OnPoint by Keith Ng

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OnPoint: Google to Embargo China

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  • Sacha,

    as soon as Chomsky is mentioned in a thread, the thread is officially beyond being saved

    Surely you mean "copyright" not chomsky :)

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • ScottY,

    Surely you mean "copyright" not chomsky :)

    Thankfully, other than on that thread, most of the copyright discussions on PAS have been constructive and interesting.

    And while this threadjacking may not be quite so illuminating, I still enjoy the tendency of these PAS threads of late to descend into discussions about world history and military matters.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report

  • chris,

    Same, And if it all goes to shit, you can at least enjoy the reruns


    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report

  • Sacha,

    Or even perhaps Keith talking about Google.cn:

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 19745 posts Report

  • Simon Grigg,

    Having said that, I'd rather be in an American prison than a Chinese one.

    The irony being that in China last year I saw a documentary on the state of prisons in California. It was a reverse sort of thing from the sort we get from the American networks or The BBC. I don't think either nation's incarceration systems are much to get excited about. It's degrees but historically the US has had a legally sanctioned hellhole or two, and likely still does.

    The point I was making is that in the US dissent, debate and the mocking of the powers that be are the norm. In China? Not so much.

    The norm seems to be that we simply don't hear about these.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3284 posts Report

  • chris,

    Telling and relevant info Simon. I got to reading about the Indonesian military after your last post on the topic, correct me if I'm wrong but the day to day military mandate of the TNI is also primarily maintaining internal security?

    That Google would suddenly decide to put ethics ahead of money, Having engaged in inaccurate and broad censorship at the behest of the CCP for the last however many years, necessitates a fine-toothed reading between the lines.

    My reckoning is the'd like to get youtube into the full length movie market (now it's all been tied up with advertising) a la tudou and youku, and are using Google as a bargaining tool to get youtube unblocked (among other issues).

    Bad Taste

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report

  • Sofie Bribiesca,

    Telling and relevant info Simon.

    Yeah ta.Y'know with our protesting consisting of a bunch anti one person playing Tennis, and basically no Parliament, all still on holiday, stark reminder to me,I don't want private prisons. We are still relatively lucky with ours. I have been in several of them and from a visitors pov, none of the presssure that US ones have. Met a man who had done time in the Mid-West US and heavy expectation to be part of a group of inmates, the heirachy of inmates and distance of family and for relatively small offences(and I imagine moreso with 3 strikes.) Sad(istic almost).
    Then we got NZ prisons, first problem will be double bunking,I really believe one needs some time alone, double bunking halves all personal space, not just one extra bed, it's one extra life. 2 lots of shit to deal with and these people already can't deal with their own first time round. So anyway, bean counters are not going to fix the system, but they only need to count beans so...+ news will only show the front gate of them anyway if anything goes on, and if NZ goes private, we can hold them accountable,wha' ? More bean counters? Well point is, are our prisons really any better? How do we know? Who told you? As you were.

    here and there. • Since Nov 2007 • 6796 posts Report

  • Simon Grigg,

    I got to reading about the Indonesian military after your last post on the topic, correct me if I'm wrong but the day to day military mandate of the TNI is also primarily maintaining internal security?

    Not any more, that role was stripped away from them after 1998 when the Police, and more importantly, the formerly very nasty Brimob were devolved away from the military to civilian government. The police still, however, do exist pretty much as a body who can do what they want despite the current governments ongoing attempts to reign them in, and remain simply corrupt to the core, and pretty bloody nasty at every level, running a raft of illicit businesses. But there seems to be a growing mass had-enough movement and it's going to be interesting in years to come.

    The Army (and the very, very powerful airforce, despite the fact that their air fleet is best described as barely in the air) are on another level altogether. They're tasked with just external security now and there was a national uproar last year when the President suggested they be bought into the anti-terror campaign.

    They operate literally thousands of legit and semi-legit businesses, often behind fronts, including many monopolies (the ones that are not controlled by Suharto family or cronies) despite a change in law a few years back which said they had to divest themselves of these by the end of 2009, and, like the police, those they don't own, they often 'protect'.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3284 posts Report

  • David Hood,

    and basically no Parliament

    We are far better off than other parts of the Commonwealth. The Prime Minister, subpoenaed by parliament for information relating to a torture scandal, suspends parliament sitting for two months. Says in interview "government can do more important work without MPs sitting". The country, as you have probably guessed, is Canada.

