OK, well I am almost 100% convinced now that the Chinese censors deleted a post I wrote and successfully published last night.
I realize this probably sounds like a conspiracy theory but give me a minute to explain.
After already having published a blog to our page (and almost 40 people having read it) I decided to go online and add a section which mentioned talking to some friends we met, both of whose parents work for the Governement, about Tibet, Taiwan, the Dalai Lama and Chinese autocracy.
I successfully published the changes to the website and read it online just to check everything was OK when right before my eyes the post disappeared into thin air. I went back to our internet provider who has a back up copy (weebly.com), it had also disappeared from here.
I then looked up a few articles about Chinese internet censorship and found some remarkable stories. After copying some of these into another blog and writing this preamble I published this to the site.
Sure enough, around 20 seconds later this post was also deleted. At almost the same time the laptop began blocking the wifi signal. We were still able to access the internet on our mobile phone but no longer able to use the laptop.
We have now moved to a different location to access the internet, it is working fine.
The only logical conclusion would seem to be…
Maybe not, but have a read of the following article, and if you have any other horror stories then please let us know.
In Australia we have freedom of speech, China can do as it pleases to it’s own citizens (who as you will see if you have the time to read the following articles, endorse internet censorship), but we will not be silenced.
Internet Censorship in China
New York Times
Update: March 23, 2010
Internet censorship in China is among the most stringent in the world. The government blocks Web sites that discuss the Dalai Lama, the 1989 crackdown on Tiananmen Square protesters, Falun Gong, the banned spiritual movement and other Internet sites.
In January 2010, the government's policy put it squarely at odds with one of the world's most high-profile companies, as Google announced that it would cease operations in China unless its search engine results were no longer filtered. The company also cited a series of cyberattacks aimed at breaching the accounts of human rights advocates on its e-mail service, Gmail. China responded that companies doing business in the country must follow the law.
Google closed its Internet search service in March 2010 and began directing users in China to its uncensored search engine in Hong Kong. While the decision was an attempt by Google to skirt censorship requirements without running afoul of Chinese laws, it appears to have angered officials in China, setting the stage for a possible escalation of the conflict, which may include blocking the Hong Kong search service in mainland China.
Google's decision to scale back operations in China ends a nearly four-year bet that Google's search engine in China, even if censored, would help bring more information to Chinese citizens and loosen the government's controls on the Web. Instead, specialists say, Chinese authorities have tightened their grip on the Internet in recent years.
Web sites in China are required to employ people who monitor and delete objectionable content; tens of thousands of others are paid to "guide" bulletin board Web exchanges in the government's favor.
In 2009, the government pushed -- and ultimately backed off from -- a rule that would have required the installation of a new software program called "Green Dam-Youth Escort'' on all new Chinese-made computers. The software would effectively monitor a user's every move. After strong resistance at home and abroad, however, China indefinitely delayed enforcement of the rule.
China's online population has always endured censorship, but the oversight increased markedly in December 2008 after Charter 08, a pro-democracy movement led by highly regarded intellectuals, released an online petition calling for an end to the Communist Party's monopoly on power. The group's Web site, bulldog.com, was shut down.
Government censors began a campaign, ostensibly against Internet pornography and other forms of deviance. Soon the government effort had shut down more than 1,900 Web sites and 250 blogs -- not only overtly pornographic sites, but also online discussion forums, instant-message groups and even cellphone text messages in which political and other sensitive issues were broached.
Despite building one of the most technically sophisticated Internet firewalls, China still has a community of Web users that is among the most dynamic in the world. There are more than 70 million bloggers in China, and in January 2009, officials proudly announced that the number of Internet users had approached 300 million, more than in any other country.
In addition to its massive firewall and intrusive software, the government employs thousands of paid commentators who pose as ordinary Web users to counter criticism of the government. Known derisively as "50 Cent Party" members, these shapers of public opinion are often paid 50 Chinese cents a posting.
Microsoft Shuts Blog's Site After Complaints by Beijing
By DAVID BARBOZA and TOM ZELLER Jr.
