Wednesday, April 04, 2007

Blogspot is back up! Is the Chinese gov't just Fucking with us.

Just a couple of days ago, I discovered that blogspot was not blocked anymore by the Chinese government (Xanga is still blocked). This means I can read more and write more without having to play around with the various proxies people have suggested.

This latest 2-week shutdown has been talked about everyone in the China blogging world. It has annoyed the hell out of not only people writing blogs in China (just ask the 1-year English teachers anywhere) but also the people reading blogs in China.

Why is this happening? Why did the Chinese government shut down blogspot for 2 weeks and then turn it back on? What the hell? As a good friend of mine said: The Chinese government is really pissing me off! I feel like that’s the sentiment of a lot of people.

Many people in the western media would answer these questions by talking about the crackdown of Chinese officials on blogging in general. Although China is seen to be a increasingly open society, the government still wants to keep control, and this is one way to do it. “Just look at how they are hampering the right to Freedom of Speech!!”

This argument would explain why some individual blogs or individual messages are filtered through the system. However, it wouldn't explain why they turn it off and on, back and forth.

Here are some of the other reasons I can think of (I’m assuming that there is a governmental office that is in charge of this):

  • There is a constant change of leadership in the office. Since its not too great of a job to head this department, leaders are filtered in and out. It’s almost like Easy Company in the 7th episode of Band of Brothers. After a few weeks to a few months, the new head of the department is done paying his due, and gets reassigned to somewhere else.
  • There is a constant change of policy. I’m sure that people in this department have seen the interesting and valuable facets of blogging and the internet. I’m sure that many of them read specific blogs all the time, just as I read the Shanghaiist, Danwei and China Law Blog. This means there could be constant discourse and disagreement on white sites to block and which sites not to block. “Are we going to restrict access to the entire blogspot or will we target the specific ones we don't like?”
  • This department realizes that their efforts are wasted due to proxies. Since there are ananomouse and scoobidoo out there, it is much more difficult for the department to have complete success blocking all of the sites. Although I have noticed that sometimes the proxies don't work, there are so many of them that any dedicated blogger will be able to access what he/she wants. The department knows that and doesn't want to bother anymore.
  • They are just fucking with us. They have the power to control a lot of people’s enjoyment, entertainment and emotions by flipping on and off a switch. How fun would it to be just to fuck with people every once in a while when they’re bored. I think this is the best explination.

As a kid growing up in China (I was born here and moved to the US when I was 6), one of my favorite activities during the spring through fall, was to try and capture dragon-flies. My friends and I would buy or construct a big net and sweep through the grassy park, trying to catch as many as possible. After the thrill of catching them was over, we would fuck with them until they were dead. In the past 20 years, I wouldn't be surprised if the dragonfly in China was extinct.

When my grandfather was a little kid, he did something that was similar to my chasing of dragonflies. When he lived with my family in Columbus, Ohio, he revealed that he loved to go out at night and try to catch as many of those backyard flies (that look like a bee, but lights up instead of having the stinger) as he could. He would then put them in a jar and have them serve as a light. Since there were a lot of them flying around at night in Ohio, my grandfather and I had a great time catching them. The only thing is, they would die within a day. I have honestly never seen one of those flies in China. They probably got killed by all of the kids.

Here's the USA equivalent:

Chinese people are sometimes very cruel. We like to fuck with insects, animals and other people without regard for anything. Just take the example of the bus driver who wouldn't let me off the bus in a traffic jam until I annoyed him to death, complaining. When Chinese people have authority, we like to use it…with disregard for others’ welfare. This nature is within the majority of the Chinese population, and I bet, within the department for internet censure as well.

Just wait for the next time blogspot is inaccessible. It will be caused by another bus-driver who doesn't want to open the door.

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ChinaLawBlog said...

It's not just Chinese who let power go to their heads. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts, absolutely. Or as Bob Dylan puts it, "steal a little and they throw you in jail, steal a lot and they make you king."

Mike said...

haha. power does corrupt...but the reasons for it is individual interest.

but the interesting thing about Chinese people is that a lot of the "corrupt" stuff has no relationship to anything gained for the person. There is no increase in power, monetary advantage, ect. That's what's weird.

Caliboy said...

In the U.S. I've seen similar devices used at In N Out Burger in their drive through lines (which at leadt in Northern California, tend to be very long at most times of the day).

Mike said...

Those Cali N&Out Burgers... i wanna try them so bad!