Strengthen the Control of Speech

Recently, there are several evidence to prove the government is strengthen the control of speech in China. Here are some of them.

New Round of Satellite TV Ban

Satellite TV is always forbidden (Satellite Dishes Still Forbidden in China) for most of the people. Only some specially assigned places, some approved star hotels, and places where foreigners live are allowed to install satellite TV. Normal people (some translate it as Old Hundreds Names) are not allowed to be exposed to what the international world says about China.

I installed my satellite TV in my garden (which is illegal). It is not a news that this is ban – this ban was never lifted. But recently, with more and more people install it, and with the upcoming party meeting in Beijing, they strengthen it. I see the poster everywhere that people have to remove their equipment within 3 months to avoid penalty.

I am sure that some one will jump into my garden and remove my dish in 3 months (this time they look as serious as previous countless time they enforce it. So let’s wait and see what happens, and I will broadcast it.

Xiamen Kills Anonymous Post

According to the Xiamen Bureau of Industry and Commerce, they are going to require all the information posted on the Internet to be in real name (the name that is on your national ID card) so police know who to arrest when you post something “unhealthy or harmful”.

It requires all blog owners and website owners to register their real name with the government (this is not something new), and they also requires anyone without a national ID card registered cannot post on a blog (as a comment) or on BBS. Anonymous posting is not allowed in anyway.

The draft also requires the establishment of a management mechanism for websites and discussion forums, including systems for quick deletion of unhealthy information, discussion with individuals responsible for offending websites , punishment of offending websites , and circulation of directives about online public opinion. Forum post must be filtered and reviewed before they are posted online, and the moderator will receive frequently updated ban-word, or “unhealthy” information that they must delete.

This sounds ridiculous, and Xiamen is just the first city implement it. That means, to be a legal website, I have to close the comment system below this post, and you have to fax your national ID card, or your passport to me before you can make a comment on this blog, otherwise, I will be fined or put into jail. What a joke…

Also, Xiamen government make one step further in the great effort of censorship in China. They requires that all post made online must under the REAL NAME of the person (the name on his/her passport) to post any comment. You cannot use a nickname, or something like “superman”. It must by your real name. Well. It seems I am OK for this rule to use my own name, Wang Jian Shuo, to post on this blog. (BTW, do they enforce that I have to post my Chinese name, instead of English name when I write my next entry?)

Months ago, there are a protest of the government-backed environment-unfriendly chemical project on the beautiful island. Internet played an important role there. So this is what the government learn from the rare protest in China.

I will let you know (or take pictures) if some policemen knock my door because of this post.

19 Comments

  1. Hope Santa Claus doesn’t come knocking to take your satellite dish away. Ho! Ho! Ho!

  2. A brave and great post. Sometimes there are laws that are made in error, that end up protecting no one and inconveniencing many otherwise law abiding citizens.

    I don’t think that Satellite TV does anything harmful but provide other viewpoints on the world, to be carefully balanced with what is seen domestically.

    As to the “real name” for postings, I don’t think the idea is 100% bad, just an idea that is totally impossible to implement.

    Hopefully your blog doesn’t fall prey to any of these misguided directives.

  3. As I see it, it is too early to say whether or not the censorship is strenghening. In the events you mentioned, I think the local governments instead of the central gov played a decisive role, and they are usually mutable and it is hard to estimate what they will act in the next step.

    Always support you, and I do hope things like your blog being blocked in mainland will never happen.

  4. “so police know who to arrest when you post something “unhealthy or harmful”.”

    Jian Shuo, we don’t want anything bad to happen to you!!! I’ll be doing a little motherly worrying here in California until we hear that you have not suffered any negative consequences from this post.

    Be careful, my friend!

  5. Thanks Zoula, Blano, and Carroll. Don’t worry about me. Censorship is there, but the worse thing is “self-censorship”. Since there is not a clear line out there, and everyone is trying very hard to be as conservative as possible so they don’t get any trouble. This is how most censorship works. It is bad already, and I don’t want to do too much SELF-censorship to kill the idea of free expression by myself.

  6. A coin has two sides .I think there are both advantages and disadvantages about this. But it is rteally hard to implement in my view.

  7. Lisa, advantages and disadvantages? Yes, it’s advantageous to the dictators. How is this advantageous to the common people?

  8. There is a dilemma here:

    A law abiding Chinese citizen should entitle to world news and obtain views from other end about China via satellite TV.

    A law abiding Chinese citizen should never steal satellite signal without paying to become a subscriber.

    Any comment?

  9. if there is a market of satellite TV in china, i doubt that the signal-stealing problem would be as pervasive as is it now.

    Since STV is politically banned for average chinese citizens in the first place, they can steal it from whom? Any STV provider does not legally have a market share to these audience anyway. Why not let people penetrate and get a free preview until the government drops the ban? It’s not bad for people seeking alternative voices, neither for the “future” business of STV providers.

