Americans could learn a lot from the Chinese. Their massive industrialization for the last 30 years is unmatched by anyone else in the world, and hosting the 2008 Olympics legitimized its status as a global influence.
Still, there is a certain blemish on the face of China’s rapid acceleration into the public eye, and that blemish is the perceived abolishment of human rights.
One of the more notable examples is something near and dear to every American’s heart – the right to free speech. However, while I believe that China could do more to repair its internal strife, there is so much they are doing right.
In 1998, a program known as the Golden Shield Project began. Its purpose is to direct and improve Internet traffic for law enforcement officers, but in reality, it is a form of Internet censorship. The GSP employs more than 30,000 officers to police the Internet and remove and block any objectionable content.
If, for example, you were in China and wanted to look up an article about Tibetan protests, you would find an error screen or be redirected to a Chinese nationalist page. So why am I not sitting here, stewing in my own self-righteousness? Because I think they’ve got it right.
It’s not perfect, of course. No restrained society ever is. But what we are witnessing is the afterbirth of a nation that up until recently was a walking violation of human rights. China has taken huge steps in the direction of slowly opening itself up to the world, this time on its own terms. “I think there’s often a misconception, particularly in this western context, that China is under a heavy police state, and everything is caught right away,” said Carrie Currier, director of Asian studies. “The average person does not feel that same sense of censorship on a regular basis, but your intellectuals, your elites that are questioning the system find that problematic and that’s what we get to hear.”
A usatoday.com article estimated that more than 220 million Chinese were online as of February 2008. And while Americans would be up in arms if someone put a delay on their blog postings so that they could be approved, the Chinese remain steadfastly disinterested. Why?
The risks outweigh the benefits. Americans can dig up dirt on anything in the world. In reality, there is no need to have that kind of all-access pass and that is the genius of the Chinese firewall.
So it’s time America drops the act. This is not a second Cold War. China and America are two fundamentally different nations. America’s desire to create another democratic power in the world needs to be abandoned in favor of a more mature ambition: actual diplomatic relations with another country.
Libby Davis is a sophomore news-editorial journalism and history major from Coppell.