If the U.S. government wants to make Chinese human rights a priority, it could pass a law tomorrow prohibiting American companies from helping the Chinese government trample on the free speech of its citizens. Such a law wouldn’t hurt the competitiveness of these companies because they’re preeminent in the world. If China wants to be part of the Internet age it has no choice but to allow in Cisco, Microsoft, Google, Yahoo, and other American firms – who could then tell the Chinese government they’re required by American law to respect the free speech of Chinese citizens. Otherwise, no deal.

Besides, given the pressures on these companies to maximize profits, this sort of law is the only way to stop Cisco, Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo from being enablers. And it’s the only way to get the attention of the Chinese authorities. 

This is one of those things that is said to "hurt the feelings of the Chinese nation and its people."  The assumption is that the Chinese would not have a clue what to do without Cisco, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo and the Chinese Internet age will come to an immediate end without these great American companies.  Therefore, the Chinese government will get down on their knees to beg the companies and accept the terms that these companies will dictate to them in accordance with the new American law.  
This is SO WRONG, because there are indigenous Chinese market leaders such as Huawei, Bokee, Netease, Sina.com, Sohu.com, Baidu, Sogou, etc.  China can choose to say no to this American law (and it will win the hearts of minds of the "angry young people" wing of the Chinese Internet while even the "rational reformist" wing will have to shut up), while those indigenous Chinese companies will be delighted not to have foreign competition.
Cisco, Microsoft, Google and Yahoo have little or no leverage because they are inessential and/or inconsequential in their respective markets.  The leverage will come only after they grab a significant market share and/or become indispensable.  For example, if MSN Spaces registers 20 million Chinese blogs, then it can dare the Chinese government to shut down the whole service and face the wrath of the Chinese bloggers.  But if they are just blog-city.com and they only have several thousand users, then who gives a damn if they are shut down.

In the first place, Google's claim that "PageRank relies on the uniquely democratic nature of the web" must be seen for what it is, which is pure hype. In a democracy, every person has one vote. In PageRank, rich people get more votes than poor people, or, in web terms, pages with higher PageRank have their votes weighted more than the votes from lower pages. As Google explains, "Votes cast by pages that are themselves 'important' weigh more heavily and help to make other pages 'important.'" In other words, the rich get richer, and the poor hardly count at all. This is not "uniquely democratic," but rather it's uniquely tyrannical. It's corporate America's dream machine, a search engine where big business can crush the little guy. ...

Secondly, only big guys can have big databases. If your site has an average PageRank, don't even bother making your database available to Google's crawlers, because they most likely won't crawl all of it. This is important for any site that has more than a few thousand pages, and a home page of about five or less on the toolbar's crude scale.

Thirdly, in order for Google to access the links to crawl a deep site of thousands of pages, a hierarchical system of doorway pages is needed so that crawler can start at the top and work its way down. A single site with thousands of pages typically has all external links coming into the home page, and few or none coming into deep pages. The home page PageRank therefore gets distributed to the deep pages by virtue of the hierarchical internal linking structure. But by the time the crawler gets to the real "meat" at the bottom of the tree, these pages frequently end up with a PageRank of zero. This zero is devastating for the ranking of that page, even assuming that Google's crawler gets to it, and it ends up in the index, and it has excellent on-page characteristics. The bottom line is that only big, popular sites can put their databases on the web and expect Google to cover their data adequately. And that's true even for websites that had their data on the web long before Google started up in 1999.

Is this another reason to hate Google?  The alternative may be to retrieve every page that contains the keywords and present them randomly.  That would be 'democratically' fair to the pages (as in equal opportunity), but will the users be satisfied?  I think that one can fairly assume that such a 'democratic' search engine would be rejected by the users after a short trial period.

And then there is the question about the class struggle.  Could it be that the rich got rich by doing the right things all along?  Or because they were big, fat capitalist pigs who managed to buy Google's help?
P.S.  The recent EastSouthWestNorth post titled There Was A Man Named Liu Binyan is also Number 5 for the person of that name, after TIME magazine, Human Rights Watch, New York Review of Books and Radio Free Asia.    If you are looking for a "steamed bun," the EastSouthWestNorth post titled The Steamed Bun Lawsuit is number 2; the post The Case of Zhang Dejiang is number 2 for Zhang Dejiang; the post The Wangfu Ping Essay in Caijing is number 1 for the Wangfu Ping; etc.  Those were the prominent posts in the month of February.

Addendum:  It would be remiss for me not to give you some flavor of the several tens of thousands of BBS comments on these photos.  The following is translated from some Tianya Club comments selected by the KonG blog.

A vibrant system is more important!
The previous attempts to inflate the quality of the leaders reeked of feudalism and were quite useless.  
There are all sorts of officials out there, some are good in some ways and others are of terrible quality.  
The most reliable thing is an effective system.

I believe that this was stage clothing.
I think so.
Someone also said that this was a "bullet-proof vest."  That is possible too!

Just because the clothes were worn for several years does not solve any problems.
It is the payment of the back wages of the migrant workers, elimination of the agricultural taxes, the gradually elimination of the miscellaneous fees for elementary school (already in place in the western regions) and so on that made me respect the current generation of leaders.  At least, they paid attention to those socially vulnerable groups and thought about doing some concrete things for them.
We should not ignore these leaders' efforts due to some other unresolved problems.  At least, they are doing something for the people.  
 don't know what the "angry" people have in mind.  Are you perfect?  Can you be a perfect person overnight?

