Shocking. Just shocking. Thank you CNN for unraveling the mystery and revealing that Chinese people have computers! And not only that. They use the Internet! And not only that, they actually don’t seem to really give a shit about the firewall. Oh, the humanity!
So CNN has been on a week-long blitzkrieg of the Internet in China. It must have been disappointing as the week wore on and producers started realizing they didn’t have a story.
I assume CNN presumed there would be this big undercurrent of angry netizens who are in this protracted slugfest with easily-painted overlord censors. But as these reports hint at, the number of Chinese netizens continues to explode, e-commerce is thriving, and in many ways Chinese websites have surpassed US competitors.
Shocking Revelation #1: Most Chinese citizens are not looking to overthrow their government. Think of it this way. You’re a kid. You’ve wanted to go to Disney World your entire life. Grew up watching the cartoons, the movies. Had the shirt. Had the hat. One day, your parents finally take you. And the next thing you know, you’re inside the park, next in line for Space Mountain, and some guy comes up to you. Hey kid, Mickey Mouse is one bad dude, he says. How about you get out of line (pun intended), kick Mickey in the shin, and burn his house down?
Shocking Revelation #2: Ah, Earth to Matil, Chinese love their cellphones. A good portion of my Chinese friends only use their phones to go online. And they’re always on. Keep in mind, I’d be hiking through some tea fields in the middle of nowhere, and the old man walking the water buffalo next to me starts blowing up– “Ga ga oooh la la…” Boom. Pulls out the new iPhone before its even released in the States, and screams, “喂!” (=wei = hello)!
Shocking Revelation #3: CNN may be surprised how much information is actually available online. There’s a lot out there not containing the buzzwords in this redundant story: Empty Chair, sex, protest, jasmine, Tengbiao, Hillary, Huntsman.
This also reminds me of something a friend and former university instructor said during a poli-sci class. Now, like most things from my college days, I forget the specifics. But he was either telling us a) netizens are 99.9% useless morons, or b) the New York Times isn’t a great source for following politics. Either way, a bunch of students got all riled up over it. Apparently, they went home and sent him some ugly emails about dissing the net and the NYT. The next class, he pulled up the homepage, where it lists the “Most Viewed” and “Most E-mailed” stories of the week. Number one in both: Fat Kid Numa Numa Dance.
Shocking Revelation #4: Major foreign companies and many individual foreigners are clients of high-powered VPNs and have no issue surfing the Internet. None. Ever.
Shocking Revelation #5: There are a huge number of free VPNs that can be easily downloaded in any Chinese city. Eventually, particularly around political events, your free VPN might be discovered by censors and rendered ineffective. But if you have the extra 20 minutes, you can find a new one.
Shocking Revelation #6: While Chinese websites may have stolen a lot of the IPR to create look-alike Chinese versions of popular US sites, many of those are now outperforming the original. I actually miss some of the websites I had grown accustomed to using in China. Top of the list might be Qunar.com a travel site far better than Expedia or any crap hosted in the States. In fact…
Shocking Revelation #7: People can live without Facebook, Youtube, and Twitter. The two sites that suck to have blocked are Gmail and Wikipedia. Besides those two, I never had a problem finding information on other sites. It’s funny that the land of democracy and free market competition is so stunned that more than one form of a company exists. Baidu, Renren, Douban, QQ, Weibo, Qunar. They’re legit.
Shocking Revelation #8: A lot of things blocked in the Chinese language are not blocked in English, and vice versa.
Shocking Revelation #9: Many sensitive web pages actually still load. It is only when you stay on them for a while that the next click may lead to a connection disruption.
Shocking Revelation #10: You can still download porn.