Saturday, September 13, 2008

Thursday, February 12, 2004

Moving to a new url

I'm moving my new weblog "China Herald" to a new host at www.chinaherald.net, that is - unlike the blogspot host - also available in China. Still finding out the right settings: I'm also trying to prove that a one-person enterprise by a journalist is possible today. I think it is, but it is not easy. Please have some patience.

Sunday, January 25, 2004

Consolidation: this blog is moving ahead

I'm running at this stage about four blog-like operations and that is a bit too much, I discovered, so I'm going to consolidate my China-blogs into one new one: chinaherald.blogspot.com

Do expect there also contributions about the changing media landscape in China: it is fascinating enough, but the variaty is subjects will be larger. Hope to see you there too.
Posting here will basically stop from now.
Hits from China

Another indication: I suddenly discovered a few hits to this site from China, notably from Beijing and Liaoning. Not many, but it seems possible to see this site directly from China now.
First messages from Shanghai suggest that nothing has changed there and people still have to use proxies to read this.
The blogspot rumor investigated

Despite the ongoing holidays (here in the US we now also have weekend) some more details from China are coming in, thanks to some active bloggers over there, especially Peking Duck and Brainsmurf.
The stories differ very much, also per region. That would not be so strange, since provincial and local authorities would have a large say in what is being blocked, it is never a unilateral decisions by a big brother in Beijing.
A few interesting speculations pop up. First a cooperation between Google and the mainland authorities is being suggested as it seems that the Google caches are partially blocked, allowing users to access most of them without proxy, but some not. That would most likely need help from Google.
The unexpected lift of the ban is also linked to the emergence of RSS and syndication services that would easy circumvent the internet filters, unless China wants to block whole new systems again. Interesting enough to keep on following actively.

Saturday, January 24, 2004

Blogger.com unblocked?

Rumors from China suggest that both the Google cache and the domains of weblogs produced by Google's www.blogger.com (those with 'blogspot' in their url) have been unblocked.
Conflicting rumors are coming in. I have test some domainnames at the checker of Harvard University that has done research into the matter, but those results were inconclusive.
Would be interesting, since it would end the blockade on about two million domain names.
The move would also be rather strange, since it is holiday in China. Only one thing the censor in China would always take very serious and that is the holiday. Any blocking or unblocking in this period would be rather uncommon.
Twenty million cars in 2020

Car demand will hit 20 million in 2020 I read today in news dispatches that quote the Chinese newswire Xinhua. China is a country of poets, you can see from the headline only, and as all poets they can use their phantasy, reality is only disturbing for a poet. Five words using three times the figure 20!
Unfortunately, many outside China will take this figure serious. There is no ground for that. This kind of predictions has a upward margin of at least 50 percent: please take it for what it is: a poem.

Friday, January 23, 2004

Missing Shanghai

Perhaps the first time while traveling the world I really feel I'm missing Shanghai. It might be the story of Wang Jianshuo, telling about the festivities in China. I have not been missing the New Year's show of CCTV, but did the good food, the relentless firecrackers and the war-like smell of the upcoming Year of the Ape.
Fortunately some progress in Michigan too. Yesterday's column triggers off some reactions, despite the holidays, Renee is now getting her fourth interview for an internship/job done and I keep on generating enthusiasm with the projects I'm running.
Sorry I cannot be more specific here, but those days will come.

Wednesday, January 21, 2004

Internet democracy – the WTO column

(Upcoming in Chinabiz)

Ann Arbor. MI – “Not much freedom over there in China, isn’t it?”, says the student at the other side of the table.
I’m having a coffee on a sunny January afternoon in the two-century old cafeteria at the Michigan Union, the student building of the University of Michigan. The combination of China and the internet proves to be an ideal pick-up line in American intellectual circles.

“What about your freedom?” I’m in a bit of a provocative mood. “In the end you have in the US the right to vote between two presidential candidates you almost equally dislike, and you can only pick the least bad one. No wonder hardly anybody bothers to vote.”
I’m on safe grounds today, I estimate. Howard Dean, the Democratic candidate for the US presidency who generated much of his popular support through the internet and caused a political revolution in the US got last night his first setback in tiny Iowa as the establishment of the Democratic Party proved they were not yet beaten by the internet and the people. Dean is the only candidate with a decent anti-war record and obvious not all Iowa internet users support this anti-war candidate.

Do not get me wrong: I believe the internet is going to cause a revolution that will have a profound effect on how we live, work and sleep. But for one reason or the other here in the US and copy cats elsewhere in the world have the tendency of linking this exciting revolution to democracy. Here I back off.
Even the bust of the economic internet bubble has not effectively killed this the early illusion that the internet will bring down authoritarian governments and improve the working of democracy in general. The car has not done this and although the airplane did cause a logistical revolution, but did not bring more democracy. Why should the internet? The internet is a tool, even a very useful tool, but the way it is being used depends on the users, not on the tool itself.

So what we see here is a sympathetic illusion mixed up with a large portion of cultural misunderstandings between China and the outside world. Yes, in China the government tries to control the internet, even though that in itself might be practical impossible. The internet is designed to circumvent any blockades, so it can even survive in during a nuclear war.
Internet users in China expect the government to play a role in society, and consequently adjust their behavior. That does not ask for much great technology. Just like in the masterpieces written by Kafka we are more the prisoners of our own fears and not of what the government does.
It might not offer much console to the few internet dissidents that have been rounded up, but the internet has effectively enlarged greatly the access to information, the public discourse and indirectly contributed to the economic prosperity of China. It might not help them to know that with the struggle against terrorism as an excuse the US government is also arresting and deporting foreign journalists that have not applied for proper visas, but that is really a different story.

Democracy is unfortunately not a url you can put under your favorites.

Fons Tuinstra

PS: A happy Year of the Ape! At least I guess we are not talking about a gorilla here? 

Monday, January 19, 2004

American style sitcom cause official concern

Do you want to help us in writing a sitcom for Chinese TV. A month ago I got this request from some good friends in Shanghai and I was not enthusiastic right away. They wanted something with foreigners and Chinese being friends in a big Chinese city.
Of course the financial proposal was not yet that interesting, actually there was no money yet, but when we would get started we all would become very rich, very fast. Mostly that would not deter me very much, probably one of the reasons why I never became very rich, very fast.
What worried me more was the question whether a real good sitcom would pass the conservative standards of the Chinese media. On the streets of Shanghai you get all the famous American productions and that is the market you would have to compete with. Too rigid Chinese standards would force an officially approved sitcom to be boring and moralistic in a Chinese way - all sitcoms would be moralistic, but try to avoid death by boredom.
The American sitcom "Friends", supposed to be aired by CCTV this year has now raised the ire of officials at CCTV. "I had thought (the show) focused on friendship, but after a careful preview I found each episode had something to do with sex," Qin Mingxin of China Central Television’s entertainment unit said in an article on the Web site of the Communist Party’s People’s Daily, according to AP.
Welcome in the real world. Since everybody who might be interested has seen the sitcom already on illegal DVD's, making one yourself does not make any sense. For the time being I'm not going to write any sitcom, even when it could make me filthy rich.
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