Certain people say that the country is corrupt and the government is corrupt.  Were they never corrupt in their entire lives?  If they should ever ascend to Premier Wen's position some day, would they dare to take out their ten-year-old jacket to wear?  Should they go and check how important Premier Wen has valued the common people since assuming the post?
I don't understand these people.  We the Chinese people finally got such a good Premier, but they won't support and they don't care about him.  Are we supposed to attack him instead?  Are we tell him that you are the Premier and you represent China, and so you must not wear old, beaten-up clothes because it damages the reputation of China?  It is really difficult to be China's Premier."

If you step back for a moment, you will realize that something is missing in these voices.  It is possible at this point to get on a BBS forum and accuse Premier Wen of cynically putting on a stage show.  Enough people are doing that and none of them is likely to be arrested in the middle of the night.  This is just standard BBS behavior now.  It may be that the Central Publicity Department will eventually ban the topic, but the commentators will simply move on to the next topic.  

The counter-arguments in the debate are not given in officialese.  Nobody ever talks about how the brilliant and courageous Premier Wen is the representative of the glorious Party and therefore must never ever be impugned or insulted.  Today, that kind of talk is no longer acceptable, because it is unpersuasive in a discursive environment.  If there are undercover Chinese police commentators at these BBS forums, their messages would have to be more subtle and nuanced.  In fact, they probably don't have to do anything  because the two largest camps are the "angry young people" and the "rational reformists," and the latter is an effective check-and-balance entity right now.

The Guangdong police indicated that they will concentrate this year on the problem of internal and external hostile forces interfering with "defending rights."  According to the report from the Guangdong province public security bureau, hostile forces have politicized the issues of economic rights of urban consumers and rural farmers in recent years, and used individual incidents to stir up opinions and incited people who didn't understand the truth to cause trouble.  There had been multiple serious mass incidents which posed a serious threat to the construction of a harmonious and stable society in Guangdong.  The report indicated that the many serious mass disturbances last year in Guangdong were related with disputes over rights.

According to the report from the Guangdong police, there were 498,000 criminal cases last year, which was 3.3% fewer than the year before.  The police solved 186,000 cases.  But the number of mass incidents increased largely.  The provincial public security bureau used firm measures under these special circumstances to defeat the infiltration of overseas hostile forces including Falun Gong, terrorist activities, Internet criminals and others in many cases.  This year, apart from concentrating fighting the internal and external hostile forces interfering in defending rights, the Guangdong police will increase their fight against terrorism, to develop anti-terrorist response, system and professional forces.

You’re so vain, you probably think this song is about you
You’re so vain, I’ll bet you think this song is about you
Don’t you? don’t you? 

There are many unanswered questions, beginning with why Pang's body remained undiscovered for so long - the last time she was seen was July 1995.  In about August 1995 neighbors complained of a smell they described as "dead rats," [coroner's officer Dee] Crebbin said.

Also, why, in October 1999 when Fang and a locksmith entered the Waterloo Road apartment to close bathroom and bedroom windows that had caused water leakage into the flat below both said they never saw Pang's uncovered skeleton nor her skull in a waste basket on the floor beside the bed in the 300-square-foot flat.  "Mr Fang said he had to step over some things to reach the [bedroom] window and did not look at what they were," Crebbin said.

The next day he sent a man named Yeung Kwai-choi, who also knew Pang, to clean up the flat which was "in a terrible mess. Extremely untidy, dirty full of dust and cobwebs," Crebbin said.  It was Yeung who saw the skeleton and called police after he notified Fang.

(Apple Daily illustration)

The 'mystery' is this: When a person dies, she does not pick up her own head and put it in a waste basket.  That was why it defied commonsense for the police to have closed the case previously because there was nothing "suspicious."  Of course, the trail is cold by now and nothing can be done barring some new breakthrough evidence.  
So what is the purpose of this inquest?  The court probably has the best of intentions in trying to satisfy the Pang family's desire for an explanation, but the press is going for sensationalism and scoring political points.  The headline in the South China Morning Post was: "I was told Anson Chan's family linked to underworld, court hears."   There you have the money quote: "Anson Chan's family involves both the authorities and the underworld."  It sounded better in Chinese (via Ming Pao):
「你知不知道陳方安生家族一邊黑一邊白﹖」   The Sun even put the "Half Black/Half White" quote onto the front page, while Oriental Daily, Sing Pao and Sing Tao went with the three abortions that John Fang allegedly forced Annie Pang to have.  Please be mindful that this is all hearsay testimony and the inquest is not about probing the black/white connections of Anson Chan.  Here is an eyewitness account of the court proceedings: "The coroner told the jury to ignore that testimony as it was clearly hearsay, involved anonymous/unknown 'sources' and ridiculously vague. It was also quite brief; more so as he cut it off."  But it made the front page in The Sun.

Apple Daily preferred to have the story about the death of Anson Chan's mother.

The dissemination of The Steamed Bun was made possible by the Internet.  It was a no-brainer for forum masters, who didn't need more than a second to approve the post.  Soon, the hits were occurring faster than a chicken pecking at food on the ground.  The traditional media did even better, and soon opinion pieces such as: "Brother, you hold on in there.  If you go bankrupt, we will raise money for you" are everywhere across the country.  On Phoenix TV, the beautiful program hostess raved about the video, as if telling the audience: "Look!  I can talk about this freely, like a little bird flying in the air."  Then there are the dozens of lawyers who fight to become Hu Ge's defense lawyer.  Thus, a huge entertainment show is about to begin, in which both sides seemed righteous.  At this moment, in the eyes of the numerous participants, other more urgent things that require attention have all turned into freezing points (emphasis added). (此时此刻,在成千上万的参演者眼中,再现实再紧迫再需要关注的事,都凝固成了冰点。)

Yes, we all know.  There are restrictions on what you can talk about in China, but you do everything to act innocent and slip in whatever you can ... like Freezing Point ... did you think that it came out of nowhere?

