China warned on web censorship plans

China's efforts to stifle dissent by controlling what people say online are doomed to fail, a renowned Chinese artist has said.
The warning was issued by Ai Weiwei in an article written for the UK's Guardian newspaper.

China has recently introduced rules that seek to ensure that when people go online they use their real names. Mr Ai said although the rules might delay the day government censorship failed, there was no doubt it would.

"In the long run, they (the government) must understand it's not possible for them to control the internet unless they shut it off - and they can't live with the consequences of that," he wrote.

Camera ban

The rise of blogs, social media and electronic communication had given rise to new sense of freedom among Chinese people, he said. The government may still put out news via officially backed channels, said Mr Ai, but the net meant that people did not just have to accept this view of the world. Instead, even before the official version was printed or broadcast people have discussed it online and, in the process, were learning how to exercise their own judgement and rights. This relative freedom to talk would give rise to bigger changes that the government would not be able to curb, said Mr Ai.

"The internet is uncontrollable. And if the internet is uncontrollable, freedom will win," he said.
Mr Ai's most recent brush with the Chinese authorities came earlier in April when he was told to turn off webcams he had set up throughout his house. The cameras were installed, he said, as a way to encourage transparency.

In April 2011, Mr Ai was detained by the police in China for 81 days during a crackdown on political activists. He is now banned from leaving Beijing.

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26 May 2024

25 05 2024