“reedom” of Expression

When I saw these two breaking news, the shutdown of Beijing’s Independent Film Festival by Chinese authorities and China is sending military vehicles to Hong Kong ahead of expected protests, I could not help but wanted to write something about it.

Well, if you are Chinese or someone familiar with Chinese politics, I guess you have been hearing tons of news like the first news that the Chinese government blocked and shut down the events or information that, in their opinion, were dangerous to  their authority. In China, you do not have rights to express your own opinion and get information freely, which is different from Hong Kong. Tell you a story of mine: many Chinese cities can receive signals from Hong Kong Television stations; therefore, people can watch Hong Kong’s television programs in China. However, once the programs, such as news, show a negative information about the Chinese government, the local television station will change it to advertising immediately to make sure the audience cannot watch it. As many of you might have already known, you cannot use Facebook,  Google and many other Internet services that marked by the Chinese government as “a bad information spreader”. Just like those two recent news, that is how the Chinese government controls media and information in China to strengthen its authority.

But the question is: as the new kind of media – the Internet appears, is the Chinese government still able to control information over the new generation of Chinese citizens as it has done so far? In my opinion, it seems the answer is NO. Although the Chinese government tries its best to prevent people to get the information that the authority does not want them to get, it seems that is not working very well as usual. Back to 2010, the government blocked lots of searching words that considered having negative effects on their ruling, such as 自由(Freedom), on the Internet. Chinese users quickly created another word “目田”(reedom) to replace “自由”(Freedom) on the Internet. They used the words that are similar to original one but without “heads” and satirize that it perfectly matched the condition of China which was “Headless Liberty“. Also, even the government blocked Internet services and websites, people were able to break the block by using new techniques, such as proxy, to reach the information they want and express their own opinion on the Internet.

According to Marshall McLuhan, “the medium is the message.” In my point of view, the Internet carries the message of “freedom” to the new generation Chinese people and gives them the power to fight for their true “freedom”.