The murmur of the snarkmatrix…

August § The Common Test / 2016-02-16 21:04:46
Robin § Unforgotten / 2016-01-08 21:19:16
MsFitNZ § Towards A Theory of Secondary Literacy / 2015-11-03 21:23:21
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 18:39:56
Jon Schultz § Bless the toolmakers / 2015-05-04 16:32:50
Matt § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-05 01:49:12
Greg Linch § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 18:05:52
Robin § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 05:11:02
P. Renaud § A leaky rocketship / 2014-11-04 04:13:09
Bob Stepno § The structure of journalism today / 2014-03-10 18:42:32

The So-So Firewall of China

I’ve read reports like this before: China has set up a massive internet filter inside its borders. A massive internet filter that is remarkable easy to circumvent.

It makes you wonder about the Chinese government’s real objectives:

[…] it is not important for the CCP to make the wall insurmountable, just existent.

Is there—might there be—an ongoing argument inside the Chinese government about the optimum level of internet filtering or censorship in general? That’s what’s so fascinating about stuff like this; the official “thought process” is entirely opaque. (Compare to the U.S., where it is basically public.)

And I’m still on the hunt for more/better journalism about China in general. I’m talking not about “whoah crazy trend in China!” pieces but rather “this is how the Chinese government made this decision” pieces. But maybe those, uh, just don’t exist.

August 27, 2009 / Uncategorized


Jon says…

One good source of China news of the type you seek is While they are focused specifically on geopolitics, their analysis provides a good look at what the real reasons are behind China’s decisions, whether in regards to a crackdown in Xinjiang or a dumping of US T-bills. From a recent article on the latter (since full access is only be subscription):

“Beijing is emphasizing this ‘massive’ off-loading of U.S. debt for both internal and external consumption. Domestically, it helps shape the public impression that the Chinese economy is stronger than the U.S. economy (otherwise, why sell U.S. debt?) and that the Chinese government is taking steps to free itself from its economic dependence on the United States as it shifts attention to developing a domestic consumption-driven economy. Internationally, Beijing is also trying to signal confidence through the sell-off, hoping perhaps for concessions in its other trade negotiations with the United States.

But a closer look at the pattern of Chinese Treasury holdings paints a different picture…”

The article goes on to detail that th sell off is more about restructuring the debt (from short- to long-term) becuase while loudly selling a chunk of short-term bonds, they were more quietly buying long-term US debt. Thus revealing how China’s government was maneuvering itself through this particular situation.

I’d recommend checking out Stratfor as I think it may offer more of what you are looking for in journalism that pulls back the veil on China (and any government around the world).

James Fallows recently left China, but when he was there his coverage was much better than most. Here he is on the particular question of why their Internet censorship works:

Those are both great tips!

@Gene: I’m a Fallows fan but I’d missed that piece. Thanks for the pointer.

Zack S says…

Bit late to the game on this, but I just got back from a short study in China. There’s good journalism to be found, but not likely much on the

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