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Last Updated: Thursday, 26 January 2006, 15:14 GMT
Chinese bloggers debate Google
Google's decision to launch a censored version of its search engine in China has drawn opprobrium from many bloggers around the world.

The BBC News website spoke to bloggers in China and Hong Kong to get their perspective.

Yan Sham-Shackleton, Hong Kong, Glutter

Chinese Loafer, Beijing, Busted in Beijing

Roland Soong, Hong Kong, EastSouthWestNorth

Kevin Wen, Beijing, Kevin Wen's Web


Yan Sham-Shackleton
Yan Sham-Shackleton's blog was barred for a time
The problem is not that Google is censoring its search service, it is that China doesn't have free speech.

But I'm always supportive of kicking up a fuss about American companies. Yahoo, Google and Microsoft are part of the "Great Firewall". They helped build the infrastructure to block information.

If I send an email to anyone with a Yahoo.cn account which has the words "democracy" or "civil society", it will bounce back.

These companies are the keepers of information from a billion people for profit. Google is just the latest manifestation of the bigger story.

My blog has been affected by this. On my 30th birthday I wrote about my birthday wish: a democratic China. I went on holiday to China, stayed in a state-owned hotel, and checked my blog from there.

When I returned to Hong Kong, I couldn't get onto the site. Even the host had been blocked. It became a bit of a cause celebre. Bloggers around the world turned their sites black as a gesture of solidarity.

Some bloggers may say this is not an important issue but I don't think enough attention can be paid to Chinese internet censorship. If I were based a few miles across the border, I wouldn't be able to do what I am doing now.

The internet is the way forward to break the silence in China. Every media outlet is state owned. The internet is the back door. For the people who care, it is a hopeful technology.


There's too much Western media emphasis on internet censorship in China.

Experienced bloggers know how to use proxy servers to get around the government firewall and access Google's main English language site.

Up till now I have used the local Chinese language search engine Baidu. A lot of results in that are censored anyway. What's the real difference? Even if you can search for a banned site, the government's firewall will block it anyway.

Most people in China search for local news, MP3s and software downloads. Some people do talk about politics but the general populace is not very interested.

Perhaps it's because there has been so much economic growth or perhaps it's because historically people have been suppressed by the government, but people don't want to go there. They don't seek out what the government is doing to Falun Gong.

I blog about Western media perceptions of Beijing. I want to present the complexity of life in China. I don't think I have any political agenda. But my expatriate friends tell me that anything out of the ordinary will be considered political here so I find myself pulled into the political.

In China, that can be unavoidable.


Roland Soong
Roland Soong says people should consider the typical Chinese user
I wish somebody would take the position of the typical Chinese internet user. If one is going to advocate a boycott, I would like the criteria to be the material improvement in the life of the typical Chinese internet user.

I think talk of boycotting Google is a bad idea. People in China will not appreciate that because these are esoteric issues for them.

There are a number of search engines and there are many different ways of searching. People want more choice. Don't tell them they are free by advocating a boycott.

I conducted a little test. I searched for mention of the circumstances under which a supplement called Bingdian (Freezing Point) was recently banned in China. The editor of this supplement had written a letter of complaint.

Any mention of this on the local Baidu search engine has disappeared. In fact, when you put a banned search term in, the engine shuts down. If you put in a term like June 4 [the date of the Tiananmen Square massacre] the result is "Not Found". And then you can't search again for 30 minutes. It's a very upsetting experience.

But with Google.cn there are different ways of finding things. You can try any number of subtle combinations. Google gives you more opportunities to triangulate.

There are all kinds of devious ways in which internet democracy can work. Better to have something than nothing.

People are missing the point if they set up the debate that Google is evil. In the end it's down to local laws. The real battle is for the Chinese to fight this law.


Kevin Wen
Kevin Wen says most people in China blog on lifestyle issues
Lots of people blog in China. I work for local blog host, Bokee, and the vast majority of our bloggers write about lifestyle.

There isn't a vast difference between Western and Chinese bloggers except that few Chinese bloggers talk about political issues.

If Google applies censorship, it's not a surprise to anybody. Any company doing business in China has to change its strategy. Chinese businesses do exactly the same. You have to follow the rules of the Chinese government.

All Chinese people know that their expression is censored. We don't need people outside continually reminding us of this. We don't really know how it's going to change but we do hope that it will change.

And if we always talk about censorship, it is easy to forget that we have another life; there are so many things that Chinese people are doing.

My blog talks about internet developments and entrepreneurial activities. The Chinese government is really encouraging original innovation from Chinese people. Emerging technologies are on the rise and the government gives us a lot of support.

So much is changing and people will try to bypass the "Great Firewall" to get information. I don't think the government and Google censorship can block all information and news. Things can be organised in so many different ways.

Considering how much China is changing, how much development there is, people will be able to get the information they need in the future.

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