    Dunedin • Since May 2007 • 1445 posts Report

  • Chris Waugh,

    Those who think the authorities don't get mocked here might want to check out the long-running battle between the Grass Mud Horse and the River Crab (which sometimes wears three watches).

    Teabaggers? We only have teabags for Lipton Yellow Label (and why would you drink that when you're in China?) and in hotel rooms. Middle class Chinese have been known to go for strolls all at the same time in cities like Shanghai, Xiamen and Chengdu, and in the case of Xiamen, at least, successfully. A couple of years back a poster announcing the impending demolition of one of our neighbourhood markets and its replacement with a hospital was met with posters appealing to the relevant laws and regulations. A couple of days later all the posters disappeared, replaced with a banner calling for people to go about their business harmoniously. In smaller towns and the countryside things can be different, sometimes to the point of extreme violence.

    And if you read Chinese blogs and bbs's there's plenty of discussion of China's various problems. Of course, posts crossing a certain line are deleted, but they keep reappearing and being redeleted and reappearing... But it seems to be increasingly rare to go to jail for expressing yourself. Liu Xiaobo is behind bars, but how many of the other Charter 08 signers were also arrested?

    Does China have human rights problems? Absolutely. But it's never so simple as "evil totalitarian China and its hordes of brainwashed drones". Too much of the China threat rhetoric is of that nature.

    As for China's alleged military threat, I would only worry about the borders with India and Pakistan, the South China Sea, Taiwan and Diaoyu Dao. There'll be the occasional exchange of heated words with the Koreas over China's border with North Korea, too, and Russsian Nationalists fearing an invasion of the Russian Far East, Mongolian Nationalists with similar worries. But a naval base at Nadi?! Why?

    China's got so much more to worry about. Territorial integrity (especially where it's disputed), stability, prosperity, development of the rural and inland areas, resources, the environment, water. Yes, water. China has one quarter the world's average per capita water resources. Beijing is rapidly drying out, the deserts are expanding, and the glaciers that feed so many of Central, South, and Southeast Asia and China are rapidly melting. I would suggest these issues will occupy far more of China's excess manpower than tiny islands far away.

    As for what was supposed to be the topic, I like Sinosplices post:

    It has also occured to me that this could be one more step towards the Great Chinese Intranet. And this year has been so disappointing in that respect.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report

  • chris,

    Thanks for that Simon, the picture you paint portrays more brutal organizations than I've encountered here, but it could just be the wording, do you have much interaction with any of these groups (as authorities) or do they largely let you just go about your business?

    I'm always glad when you write Chris, you write so well, you confirm truths I feel to be self evident but find it difficult to express.

    But it seems to be increasingly rare to go to jail for expressing yourself

    We hope so, and it certainly feels so, I know of two in the last 2 years, One a rug seller in Xin Jiang for talking to foreign media prior to the Games, and another a physics student in Beijing 2009 who started writing a series of extreme posts about Xin Jiang, was bailed into an unmarked van and diasappeared for 2 months....

    and then reemerged, as they do, that extra bit clarified as to where they stand in relation to freedom of speech. The frequency of this stuff seems incredibly hard to gauge, as I only ever hear of these cases (which never make the local media) from people I know who know, Or overseas media, Beijing seems to be the last place to find much untoward.

    As for John's post;

    "“if they go so far as to block all Google services in China, I don’t even want to stay here anymore.“

    makes me question why he's here. There are alternatives.

    It has also occured to me that this could be one more step towards the Great Chinese Intranet. And this year has been so disappointing in that respect.


    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report

  • Dave Waugh,

    Warfare today has little to do with numbers. Modern weapons allow even small numbers of advanced weapon systems to inflict devastating damage. The key lesson of the Falkland's war was that warships are almost completely defenceless in the face of modern air attack and have no defence whatsoever from nuclear powered attack submarines.

    As an advanced, albeit small, first world nation with huge sea frontiers New Zealand is ideally placed to benefit from defensive advances in modern robot weaponry.

    Nice attack ala tinfoil you seem to be having.
    Well my take on it is that New Zealands economy is far too small to realistically afford a half way decent level of force projection.

