As I have pointed out in a previous post China is working hard to keep a shine on the veneer that it wants the world to see as the Olympic Games begin on August 8th.
What they want you to see:
- An ancient culture that has made a smooth transition to a modern economic powerhouse
- A new freedom for the Chinese despite their political infrastructure being the same
- The country’s ability to go before the world and put on a spectacular show that the West would be proud of
What is actually happening?
- China has clamped down further on issuing business visas, government officials said Thursday, in the latest expansion of already-tight entry restrictions for next month’s Olympic Games. This is covered well in an article at Yahoo! News
- Arrest of dissidents for breaking probation terms (how convenient timing wise, huh?)
- Protest zones being established for Olympic Games (I can imagine that these are conveniently placed in a nice town not so near Beijing)
So how is this related to the internet you ask? Good question. It is related especially regarding the arrest of one dissident, Du Daobin, who was on probation from an incident dating back to 2004. He was arrested this week having been accused of posting articles on overseas websites and receiving guests without permission. This was his probation violation that will take him out of circulation for at least the length of the Games and who knows how much longer. China desperately wants to appear like a free nation to the rest of us but it’s clear that they are not and are not working toward that end.
Reporters Without Borders says it best:
“Du was living under a permanent threat,” the group said. “He could have been imprisoned at any time under the sentence he received more than four years ago. He is the third leading cyber-dissident to be imprisoned in the run-up to the Olympic Games, after Hu Jia and Huang Qi.”
I realize that this may be a bit light on the internet marketing side but the real underlying theme here is still the fact the internet is ideally a free market. This allows all of us to do what we do and make a living doing it. There are huge emerging markets out there on the horizon but will political forces limit our ability to do business there? It’s a big “to be determined” but I have to suspect that the barriers to entry are going to be high. Even Google has trouble there. Red flag anyone?
I don’t plan on posting about this anymore simply because it looks like there will be more of the same even after the Olympics are long gone. My hope is that the next time you hear from me on this subject is because real change has occurred there and this thing called the internet acts the same in China as it does throughout the rest of the free world.
Question: If this environment of fear continues do you think that China will ever be the economic force it could be?