Censorship fight heats up in China

Chinese journalists are taking an understated approach to their calls for reform of China’s censorship laws.

As usual, the Chinese government is walking a tightrope here. They have huge problems on their hands with corruption and other problems, and a free press would force them to account for the problems. In the meantime, the press is growing more difficult to control, and you have social media as well adding more pressure. It will be fascinating to see how this progresses.

‘V for Vendetta’ airs in China

If you despise totalitarian government, you’re probably a fan of “V for Vendetta” if you’ve had the opportunity to see the film. If you love freedom, this film, and particularly the film above, will inspire you.

It’s for that reason that the news of out China today is so shocking. Somehow, the censors allowed this film to be broadcast in China. It was already an underground favorite, but now millions in China may be suddenly questioning their own government. We can only hope.

China extending censorship to movies

Is China fighting a losing battle with its ridiculous censorship crusade?

Authoritarian governments need to control information to control their population, so none of this nonsense is a surprise. Now the Chinese are extending this strategy to movies:

China has proposed a new law to ban film content which it deems to disturb social stability or promote religious fanaticism.

The Movie Industry Promotion Bill would also forbid foreign firms or individuals from filming without a government-sanctioned partner.

Correspondents say this is part of an overall tightening of China’s grip over its cultural industries.

China has long banned the screening of films deemed politically sensitive.

And some film-makers have steered clear of controversial issues likely to upset the authorities, observers say.

But this draft bill adds even more categories open to censorship. It states that films must not harm national honour and interest, incite ethnic hatred, spread “evil cults” or superstition, or propagate obscenity, gambling, drug abuse, violence or terror.

The Chinese are trying their best with this despicable strategy, but can this work in a modern world where we have social media and mobile phones? Have they seen what’s going in with the Arab Spring and now even in Russia?

For example, if people want mobile gambling apps, they are going to get them. But the same phones that permit this technology can also be used for social networking, sharing photos, videos and protest ideas.

This tight grip can’t last too long.

Use of apps explodes in China

Not surprisingly, use of apps is growing fast in China.

China, represented by the red line, began the year ranked tenth in terms of app sessions, with 1.8% of all sessions tracked by Flurry. By April, China had climbed to fifth with 2.7% of all sessions, and, in July, overtook the United Kingdom to become the second largest country, with 5.4% of sessions. By the end of October, China had further grown to 7.3% of sessions. The U.S., which declined in sessoin-share over the year, finished in October with 47%. If both China and the U.S. were to continue along their respective trajectories, China could overtake the U.S. by the end of 2013, with both countries converging around 23% app session-share.

The implications here are huge. Of course from a business point of view, sellers of apps have a huge opportunity in China. But it’s also important from a cultural point of view. The Chinese government wants to control its population by controlling information, but mobile apps present yet another source of information. Like the despots in the Middle East, the dictators in China will have to face a more educated and informed citizenry, and that will cause them problems.

Bob Dylan in China

Bob Dylan was at the Worker’s Gymnasium in Beijing on April 6th, but there was a ton of controversy relating to his concerts in China. Dylan recently came out with a scathing statement denying that there was any censorship of his songs or lyrics during his performances.

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