First posted on January 24, 2007.
Chinese Communist Party chief Hu Jintao has vowed to “purify” the Internet, state media reported on Wednesday, describing a top-level meeting that discussed ways to master the countrys sprawling, unruly online population. . . .
Hu, a strait-laced communist with little sympathy for cultural relaxation, did not directly mention censorship.
But he made it clear that the Communist Party was looking to ensure it keeps control of China’s Internet users, often more interested in salacious pictures, bloodthirsty games and political scandal than Marxist lessons.
Don’t kid yourself: This could be a very big deal.
China can’t be competitive as anything other than a source of slave labor if it shuts down the Internet, Cuba-style — and it wants to be. On the other hand, its leaders do not want to cede political control along with economic control, which history has proved to be a very difficult task.
Incidentally, I take the stated concern with morality, as understood by the bourgeois among us — “We must promote civilized running and use of the Internet and purify the Internet environment” — at face value. It’s not an illegitimate concern, issues of power apart. The Internet is, or perhaps more accurately encompasses many things including, a moral cesspool. Free societies have by and large surrendered to this risk, preferring the very real risk of social harm to what they regard as the intolerable cost of censorship. How China goes about making its way on this issue, regardless of our view of it, will be objectively interesting and will matter beyond the borders of Middle Earth.
UPDATE: I chose the graphic even though there was no specific Google angle to this. But now there is.
No comments on this, because I cross-posted it on Dean’s World.
You can comment there if you’re that motivated.