    If we were hypothetically to bankrupt ourselves buying vast amounts of weapon systems, we STILL would not be able to remotely stop any nation that currently has the ability to stage down this far (USA, Russia, China, France, Japan, India are all capable), Even a "bigger than we can pay for military" would just be swatted aside with comparative ease, so it would be a waste of time even trying to foot it in those circles.

    We would be far better off specializing in having a smaller highly trained force for use in regional stability ie the Timor or Solomons type deployment.
    Sure it doesn't have the macho man/rambo feel good factor of a big military, but that image would be nothing more than an pointless ego trip, I'd rather have a more usable force.

    Diplomatically it would also work better for us to have such a force, to be seen as "Good world citizens" rather than a nation seen as being in someone elses pocket and suffering a sort of short mans disease. And that sort of playing nice would win us more friends that can apply pressure if in the unlikely event we were ever on the receiving end of hostile behavior.

    Heh a big military budget would also bring me back to having a bit of good old fashioned kiwi cultural cringe again as we would look like pretty dumb, cut price, John Howard style brown noser's. (I'll pass on that thanks).

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 98 posts Report

  • Simon Grigg,

    or do they largely let you just go about your business?

    Mostly, unless you're in position of weakness, in which case the rules change.

    We don't live in Indonesia anymore, partially because of what I've written. The dark side of the nation just wasn't something I was easy about being so close to, as even if you don't have to actually deal with it, it's in your face if you have your eyes even partially open.

    On a business level we've done business with the many businesses who do interact on a financial level with the military, but no, not directly ourselves.

    However, everything you land at the airport in Bali you enter a business which notoriously is owned by the navy (!) under a front. That costs most tourists at least something extra whether they know it or not.

    The police, well mostly it's just the small instant fines which most visitors encounter. My friends who own businesses in Bali's tourist areas all pay some sort of protection money to the cops, and there was a levy added to that in parts of the lower triangle after the last local elections, when the successful candidate for governor asked local business to cover his (anti-corruption) campaign costs.

    But I'm not being unreasonable in saying that when Ms. Corby was caught a few years back, $30k and a muzzle on both the Australian media and her family would've likely eased the way home rather quickly.

    And this sort of thing is not uncommon. Horrifying reports of police gang rapes of female drug users, who were kept in cells for weeks for the purpose, were all over the Indonesian media last year. Nothing was done about it.

    Just another klong... • Since Nov 2006 • 3284 posts Report

  • Chris Waugh,

    chris, I think it's useful to remember just how far China has come over the last 30-odd years as well as how far it (and all other countries, if we're going to be honest) still has to go.

    Re Google, probably what's frustrated me most about the kerfuffle they've generated is all the melodrama they've stirred up. Too many have been talking as if the internet is Google, or Google + Baidu. Although I do understand John's sentiment, as extreme as it may be. A shutdown of Google (on top of everything else that happened last year - and that talk of an internet whitelist?!) would really stoke up my fears of the advent of the Intranet.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report

  • Rich Lock,

    Interesting overview of dissent in China and the current situation

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report

  • Keith Ng,

    Kieth - what form would such a conflict take? Paul Buchanan noted in 2007 that Chinese ambitions clash directly with the United States' outer two defence perimeters in the Pacific. We are therefore likely to see much greater proxy clashes in this region...

    (Sorry to stir up this thread again (threadjacking myself?), but have been away from a computer for two days.)

    I just re-read the Buchanan article you linked to, and I think it's talking about something quite different from what you claim.

    It suggests strategic competition in terms of having a greater capacity to wage war. The strongest terms he uses are:

    Beyond physical defense of the Chinese mainland the strategic objective is deterrence first, followed by projection of power abroad so as to secure resource and commodity flows, and should conflict occur, denial of victory to adversaries rather than decisive military conquest.

    That is very, very far from "gonna invade".

    It's not as banal as it sounds (though it sounds pretty banal: "Plan is to not die, not lose, maybe kinda win."). His point is that the expansion of bases in the Pacific allows China to project several rings of naval defences, which will deter US naval aggression in the Pacific.

    And this expansion is being conducted through aid and diplomacy.

