2009/07/14

Chinese Internet Strike

On July 1, the Chinese government will be rolling out censorship software on every new computer sold in the country. The software, called Green Dam Youth Escort, is intended to block pornography and possibly filter politically disruptive material, all while quietly gathering private user data.

One man in particular is staging a protest against the censorship: He is calling for everyone in China to abandon the Internet on the day the new rule takes effect. According to GlobalPost, Beijing artist and prominent political critic Ai Weiwei wants other Chinese citizens to realize their own power.

“I gave almost no explanation about why I’m doing it,” said Weiwei, well known as a cultural revolutionary and investigative blogger, to GlobalPost’s correspondent. “I just give the structure and people will fill in their own meaning. I don’t want to be political first. I wanted to set up an act that everyone can easily accept, and then realize the power later.”

Weiwei has a reputation for being a hugely prolific blogger, generating around 3,000 posts in his first three years of writing online. He also uses Twitter, Chinese microblogging service Fanfou, and other sites to spread the word about freedom of expression and overt criticism of the government in China.

On July 1, he is calling for all of China’s 300 million Internet users to completely log off for the day. In the original post, even Ai noted, “Chinese people are very practical. They think ‘Oh, what’s that going to do?’” He is aware the action he’s requesting is huge; however, he feels that even a small gesture of protest will have an impact.

In his own words, “A small act is worth a million thoughts.”

Given Westerners’ sudden bout of green-tinted solidarity with Iranian protesters, we do wonder if Weiwei’s call to action (via online inaction) will spread beyond China . Written by Jolie O’Dell / June 23, 2009

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