When Will China Learn?

Just heard from the evening news that China is spying on guest at various mainland China hotels.

The British government is advising all British athletes to avoid using their regular mobile phones while in China. They suggest all British citizens to use disposal cell phones while in China and not to refill these cell phones after the stored value is exhausted. They also told British athletes to expect all their conversations will be monitored by third party while in mainland China.

The prime minister of China came out to address the press today, saying that all visitors are welcome to visit the sites of China, but all members of the media must abide by China laws and regulations. He also added that no one should politicalize the Olympic games.

There are still various western Internet web sites blocked by the Chinese government, such that press members working from the Olympic venue Media Center will be restricted from freely accessing information on the Internet.

The Chinese government claims that the blocking of certain Internet web sites are for the security and well being of Chinese citizens and has no way related to the Olympic events, or intentionally restrict members of the press from accessing information. The Chinese government even say that they will up hold the privacy and individual rights of all citizens and visitors.

I believe the problem is “black & white”. What we in the “free” world considered common sense does not apply to China and no matter what the Chinese government say or promise, the freedom of the press or visitors to Beijing next week will not be what we will expect. Just look at my other article about the rules and regulations that the Beijing Olympic Committee released for the attendees of the Olympic Games.

So, may be it is not China that needs to learn to do things differently, it may be us, the “western world” learn that we cannot trust what China promise.

Ostrich Approach

Often dictatorship and communist governments would take the “turn a blind eye” approach to social issues. I call it the “ostrich approach”, what one does not see does not exist.

Just this past week the mainland China government passed a law to allow the government controlled news agency full control of the type of electronic information, which are allowed to be accessed from within the China borders, excluding Macau, Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Haven’t the mainland China government learned? We live in an information age with a global economy. Everything that happens, no matter where it is, will affects the lives of individuals elsewhere in the world.

It is time for China to open up its thinking and adopt the changes around them (their borders). Their citizens will eventually find out about these changes on their own. Attempts to close off information access to its citizens will only cause them to seek out other ways to obtain the information.

Remember when we were young? Our parents would tell us we cannot do something, it is our nature to want to do it even more. Or may be that’s just the rebellious side in me?

Have you heard of the TOR network? This was a system originally developed by the United States Navy, but now an opensource system/project. This service is now used by journalists, government agencies, law enforcement agencies and many more to avoid detection of their activities on the Internet.

TOR is like the traditional activist concept of “People Power”, it hides your electronic communications among the other users within the network. So the trail back to you is extremely difficult, if not impossible, to follow. More details can be found on the TOR web site.

So yes the latest law from the mainland China government is inconvenient to Internet users in China, but the informed users will have ways around it using solutions like TOR.