October CommQuote

This month’s quote is from a New Yorker piece of this past summer on the rising neocon/nationalist movement among China’s youth. The article profiles Tang Jie, a graduate student in Shanghai who made a 6-minute documentary that captures the nationalistic mood that has swept China since the Tibetan uprisings in March. The film has since widely circulated on You Tube.

“When people began rioting in Lhasa in March, Tang followed the news closely. As usual, he was receiving his information from American and European news sites, in addition to China’s official media. Like others his age [he is 28], he has no hesitation about tunnelling under the government firewall, a vast infrastructure of digital filters and human censors which blocks politically objectionable content from reaching computers in China. Younger Chinese friends of mine regard the firewall as they would an officious lifeguard at a swimming pool – an occasional, largely irrelevant, intrusion.

To get around it, Tang detours through a proxy server – a digital way station overseas that connects a user with a blocked Web site. He watches television exclusively online, because he doesn’t have a TV in his room. Tang also receives foreign news clips from Chinese students abroad….He’s baffled that foreigners might imagine that people of his generation are somehow unwise to the distortions of censorship.

‘Because we are in such a system, we are always asking ourselves whether we are brainwashed,” he said. “We are always eager to get other information from different channels.” Then he added, “But when you are in a so-called free system you never think about whether you are brainwashed.'”

–Evan Osnos, Letter From China: Angry Youth (The New Yorker, July 28, 2008)

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