  10. Free access to information from the outside world will definitely bring an end to the dictatorship. It’s a lesson our “great, glorious and correct” party learned from those former socialist states. You may have to live without it until it finally becomes “former”, too. :)

    As this is a bad and illegal law, you don’t have to abide by it. –suport from a folk in America

  11. stephen, and chez, I agree the current Satellite TV market has two problems.

    One is the censorship problem, that the government want to ban any access to information outside China, especially those “unhealthy” information

    Second is the copyright and IP issue.

    The current satellite market is either illegal in the political sense and economical sense.

    Since everyone doing this business is illegal in political sense already, they don’t care to be illegal in the economic sense.

    If we open the market, the “stealing” will still be there, but at least there will be some legal dealers in the market.

    Currently, my only option is the illegal option.

  12. In the short time that I’ve been living here in Singapore, it never once occurred to me why I don’t see satellite dishes. In Australia, you just become oblivious to them because there are so many privately installed. This discussion topic encouraged me to do a little googling to find out how the absence of satellite dishes here in Singapore relates to local censorship laws… I found the following article (in part):

    “The Media Development Authority (MDA) has refined its Satellite TV policy to allow hotels, tertiary and international educational institutions to install TV Receive-Only (TVRO) Satellite Systems. This is an extension of its existing policy which allows the installation of TVRO Satellite Systems by companies, embassies, and institutions that require time-sensitive business or market information. The restriction on satellite dishes in households will continue, to prevent the in-flow of undesirable contents that are at odds with Singapore’s multi-racial and multi-religious society.”

    I guess some things are just taken for granted – but I must say I get very frustrated when I watch a program or movie on cable TV in my home (that I have previously viewed on DVD or on TV or cinema back in Australia), and I am aware of just how much material has been ‘cut’ – sometimes I cannot understand why a certain scene has fallen under the axe, or why a particular scene would be deemed inappropriate (I’ve spent sleepless nights thinking about this). I completely respect the laws that govern Singapore, as I am the visitor here, and I strongly believe that censorship is an integral part and has it’s place in every society and country, but I feel dreadfuly sorry that free-thinking people do not have the choice on what they do or don’t want to watch. In some cases, the entire plot or meaning of oscar-winning movies has been completely lost.

    I was offended once by something I saw on Australian TV, and made comment that local censorship laws should not have allowed it to be aired. A very wise man then said to me – “well, that’s what the ‘off’ button on the TV is for…” (choice)

    My apologies if I have gone a little ‘off topic’ – I just find this very interesting – good luck to you Jian Shuo… I hope you get to keep the dish!! Depending on how things go for you over the next few months, perhaps I can encourage my father-in-law in Shanghai to follow suit… I’d love to be able to watch satellite TV there next Chinese New Year. :)

  13. AussiePB, interesting point. I didn’t know that satellite TV is also not allowed in Singapore! This sounds so new to me. I know North Korea are definitely doing the censorship, but am not aware of what is going on in Singapore.

    The explanation for the censorship in China is, there are many anti-revolutionary and anti-party contents outside China. Surely there are a lot.

    The point is, who has the final right to determine which content is good or bad? If there is a “super-power” deciding it, the human-being will be very hard to involve and create new ideas.

  14. We came back from visiting China this January. While visiting some cave in Hunan I noticed on the drive back at least 2 satellite dishes. They were out in the rural area and given the houses I doubt they were embassies, consulates, or businesses. The dishes were the large type approximately 6 feet in diameter. Apparently where there’s a will there’s a way.

  15. in the rural area, satellite dishes not only are allowed(there is almost no government there), it is also cheap(it can go as low as 200 rmb). This gives you one more reason to leave the big cities.

  16. In rural areas, like those in Sichuan, they use satellite TV to receive TV signal. There is a government backed project called Cun-Cun-Tong (or Every Village Has Signal Project). In this case, it is allowed.

    However, this satellite TV is only used to receive programs like CCTV, and is completely different than the satellite TV we are talking about.

  17. Hopefully, you are too high profile for any officials to touch, Jian Shuo. That said, in the perfect world this should apply to low profile bloggers as well. In my experience, writing in English will make you safer, though it ought not make a difference.

  18. Well it’s supposed to be used for receiving CCTV, however technically it can easily receive other channels :)

  19. Herbert, that is the reason in the recent poster (that was posted everywhere in our residential area) states that it is also illegal to configure the allowed satellite TV to receive any other signal other than the allowed TV station. Future more, any website are not allowed to publish any technical parameters, and guide to help people to receive other signal. All these website to teach people how to receive foreign satellite TV will be shutdown. There is also a special requirements that all satellite TV receiver must NOT have an autoscan feature.

    It seems they are thinking of all possibilities around satellite TV.

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