China’s Net Crackdown and the International Economy

January 12, 2009

I thought I might start a new thread mixed in with the language posts for those not so bothered about learning Chinese but still interested in China news.

China has started yet another internet crackdown, the usual suspects are up for ‘not being tolerated’ these being porn/ lewd pictures and political dissent.

Different blogs and news groups have tackled the issue from various angles- “Nervous China Tightens Grip on the Internet” in the Sydney Morning Herald/ China widens “vulgar” online crackdown- Reuters/ Cracking down on internet lewdness- China Rises Blog and quite a few others have reported on this.

So what does this mean?

Firstly, Zhang Ziyi has been seen topless on a beach with an enormous Israeli financier (her fiancee). Pictures have surfaced and there are few things the Chinese government likes seeing less than a national beauty ‘disgracing herself’ with a foreigner!

This has lead to a general crackdown on lewd sites and the Chinese pornography industry, which thrives on the net despite the best efforts of the government.

However, the government is, at the same time, cracking down on political sites. This is less well publicised as it makes less interesting headlines than stories about Zhang Ziyi but the major discussion site Bullog.org has been taken down and it seems that the government is putting pressure on academics to remove signatures from petitions potentially embarrassing to the government.

Normally I do not comment on politics too much but I do think that this has serious ramifications for business.

The Chinese government sees the economic slowdown as a major threat to China’s stability and its control on power. People are losing jobs, factories are closing and demand in the economy is dropping- now is not really the time to relax the grip on power.

I doubt that the tightening of regulations on lewd internet pictures is just a ‘pretext’ for other crackdowns but it is likely to be the start of a much less tolerant attitude during the coming months.

Some foreigners will make much out of this- any headline featuring China and the internet usually grabs attention, however, as business people we should be glad of the government’s actions.

A stronger control on power and an obvious acknowledgement of the challenges facing China during the economic problems show that the government means to keep stability.

Stability means a better environment in which to do business for both Chinese and western firms, which means people keep their jobs, money keeps flowing and people are more content, which leads, in turn, to more stability.

It’s a shame that we don’t get to see pictures of Ms. Zhang’s bottom* but when you get past the attention grabbing, anti-China headlines it actually all makes sense. A political and economic meltdown makes no sense for anyone, least of all the average working Chinese just trying to feed their family.

*Actually I have never thought Zhang Ziyi that attractive- something I have in common with many Chinese men. Just goes to show that western and Chinese concepts of beauty can be quite different.



  1. I fear that you may be implicitly standing on the side of dictatorship and tyranny. Where do the Chinese who wish well for others and only want to do good, and do not want to be persecuted and oppressed — like Gao Zhisheng, for example — fit into this equation? Please take the time to read his letter: http://chinaaid.org/2009/02/08/human-rights-lawyer-gao-zhisheng-forcibly-taken-by-police-current-whereabouts-unknown-his-latest-open-letter-reveals-his-past-severe-torture/ — I believe at several points in that letter he addresses people like you directly.

  2. “people like me” I love that concept coming from someone who has never met me nor knows my politics.

    Torture and abuse of power happens in many places, do I have to go into Guantanamo, extraordinary rendition and other US/ UK tactics? If you have been to China you will have realised that China is not a police state and people do not live in fear.

    I do not deny that the case of Gao Zhisheng is shocking, although equally I do not wish to comment on something I have no direct knowledge of.

    I do not, nor would i ever condone torture. My comment above is to illustrate that China is an extremely fragile country and a strong government with an eye on stability is beneficial for everyone, most of all the Chinese.

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