A news channel owned by the Eastern Multimedia Group won its war with the Government Information Office after the Cabinet's Commission of Administrative Appeals ruled in favor of an appeal filed by the channel to reinstate its license, which was revoked by the GIO last year.  ... The commission said it had failed to find evidence that the group was running in the red or failed to meet other requirements set by the government.

... Chang Shu-sen, an ETTV-S executive said his company will consult with its lawyers before deciding whether to seek national compensation for the GIO's decision, a move which has incurred heavy losses for the channel.

Long Shong Group, whose cable movie outlet was also shut down last August, has decided to seek NT$1.8 billion in compensation from the government. The group has been showing its movies on a different channel under different licenses since the Long Shong channel was closed.

National compensation can be asked when a public servant violated citizen rights either deliberately or mistakenly during the discharge of his/her public duties.  The public servant may also have personal liability if his actions were not permitted under the law and administrative regulations.  
In the case of ETTV-S, the most readily identifiable public servant is the former GIO Minister Pasuya Yao.  Here is the instant Apple Daily poll:  When the reinstated television channels ask for national compensation, should the government ask Pasuya Yao for compensation money?  Yes: 63.8%; No: 20.6%; Don't now/no opinion: 15.7%.  In practice, showing personal liability would be impossible since this was not a personal decision by Pasuya Yao alone, as any number of government bureaucrats and commissions were involved in the process too.  The poll reflects public perception, though.

Under the proposed US legislation (via InMediaHK):

Any United States business that maintains an Internet content hosting service may not provide to any foreign official of an Internet-restricting country information that personally identifies a particular user of such content hosting service, except for legitimate foreign law enforcement purposes as determined by the Department of Justice.

So let say Mr. Chen leaves a Yahoo.com email address for contact.  When the Hong Kong police gets the tip, they go to Yahoo.  Yahoo says that they will have to go to the US Department of Justice for approval.  How long will the delay be?  How many Chinese-language/Chinese law experts does the US Department of Justice intend to hire to process the requests that will come from a country with 110 million Internet users?  Just remember that all it takes is one single case in which the decision was delayed or the wrong decision was made (i.e. the "flash rape gang" had the time to form and go into operation) before this whole extra-territorial policing system collapses in ignominy.  Can the victims sue the US government (and Yahoo)?

The official China Youth Daily decided on Thursday to revive a provocative weekly section closed by censors last month, but shunted aside the two editors who made it a standard-bearer for combative journalism.  Communist Party officials in charge of the newspaper, the mouthpiece of the party's youth wing, bowed to an outcry and decided to resume publishing the weekly Freezing Point section from March 1, the weekly's editor Li Datong said by telephone. 

But Li and Lu Yuegang, a famed investigative reporter, will be removed as editor and deputy editor respectively of the weekly and shunted to the newspaper's news research office, Li said.  'This exterminates the soul of Freezing Point, leaving an empty shell,' Li told Reuters. Lu also said he was 'extremely disappointed' before his telephone was abruptly cut off. 

The first edition of the new Freezing Point will publish an essay attacking Yuan, Li said.  'The editors and journalists aren't happy about it, and if they don't agree to it, the Freezing Points may not be resumed,' he said. 

... Li, the editor, said he believed propaganda officials chose the historian Yuan's essay as an excuse to act, because its criticism of nationalism jarred with many ardently patriotic young Chinese and provoked condemnation on the internet.  'They waited for the right excuse at the right moment, but they've wanted to close us for a long time', he said 

I was perhaps ambiguous in Comment 200602#039 about what the 'old comrades' were thinking.  Based upon that anecdotal story, I believe it has little or nothing to do with the pretext over the Yuan Weishi story.  Rather, for more than a decade, Freezing Point had been a source of information for directing their attention to where the government/party might have failed in spite of their best intentions.  If Chairman Mao was assessed with a grade of 60%/40%, Freezing Point probably rated as 95%/5% and a single essay did not merit the total banishment of an important pipeline to the people.  I believe that this was the reason why the elders took the astonishing step of publishing an open letter to express their outrage.

Anyway, I will make this prediction here.  May God help the person who gets the assignment to pen the article attacking Yuan!!!  He (or she) and his (or her) essay will be ripped to shreds on the Internet (unless the Central Publicity Department intervenes by banning all discussion of said essay)!!!

As for Li Datong and Lu Yuegang being assigned to the news research office, they have done that before (see Li Datong In 1989).  The only question is how quickly they will return for their next assignment.

P.S. (Ming Pao) Li Datong: "It does not matter what they say or how they arrange things.  My view is that Freezing Point is fact dead (不管他們作什麼姿態、怎麼安排,我的看法是,冰點事實上已經死亡了。)."

"These companies tell us they will change China. But China has already changed them."  This is not a good day to listen to the high-and-mighty speeches from Representatives Chris Smith and Tom Lantos.  The much bigger story on this day is how the Australian television channel SBS has broken through more than 20 months of collective silence by the US government and its media to present more photographs and videos from the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq (see this updated post (WARNING: EXTREMELY DISTURBING).  Everything said on this day at the Congressional hearings on Chinese Internet censorship can be turned around against the US government in the case of the Abu Ghraib photos/videos -- the US government (and the subservient media) thought that certain information needed to be suppressed for the greater good, based upon their own judgment.  Now isn't that sad?  I promise that I won't drone on this point again in the rest of this comment, because it has nothing to do with it.

China censorship: Google's defense  Statement #1 from Google: "We have recently launched Google.cn, a version of Google’s search engine that we will filter in response to Chinese laws and regulations on illegal content. This website will supplement, and not replace, the existing, unfiltered Chinese-language interface Google.com. That website will remain open and unfiltered for Chinese-speaking users worldwide."  If they really have a deal or unwritten understanding with the Chinese government, then who cares?

