Blog Post #348 Uncensored Internet Access (or Not)?

Blog Post #348:  Uncensored Internet access (or not?) – A Chinese view

Today we look at this article:

Americans are generally able to see almost anything on the internet – although some may not be good and some may be.  While I haven’t tried (and I’m not going to), we can Google “how to build a bomb” and I’m guessing get directions. I’m not sure “How to have a School Massacre” is findable, but probably something similar (and again, I’m not going to try – even for research sake).

On the other hand, China restricts internet access to Chinese viewers.  In particular this might be for things like rebellion, descent, international news and views.  

But, in a recent study, ways to get around the restricted internet access was given to 1,800 undergraduates in Peking for 18 months (compliments of Peking University and Stanford University).  Aha – now these students could look at ANYTHING. What freedom – (and what little use).

The article states: “Half Of Chinese Youth Wouldn’t Use Uncensored Internet, Even If You Gave It To Them For Free.”

A quote from the article says: “Jeffrey Wasserstrom, a historian at the University of California, Irvine, says it’s not that the Chinese aren’t aware of censorship, but rather they might not care because most of the things they do on the internet — like people the whole world over — aren’t about finding edgy news stories.

So, (my interpretation), even though they could have access to international news – most said in other words: “I don’t care”.  I thought about that. Do I look at international news? Do I look at what (say) the Chinese press says about our government? Do I look at Belarusian news? (I have in the past before visiting Belarus).  In most cases, no. Yes, I get American news – and that runs enough of the variety that I want. Some Americans do even less – such as only watching Brand F or Brand M for news – and accepting just what they want to hear.  

One Chinese student studying in America said: “people seem to prefer browsing content that’s relatively close to them geographically, despite censorship. ‘The Great Firewall, on the macro level, has likely little coercive impact,’”

So, while Americans and western Europe may decry the censorship in China, even when access was given and students were able to bypass the censorship easily, the majority didn’t take advantage.  (Some did though – check the article).

So, the censorship topic was, if you will, a big “ho hum”.  

What do you think?  Do you read international news?  Do you read opinions about the United States from another country?  Why or why not?


Posted by Bruce White

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