Published: January 6, 2006 BEIJING, Jan. 5
Microsoft has shut the blog site of a well-known Chinese blogger who uses its MSN online service in China after he discussed a high-profile newspaper strike that broke out here one week ago.
New York Times technology reviewer David Pogue is at the 2006 Consumer Electronics Show, posting blog entries and daily video updates.
The decision is the latest in a series of measures in which some of America's biggest technology companies have cooperated with the Chinese authorities to censor Web sites and curb dissent or free speech online as they seek access to China's booming Internet marketplace.
Microsoft drew criticism last summer when it was discovered that its blog tool in China was designed to filter words like "democracy" and "human rights" from blog titles. The company said Thursday that it must "comply with global and local laws."
"This is a complex and difficult issue," said Brooke Richardson, a group product manager for MSN in Seattle. "We think it's better to be there with our services than not be there."
The site pulled down was a popular one created by Zhao Jing, a well-known blogger with an online pen name, An Ti. Mr. Zhao, 30, also works as a research assistant in the Beijing bureau of The New York Times.
The blog was removed last week from a Microsoft service called MSN Spaces after the blog discussed the firing of the independent-minded editor of The Beijing News, which prompted 100 journalists at the paper to go on strike Dec. 29. It was an unusual show of solidarity for a Chinese news organization in an industry that has complied with tight restrictions on what can be published.
The move by Microsoft comes at a time when the Chinese government is stepping up its own efforts to crack down on press freedom. Several prominent editors and journalists have been jailed in China over the last few years and charged with everything from espionage to revealing state secrets.
Another research assistant for The New York Times, Zhao Yan (no relation to Zhao Jing), was indicted last month on charges that he passed state secrets to the newspaper, which published a report in 2004 about the timing of Jiang Zemin's decision to give up the country's top military post.
China closely monitors what people here post on the Internet and the government regularly shuts Web sites and deletes postings that are considered antigovernment. A spokeswoman for Microsoft said the company had blocked "many sites" in China. The MSN Spaces sites are maintained on computer servers in the United States.
Ms. Richardson of Microsoft said Mr. Zhou's site was taken down after Chinese authorities made a request through a Shanghai-based affiliate of the company.
The shutdown of Mr. Zhao's site drew attention and condemnation this week elsewhere online. Rebecca MacKinnon, a fellow at the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School, wrote on her blog, referring to Microsoft and other technology companies: "Can we be sure they won't do the same thing in response to potentially illegal demands by an overzealous government agency in our own country?"
Robert Scoble, a blogger and official "technology evangelist" for Microsoft, took a public stand against the company's action. "This one is depressing to me," he wrote on Tuesday. "It's one thing to pull a list of words out of blogs using an algorithm. It's another thing to become an agent of a government and censor an entire blogger's work."
Another American online service operating in China, Yahoo, was widely criticized in the fall after it was revealed that the company had provided Chinese authorities with information that led to the imprisonment of a Chinese journalist who kept a personal e-mail account with Yahoo. Yahoo also defended its action by saying it was forced to comply with local law.
Mr. Zhao is so well known as a blogger that he served as China's lone jury member last year in Germany for a world blog competition. A former computer programmer, Mr. Zhao worked as a journalist for a Chinese newspaper and as a research assistant for The Washington Post before joining The New York Times in 2003.
Mr. Zhao, in an interview this evening, said he had kept a personal blog for more than a year and was regularly censored in China, even though he has tried to be careful not to write about significant issues related to his work at The Times.
He was apparently one of the first on the Internet to mention that several editors could be fired from The Beijing News. He said he posted something about possible firings on Dec. 28.
Two days later, after the top editor there was dismissed, Reuters reported that about a hundred journalists had gone on strike over the dispute and added that several Chinese blogs and Internet chat rooms were discussing the issue. The report said Mr. Zhao had used his blog to urge readers to cancel their subscriptions.
Mr. Zhao said in an interview Thursday that Microsoft chose to delete his blog on Dec. 30 with no warning. "I didn't even say I supported the strike," he said. "This action by Microsoft infringed upon my freedom of speech. They even deleted my blog and gave me no chance to back up my files without any warning."