China censorship: Yahoo! defends itself  Here are some excerpts from written testimony by Michael Callahan, Senior VP and General Counsel:  

Regarding the Shi Tao case, he repeated a lot of Yahoo!’s recent statements about the need to follow local laws. Then:

“Let me take this opportunity to correct inaccurate reports that Yahoo! Hong Kong gave information to the Chinese government. This is absolutely untrue. Yahoo! Hong Kong was not involved in any disclosure of information about Mr. Shi to the Chinese government. In this case, the Chinese government ordered Yahoo! China to provide user information, and Yahoo! China complied with Chinese law. To be clear — Yahoo! China and Yahoo! Hong Kong have always operated independently of one another. There was not then, nor is there today, any exchange of user information between Yahoo! Hong Kong and Yahoo! China.”

That is something that I have learned from multiple sources, none of which are publishable by me because they were hearsay.  Upon information and belief, Yahoo! Hong Kong does not have the technical capability of retrieving any user information even if they wanted to.  That information had to have come from Yahoo! China.  It is a mystery as to why the legal documents in the cases of Shi Tao and Li Zhi would refer to Yahoo! Hong Kong Holding Company.

There is still something that I truly don't get -- people believed that if a US law were enacted to required Yahoo! to store its emails outside of China, then there would be no need to comply with any warrants.  I can understand this if the company is the U.S. company Yahoo.com.  But if the company is Yahoo.com.cn and it is registered at a Beijing address with a named responsible person, how can they turn away a legal warrant from the Chinese government?  Who cares where your server is located?  If you are a New York City bank, can you turn away a New York City police warrant for information on a customer because your servers are located in New Jersey (or Jamaica)?

As for the rest of the Yahoo! PR statement, I have no idea what they are talking about.  It is content-free, as far as I am concerned.

China censorship: Microsoft's defense  First of all, Michael Anti has been read into the US Congressional records.  Hurray!  Skipping over the mea culpa statement in the Anti case and the revised company policies and procedures, here is the most important portion:

When pressed on this point, most observers would no doubt concede that there are circumstances—such as instances of kidnapping, child abuse, or cyber-attack—when the apprehension of serious criminals justifies cooperation with law enforcement authorities even in authoritarian societies—so long as law enforcement is not used as a pretext for political repression. Yet in practice, when companies face law enforcement requests of this kind, there is little room to question the motivations and/or second-guess the judgments made by officials in these cases.

In the end, the issue comes back to a difficult judgment of the risks and benefits of these powerful technologies, not just in China, but in a wide range of societies where cultural and political values may clash with standards of openness and free expression.

Microsoft cannot substitute itself for national authorities in making the ultimate decisions on such issues. 

This is exactly my position all along.  You can condemn these companies for all you want, but in the end there has to be a practical and workable solution for them.  Rejecting every single Chinese government warrant is NOT the answer, because you are in fact aiding and abetting real criminals most of the time.  I personally do not see how this can be done.  The change will eventually have to come from inside China about the law.

Chinese censorship: Cisco responds  From Mark Chandler: "Cisco does not customize, or develop specialized or unique filtering capabilities, in order to enable different regimes to block access to information; Cisco sells the same equipment in China as it sells worldwide; Cisco is not a service or content provider, or network manager; Cisco has no access to information about individual users of the Internet."

Do you believe that Cisco ought to start investigating each of its hundreds of thousands of customers just exactly how they are using the Cisco routers?  Maybe they can start with my New York City office: Boxun, ObserveChina and New Century Net are blocked because they are "hate" sites?  Should Cisco butt in and object, as if they have any idea what Boxun, ObserveChina or New Century Net are?

One day, I received a telephone call.  The voice seemed steady and it was a middle-aged man.  "I am the secretary of an old comrade.  This old comrade read the report on Fifth Uncle and Fifth Aunt.  He felt badly and said that we have not done our work.  I have sent 2,000 yuan over.  Please make sure that you forward it to them."  I asked him if he could tell me the name of the old comrade.  He said, "I cannot say."  I understood.  According to custom, this is a "revolutionary"-class leader in the central government.

The old comrades are naming themselves now.

In another development, Li Datong had previously filed a complaint against the Central Publicity Department in the matter of the shutdown of Freezing Point (see Comment #200602019).  Procedurally, in accordance with the party regulations, this is a three-step process.  Li Datong hands his complaint to the party organization in China Youth Daily, which hands the document to the China Youth League central party organization, which hands the document to the Communist Party Central Disciplinary Committee.  Ming Pao is reporting that the China Youth League central party organization has declined to forward the complaint to the next level, and Li Datong has confirmed this to be the case.  The word is that the China Youth League central party organization has instructed China Youth Daily to re-launch Freezing Point, but will Li Datong be around for the new and 'rectified' version?

America Online Latin America Inc., an Internet service provider partly owned by Time Warner Inc., said it may file for bankruptcy protection because it doesn't have enough cash to pay its debt and fund its business beyond September.  AOL Latin America is not looking more money "because we believe that any efforts to obtain financing would be futile based on past experience," the company said in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission. 

The company also said it won't be able to obtain additional financing from New York-based Time Warner Inc., Venezuela's Cisneros Group of Cos., Brazil's Banco Itau SA "or any other source."  AOL Latin America also said Tuesday that its stock has no value. Even if the company manages to sell part of its businesses, none of the proceeds will be available to shareholders, it said in the filing.

