Thursday, March 14, 2013

An article I happened to miss, from last month. It details the many ways China's internet censorship, blockages and slowdowns hamper the Chinese economy.

The most significant part, though, is the radical difference in perspectives between the Chinese and the foreigners. It's captured near the very end, with the following quote: "Alex Miller, a China-based entrepreneur who founded a Web-TV startup called Frogo, says he supports the way the Great Firewall has helped keep out Western competitors, allowing Chinese Internet companies to develop. But blocking GitHub, he said, was a step too far."

Westerners never quite appreciate the extent to which the Chinese do not care about the outside world. Yes, they're curious (especially the young), and many envy the wealth of foreign countries, but they don't feel a pressing need for anything other than China. So when the government blocks Facebook, they say "Great! It gives us Chinese a chance to make our own." If the government slows down access to foreign websites, the Chinese will just turn to the domestic equivalents. And if there is no domestic equivalent, who cares? It probably wasn't that interesting in the first place.

We foreigners come to China thinking we have something China needs and wants. We're right about the first part, but wrong about the second.

Will Chinese dismissal of the foreign undermine the Chinese economy in the long run? It's certainly harming it, as this article demonstrates. But the Chinese have an incredible willingness to "work harder, not smarter" — i.e., to shoulder an extra burden, rather than rethink entrenched prejudices.

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