Tiananmen Square Could Be the Next Tahrir Square
March 21, 2011 § 1 Comment
We take for granted the easily accessible communication sites that let us post whatever we want, when we want. Don’t get me wrong, it’s naive to believe that our government has zero censorship in the online world. But our freedom by far surpasses that of the people of China.
Through the “Great Firewall of China”, the Chinese one-party government bans its some 400 million netizens (Internet+citizen=netizen) from sites like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn. Even local China-based social sites, like QQ or Sina.com, are heavily censored by strict online police. Social media sites like these are what gave protesters a platform to call on their pro-democracy allies to create protests in Cairo and Tunisia in recent months. The call for a one million people march at Tahrir Square in Cairo was partially organized through the Internet.
The Communist Chinese government gives itself a huge budget for filtering online messages, blogs, and outside tweets in an attempt to track activists down and to maintain a strong hold on what their people read/see/hear. Recent crackdowns include the government turning off a CNN newsfeed from broadcasting because it had reports on the Middle East protests, and Google yesterday accused the Chinese government of purposely blocking Gmail services. By 2014, the metropolitan region of Chongqing will have spent nearly $800 million in surveillance cameras, providing thousands of governmental digital eyes keeping a close watch on its people. With the success of organized protests via social media, many are wondering how long this cyber constrain will last in one of the world’s oldest civilizations. The tight gripped Chinese government could cut off Internet access completely, just like Mubarak did for a few days in Egypt before he stepped down; however, China’s economy heavily relies on the Internet and the repercussions would hit them hard.
So how can the Chinese people get around the censors? Can they achieve in Tiananmen Square what the Egyptians achieved in Tahrir Square? The Middle East revolts provide a template for the Chinese to follow, they just need the adequate resources to get it started.
This Wall Street Journal article prompted me to write this post.
Here is a CNN report on the government’s worries of unrest spreading to China: