Media regulation

How much freedom of speech do Chinese netizens have?

On the blog "La République des Esprits," columnist Xiong Peiyun writes:

How much freedom of speech do Chinese netizens have? Is there protection for freedoms already obtained? The fate of comments on the Netease Review boards can provide us with proof. On 18 June, 2007, Xiong Peiyun's Southern Metropolis Daily column "How is it that there have been no resignations over the illegal kiln affair?" was republished by Netease as the lead story on its commentary channel. From 8:30 am until 1:00 pm, comments accumulated to 59 pages. To insure that the original post was not axed, the Netease editors had no choice but to carefully prune so-called extreme or sensitive comments - for Big Brother is watching you! So there was quite a large difference between the true number of Netease comments and the total displayed. For example, at 11:48:31, the ratio of displayed comments to total comments was 425:911; that is, at that time, netizens had 46.7% freedom of speech - they'd been docked 53.3%. As comments and deletions continued unabated, this docking rate would rise and fall like an EKG.

By about 4:00 pm, all comments had been deleted, the comment total was 0, and the comment function was closed - just like a case of cardiac arrest. It's easy to see that this kind of freedom that can be revoked at any time is not true freedom, not guaranteed freedom.

There are currently 17 Comments for How much freedom of speech do Chinese netizens have?.

Comments on How much freedom of speech do Chinese netizens have?

When free expression about slavery and terrible working and living conditions is considered potentially seditious and contra social harmony, is there doubt that totalitarianism is alive and well?

第二章 公民的基本权利和义务
第三十五条 中华人民共和国公民有言论、出版、集会、结社、游行、示威的自由。

[[Constitution of the People's Republic of China: Chapter 2, Article 35: Citizens of the People's Republic of China enjoy freedom of speech, of the press, of assembly, of association, of procession and of demonstration. - JM]]

Yes, but it doesn't say anything about curtailing their rights to free speech, assembly, and organization. It just states that Chinese are nominally free. Can a lawyer criticize my post?

not guaranteed freedom speech in china:

i see your point, is wellknown, but at the same time there are underground magazines, fanzines, about political issues, music, poems and short story. also in the media communication is increasing the social political issue's dabate. as soon you open, 南方周末 you will notice it.

what i want to say are the western democracy standards unique in all over the world? is it right try to find them in a different society like China?

Are you really going to try to shrug off that many deleted comments with "don't push your western values on us, China is different"? REALLY?

first, mine is not an assertion, was a question.
second: we can imagine, just a fantasy that china is having a slow democratisation process.
but with some FUNDAMENTAL differences.
1. the social network could be the bearer of the democratic right instead the individual person, collective justice might be the future goal instead the individual right.
2. the chinese might prefer the consultative and corporative method of decision-making. storically would be better to avoid the open conflict.

this about differencies.

and, in your opinion the so called western values are a just a western prerogative?
ethic and moral philosophy have a huge history in china. huge.

"what i want to say are the western democracy standards unique in all over the world? is it right try to find them in a different society like China?"

We aren't holding them to 'western democracy standards.' We're holding them to their own stated standards, as written in their constitution. They are rather spectacularly failing to meet those standards.

"ethic and moral philosophy have a huge history in china. huge."

Really? Ethics and morality, you say? Where did they go?

The Chinese people never have enough freedom of speech to cause officials and the wealthy to feel humuliated and hurt. That is the only true measure of free speech in a society.

the rights of the individual are the very foundation of democracy. Without them it's not a democracy, and there is no slow democratization process if they don’t get enforced more and more.

Call me an arrogant Westerner but I think you should call the things by their real name. An apple is an apple and not a pea and collectivism is collectivism not democracy.

What you are talking about is some sort of collectivism.

Oh gosh, the democracy bores have moved in. I got one question for you fellas:

Baghdad or Beijing, where would you prefer to live?

One of those mplaces just had multi-party democratic elections.

@lisa: that has got to be the dumbest ass comment I have read all night. Maybe you should also go hang out at the Gaza Strip!


"where did they go?"
probably they are having a dinner with Aristotle and Plato.

Lisa, that's a somewhat shallow comparison. A free election doth not a democracy make, and Iraq is no democracy. It is a contrived mess, concocted by US powerbrokers (and maybe even a few Iraqis) in smoke-filled rooms. You can't point to Iraq as being representative of democracy. Well, you can, but you look pretty foolish doing so.

Nanhe, your comment above is actually one of the smartest you've ever made. Well said.

regardless of whether or not China should become a democracy. Freedom of speech does have a tendecy to curtail abuses of power, corruption and other ills that are fairly frequent in China. It seems to me that China has accepted the "free market" why not accecpt the marketplace of ideas and see where it takes them.
Or maybe 大哥哥 is to scared of the little brothers.

Comparing Beijing and Baghdad only makes sense if you are talking about Beijing during the Cultural Revolution. In which case, I'll take Baghdad any day! It's sad that the defenders of the regime in Beijing always have to resort to the same reductionist arguments--but they all know they have no hope of succeeding in an open discussion and trying to defend the indefensible.

To Rob,

we all know that the Culture Revolution was a mistake. but that doesn't mean the political system here in China is totally wrong.

btw: during 1960s, Iraq was in military coup.
if you choose Iraq, i can only wish you good luck.

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