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February 21, 2006

WaPo’s Third on China [9:46 am]

Bloggers Who Pursue Change Confront Fear And Mistrust

[pdf]

When Zhao Jing moved his blog to Microsoft’s popular MSN Spaces site last summer, some users worried the Chinese government would block the entire service. The censors had blacklisted the last site where the young journalist had posted his spirited political essays, and he seemed unwilling to tone down his writing at the new address.

But Zhao, better known by the pen name Anti, told fellow bloggers not to worry. If the government objected to his blog, he predicted, Microsoft would “sell me out” and delete it rather than risk being blocked from computer screens across China.

He was right. Four and a half months after he began posting essays challenging the Communist Party’s taboo against discussing politics, Zhao published an item protesting the purge of a popular newspaper’s top editors. Officials called Microsoft to complain, and Microsoft quickly erased his blog.

[...] The story of Zhao’s blog — and the ambivalence it met in cyberspace — demonstrates that those trying to use the Internet to foster political change in China must contend not only with the censors but also with the apathy, fear and mistrust of their fellow citizens. The case also highlights the competing ethical and commercial pressures on companies seeking to profit from the Internet in China, including U.S. firms such as Microsoft, Yahoo and Google.

See also Free Software Takes Users Around Filters; also Chinese Journalists Beat Censorship With Web

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