    None of this implies current, imminent, or intended shooting war, or invasion, or occupation.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 543 posts Report

  • recordari,

    I've been reading about the Carter 08 Petition, and so far cannot find anything to suggest there was widespread dissent and support, within or outside China, for this initiative. The fingerprints of the Endowment for Democracy do seem to be there again, but if this is to be believed, and they have found it difficult also, the petition got only 7000 signatures. It will require some more digging, but at the risk of further flaming the fires (Keith is here too with some incendiary devices), out of 1.3 billion, is that widespread dissent? So if they are really arresting people for this level of 'insurgency', then they truly are paranoid, or really good at controlling people, or both.

    AUCKLAND • Since Dec 2009 • 2607 posts Report

  • Just thinking,

    According to Charter 08 NZ is on shaky ground.
    We're not a Republic & have no Constitution, Equality looks a bit iffy with the Foreshore and Seabed. The whole insertion of Freedom and that you're not civilised with out it raises questions, not to mention American hypocracies (Civil Rights & McCarthy).

    Putaringamotu • Since Apr 2009 • 1158 posts Report

  • George Darroch,

    China/HK tech/media/freedom researcher Rebecca Mackinnon gives her opinion:

    Google is betting its global business success on an open Internet. If you look at Google's latest China move through the lens of global Internet policy trends and not just through the lens of Chinese politics, or China's relationship with the West, it makes a lot more sense. It makes sense from a business standpoint for Google not only to oppose censorship but to work actively against it, and do everything in their power to influence global policies, laws, and community practices that favor openness. In the past year they've gotten increasingly vocal about censorship - and not just in authoritarian countries like China.

    Useful comment, as always, and worth reading in full.

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report

  • chris,

    Couldn't open that link from here George so maybe I'm missing the main jist, but;

    It makes sense from a business standpoint for Google not only to oppose censorship but to work actively against it,

    it would make sense if Google hadn't been censoring at the CCP's behest for the last however many years. Unless Google is a double agent.

    Mawkland • Since Jan 2010 • 1302 posts Report

  • George Darroch,

    Perhaps this link to her blog will get you there?

    WLG • Since Nov 2006 • 2264 posts Report

  • TracyMac,

    @ Just Thinking, I'm sorry, what do you mean by a "constitution"? Do you mean one overarching document, or do you mean the various legislative components that make up our constitution, such as the Bill of Rights Act, the Treaty of Waitangi, the Electoral Act, the, um, Constitution Act, and a few other bits and bobs?

    What, exactly, do you think is missing from our constitution, that you want another document? It's not as if who rules us and the mechanisms they use is at all under question.

    Canberra, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 701 posts Report

  • ScottY,

    Don't know if anyone else has mentioned this, but a cyber attack last week on a US law firm that is suing the Chinese government appears to be similar to the attack on Google China.

    West • Since Feb 2009 • 794 posts Report

  • Martin Lindberg,

    There is a very good summary of the whole Google vs China affair over at Ars Technica.

    Among other things, it contains a quote from People's Daily Online where it's stated that:

    the Chinese need their censorship because "the Chinese society has generally less information bearing-capacity than developed countries such as the US, which is an objective reality that no one can deny."

    So that's why they don't have or need free speech!

    Stockholm • Since Jul 2009 • 802 posts Report

  • Rich Lock,

    Or possibly just the Chinese government looking out for the well-being of their citizens...?

    From New Scientist:

    NO ONE ever tells you how dangerous this stuff can be: they just go on pumping it out, hour after hour, day after day. You're consuming it right now, without a clue about the possible consequences. The worst thing is, evolution has predisposed your brain to crave it as much as your body craves fat and sugar. And these days - as with fat and sugar - you can get it everywhere.

    New Scientist also has another interesting article about cyber-warfare.

    The attacks on Georgia, for example, appear not to have come from some Kremlin supercomputer, but from regular PCs and laptops. Patriotic Russian youth organisations, including the notorious Nashi, declared "information war" on Georgia on the day that physical hostilities commenced. Participants did not need to have sophisticated computer skills - stopgeorgia.ru provided a list of Georgian government websites and the software needed to attack.

    It's quite likely that a good number of the Chinese hack attacks have a similar origin. Not formally government-originated, but probably at least tacitly supported by the government, as explicitly stated in this article.

    China regularly mobilises its "netizen" army to probe the systems of perceived enemies beyond its borders.

    Interesting times....

    back in the mother countr… • Since Feb 2007 • 2728 posts Report

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