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Brittney Stewart

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When will China be free?

What will it take for China to end its human rights abuses? With the burgeoning youth of China becoming acutely aware of the oppressive nature of their government, how long do you think it will take them to change this, or convince the goverment to change? Will it be a revolution like Tunisia or Libya, if so would the U.S. aid the rebels? Will it happen in the next decade or continue to bubble beneath the surface?

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  • Oct 24 2011: As an American citizen who is exposed to both Chinese and Western viewpoints on this issue, I can say that the Western media magnifies the human rights issues in China. It does exist but it is not as severe as most Westerners believe. Most people who cry for human rights in China do so without ever going to China or even trying to understand China. Western media choose to selectively hear the minority dissidents and portray China in the worst angle possible. Just as Chinese media is somewhat censored, Western media can be extremely biased to a specific viewpoint. China is doing its best to change to be more democratic so please give it some time. Bear in mind it is the most populated country in the world so change is not a fast process. It does not need any outside forces to "free" or "save" it.
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      Oct 24 2011: we don't measure political killings and imprisonment by percent of population. and nobody argued the direction. the conversation opener question exactly asks "when will", and not "will ever".
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        Oct 24 2011: QUOTE: "...we don't measure political killings and imprisonment by percent of population."

        Who is this "we" you are talking about?

        And are you implying that even one political killing is too many?

        [If so, I heartily agree with you!]

        Now, if that is your position, would you mind providing a list of all the countries that have not engaged in political killing?

        Here is my list:

        -
        -
        -

        Please feel free to add to it.
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          Oct 24 2011: we is me and my brother. anyone is invited to join.

          we do measure, on the other hand, the systems established to prevent such killing, threatening and imprisonment. as of now, the government has to use deception, secrecy and a massive propaganda machine to get away with killing one muslim terrorist suspect, who happens to be an american citizen. in china, the government can simply apprehend such individuals, and then execute them, not even pretending to be a nice guy.

          and no, it is not just style. if the establishment can do such things with ease, there is a much greater chance they actually will do. the price attached is low. in the US, a politician can lose the next elections if goes too far. they have their hands bound.
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        Oct 24 2011: So what you are saying is, if the government has to use deception, secrecy and a massive propaganda machine to kill a political dissident this is somehow better than if the government just does it "openly?"

        Why?

        Because it indicates there are systems that, if they weren't circumvented, would prevent such things?

        That's not a particularly very high moral ground to be looking down from.

        Personally, I do not condone killing under any circumstances but I don't think world leaders will take my opinion into account when they make their decisions.

        A single political killing is enough to render the system, under which it was undertaken, equal in quality to any other system that engages in such practices. The difference, if any, is merely one of degree.

        Based on your other comments, I suspect you do not know how "things are done" politically here in China.

        The politicians here are not that much different than they are anywhere else. The days of Chairman Mao are long past and they are not given as free a reign as you seem to think.

        Have you ever been here?
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          Oct 24 2011: absolutely. if a criminal is on the run, it is much better than if he can commit crimes unchallenged. anyone argues that? i do want to live in a world in which criminals live in fear of getting caught. i better live in a country where politicians fear their citizens, then vice versa. of course, that does not mean i want government to do bad things. quite the opposite.

          and that last comment about who is where is quite cheap and older than dirt. the notion that a certain point of view is simply disqualified by the lack of personal experience is wrong on so many levels i can't even summarize. so better stop being that sneaky, and if you have any hard information about the level of freedom in china, optionally compared to the US, you just put that on the table. hinting that you are such a well informed person is not good enough.
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        Oct 24 2011: Krisztián,

        You seem to have hit your emotional threshold and gotten into the whole personal attack mode again (assuming I am attacking you and then "counter-attacking" in return.)

        Why would you assume asking you if you have been in China is "sneaky?"

        There is nothing "sneaky" about it. It's a question.

        Have you ever been here?

        All of the "other stuff*" is simply you imagining (wrongly) my motives. As for "hard information" what would you like to know?

