Sunday, October 21, 2007

China Crisis

With a year to go before the eyes of the world are on China as it hosts the 2008 Olympics, the authorities look set to loosen their grip on press freedom. Chinese censorship of blogs and websites which disagree with Chairman Hu Jintao's regime has become notorious (see "The Great Firewall of China" published in this blog last year), but there are ways around this. The international journalists’ human rights group Reporters without Borders has published a revealing report in co-operation with the Chinese Human Rights Defenders into the internet censorship practices employed by the Chinese authorities.

According to a report in last week'sObserver, China no longer enjoys the power of veto in the UN Security Council. It was forced to backtrack in its position on Burma. As the Communist Party of the world's fourth largest economy of an increasingly freer market - but not so free elections or free dissidents -prepares to choose its next leader Will Hutton in the same paper speculates on whether Hu Jintao’s successor will be China’s Gorbachev.

However, a disturbing aspect of the Beijing Olympic story was covered in Channel 4's Unreported World which revealed the story of unscrupulous property developers forcibly removing residents from their homes to make way for luxury apartments and cash in on the Olympic dividend.

If this blog was based in China, it would most likely be censored or shut down and its author harassed by the authorities if not jailed. Isn't freedom of expression a great thing?

True to the old Chinese proverb, it looks like we’re living in interesting times.

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