Posts Tagged 'censorship'

True or not?

We get a lot of hearsay from the foreign community. We band together, after a fashion, united by the common purpose of navigating a strange and sometimes unintelligible society. Sometimes the rumors are baseless, others turn out to be true.

For example: Shakira will play a New Year’s Eve concert in Nanjing. That one turned out to be true! Wish we had heard in time.

But a disturbing new rumor, substantiated with online news reports: Skype may be banned in China!

If this one turns out to be true, we’re going to meet a whole new level of hassle trying to stay connected with family and friends back home. Or at least, a whole new level of expense. China wants to protect its own telecom business, and with the authority of the government behind all business regulations, there can be an executive decision to shut down a global website like Skype if they feel it will benefit their interests.

Skype was working fine today. It may not be tomorrow! If we don’t answer, don’t take it personally.

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Perception (addendum)

And one other media difference with the West: the Olympic medal count. On the Vancouver 2010 website, they list USA as the first place among winning countries, for having 8 total medals, 2 of them gold. Yet, on the TV broadcasts here in China, USA is ranked second place, trailing Switzerland’s (as of today) 3 gold medals.

This goes back to summer 2008. Which country came out on top? China had more gold medals, but USA had more overall. The debate goes on it seems..

Perception is everything

The Vancouver Olympics are broadcast pretty much all day here on Chinese TV Station 5. There’s a lot of coverage for the sports China competes in, like figure skating, speed skating, and curling (which we didn’t even know was a sport). They do show some highlights from other competitions like luge, mogul skiing, and the biathlon.

They tend to replay a lot of the same events, though, over and over again. If you didn’t see that amazing triple lutz by the Chinese skater, you will have a chance to see it again the second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth times during the day. This happened too with the women’s hockey match against USA. All during the day, they showed the Chinese team celebrating after a score on the USA goal, their goalie stopping shots with an amazing glove save, and deflecting countless pucks. We didn’t know the Chinese women had such skills! But there they were on TV, over and over again all day Monday.

Then the full game was broadcast later at night. Final score: USA 12, China 1.

It’s a little funny to us, but culturally it appears to make sense. Saving face is a big part of Chinese society. First, you build the impression that things are in fact going really well. Then a crushing blow doesn’t seem to fall that hard in the aftermath. We all need to focus on the positive, don’t we?

Back to freedom

We’re back to U.S. soil! It is a wonderful feeling to be immersed in a culture that is completely intuitive. Now when we order a hamburger, for instance, there’s no guessing about what we want, how to do it, what we’ll get, etc. We can handle this. We’re Americans.

Something that has taken more than a few days to sink in since returning, though, is the realization that all of our Internet access is back in action. No more blocked websites, no more having to use proxy sites to see banned pages. It takes a little effort to convince ourselves that Youtube is still functional, with hours of hilarious videos free for the watching. Every time we received an email link to a video in China we considered it a cruel joke, knowing that we were completely blocked off from sharing in the fun!

We can also speak openly about places like Taiwan and Tibet. After a year and a half of closely guarding our speech, it feels strange even saying the names of these places out loud! Our thinking patterns were definitely influenced by the Chinese censorship practices.

So we’re relishing the chance to be Americans again for a few months. Freedom to do whatever we want, speak on any topics we please, protest openly about anything we’re concerned about. You don’t realize how great it is until it’s gone for awhile.

Posting by email

Well, we may have figured out a way to bypass the ‘Great Firewall’ for good.  WordPress recently added a way to send blog posts by email, and this is the result!  No more cumbersome proxies. Just a simple email away from updating you with our experiences, and the best part is the pictures come through too!

So, here’s newfound hope that communication will continue unabated into our next year here in Nanjing!

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Finally!

Sorry for the dry spell in our postings. We have been rather busy with things lately, moving house, finding work, and finishing classes. But to top things off, Internet connections have seemed to become more strictly monitored. It is getting harder and harder to access blogs; even the list of working proxy sites has been shrinking. It took about an hour before I found one that worked well enough to make this post. So please keep checking our site- we still continue to have the most interesting experience here in China!

The dictionary according to the censors

We found an English dictionary here in town at an imported books store. JM was excited to have a volume with definitions of words like “stochasticity,” meaning it is a pretty good quality volume. It’s a normal Webster’s Collegiate dictionary, printed in America and shipped over here to China.

On arrival at home we were surprised to find some entries.. missing! Someone got to our dictionary first, and was able to remove some of the more ‘sensitive’ information from the listings. If you look over at our picture site, you will see what we mean.

http://polis7.blogspot.com

We’re constantly reminded about the difference in freedom of information here. When chatting with some Chinese students about friends of ours who started their own locally circulated newspaper, they were astounded that our friend could do so on his own initiative. The point became clear when our newspaper translation class teacher told us how every single publication in China must be registered with the regional publication bureau to have an official status, or else it’s illegal, i.e.- it is potentially subversive to the national order.

We don’t ever think about the Bill of Rights until part of it seems missing in our life. This reminds us again how we can’t take it for granted what privileges we have in comparison to many others.