Could China Face Reverse Censorship? Is this a Job for the Blogosphere?

china_flag.jpgTom Foremski has a crazy idea: What if websites blocked Chinese users as a form of protest toward Chinese censorship of the internet? Given the importance of a free internet to the Chinese economy, would a mass content blockage irritate the Chinese government enough to get them to loosen up restrictions? To be honest I’m not so sure – sanctions have a way of hurting the average person a lot more than the government. Not to mention the fact that China is arguably already doing itself harm by restricting the freedom of its citizens, a practice that (optimistically) will erode naturally if not by mass protest at some point in time. Why make matters worse by keeping information away from people – especially those who have already found ways to sneak around the “great firewall”.
As long as we’re talking about crazy ideas – what about an opposite mission? What if millions of blogs went on a rampage posting anti-Chinese-government essays and stories about Tiannamen Square for several days straight? It would drive the Chinese censors insane and make a noticeable statment among Chinese internet users who might be at once amused and inspired? More on Tom’s ZDNet Blog.

Nick Aster is a new media architect and the founder of has grown to become one of the web's leading sources of news and ideas on how business can be used to make the world a better place.

Prior to TriplePundit Nick worked for Mother Jones magazine, successfully re-launching the magazine's online presence. He worked for, managing the technical side of the publication for 3 years and has also been an active consultant for individuals and companies entering the world of micro-publishing. He earned his stripes working for Gawker Media and Moreover Technologies in the early days of blogging.

Nick holds an MBA in sustainable management from the Presidio School of Management and graduated with a BA in History from Washington University in St. Louis.

3 responses

  1. Why not put a satellite over China that can beam the unfiltered internet to anyone with a dish? Dishes are already fairly common, and the receivers are fairly easy to build, if not obtain. It would be a fairly compelling commercial opportunity.
    Mark Brandon
    Sustainable Log – News and Views for Socially Responsible Investors
    When you subscribe to Sustainable Log, we give $1 to Alternative Gifts International in support of a cause of your choice.

  2. Having spent a good deal of time in China in the last 7 months I found their censorship efforts more hype than reality. The technology isn’t really up to the challenge of monitoring and stoping billions of requests, and constantly changing content. If I did find blocked content, I would use However, having google get in there blocking content won’t help.

  3. I spent 10 months in China, and am well aware that the Chinese government censors the Internet. I made the mistake of writing home about “copyright infringement,” and suddenly found my domain name blocked. In addition, the government periodically tweaked their Internet filters, throwing the whole country offline for days at a time. Needless to say, this drove us Westerners crazy (although Chinese citizenry took it pretty much in stride, being used to this kind of stuff).
    So let me go on record stating that, although this form of protest may be good in theory, I doubt that in practice it would have the positive effect that is hoped for here. The Chinese government is completely uninterested in maintaining good relations with smaller companies (the cost of a business license for foreign companies there was about $150K, making it impossible for a small company to set up shop there), and they certainly don’t care about individuals! Only megacorporations have any clout with them at all — and the megacorporations are certainly not going to take any action that adversely affects their ability to sell things to that vast population.
    I think sometimes we just have to accept the fact that we’re very small fish swimming among some very honkin’ big ones. One must choose one’s battles carefully….

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