCP coming down on internet access each year in the weeks leading up to date of the Tian'anmen Massacre in 1989.

What CCP sincerely wants is for Chinese netizens to model the three monkeys – see, hear, speak no evil – evil, of course, being in the eye of the CCP beholder and specifically any sight, sound, voice or thought related to the events leading up to and during June 4, 1989. 

My First Protest              February, 2015

 

We are in Jingzhou, Qing's home town in Hubei Province. 

We went out with Ben for a walk, and the Jingzhou district government compound is less than a block away.  The district is an urban subdivision, akin to a ward in Chicago, though much bigger than a ward.

The district compound is a series of small buildings, like a small university campus, some offices, some residences.  Leafy, low key, surrounded by the usual wall with three entrances, or gates.  Buildings look old, a bit decrepit, although probably built in the early 1980s. Qing says this area was pretty and clean and orderly when she was growing up.

Now, it is different. 

For prior posts in this series, see Whither Xi? Whither CCP? Whither China?

 

Whither China post #9 – Question 7 – So no democracy, no resilience; heavy challenges. Now what?

We looked at authoritarian resilience, modernization theory, the contrapositive to modernization theory, and threats to innovation, and came up short in two ways - on the need for a democratic transition and the inevitability of a growth slowdown without democracy.

This is not to say that high levels of growth can continue or that protests will cease. The question then turns to the current challenges in China – what is happening?  A version of Minxin Pei’s Trapped Transition is likely, although I think there are necessary updates to his view.  It is Mr. Xi who is leading China into a trap.

For prior posts in this series, see Whither Xi? Whither CCP? Whither China?

 

Whither China post #8 – Question 6 – But how about innovation.  Can you have that without democracy?

 

Willy Lam and others maintain that internet restrictions and other CCP constraints are anathema to building an innovative economy.  China is impressive on technical hardware, as noted by Timothy Beardson in Stumbling Giant: The Threat to China's Future, but it lacks non-hierarchical scientific culture, a fertile institutional framework, and critical thinking for innovation.  My own view is that Beardson and even Willy Lam are coming at this question from a perspective too old to take account of China now, in the second and third decade of the century.  Can China innovate now?  One need not think about this for a moment to answer. 

Recent

  • News: IP theft - no more worries

    News: IP theft - no more worries

     

    Just a brief note -  the FBI has more than 1,100 China IP theft  cases pending against Chinese entities or individuals.  Not a typo - 1,100.

     For American companies not doing business in China - we should not say, no exposure to China - the FBI investigations may still be something of a bulwark against theft.  Although, one notes, most of the investigations and arrests are in arrears of the crime.

    And back nearly a year ago, Mr. Xi promulgated a new IP theft policy which threatened Chinese businesses that steal.  The policy was announced within hours of a Xi-Trump meeting last December, and comprised a coordinated efforts across 38 Chinese government agencies with 38 different punishments.  The insincerity of this announcement, coming immediately upon the leaders' meeting, was palpable.  If you want to believe, you may.  I wrote about this at the time in Everything new is old again

    But with a new Chinese government policy, IP theft in China is no more.

    Now comes the latest entry in China's bid to become the first panopticon state - the cybersecurity law that permits government access to all information, IP or otherwise, stored on any server available to any foreign business operating in China.  China Law Blog has details - China's New Cybersecurity System - There is NO Place to Hide.  From the blog post -

    This result then leads to the key issue. Confidential information housed on any server located in China is subject to being viewed and copied by China’s Ministry of Public Security and that information then becomes open to access by the entire PRC government system. But the PRC government is the shareholder of the State Owned Entities (SOEs) which are the key industries in China. The PRC government also essentially controls the key private companies in China such as Huawei and ZTE and more recently Alibaba and Tencent and many others. See China is sending government officials into companies like Alibaba and Geely and China to place government officials inside 100 private companies, including Alibaba. The PRC government also either owns or controls China’s entire arms industry.

    Simply put, the data the Ministry of Public Security obtains from foreign companies will be available to the key competitors of foreign businesses, to the Chinese government controlled and private R&D system, and to the Chinese arms industry and military.

    The takeaway on this is that the fear of IP theft in China is no more.  What used to be considered theft, done by stealth, is now a legal process.  As Steve Dickinson from China Law Blog says, welcome to the new normal.   And anyway, remember - information wants to be free.

     

     

     
  • Deer in the headlights

    Deer in the headlights

     

    Aggressive moves by the Xi Jinping government have sensitized the world to skullduggery, lying, theft, and threats to foreigners in their own country by Chinese organizations in business and government. Infiltration of politics and government in Australia and New Zealand has become a recurring story. 

    Unfortunately, such actions can bias some people against Chinese everywhere.  So - what to make of Gladys Liu?

    Read more ...  
  • China censorship by extortion in London

    Update at October 7, 2019 - The NBA self-censors for China

    The NBA is a business - we know that.  But the NBA has been the professional league in which players and coaches have had the most freedom to speak their minds about issues of rights and morality.  Now, apparently, that freedom of speech stops at the Chinese border.  The New York Times has the story - NBA executive's Hong Kong tweet starts firestorm in China.

    Daryl Morey, the general manager of the Houston Rockets, tweeted an expression of support for protesters in Hong Kong.  This upset the Chinese Basketball Association, and some Chinese fans, who see Hong Kongers as only hooligans and destroyers of Chinese harmony.  Morey's tweet suggested that he "stands with Hong Kong."  He has now apologized to the NBA's largest international market.  The NBA has disavowed his comment, although it did suggest weakly that he had a right to say what he said.  Of course, the Chinese league commented with the old trope, that Morey had hurt the feelings of all Chinese people (who are basketball fans). 

    Read more ...  

Resources

Economics Blogs

Party News

Australian National University ANU and related

History, Language and Culture Basics

Contemporary Economics, Governance, and Law

Economics and Cultural History - Interpretation

Work on contemporary China, academics and journalists but in the popular media

Work on contemporary China, mostly in the popular media

Philosophy, Daoist and Confucian Studies

Political Reference Documents