How did they end up that way?  Because they were outsiders who totally did not understand local consumer needs.  The American model, which was failing even in the USA, meant nothing to the locals.  They never got any traction and they just burned through US$900 million (or some other absurd amount) in the process without a clue.
With that in mind, let us look at the AOL.com in Chinese.  The key content area appears to be the online videos.  On this day, the featured videos were the CCTV Spring Festival show and a television drama series (
蝶舞天涯).  With due respect, this stuff is DOA (Dead On Arrival) inside China.  This is old stuff and nobody wants to see it on the Internet.  The AOL.com in Chinese service is not going to be commercially viable in China with just an 'uncensored' search engine which can be blocked by the Great China Firewall anytime that the government wants.
P.S. AOL.com in Chinese has the better social and entertainment coverage than mainland Chinese portals because they have Hong Kong and Taiwan news feeds.  For example, this is an Apple Daily (Taiwan) story of a 64-year-old mother-in-law in Taichung county catching her 64-year-old husband making love with her daughter-in-law who happened to moaning too loud (
很好、很好、很爽、很爽!).  With due respect, this is not enough to make this a must-read and best-overall portal for the mainland Chinese.

* Reporters Without Borders - Lucie Morillon, Head, Internet Freedom Desk
* China Information Center - Harry Wu
* Radio Free Asia - Libby Liu, President
* University of California (Berkeley) - Xiao Qiang, Director, China Internet Project

When I saw this list, I thought: "Holy crap!"  This is not going to be your fair and balanced points of views (note: I trust Xiao Qiang).  But the long and short of it is this: "Please explain how the Chinese Internet users will be substantively better off as a result of your recommendations."  This is how I will be reading the transcripts.
I do dread the aftermath.  I am sure my telephone will be ringing with requests for interviews because I am someone who does not hold the identical views as the panelists.  And the request will begin as follows: "I know that you must be sick of this subject.  Just about every Chinese blogger that I have spoken to refuses to deal with what they consider to be a non-existent issue.  I have a deadline to meet and I would really appreciate if you can help me out here ..."

[Alternate version]  (SCMP, 2/18/2006)  

Prosecutor Charlotte Draycott told Fanling Court the prosecution of Mr Yang had been based primarily on his identification by a senior police officer. But when the officer was approached for further investigation, the quality of his evidence was found to be wanting.  Police re-examined video footage from the riots and interviewed other witnesses in an attempt to identify Mr Yang, but in vain, said Ms Draycott.

"In consequence, the DPP has concluded that doubts exist in this prosecution case. In particular, it cannot be shown with certainty that Mr Yang did in fact play any particular role in the alleged offence," it said.  "Nor can any role he may have played be sufficiently distinguished from that of others arrested at the same time but not, in the event, prosecuted."

Principal Magistrate Andrew Ma Hon-cheung ordered that the charge be dismissed and acquitted Mr Yang.

Chen Jieren's Letter To Everybody Under The Sun recounted the entire incident: At noon February 8, the State Council office called the Public Times' administrative unit (Civil Affairs Bureau) about the essay in the Public Times which criticized the numerous errors in the English-language pages of the Chinese government website.  The essay was said to "have seriously affected the image of the Chinese government."  The Civil Affairs Bureau then took "preventative measures" by relieving Chen Jieren as chief editor in order to "forestall further efforts from above."  Chen Jieren said that he understood why he was treated this way, and he was willing to accept responsibility on behalf of others (because he was not the person who approved the problematic essay) so that the newspaper won't be shut down or the reporter punished.

But he said that he never expected that the editor-in-chief Liu Youping would turn this into a personal issue during the interview with the foreign media and launched personal attacks against him.  Liu Youping said that Chen Jieren was demoted because he "cannot handle his own job," "did not come to work" and "surreptitiously placed his wife to work at the newspaper."  Chen Jieren replied that this is denying that he has given the Public News a new image during this half-year and it was also contradictory to Liu Youping calling his work "exceptional" in person after the incident.  As for his wife, who used to be a reporter, working at the newspaper, it was at the personal request of Liu.

The letter also pointed out that afterwards, the newspaper engaged in self-criticism over some recent reports, including the withholding of disaster relief funds by the Shaanxi Huayin local government and causing the Shaanxi provincial government to intercede directly with the Civil Affairs Bureau, which thinks a news report would bring trouble; the publication of a critical essay about National Resources Committee director Li Rongrong, because the Civil Affairs Bureau leadership is concerned that Li Rongrong might cause trouble for them; the publication of the essay "The Whole Story about Hu Jintao's three written orders to assist people in hardship", which led to an order from the News Office of the Civil Affairs Bureau to write a self-criticism because the leadership believed that "all reports on national leadership must use the Xinhua release or else they would be breaking the regulations."  Chen Jieren was contemptuous of the professional ethics of the editor-in-chief.  He said: "The way I look at it, it is a supreme honor to be found guilty for speaking out -- in this world, if I don't go into hell, who will go into hell?"

During yesterday's interview with out newspaper, Chen Jieren said that this incident reveals the basic problem that exists in Chinese media.  Whenever a subordinate newspaper has an "inappropriate report" that gained the "attention" of the superiors, they over-react and habitually engage in "self-castration" by looking for a scapegoat so to avoid any responsibility of their own.  "When the ice is three feet thick, it did not come on one cold day.  Such is the sadness of Chinese media."


This is how MSN's new policy on censoring blogs is being practiced. The company will no longer erase a blog, as it did with Michael Anti's site. It will only block it in the country where the government has requested a block. This is a step up, as users can still see the site through a proxy and as postings can be retrieved and placed elsewhere. ... Still, it would have been nice if Microsoft displayed the above notice in Chinese.

Well, Microsoft does have the ability to display the above notice in Chinese.  The blogger Wang Ning has just sent me the message on his MSN Spaces blog.  The difference is probably in the Preferences setting of the visitor.

For memory's sake, here is the screen capture of Wang Ning's final post at MSN Spaces.  It has a link to EastSouthWestNorth's The Case of Li Zhi.

