Posted July 24, 2008 10:28 am by with 5 comments

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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:

  1. An ancient culture that has made a smooth transition to a modern economic powerhouse
  2. A new freedom for the Chinese despite their political infrastructure being the same
  3. 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?

  1. 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
  2. Arrest of dissidents for breaking probation terms (how convenient timing wise, huh?)
  3. 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?

  • What fear? One dissident’s discomfort does not mean that all the Chinese are afraid and keeping quiet. Enough proof of the Chinese pride in their country was brought to the fore during the Olympic torch protests. The Internet was taken over by Chinese bloggers completely supporting their country, and its government.
    There is indeed a great future for China. They are however unlikely to be as effective as they are now as inland China gets more and more indedpendent of Central control as is already beginning to happen.
    We are still talking about a country of 1.4 billion people and a growing middle class and a reducing population of poor people.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Top 10 Celebrity List

  • Nicole,

    Call me a cynic but I would have to expect that their government’s system of “disinformation” is pretty advanced and that proliferation of positive support may not have been genuine. I hope I am wrong but ……..

    Frank Reed’s last blog post..Small and Medium Business (SMB) Search Marketing – What’s the Deal?

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  • Let us smoke the peace pipe. Let us wait and watch. Time will tell. I am charged up about China after reading Zakaria’s The Post American World.

    Nicole Price’s last blog post..Green Gifts

  • Nicole,

    Fair enough. Light up the ol’ peace pipe!

    Frank Reed’s last blog post..Frank Thinking on Marketing Pilgrim and More Today