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July 14, 2007


Free speech on the internet
Intellectual property on the internet
General information on the internet in China

Free speech on the internet

China Closes Newsletter
Founder Says Move Follows New Scrutiny Of Rights Periodical
WSJ, by NICHOLAS ZAMISKA, July 12, 2007

HONG KONG -- A widely read newsletter on Chinese development and human-rights issues based in Beijing has been shut by public security officials, according to its founder.

Beijing-based Nicholas Young, who started publishing China Development Brief in 1996, said yesterday government officials told the editors to stop publising the newsletter, which distributes about 5,000 printed copies bimonthly in Chinese as well as monthly electronic versions in English.

The newsletter, which runs articles on a broad swath of topics ranging from AIDS to poverty to environmental issues, is read by international nongovernmental organizations working in China.
The closure is "very significant," said Nicholas Bequelin, a China researcher with Human Rights Watch in Hong Kong. "You shut down this, this sends a very strong signal to the foreign community." He said that in Beijing, "the threshold for what is sensitive is really, really low -- lower than it was."

Mr. Young, 52 years old, said a dozen officials from the Beijing Municipality Public Security Bureau, the Beijing Municipality Statistical Bureau and the Beijing Municipality Cultural Marketing General Legal Implementation Team visited the newsletter's office on July 4. They interviewed staff for about three hours before ordering the newsletter to stop publishing, he said.

At the administration office of the Beijing Municipality Statistical Bureau, a man who identified himself only as Mr. Yu said he was unaware of the closure order. A person at the Beijing Municipality Public Security Bureau requested faxed questions and didn't immediately reply. The Beijing Municipality Cultural Marketing General Legal Implementation Team wasn't available to comment.

While Mr. Young said he didn't know what might have prompted the government to act now, he said his organization has faced heightened official scrutiny in recent years. He said he believes the newsletter's closure could be part of a broader political clampdown in advance of a congress of China's Communist Party in the autumn.

Issues such as AIDS and environmental degradation can be touchy to Beijing.

Mr. Fung said Oxfam previously funded the newsletter. He said China Development Brief, which is funded largely by subscription fees and nongovernmental organizations, is a touchstone for international aid organizations in China.

--Zhou Yang in Beijing contributed to this article.
Write to Nicholas Zamiska at nicholas.zamiska@wsj.com
China censors online skeletons (FT)
By Mure Dickie in Beijing
June 29 2007

Chinese players of World of Warcraft, a hugely popular online role-playing game, have expressed outrage after their "undead skeleton" characters were suddenly clad in new flesh, apparently in order to comply with a secret government ban on bare bones.

The surprise crackdown on the desiccated dead underscores the scope of the internet controls and censorship imposed in China by the cultural commissars of the ruling Communist party.

As well as changing undead skeletons into fully fleshed zombies, the upgrade has replaced the bare-boned corpses of dead characters with neat graves.

Beijing has sought to target censorship more carefully, recently allowing access to the English-version of the open-source encyclopaedia website Wikipedia, but continuing to block its Chinese version. Officials of the culture ministry and The9 declined to comment on why the WoW skeletons ? which also feature in other online games in China ? had been singled out.

However, regulators have targeted bare bones in the past, forcing changes to skeleton images from playing cards sold in China by Wizards of the Coast, a subsidiary of US games company Hasbro, with artists adding "flesh and muscle to cover their exposed bones".

Jailed Chinese Reporter Sues Yahoo
(WSJ) - Associated Press
June 10, 2007

HONG KONG -- A jailed Chinese reporter accused of leaking state secrets has joined a U.S. lawsuit claiming Yahoo Inc. helped the Chinese government convict dissidents, his mother said Sunday.

Shi Tao, who was sentenced in 2005 to 10 years in prison, is seeking compensation from the Sunnyvale, Calif.-based Internet company because Yahoo Hong Kong and Yahoo China were accused of providing information to the Chinese authorities that led to his arrest.

Mr. Shi, a former writer for the financial publication Contemporary Business News, was jailed for allegedly providing state secrets to foreigners. His conviction stemmed from an email he sent containing his notes on a government circular that spelled out restrictions on the media.

Yahoo has acknowledged turning over data on Mr. Shi at the request of the Chinese government, saying company employees face civil and criminal sanctions if they ignore local laws. It denied Yahoo Hong Kong was involved.

Mr. Shi's legal challenge, filed on May 29 in U.S. District Court, is part of an earlier lawsuit by the World Organization for Human Rights USA which is suing Yahoo Inc., its subsidiary in Hong Kong, and Alibaba.com Inc., a Yahoo partner that runs Yahoo China, citing federal laws that govern torture and other violations of international law.

