Anyone … anyone there … in China?

Normaliter schrijf ik liver zelf mijn bijdragen. Maar dit is een big thing in bloggerland. Vandaar dat ik het maar even doorgeef.

By Nicholas Kristof

China seems to have blocked Internet access to the New York Times website. Anyone out there in China (not including Hong Kong or Macao) who is actually able to see this, without going through fakery such as a tunnel or proxy server? If so, where in China are you?

China regularly blocked the Times site until 2000. Then a group of Times editors met Jiang Zemin, then the president, and asked him why access was blocked. He said he’d look into it — and, voila! A few weeks later, it was unblocked for good. China is traditionally pretty aggressive about blocking Chinese-language sites but much less concerned about English sites like this one. The idea is that the only people who can read English are pretty sophisticated and are a minority and so the information is less destabilizing.

It’s sad to see this happening almost exactly on the 30th anniversary of the December 1978 meeting where Deng Xiaoping pushed the Central Committee to take the new path of “gaige kaifang” — reform and opening. That was a landmark in 20th century history, and many of China’s top leaders (including Jiang Zemin, Hu Yaobang, Zhao Ziyang) expected political space to open up as the economy expanded. That has happened to some extent, with Internet chatrooms and the like. But the government today under Hu Jintao seems deeply worried about instability arising from economic woes and is clamping down in many areas. I’m afraid the blockage of this site is symptomatic of a broader tightening.

Any Chinese out there, perhaps not in China, what do you think?

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