Nicholas Kristof had an interesting column in this morning’s paper on the phenomenon of blogging in China. From his perspective, it looks like the censors can’t quite keep up with the bloggers; criticism of the government and its policies has an outlet that is proving hard to stop.
(You can find his column on the NYTimes site, but you must be a subscriber.)
At a conference I attended in Hamburg last May, we discussed the matter of the Internet in China with Chinese scholars from the mainland, as well as from Taiwan and Hong Kong. Their perspectives about freedom were quite different. The scholar from the mainland indicated that web site development on the mainland requires a license from the government, and is strictly regulated. (However, these blogs apparently got by that regulatory process.) Those from outside the mainland criticized these restrictions, and in this sense the mainland scholar was put in an awkward position of defending the party line in the face of polite yet powerful criticism about the free flow of information.
There is hope here, to the extent that greater information flows mean greater openness to ideas and change. Marvin Olasky also recently had a column on Chinese businessmen turning to Christianity in a quest for meaning. That column is freely available on Townhall.com, here:
(Hmm. Did you just notice that the NYT restricts your freedom to read on the Internet, while the conservative columnists on Townhall allow free access to their ideas? I don’t blame the NYT for charging for the privilege, but it is rather ironic coming from this bastion of liberal thought.)