En Chine, trois journalistes licenciés pour avoir publié une publicité saluant les "courageuses mères" des victimes de Tiananmen (le Monde)
(Pékin, correspondant)

C'était seulement une annonce payante dans un journal, mais son contenu était explosif : lundi 4 juin, le quotidien Chengdu wanbao (le soir de Chengdu, la capitale de la province du Sichuan, dans le Sud-Ouest chinois) a publié un encart publicitaire rendant hommage "aux courageuses mères" des victimes de la répression du "printemps de Pékin" de 1989.

L'annonce est parue le jour même du 18e anniversaire du massacre perpétré par l'armée, et saluait ainsi l'association de ces dames qui s'obstinent encore aujourd'hui à défendre la mémoire de leurs fils ou filles tués lors de la violente répression du mouvement démocratique de la place Tiananmen. Le couperet n'a pas tardé à tomber : le rédacteur en chef et deux de ses adjoints ont été limogés quelques jours plus tard, sans que l'on ait pu savoir si un responsable avait intentionnellement osé laisser passer cette rare provocation imprimée, ou si l'affaire a été le fruit d'une négligence de la part des responsables du secteur de la publicité.

La simple mention de ces "événements" est impossible en Chine où le sujet est le tabou politique le plus résistant à l'évolution du régime dirigé par les héritiers de Deng Xiaoping, l'ex-numéro un chinois.

Bruno Philip

Chinese Protesters Harness Web as Tool (WSJ)
June 2, 2007

BEIJING -- Protesters, organized through cellphone texting, marched through a southern Chinese port city to demonstrate against a petrochemical plant Friday, flouting government attempts to stop them.
Protesters surrounded the city hall of Xiamen in a peaceful demonstration and then marched through the city's commercial district, said witnesses and participants. Estimates for the crowd ranged from several hundreds to several thousands. Police and government officials declined to comment.

Video and photos posted on the Internet and sent to journalists showed large crowds gathering around government offices that were ringed by police and what appeared to be unarmed soldiers. Many protesters carried banners.

Residents in Xiamen are upset about plans to build a petrochemical plant close to the city's center that would produce paraxylene, a toxic precursor to chemicals used in polyester, resin and fabrics. It is treated as a hazardous chemical in the U.S.

The chemical plant, proposed by Tenglong Aromatic PX (Xiamen) Co. for $1.4 billion, is planned for an industrial zone of the city.
On Wednesday, under pressure from an onslaught of online and cellphone messages, the city government announced it would suspend the project while it ordered a new study of its environmental impact.

But protesters said they wanted the project canceled, not postponed. "Xiamen is a beautiful city. Why do heavy industry here, why not do something else?" said Mr. Li, a salesman who joined the protest and would identify himself only by his surname.

Although protests and instances of social unrest, often triggered by corruption or pollution, are becoming more frequent, China's government tries to keep a tight lid on most public opposition to its policies, making Friday's march unusual for its scale.

In addition, protesters made use of sophisticated technology to spread their message via blogs and cellphone-text messages. Even after government censors shut down Web sites critical of the project, protesters were still able to organize the march. Afterward, many posted photos on the Web or sent them directly to journalists.
--Tang Hanting in Shanghai contributed to this article.
Write to Shai Oster at shai.oster@dowjones.com

New law to fight Internet addiction
By Liu Li (China Daily)

Members of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) yesterday for the second time discussed amending the Law on the Protection of Minors.

Governments should adopt new measures to organize research into new technology which could help prevent people younger than 18 from getting addicted to online games, according to a new prescription added to a fresh draft of the law.

The new draft also forbids minors from entering Internet cafes, which have become hotbeds for online gaming and chatting, and even crimes such as gambling and drug use.

During yesterday's NPC session, Law Committee Chairman Yang Jingyu said he believed Internet cafes play a negative role in juvenile's growth.

If there were no Internet cafes, students would be able to concentrate on their studies better, he said, adding that if they need to use the Internet they can do it at home or at school.

Li Lianning, deputy secretary general and a member of the NPC Standing Committee, advised that schools should have more computers available for students to use, to tempt them away from Internet cafes.

But older teenagers, aged 16 to 18, should be allowed in Internet cafes, or the law will be unenforceable, argued NPC Standing Committee member Ye Rutang.

"For teenagers older than 16, who already earn their own money, it is unreasonable to forbid them to enter Internet cafes," he said.

In fact, prohibiting people younger than 18 from visiting Internet cafes would be impossible to enforce in real life, according to Ye.

Cao Zhiqiang, an NPC deputy, expressed his fear that young would-be information technology talents could be stifled by the campaign, if they were not allowed into Internet cafes.

China to cut down on pornography and gambling

China's Internet media and content providers have pledged to protect cyberspace from pornography, gambling and other "unhealthy content" through self-regulation and legal measures.

The call was made at a regular meeting on Saturday held by the Internet News Service Work Committee under the Internet Society of China (ISC) in Haikou, capital of China's southernmost island province of Hainan.

"In 2005 alone, we received 127,010 complaints from the public, including 68.2 percent about pornography and 8.15 percent about gambling frauds," said Li Jiaming of the ISC.

