Monday, April 16, 2012

Ai Weiwei and Web Censorship

Renowned artist Ai Weiwei, who is being held in China under house arrest, released an article in the Guardian about the Chinese government and their attempts at web censorship. To Mr. Ai, "the government computer has one button: delete."

Ai argues that the internet has given the Chinese people a new sense of freedom, one that is not offered by the state and one that can not so easily be taken away. "The papers try to talk about things, but even before they appear, everyone has talked about it on the internet." For once, he argues, the people of China have another source of media other than those which are state-run and netizens can exercise their own judgement about current events.

Even Ai cannot believe how much has changed in recent years due to social media and the spread of mass voices online through blogs and microblogs. But Mr. Ai believes that it is becoming more difficult for the Communist Party to control the internet and censor the voices of netizens. "Censorship is saying: "I'm the one who says the last sentence. Whatever you say, the conclusion is mine." But the internet is like a tree that is growing. The people will always have the last word – even if someone has a very weak, quiet voice."

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