Technology and Trade in Fight for Chinese Freedom

1 December, 2011 at 08:09 | Posted in China, human rights, IT and Media, persecution | Leave a comment
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Censorship and surveillance enabled by trade and technology may be defeated by them, say panelists

By Matthew Robertson
Epoch Times Staff

WASHINGTON—Alex Li’s father was arrested after the police tracked his Internet address with the Golden Shield, a sophisticated network surveillance system designed with the aid of American high-tech companies and used by the Chinese Communist Party to capture dissidents.

The case is a dramatic example of the connection between human rights, technology, and international trade–which in the case of the U.S.-China relationship can’t be separated, according to a panel hosted by the Congressional-Executive Commission on China on Thursday.

The commission called witnesses who have been targeted by communist China’s security forces, and experts in technology and international trade who are seeking to defeat Chinese censorship.

Alex Li’s case stands in the dark intersection of human rights and international trade. His father, Li Yuanlong,was a member of the Guizhou Democracy Party and thus a target for political punishment. Li believes that Cisco, an American Internet company, was instrumental in developing the system that tracked his father down.

Technology helped repress the Li family, but it may also provide hope of defeating surveillance and censorship.

Xiao Qiang, founder of the website China Digital Times, compiles censorship directives received from China, and is also working with Berkeley computer engineers to “test, evaluate and incubate” anti-censorship technologies.

He noted that content monitoring is a headache for Chinese Internet companies: they have to hire hundreds of people, constantly stay on top of the latest censorship guidelines (updates come every hour), and carry out the orders of the state when it comes to blocking people from their services.

A recent censorship directive cited by Xiao Qiang included deleting all news about the grassroots campaign to donate money to Ai Weiwei, after he was hit with politically-motivated tax claims.

But the daunting array of instruments of censorship and retribution have not deterred a wave of dissent in China. Xiao Qiang has previously authored a book chapter on the creativity of Chinese netizens in exposing and ridiculing the Communist Party. This is called a “coded resistance,” because it often includes the clever use of homophones (abundant in Chinese ideograms).

Read more: Technology and Trade in Fight for Chinese Freedom | Business & Economy | China | Epoch Times


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