The latest case came to light when the news site Boxun.com posted a plea from Mr. Li’s lawyer, Zhang Sizhi, on Sunday. Mr. Zhang said his client, who used a Yahoo email address and user name, had been sentenced on the basis of information handed over by Yahoo Hong Kong on August 1, 2003.

Mr. Li, 35, a former civil servant from the Dazhou region of China, located in the Sichuan province, was arrested later that month on a charge of “inciting subversion.” He had criticized corruption among local officials in online discussion groups and articles. Mr. Li was sentenced to eight years in prison on December 10, 2003.  In the verdict, the court cited Yahoo Hong Kong’s cooperation with the Chinese police.

- I have now translated that document in full at The Case of Li Zhi; the original Chinese document is here for my Chinese readers and for anyone who wants to verify the translation (note: it was a rush job and not totally accurate, but you will get the gist).
- I offer my readers the opportunity to just go and read the entire document themselves and then ask: 
       - Does the quoted sentence summarize this case?  
       - And was the quoted sentence a fair characterization of Yahoo's contributory role in this case?  
- I spoke my mind yesterday but you should make up your own mind.  
I am curious as to the reception of the translated primary document -- Will mainstream media and blogosphere pretend that they didn't see it?  I will know in a few days.  I can tell you that some mainstream media are doing the follow-up story (see Justin Mitchell at The Standard: Jailed Net user wants Yahoo evidence in court).  Where will you be?  Is silence golden?
Meanwhile, there are some real gems buried in that primary document.  Try this statement: " According to the information provided by Sina.com to the investigating unit, the two principal state witnesses Ying and Mou have the same mailbox: libertywg@yahoo.com.cn."  Why would Sina.com know who was using a certain Yahoo! email account?  And what is the world going to say to Sina.com about their role?  Nothing.  Absolutely nothing.  Because Sina.com will simply say, "We obey Chinese laws" and dare you to tell them otherwise.  If you then say that Yahoo! is an American subsidiary and must therefore be held to a higher standard, then this is the kind of statement that is said to "hurt the national feelings of the Chinese people."  Don't even go there ...


[in translation]  Concerning the evidence in the file, apart from the problems pointed above, there are several doubts and explanations in the following:



[translated by Xiao Qiang at CDT]  “ (2) On August 1, 2003, Yahoo Hong Kong Ltd provided to the public security agency Proof of the User's Information, 'provided relevant information about user lizhi340100,' and also explained 'for more detailed information, see attached documents. The Attached documents include the user's registered information and email from that account.' Therefore the part that can be considered evidence is the content of that attachment. But the attachment was not provided to the court. According to Yahoo's explanation, the content of the attachments not only reflects the situation of the mail exchanges, but also can have the function of “resolving some doubts.” Therefore, we hope the court will review the attachment. We certainly hope the defense lawyers will be allowed to review the documents so we can understand the full situation in order to defend our client. This is a matter of the rights of our client. Please remedy this situation.”

So is it clear that the information from Yahoo! was not presented during the first court trial?

Here is the press release from Reporters Without Borders via RConversation:

Reporters Without Borders today condemned the US firm Yahoo! for handing over data on one of its users in China which enabled the authorities there to send him to prison for eight years, the second such case that has come to light in recent months. ... It said it had discovered that Yahoo! customer and cyberdissident Li Zhi had been given his eight-year prison sentence in December 2003 based on electronic records provided by Yahoo.

This is completely blowing the role of Yahoo! in this case out of proportion (as in BBC's headline Yahoo 'helped jail China writer' and Reuters' Yahoo accused in jailing of 2nd China Internet user).  The full defense statement is actually very interesting because multiple methods were involved -- the principal evidence came from two informers (who were most likely agents provocateurs), and there were even taped conversations with Li Zhi.  So the defense's theory revolves around entrapment, and that is why they believed that getting the full information from Yahoo! might help them.  Specifically, one informer used the account libertywg@yahoo.com.cn to send mail to lizhi340100@yahoo.com.cn, and getting all the mail exchanges between those two accounts would allow the defense to show how Li Zhi was set up (e.g. libertywg@yahoo.com.cn may be the person who sent Li Zhi a web address to apply for membership in the Chinese Democratic Party, which is the overseas "subversive" organization named in the charge of "inciting subversion.").  It is also understandable why the information provided by Yahoo! is not needed in the court trial, since the informer has copies of all the email correspondence between the two of them, copies also reside on Li's home computer which was seized by the police and the in-person conversations about the content of the emails were taped. 

Instead, this is now all Yahoo!'s fault.

Mexico issued a complaint on Tuesday against an American-owned hotel that - under pressure from the U.S. government - expelled a group of Cuban businessmen meeting with U.S. energy executives, saying the company violated investment and trade protection laws.

The U.S. Treasury Department confirmed that the Hotel Maria Isabel Sheraton in Mexico City was told to expel the Cuban delegation in compliance with the U.S. embargo against business with Cuba or Cubans. The meeting was moved to a Mexican-owned hotel Saturday.  "The hotel in Mexico City is a U.S. subsidiary, and therefore prohibited from providing a service to Cuba or Cuban nationals," said Brookly McLaughlin, a spokesman for the department's Office of Foreign Assets Control. He was referring to the Helms-Burton law, which tightened U.S. trade sanctions first imposed against Cuba in 1961.  "The hotel acted in accordance with U.S. sanctions," he said.

