Tag Archives: chinese media

Why English Should Be the Greatest Weapon Against Censorship in China

What’s on my menu for most days of the week?

How about the New York Times for breakfast, NPR for lunch, Drudge for dinner, and CSPAN for a bedtime snack – just in time to hear the opening gavel in the House and Senate?

Just because I live in China doesn’t mean that I can’t still feed the political junkie within me. All of these news services – and more – are available to anyone in China who has a computer, or in my case, an Iphone.

Can China Win the Battle Against Pirates?

It was official 20 days ago. As of July 1st, 2008, it is illegal in China to upload or download copyrighted information without permission from the original source, according to a report from Xinhua. The article states that “anyone uploading texts, and performance, sound and video recordings to the Internet for downloading, copying or other use, must acquire the permission of the copyright owners and pay the required fee.” Those who violate this new law are subject to a fine of up to 100,000 Yuan (approximately 12,500 USD). According to the report, “Internet providers should delete the content and links upon receiving the written notice from the copyright holders.”

A quick perusal through the popular Chinese media site Tudou.com seems to demonstrate that this new law has had little or no effect on the quantity of movies and TV shows that are available for download. For example, I can still watch last season’s finale of the American TV show “The Office” and watch most if not all of this year’s movie hit “Kung Fu Panda.” There seems to be more content available than ever on a number of Chinese media sites that I have visited. The fact is, you can still find links to almost any copyright material imaginable on a variety of Chinese websites.

Is this surprising? Of course not. Most Chinese people that I know watch their favorite Western and Chinese shows through an online medium. Buying a legal copy of a TV series or a movie is just too expensive for the average Chinese person (and pretty expensive for the average ‘anyone’ in the world as well). Many, especially in the younger generation, will spend an entire night at an Internet cafe, playing games and watching shows and movies. If all of the links to such entertainment suddenly disappeared one day, thousands of Internet cafes across China would lose untold revenue and the economy would most likely suffer. The fact is, illegal downloading and sharing of copyrighted material in China is a big business that is not going away anytime soon.

Am I defending the violation of copyright law? Of course not. It is just that in this case, it is easy to predict that this new copyright law will have little effect on the Chinese entertainment industry. After all, the Chinese government has utterly failed in its fight against pirated DVD’s and music. You do not even have to go into the back alleys of China to find bootlegged copies of the latest Hollywood movies. You can walk into shopping malls and supermarkets and find DVD stores with an entire stock of pirated material. The only problem that Chinese people have to deal with is finding quality copies that are clear and complete.  

Unfortunately, the Chinese government not only has to fight the production of copied material in its own country but it also has to reckon with millions of illegal CD’s, DVD’s, and VCD’s which are smuggled into China from other Asian countries. The government simply does not have enough manpower to deal with the millions of songs, movies, and TV shows that can be downloaded online. In addition, it is likely that those government officials who are in charge of ridding the Internet of copyrighted material are simply not going to pursue the enforcement of this new law very enthusiastically. Whether young or old, no one in China wants to pay premium prices for music and DVD’s. An adult student recently told me that he “did not feel guilty buying bootlegged DVD’s” because otherwise it would be impossible for him to afford the high cost of buying “the real thing.”

So what can the CCP do to effectively enforce this new policy? Well, I suppose they could start by forcing popular media sites like Tudou.com to remove links to copyrighted material. The problem is, there are thousands of sites like Tudou.com around the world which deliver these TV shows and movies to Chinese viewers. It is simply a battle that cannot be won. The best way for the Chinese government and the music companies to combat piracy is to either dramatically lower prices or provide a legal ad supported medium for people to download such material. In light of the recent writers strike in Hollywood and another threatened strike within the movie industry, prices are probably not going down. However, the second idea is already being tested in the United States by some of the major TV networks which have made select TV shows available for free download on their websites.

In the end, this new copyright law is going to suffer the same fate that many other well intentioned laws have suffered in China; most people will probably never even hear about it. I was just in an Internet cafe yesterday. To my right someone was giggling as they watched Meet the Fockers and to my left someone else was spellbound by an old episode of Prison Break. What did I think? I guess I was happy that they could find some enjoyment in the midst of the harsh reality that probably confronts them every day in this developing country.

CNN is Crap — We Get it Already

For a followup to this story, check out the post Who is Behind the Anti-CNN Website?

Dear Party Comrades in Beijing,

We get it already. You think that CNN is pure crap. Many people around the world probably agree with you but can you please find another punching bag? Come on. Get over it. So what if some commentator called you “thugs and goons” on cable television? You should be flattered. Isn’t that the image that you were aiming for when you violently squashed those protests in Tibet and sent your band of not-so-merry-men (a.k.a. Chinese special forces) to bully spectators on the Olympic Torch’s route in Europe? Stop whining and grow up. Big boys don’t cry.

You know very well that Jack Cafferty was speaking directly to you when he made those comments. Do you really think that he was dumb enough to refer to the Chiense people as “goons and thugs?” Give me a break. You are bitter because you know exactly who the comment was intended for; and you can’t handle it. You may be used to bullying your own people when they say things you don’t like but  you are not going to get away with it now.

And one more thing. Summoning is reserved for ambassadors and government officials. You don’t summon the chief of a foreign media bureau to come and see you. You know better than that. All you are doing is making yourselves the laughingstock of the entire world and giving CNN more attention than they could have ever dreamed of. Give it up. You’re not going to win this one.  

If you don’t like CNN then why don’t you give them the boot? It certainly wouldn’t be the first time that they’ve been kicked out of a country. But you won’t do that, will you? You like having someone around that you can pick on. After all, it’s been a frustrating few months, has it not? The ‘glorious’ tour that you planned for ‘your’ torch hasn’t quite panned out the way that you thought it would. It must be convenient to have CNN as your little ‘whipping boy’ on which to vent your frustration.  

Save some face before it’s too late.  Kick CNN out or ‘forgive’ them but be assured of one thing; no one wants to hear your whining. It is not becoming of a country that is hosting the world’s most premier event in August. It’s time lick your wounds and move on. Until you can learn to take the hits as they come, you are going to have a hard time earning respect from the rest of the world.