December 17, 2004

China Collision Course

Asia Times Online reports on a crackdown on free speech by the Chinese Communist Party. The Internet has made it increasingly difficult for the regime to suppress political dissent. They have responded with detentions of activists and writers, many of whom think that something's got to give. The possibility of "harsher measures" by the government can't be ruled out. How very depressing... (via The Adventures of Chester) (ellipses mine - Ed.)

As intellectuals, activists and netizens continue to defy Chinese Communist Party efforts to maintain its monopoly on the truth, freedom of expression is coming under fierce pressure not seen in recent years...

...The sudden pressure comes at a time when party chief and President Hu Jintao has consolidated his political power. It had been hoped by many that he would be a moderate reformer (and in some cases he had shown himself to be one). Similarly, it was hoped he would take a kinder, gentler line when it came to media and free expression...

..."It's the same old story for us journalists," said a senior reporter at the state-run China Youth Daily, speaking to Asia Times Online. "The atmosphere is deadly, and it's certainly very discouraging." He spoke, like everyone interviewed for this article, on condition of anonymity.

"This is the worst things have been in three years," said an intellectual in Beijing...

...Wang said suppression of free speech could boomerang on the party. "If these rational voices are suppressed, then an irrational voice could emerge," he said. "And this will not be good for the political transformation of China."

So far, intellectuals and activists show no signs of backing down, and no one can predict the outcome...

..."Before he came to power, we had a lot of hope for Hu," said Wang. "Since then, we've not been so optimistic. We feel quite depressed."

But despite harassment, arrests and disappointments, Chinese continue to speak out via their local media, the Internet, the international media and during trips abroad. As writer Yu Jie told a group at Harvard University in May, "The best way to deal with an irrational and dictatorial government is for more people to speak the truth."

Posted by dan at December 17, 2004 10:54 PM