Mexican Foreign Relations Secretary Luis Ernesto Derbez said the Mexican government is also considering a diplomatic complaint against the United States in the case.  He said his department had formally started a complaint process against the Sheraton for violating investment and trade protection laws, and that the hotel would have 15 days to respond. The hotel could face fines of nearly $500,000 or even be shut down, officials said.  "I think that there was evident contempt for Mexican law on the part of the Hotel Maria Isabel Sheraton ... and it is going to be punished for discrimination, consumer fraud and, moreover, for applying laws that do not apply in Mexico," Derbez told reporters in London, where he is on an official visit.

The Houston Chronicle puts it slightly differently.

The U.S. government informed the hotel's parent company, Starwood Hotels & Resorts, that its Mexican subsidiary was not allowed to have the Cubans as guests.  There is a 45-year-old U.S. embargo designed to undermine Fidel Castro's communist government.  "U.S. law prohibits U.S. persons or entities to supply services to Cuban nationals, persons or entities," said Judith Bryan, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Mexico City. "The Sheraton (Maria Isabel Hotel) is subject to U.S. law because it is a subsidiary of a U.S. company."

By the way, Starwood Hotels & Resorts even forwarded the Cubans' hotel room deposits to the U.S. Treasury Department.

Google, MSN and Yahoo operations in China are subsidiaries of U.S. companies, and are subject to U.S. law.  An invocation of U.S. law such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act could mean that all data must be supplied to the U.S. government for data mining, predictive modeling, surveillance, monitoring, etc.   
Improbable?  Well, didn't we say that it was improbable that airlines would supply passenger data to the U.S. government?  Didn't the airlines swear that they didn't?  And didn't six airlines come forth eventually to say that they had indeed done just that?
P.S.  Here is a hypothetical case: if someone inside Cuba gets on the Internet and uses the Google, MSN and Yahoo search engines, would they block the person based upon the IP address and/or domain name (.cu)?  U.S. companies are prohibited from providing a service to Cuba or Cuban nationals.


You want a English-language translation?  Well, you won't get it from me because I am pleading incompetence.

[in translation]  The assaulters came from a special group without any identifiable signs and they did not disclose their identity.  One saying among the militia police was that "a functional department was enforcing the law" and therefore the militia police did not interfere.  I lack knowledge about the law enforcement departments and I cannot tell between the Ministry of National Security and the National Administration for Protection of State Secrets.  But if this functional department had any connection with the National Administration for Protection of State Secrets, then the assault against the human rights activist as described is tantamount to a attack against the top leader in the organization because it is in direct contravention to the will of that top leader, and all those illegal acts will be subject to legal sanction.

How come?

Who is the director of the National Administration for Protection of State Secrets?  The human rights and constitutional expert Xia Yong (夏勇).  Who is Xia Yong?  He was the chief editor and translator of the collection of human rights documents, "Commentary on Human Rights Treaties."  ... this is what he wrote in the foreword:

"When the people do not have political rights, then they don't have the legal qualification and power to express their wishes and protect their own rights and interests, especially with respect to preventing others (particular those in power) to hurt and injure them.  Without political rights, they cannot be their own masters; if they cannot be their own masters, they cannot be the masters of the nation ... in this manner, when the powerful take advantage of the people's exemplary virtues and when the powerful think that their will represent the natural order of things, the people are letting others become their masters.  Wouldn't their fates be sad and tragic then?"

...  serious fallout from Taiwan President Chen's New Years speech has now hit...President Bush has been briefed on Chen's remarks Sunday that he was "considering" abolishing the National Unification Council, that it was time to press for Taiwan, under that name, to be admitted to the United Nations, and that he might also seek to amend the Constitution prior to the 2008 presidential election (on Taiwan, as in the US).

President Bush is said to be "personally furious", along the lines of "he did it AGAIN, after what happened last time?"

"The last time", Bush ended up feeling he had no choice but to write a stern personal letter to Chen reminding him of the facts of life...a humiliating move which was followed up by Taiwan's worst nightmare...Bush stood next to then-Premier of China Wen, and repeated his opposition to Taiwan independence, and any unilateral threats to the status quo.  Now Taiwan faces a repeat of this, up to and including the threat of Bush standing next to President Hu Jin-tao, when he arrives in April, and making similar remarks.

Observers report Taiwanese diplomats today seeking guidance from both the NSC and State on what will calm the waters, but it does not sound like the US side is making things easy for them. In addition to demanding a background explanation for the domestic political context, the US wants to hear Chen himself repeat his promises NOT to do the things he discussed Sunday.  In the often arcane catechism of Cross Strait "dialogue", Chen will be expected to repeat "The Four Noes"...specific things he and Taiwan will not do.

Other reference: Taipei Times.

干部 广 家感

消息 日益 应将 访 和化

话意 广 锐不 广 方官

[in translation]

According to information, during his pre-Chinese New Year inspection tour of Fujian province, Hu Jintao held a meeting with cadres in Fuzhou city with Fujian provincial and city officials.  Attending officials said that he pointedly mentioned the Guangzhou Panyu and Shanwei incidents, and that surprised everybody.

The source quoted Hu Jintao as saying that as China develops rapidly economically, wealth inequality is increasing and conflicts at the base-level of society is also increasing.  He pointed out that given the underlying conflicts at the base-level of society, the base-level cadres should not attempt to cover up these conflicts and they should not send the problems to the central government for resolution by forcing the people to go to petition in Beijing.  If the base-level cadres cannot handle these problems and resolve the base-level conflicts, there will be social instability.

Attending Fujian officials said that President Hu's speech was meant to remind the base-level officials that the Guangdong Panyu and Shanwei incidents were merely the tip of the iceberg.  The intensification of base-level conflicts is not solely the problem of Guangdong, because other local governments around the nation are facing the same problem.  Upon information, many of the Fujian local officials had never heard of the Panyu incident or the Shanwei incident, so they began afterwards to ask around what those incidents were about.