        ------------
        * " ... that last comment about who is where is quite cheap and older than dirt. the notion that a certain point of view is simply disqualified by the lack of personal experience is wrong on so many levels i can't even summarize. so better stop being that sneaky, and if you have any hard information about the level of freedom in china, optionally compared to the US, you just put that on the table. hinting that you are such a well informed person is not good enough.
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        Oct 24 2011: Krisztián,

        What part of your argument would you like me to refute?

        You haven't actually made an argument of any real substance. You have expressed an opinion or two.

        Collectively, you opinions imply you feel governments are "immoral," with some more so than others.

        My "counter-argument" to that is all governments operate within a similar self-defined mandate and the difference is one of degree. Which apparently you agree with.

        [And those two "opinions" sound remarkably similar to me - although one contains a degree of emotionalism and the other less so.]

        A murder who kills one person, and a murder who kills ten people, are both murderers. Or, on a more positive note, a good samaritan who helps one person, and a good samaritan who helps ten people, are both good samaritans.

        You also seem to think the US is more "free" than China. You have offered nothing more than an opinion and, as usual, once you make a claim, you expect someone else to provide "hard information" to refute it.

        My "opinion" such as it is is based on two points:

        - Governments everywhere impose restrictions on their citizens (you agree.)
        - I have lived in both countries and find China to be more "open" and less restrictive than the US.

        I am not speaking about some philosophical ideal, or political abstraction, I am talking about mundane, everyday stuff, like being able to do whatever you would like to do, whether in business, or in your personal life.

        And yes, if you "break a rule" in China, or in the US, or anywhere else, there will be consequences. The rules, and the consequences, are not a secret.
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          Oct 24 2011: if you believe china is more open and less restrictive, i give you a task:

          launch a campaign in the US, and call the US murderer for killing the indians, iraqis, afghans, whatever. see what happens. (help: nothing really, except you happen to meet mr bologna. in that case, you might get some pepper spray in your face.)

          then try to organize a similar campaign in china, and call them murderers for invading tibet. see how far that gets you.

          so again, we are not interested in the mere fact that there are coercion in all countries. we are interested in the details. what is forbidden in the US, and what is forbidden in china. that is the topic here.
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        Oct 25 2011: You are arguing the specific, I am arguing the general.

        And besides, you have to launch your revolutionary campaign before we engage in another "bet." (I'm holding out for my Guinness.)

        So what your saying is: You would like to have the freedom to call the Chinese murders, and you are feeling constricted because you can't come to China and do that.

        Fair enough.

        By the way, you do have the freedom to do it. And they have the freedom to dictate the consequences they will mete out.

        Are you okay with that? Or would you rather be able to choose your behaviour and the consequences?
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          Oct 25 2011: so now we have the thomas jones version of freedom. you are free to say whatever you want, then the state comes and smash your face. i certainly hope you don't hold any public office, and never will.
    • Oct 26 2011: I think judging how much freedom people want based on a few couragous individuals (dissidents) is inaccurate. Most information about freedom in China is not accessible because of government censors. On other hand people in Hong Kong can speak freely and they clearly showed they do not want to have their freedom restricted by rulers in mainland China.

      We know as a fact that, for example, the Internet in China is heavily regulated and access to information restricted?
      • Oct 26 2011: Yes, internet in China is regulated but to what extent can you say it is "heavily" regulated? It blocks some mainstream Western sites and screens certain contents. I know that the internet is almost like the symbol for free speech in the West but who says that the internet MUST be censorless? Traditional media was never censorless and even the Internet in some "free" countries can be censored or monitored somewhat. Even if internet is somewhat censored, there are many loopholes that people can pass through if they try.
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          Oct 26 2011: who says? there is no need for anyone to speak for everyone. i can say i do want to access all sites on the internet. i see no reason why should i not be able to access a site. i suppose many other people agrees with me. so who is the chinese government, who are you, and who are anyone else to tell me what sites i can visit? on what grounds? who am i hurting with it?
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          Oct 26 2011: Krisztián,

          You seem to think what you want is the standard by which the world should be governed.

          I admire you self-confidence but I doubt very much Hu Jintao will be calling you for an opinion on policy.

