Friday, October 22, 2010

Want the news in China? Speak English

But the thing about the Internet is this: Once it's out there, it can still be found - maybe not on the front page of your local daily but it has already entered the mindset of the populace and there the discussion begins - although a discussion is exactly what the authorities were hoping to avoid.

"As the economy has gotten stronger, you might think China's media censorship would relax more, but it hasn't. The timing of the letter is likely tied to a meeting held this week in Beijing to discuss the party's next five-year plan."

As the economies in Asia move more towards trying to build a sustainable middle-class that supports their countries internally, as opposed to being primarily export driven, governments may look more towards joining the conversation as opposed to trying to squelch it - after all, isn't it a lot easier to just pick ones battles and fight the ones that matter, rather than trying to stop a billion farmers from going to a billion fences and having a billion conversations they're going to have anyway? Seems to be. But nobody has ever accused any government of being logical, or sensible.

"China hasn't blocked the English-language sites and it's highly unlikely it will.

'They're not going to go and piss off all of the expat business community, that would be going too far,' Peter Herford, a former CBS news producer who's now a journalism professor at Shantou University, told me by phone. 'But their own citizens, hell yes.'"

As Thailand endures its travails with Democracy and French 20 year-olds overturn and burn cars in protest of a retirement law that won't affect them for 40 years, it's hard to say that Democracy works better than other more authoritarian forms of government. "It's a perfectly lousy form of government" - but, as I have been able to see over the course of my overseas work, I still come up on Churchill's side when he said, "But it's the best we've got".

Last week we were fortunate to have a WWED story linked in the WSJ. I guess they just won't be getting it in Chinese :)

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