Posted by Joel Martinsen on Friday, June 12, 2009 at 11:55 PM
Green Dam killer
The Green Dam-Youth Escort content filter, which all new computers sold in mainland China after July 1 are required to have pre-loaded, is controversial for a number of reasons.
Even setting aside concerns over privacy and free speech, the software is looking dodgier by the day.
Xinhua, whose front page has been featuring upbeat articles touting the need for Green Dam, has found a simple answer to all of these objections: a small segment of the media is responsible for all of the discontent.
People who actually use the product love it, says its latest opinion piece, which goes on to hail the government's handling of the Green Dam issue as a demonstration of its respect for "the public's democratic rights."
What is controversial about the filter software controversy?by Yan Bingguang / Xinhua
The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology's requirement that all computers come pre-loaded with the Green Dam-Youth Escort Internet filtering software has garnered quite a bit of attention of late, and one interesting thing about it is that while support largely stems from end users, opposing opinions primarily come from a minority of media outlets and businesses.
Data demonstrating end-user support for the government's measure comes from two channels. One is a customer satisfaction survey carried out among the more than 2.6 million existing users of the Green Dam-Youth Escort software, the results of which showed "widespread satisfaction" with a measure that is "in the public interest." The second is feedback submitted via an online forum by 1,813 users, 92% of whom expressed their support, with more than 70% of users expressing satisfaction with the quality of the software and its technical support.
Consumers ultimately have final say over whether a mass-market consumer product is good or bad. The majority of users support the Green Dam-Youth Escort Internet filtering software, which at the very least demonstrates one thing: cleaning up the online environment is indeed a pressing problem for our country. Furthermore, compared to the needs of those people who voice opposing opinions, the need to protect the healthy growth of minors is far more important. Any opinion that brushes aside the youth element is biased.
In recent years, to ensure that minors are not affected by vulgar information online, all levels of the government have taken repeated steps to reign in the proliferation of Internet vulgarity, the most recent being the closure of 1,911 websites in flagrant violation of regulations during a month-long nationwide action. The promotion of this filtering software by the MIIT is just one more piece of the rectification effort. The question is not whether such measures are necessary, but how to make them more effective.
You may notice that the MIIT's measures are first met with skepticism, but after ministry spokespersons explain in detail, the skeptical voices gradually fade away. This says that public apprehension is largely due to a lack of understanding and trust. It reminds us that the when the government brings forth measures that concern the public interest, it must fully respect the public's democratic rights and act within the scope permitted by the law, while at the same time making a public explanation of the situation as soon as is possible, to answer any doubts the public may have. This is how to win the public's support.
The major questions that have been the focus of public opinion have been given clear answers by MIIT, which is sufficient to dispel public apprehension. As for problems that might crop up during use of the filtering software, and what improvements it may need, the best thing to do is to let that be found out in actual use.
Links and Sources
Jobs in China
Henry on The Eurasian Face
Caroline W on Big in China
Michael on Julia Lovell on translating Lu Xun's complete fiction: "His is an angry, searing vision of China"
Brandon K. on Clueless academic takes on popular fantasy novels
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The Eurasian Face : Blacksmith Books, a publishing house in Hong Kong, is behind The Eurasian Face, a collection of photographs by Kirsteen Zimmern. Below is an excerpt from the series:
Big in China: An adapted excerpt from Big In China: My Unlikely Adventures Raising A Family, Playing The Blues and Becoming A Star in China, just published this month. Author Alan Paul tells the story of arriving in Beijing as a trailing spouse, starting a blues band, raising kids and trying to make sense of China.
Pallavi Aiyar's Chinese Whiskers: Pallavi Aiyar's first novel, Chinese Whiskers, a modern fable set in contemporary Beijing, will be published in January 2011. Aiyar currently lives in Brussels where she writes about Europe for the Business Standard. Below she gives permissions for an excerpt.
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+ Korean history doesn't fly on Chinese TV screens (2007.09): SARFT puts the kibbosh on Korean historical dramas.
+ Religion and government in an uneasy mix (2008.03): Phoenix Weekly (凤凰周刊) article from October, 2007, on government influence on religious practice in Tibet.
+ David Moser on Mao impersonators (2004.10): I first became aware of this phenomenon in 1992 when I turned on a Beijing TV variety show and was jolted by the sight of "Mao Zedong" and "Zhou Enlai" playing a game of ping pong. They both gave short, rousing speeches, and then were reverently interviewed by the emcee, who thanked them profusely for taking time off from their governmental duties to appear on the show.