Friday, October 28, 2011

Chinese leadership remembers it's communist, cracks down on dissent and singing contests

If you've been reading posts like this, this, this, or this on my blog over the past few years, then news of China cracking down on inconvenient opinions should come as no surprise:
Whether spooked by popular uprisings worldwide, a coming leadership transition at home or their own citizens’ increasingly provocative tastes, Communist leaders are proposing new limits on media and Internet freedoms that include some of the most restrictive measures in years.

The most striking instance occurred Tuesday, when the State Administration of Radio, Film and Television ordered 34 major satellite television stations to limit themselves to no more than two 90-minute entertainment shows each per week, and collectively 10 nationwide. They are also being ordered to broadcast two hours of state-approved news every evening and to disregard audience ratings in their programming decisions. The ministry said the measures, to go into effect on Jan. 1, were aimed at rooting out “excessive entertainment and vulgar tendencies.”
So China's rediscovering its communist inner self. Of course, those of us who have been paying attention are not at all surprised. It's those in the US — mostly Obama bashers — who unblushingly say that the government is less onerous in China than in America and thus a better place to do business that may be surprised.

Interestingly, it is folks like me — contrarians who like to pick things apart — who are on their $hitlist:
The restrictions arrived as party leaders signaled new curbs on China’s short-message, Twitter-like microblogs, an Internet sensation that has mushroomed in less than two years into a major — and difficult to control — source of whistle-blowing. Microbloggers, some of whom have attracted millions of followers, have been exposing scandals and official malfeasance, including an attempted cover-up of a recent high-speed rail accident, with astonishing speed and popularity.

On Wednesday, the Communist Party’s Central Committee called in a report on its annual meeting for an “Internet management system” that would strictly regulate social network and instant-message systems, and punish those who spread “harmful information.” The focus of the meeting, held this month, was on culture and ideology.

Analysts and employees inside the private companies that manage the microblogs say party officials are pressing for increasingly strict and swift censorship of unapproved opinions.
And how are they going to solve this dilemma? It appears they're going to take a page out of the South Korean handbook:
Perhaps most telling, the authorities are discussing requiring microbloggers to register accounts with their real names and identification numbers instead of the anonymous handles now in wide use.

Although China’s most famous bloggers tend to use their own names, requiring everyone to do so would make online whistle-blowing and criticism of officialdom — two public services not easily duplicated elsewhere — considerably riskier.
Of course, there's a big difference between the PRC and the ROK: I can say just about whatever the heck I want to in South Korea, short of praising North Korea's leadership (like that is going to happen), and I face little fear of being harassed, fined, imprisoned, deported, or inconvenienced in any real way. Sure, the laws are not 100% transparent, but the parameters are reasonably clear and Grand Canyon-wide.

Sigh. This is not a good thing. China needs whistleblowers for the misdeeds of local and national politicos and corporations. It is going in a dangerous new direction at breakneck speed, where the more rich and/or more powerful are running the show to the detriment of the hoi polloi. Um, didn't they have a revolution against that kind of thing?

And when those moneyed interests put pollution into the air and water that end up coming toward South Korea, it's something we have an interest in as well.

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