EU takes proper stand against Chinese censorship

Too hot for ChinaImage by MrGluSniffer via Flickr
It has been mere hours since my last posting, in which I make clear my fealings about the newly issued rules for foreign media outlets operating in China, and already I am impressed by the reaction of the Europeans. Can't say that I often agree with the EU, but on this issue all citizens who live in societies free of government censorship should be deeply disturbed by such measures.

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China's Draconian Media Policies Get Worse

Taimiao in BeijingImage via WikipediaFOXNews.com - China Tightens Controls on Foreign Media - Asia

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The state-owned media outlet Xinhua Press today issued strict restrictions on the content distributed by foreign media on the mainland. Bloomberg summed up the scope of the new rules as follows,

Foreign news agencies are subject to approval by Xinhua and may face warnings, demands for rectification, suspension or cancellation of their qualifications to release information for breaching the rules, the statement said. 
Under the rules, foreign agencies must not release information that undermines China's national unity, sovereignty or territorial integrity; endangers China's national security, reputation and interests; or violates China's religious policies or preaches ``evil cults or superstition.'' 
The regulations also ban incitement of hatred or discrimination among ethnic groups, spreading false information, disrupting China's economic and social order, or undermining China's ``social ethics'' or cultural traditions.

Bloomberg LP, Reuters Plc and Dow Jones & Co. are among overseas companies that sell news and information to subscribers in China. Xinhua, while acting as the industry regulator, also competes with foreign news agencies to sell information.

Effectively, Beijing is drawing a line in the sand and the west is simply expected to respect China's sovereignty and stay on the other side. Unfortunately, the Chinese people have decided to go along with its government's overt attempts to drastically limit their access to information. This fact simply astonishes me, especially considering the countries growing exposure to the west and dependence on foreign markets to feed their industrialization. One would think that businesses and individuals in less accessible Chinese villages would demand access to information as the internet becomes more widely available. This could be an attempt by the communist government to institute these rules early, before the entire Chinese internet market becomes too accustomed to certain media outlets, but how can they realistically expect foreign media conglomerates not to declare all out war on the government. I think such careless decisions by the current leadership could prove disastrous in the long term, but these rules aren't set in stone and a little pressure from the west now could avert a crisis situation.

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China Launches "Super Fruit" Satellite

The traditional (  中國                   ) and ...Image via WikipediaDNA - Evolutions - Shijian-8: China launches satellite for super fruit and vegetables - Daily News & Analysis

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The Chinese have launched an ambitious agricultural program into orbit in the form of 2000 seeds on a recoverable platform, which will be exposed to cosmic radiation and micro gravity. China has been experimenting with similar research involving rice and wheat seeds with the result being a substantial increase in yields. This is China's 23rd 'recoverable' satellite launch and marks the first solely dedicated to seed enrichment. As the country continues to grow and more Chinese become accustomed to a higher standard of living, the demand for food in the PRC is also going to continue to rise indefinitely.

Rising populations in Africa and other less developed regions will undoubtedly put strain on global markets, and desertification of China's already scarce farmland has already put the country in a position of great dependence on global markets to feed its population. It will be important for Beijing to successfully reap the maximum yields from the arable land it still hasn't polluted if it is to confidently promise its citizens that they will have sufficient food stocks to prevent the onset of famine in the event of a natural disaster or other crisis. This research is absolutely a step in the right direction, and I hope the US and other governments have green-lighted similar programs to help China, India and every other developing nations deal with the strain of growing populations with limited resources.

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Guangdong workers get guaranteed wage levels

Guangdong workers get guaranteed wage levels

China's Southeastern province of Guangdong has announced that it has formally instituted minimum wage standards for its companies. The wage rate varies depending on the location of the company, but most workers below management level should receive some raise in the monthly wage.

"The minimum wage ranges from a high of 780 yuan (US$96.18) a month in Guangzhou to the lowest rate in rural regions of 450 yuan (US$55.49) a month." Though these levels probably seem repugnant to Americans who are used to making these monthly salaries in one hour of work, every extra dollar offers Chinese peasants hope for a brighter future.

Chinese Expand Internet Censorship- Set Sights on Google Earth

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBaseMapping China and the law

I found this posting from the Ogle Earth weblog, a Google Earth development community, particularly interesting. I am not surprised that the CCP has grown wary of companies such as Google, whose stated goal is to undermine suppression of individual freedom, and I used to believe that Google would never succumb to the pressures that be when pressed about their sensitive technologies. However, I have been very disappointed in the company since they decided to comply with Chinese censorship guidelines for their blogs and search results. 
For the companies executives and founders to seriously claim that they are "doing no evil" by removing any reference to the 1989 Tiananmen Square massacre from their search results, they must not have meant it when they made it their companies mission in the first place. I still hold out hope that they will soon do the right thing and refuse to self-censor their content. Who cares, the government censors still control the network, so they can just filter anything they want themselves, there is no reason to make it any easier for them. Some estimates place the number of government employed internet censors at roughly 30,000, giving them a more than adequate cyber-Gestapo to make sure the government doesn't look too bad. 
I have no doubt that any attempt to restrict satellite imagery of their territory would be quickly met with protest and even temporary shutdown from Google's Chinese operation, but it should not take such a drastic event for the greatest company in the history of the world (at least as far as I am concerned) to do the right thing.
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