David Barboza reported from Beijing for this article and Tom Zeller Jr. from New York.
A Brief History of Chinese Internet Censorship
By Randy James Wednesday, Mar. 18, 2009
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1885961,00.html#ixzz0pDtbYRvQ
One of the sharpest challenges yet to China's stifling attempts at Internet censorship comes in the form of a lowly alpaca. Actually, the alpaca-like creature starring in online videos and lining Chinese store toy shelves is a mythical "grass-mud horse" — whose name in Chinese sounds just like a vulgar expression involving a sex act and, well, your mother. Bawdy as it may seem, an Internet children's song about the animal, full of lewd homophones, has emerged as a galvanizing protest against the Communist government's efforts to ban "subversive" material — political dissent, most importantly — from the web. Purportedly a harmless fantasy, the wink-wink, giggle-giggle creation is a virtual thumb in the eye of China's unblinking censors.
For as long as there's been an Internet, China has sought to monitor and control how its citizens use it. That's no small task in the world's most populous country, which now has more web-surfers — some 253 million — than America. Technology known as "the Great Firewall" blocks web sites on an array of sensitive topics (democracy, for instance), while tens of thousands of government monitors and citizen volunteers regularly sweep through blogs, chat forums, and even e-mail to ensure nothing challenges the country's self-styled "harmonious society." Together this massive network of Internet nannying is imperiously called "the Golden Shield Project." Thousands of websites (many porn-related) are blocked outright, and destinations such as YouTube, Flickr and Wikipedia are heavily restricted. Web users in Internet cafes — where the vast majority of Chinese go online — must supply personal information in order to sign on. (See pictures of the Dalai Lama.)
Ironically, it was U.S. technology firms that created much of the technology supporting the Great Firewall, and companies such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft have taken tough criticism from human rights advocates for tolerating the country's censorship. "I simply don't understand how your corporate leadership sleeps at night," the late Rep. Tom Lantos, a Holocaust survivor, told tech representatives at a 2006 House hearing.
Yahoo has taken the most heat, after it acknowledged giving the government information that led to the imprisonment of at least one Chinese journalist. (The company says it was required to comply with Chinese law.) Google has established a separate web site for China, Google.cn, that it self-censors to satisfy Chinese authorities. The search giant argues that offering a limited set of information in China is better than no information at all.
The government's rules for what's permissible online are sweeping and, like much of its rhetoric, vague. News, for instance, should be "healthy" and "in the public interest." Audio or video content must not damage "China's culture or traditions." And nothing must challenge the Communist party. The guidelines leave many media outlets and web surfers baffled. Last December, for example, the New York Times reported that its website had been inexplicably blocked, while earlier in the year the BBC's English language content was just as surprisingly unblocked, with visitors on Chinese computers quickly jumping from about 100 to 16,000.
James Fallows of the Atlantic writes that such "selective enforcement" can lead to the most stifling restriction of all — self-censorship: "The idea is that if you're never quite sure when, why and how hard the boom might be lowered on you, you start controlling yourself, rather than being limited strictly by what the government is able to control directly." Not like most Chinese care, though. A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 80% of Chinese think the Internet should be managed or controlled, and 85% think the government should be responsible for doing it.
Internet controls were loosened in advance of last year's Beijing Olympics, and many western journalists saw scant sign of the Golden Shield, as the Internet was kept largely unfettered during the games. Restrictions have tightened again, however, especially since December, when democracy supporters used the Internet to circulate the "Charter 08" petition challenging the government. That crackdown, in part, has fed the grass-mud horse craze and similar online double entendres designed to flout the government's role as Big Brother. As one Chinese blogger told the Times, even with the most modern technology trying to hold them back, people will find a way to express themselves. "It is like a water flow — if you block one direction, it flows to other directions, or overflows."
Read more: http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1885961,00.html#ixzz0pDtiexzs
Sam and Shanna Evans are from Melbourne, Australia