The last paragraph is funny and sad.  The censorship inside China is so successful that even the government officials who needed to know does not know.  How will they find out now?  There is nothing on Taishi and Shanwei published in China other than the Xinhua reports.  Oh, yes, they can read about it in English via Google, at which point they will be routed right to EastSouthWestNorth!!!

A chicken smuggled across the border from mainland China has died here of bird flu, Hong Kong officials announced late Wednesday. The case raised new questions about whether Chinese provincial officials are concealing the true extent of the disease.

A villager living near the Chinese border obtained the chicken last Thursday from a mainland relative in neighboring Guangdong Province, which denies having the disease. The chicken fell sick and died Tuesday, said Dr. Thomas Sit, Hong Kong's acting assistant director of agriculture, fisheries and conservation, adding that preliminary tests quickly confirmed that the chicken had the A(H5N1) avian influenza virus.

The people in Hong Kong could not care less about what they do (or won't do) in China.  It is all about what happened to the chickens within a 5 kilometer radius of ground zero.  If this were in China, all birds (including chickens, ducks, geese, doves and migratory birds) would be culled immediately.  But this is Hong Kong and the law only says that private citizens cannot breed more than 20 birds.  So this leaves a huge legal loophole which can be exploited at will.
(Sing Tao) According to the Fishery and Agricultural Department survey, 42 families own just more than 200 birds within the five kilometer zone.  So far, only ten birds have been voluntarily turned over for culling.
Case #1: 68-year-old Grandma Kao had 8 chickens.  She said: "I bought eleven chickens in Yuen Long two to three years ago.  I gave three of them to my daughter for the Chinese New Year.  She ate them, and she is physicall fine.  I brought them up when they were tiny ... I intend to eat them myself.  These chickens are helathy, and they lay eggs every day."  The government workers could not persuade her.  But after they left, she deicded to slaughter four of the chickens.  The other four were in the hills right now, so she will execute them when they "return home."

(Photo: Wen Wei Po: Grandma Kao slaughtering the four chickens for the media show)
Case #2: A villager named Lee had four chickens, three ducks and more than 20 doves.  He rushed home to attempt to prevent government workers from taking his brood away: "Did you ask me?  Have you ever been a father?  Have you ever given your 'children' away?"  The government workers explained that owning more than 20 household birds requires a farm license, and it would be against the law otherwise.  Lee said: "You are using the law to oppress me ... common citizens are not able to fight back."
Here is the ESWN blogger's cynical question: if the villager named Lee released enough doves so that he only has four chickens, three ducks and twelve doves left in his possesion, would his nineteen birds be untouchable under the law?  And if the government takes the birds away anyway, can he ask for a judicial review?

It is necessary to crush once again the infamous thing, as Voltaire liked to say. This religious intolerance that accepts no mockery, no satire, no ridicule. We citizens of secular and democratic societies are summoned to condemn a dozen caricatures judged offensive to Islam. Summoned by who? By the Muslim Brotherhood, by Syria, the Islamic Jihad, the interior ministers of Arab countries, the Islamic Conferences - all paragons of tolerance, humanism and democracy.

So, we must apologise to them because the freedom of expression they refuse, day after day, to each of their citizens, faithful or militant, is exercised in a society that is not subject to their iron rule. It's the world upside down. No, we will never apologise for being free to speak, to think and to believe.

Because these self-proclaimed doctors of law have made this a point of principle, we have to be firm. They can claim whatever they like but we have the right to caricature Muhammad, Jesus, Buddha, Yahve and all forms of theism. It's called freedom of expression in a secular country ...

For centuries the Catholic church was little better than this fanaticism. But the French Revolution solved that, rendering to God that which came from him and to Caesar what was due to him.

If you have never seen the cartoons, here is a link.

On December 8, 1994, the Kelamayi City (Xinjiang province) Department of Education put on a show for 25 higher-level officials from the "Free Education and Literacy Assessment Team" with 796 elementary and middle school students at the Friendship Theater.  The theater curtain was too close to the stage light and caught fire.  Fireballs were dropping down on the stage from the air.  At that moment, a Kelamayi Department of Education official told the students: "Everybody sit down.  Don't move!  Let the leaders leave first!"

The students were very obedient and sat still in their seats.  They waited for the 25 officials sitting in the front row to exit in the rear.  Then the teachers organized the students to evacuate.  But by that time, the lights had failed and fire was everywhere.  The only exit was engulfed in flames (note: all other fire safety exits had been padlocked by the Friendship Theater management).

All 796 students from 15 schools were engulfed in flames.  323 died (including 288 students) and 132 suffered fire burns.  Of the 40 plus teachers, 36 perished and the state of their bodies showed that they were genuine heros and heroines.  Example 1: When Teacher Meng's body was found, her back and head was burned to charcoal but there was a student underneath her arms and his heart was still beating!  Example 2: Teacher Zhou held open the curtain door.  All he had to do was to take one step forward and he would be safe himself.  But he stood there to prop the iron door open with his shoulders.  Surviving students saw him last using his hands to push three students out before falling himself.  Example 3: Elementary school principal Zhang and deputy school principal Ni kept pushing students out of the fire.  Their bodies were burned almost beyond recognition, but they had their arms open with several dead students around them, like mother hens protecting their brood.

Of the 20 plus Kelemayi officials, all survived.  In the wake of the ensuing public outrage (and that was in the pre-Internet age), many of the officials were tried and jailed.  The most ignominous case was a female official who was familiar with the setup in the Friendship Theater.  When she saw that there was no way to go through the exit, she went into the restroom, locked the door and refused to let anyone else in.  Afterwards, more than 100 bodies of students were found outside the restroom.  She was sentenced to four years in jail for dereliction of duty.  She told the press: "I am very experienced in escaping with my life."  That could be a famous saying too.