          Perhaps you should let him know you're available as an advisor.
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          Oct 26 2011: thomas, congratulations. you often misunderstand or misrepresent what i say. but this time your interpretation is the complete opposite of what i've actually said. nice job! :)
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          Oct 26 2011: Well, I must have picked up a trick or two from you. But let's just check to see if I have really misunderstood or misrepresented you:

          QUOTE: "who says?"

          Who says, what?

          QUOTE: "there is no need for anyone to speak for everyone."

          And who are you speaking for? "There is no need" is a universal statement. Which of course means, you are speaking for everyone.

          QUOTE: "i can say i do want to access all sites on the internet. i see no reason why should i not be able to access a site."

          You see no reason why you should not be able to access any site you like. The implication being that anyone who blocks you from looking at any site you like should not do so. They should govern themselves by your standards which includes universal access to the internet.

          QUOTE: "i suppose many other people agrees with me."

          Many do. I do. But I do not think the Chines people, or the Hungarians need to consider my opinion when making policy decisions.

          QUOTE: "so who is the chinese government, who are you, and who are anyone else to tell me what sites i can visit? on what grounds? who am i hurting with it?

          Again, the implication is "they" have no right to tell you what sites to visit BUT you have the right to tell them how to govern their own country. You expect the world to govern itself according to your standards.

          The fact that your worldview contains within it a proviso that no one should be "oppressed" does not negate the reality that your insistence it be adopted as a "universal standard" is a personal assertion the world should govern itself by your standards.

          Though you do not say so expressly, it is implicit in your comments.

          So you see, it does appear that "You seem to think what you want is the standard by which the world should be governed."
        • Oct 26 2011: Yes the Internet in China is heavily regulated. This is fairly easy to prove and you can read details here:
          wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_the_People's_Republic_of_China

          A few interesting facts:
          "Out of the Top 100 Global Websites, 12 are currently blocked in mainland China."
          "Amnesty International notes that China “has the largest recorded number of imprisoned journalists and cyber-dissidents in the world."
          "Critical comments appearing on Internet forums, blogs, and major portals such as Sohu and Sina usually are erased within minutes."

          I am not sure if you are referring to traditional media in the West or in China. Traditional media in the West were never censored (they even published items that hurt past US presidents). Many traditional medias could be influenced or controlled by certain individuals and their ideologies but that does not equal to censorship. Now with the Internet everyone has an opportunity to express themselves and become "media" which is already happening.

          Since the Internet is one of the most important tools of human kind it is very important to keep it open so that everyone in the world can communicate and gain knowledge regardless of under what regime they live.
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        Oct 26 2011: Yes, the internet is regulated here. But, so far, there is nothing I want to look up that I have not been able to find. My understanding is that pornography and "politically subversive" content is blocked.

        I believe this point will be moot soon enough as the internet will become "unblockable" - the entire web will become a proxy server.
        • Oct 26 2011: Please read the article about the Internet censorship in China:
          wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_censorship_in_the_People's_Republic_of_China

          Yes you might not need anything that is being blocked which does not really prove that major censorship of the Internet exists. For example:
          "Out of the Top 100 Global Websites, 12 are currently blocked in mainland China."
          http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_websites_blocked_in_the_People%27s_Republic_of_China

          It is great if Chinese government blocks pornography. I am not sure what do you mean politically subversive content since freedom of expression is basic human right?
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          Oct 26 2011: zdenek, no, it is not at all any more acceptable if they block porn. parents should be able to block porn if they so desire in order to protect children. adults on the other hand should be able to freely access such material.

          before anyone asks: yes, holocaust denial also should be legally accessible on the internet.

          before yet another person asks: no, child porn should not be accessible, but it is not an internet problem. child porn producers should be tracked down and stopped.
        • Oct 26 2011: Krisztian, I wanted to focus the discussion on China rather than porn so I didn't really object.

          I think theoretically porn should be allowed. Practically I see some serious problems with it. Unfortunately large number of women are forced to perform sex against their will. How can you ensure what you have online is legal in that sense. Government does not have resources to prevent this from happening.

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