Li said since his center was established on June 10, 2004, it has received 240,000 complaints from the public.

The work committee passed several self-regulation agreements in 2005, pledging to improve the conduct of Internet Industry Participants and promote and ensure the sound development of the Internet industry in line with the law.

China, with 111 million Internet users, is the world's second largest Internet market only after the United States. However, a report released by the government said earlier this month that each of its e-mail subscribers receives an average of 16.8 pieces of junk e-mails per week, which are 60 percent of the total e-mails they receive.

The government kicked off a massive campaign in 2004 to weed out pornography from the rapidly-growing Internet.

In 2005, 11 people were jailed for up to 12 years for running an obscene website in China's largest case of Internet pornography. The website operators of www.99bbs.com, also known as the 99 Sex Forum, were accused of posting pornographic pictures, videos and stories, and even opening chatrooms providing information on prostitution throughout China.

In November 2004, the website had nearly 76,000 registered users and had earned some 220,000 yuan (26,000 U.S. dollars).

At Saturday's meeting, it was commented that strong public reactions indicate that the campaign of purifying the Internet will be "tough and arduous."

The ISC then announced the establishment of a five-member expert group to help set up a legal system and conduct public ethics education on the Internet.

China bans unlicensed e-mail servers
By Nate Anderson

A new provision in an anti-spam law has apparently made it illegal to run an unlicensed e-mail server in China. The Chinese Ministry of Information Industry recently promulgated rules designed to crack down on the country's spam epidemic, but buried in the new legislation is a requirement that so-called "E-mail Service Providers" must register with the government and receive a license in order to legally operate their mail servers.

Though it does not appear as though Chinese authorities are yet enforcing the law, the new regulations would make it illegal for any business to operate their own e-mail server without obtaining a government license. The licensing protocol also requires that server operators maintain logs of incoming and outgoing e-mails for 60 days, and it makes open relays illegal. While it contains some solid anti-spam provisions, the new law certainly seems designed to have a chilling effect on e-mail use.

The Internet Society of China has just called on all of its members to restrict access to "unhealthy information." It is a government-approved collection of ISPs and website operators.

China Tightens Grip on Web 06.06.06
Eli Milchman 06.06.06

The French organization Reporters Without Borders condemned the Chinese government Tuesday for its increasing censorship of the internet.
RWB claims that the Chinese government has expanded its efforts to block Chinese citizens from accessing Google, Google News and Google Mail, and that software programs like Dynapass, Freegate and Ultrasurf, which were designed to allow users to bypass China's censorship methods, have been "neutralized."

Bill Xia, CEO of Dynamic Internet Technology, the company that designed Dynapass and Freegate, said that his company has already figured out the method used to block their network, that they have already updated their servers and that traffic is recovering from the sudden drop they noticed on May 24.

Internet users in China can still go to Google.cn, a version of the search engine introduced in January that Google itself censors -- by hiding the search results of subjects which may be sensitive to the Chinese government -- in order to maintain a presence on computers within China.

Foreign companies' experiences in free speech regulation


Yahoo 'Strictest' Censor in China, Eli Milchman

Yahoo is stricter than any other search engine in China when enforcing
censorship, said a journalism-advocacy group Thursday.

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders said their tests showed that Yahoo.cn blocked a higher percentage of politically sensitive results than Google.cn or the beta version of msn.cn.

The tests were performed using 10 politically-sensitive keywords like "press freedom" or "human rights" on the Chinese versions of Yahoo, Google and MSN, as well as a Chinese-based search engine, Baidu.

Although Yahoo.cn was sold to and is now operated by the Chinese company Alibaba, Yahoo remains a large shareholder.

The report also said Yahoo.cn blocked access to the search engine for an hour in half the cases after a search was conducted using the sensitive keywords. Baidu does the same thing, but the Chinese versions of Google and MSN do not restrict access.

RSF said that the level of censorship on Yahoo.cn also exceeds that of Baidu in terms of the number of Beijing-authorized sites returned in the search results.

Last year, RSF accused Yahoo.cn of turning over e-mail account information to Chinese authorities that according to RSF resulted in the arrest and imprisonment of a man on charges of subversion.

Yahoo did not have an immediate comment.

Yahoo pressured over China cooperation, by Declan McCullagh

Paris-based Reporters Without Borders revealed in September that information provided by Yahoo was used to convict Shi Tao, a 37-year-old journalist, of leaking "state secrets." Then, in February, the group reported that Yahoo turned over information that led to the arrest of Li Zhi, a 35-year-old ex-civil servant from the southwestern province of Dazhou, and an eight-year prison sentence in 2003.

In a statement last month, Yahoo defended its actions, saying: "In this specific case the Chinese government ordered Yahoo China to provide user information and Yahoo China complied with local laws."

During February's hearing before a U.S. House of Representatives panel, some politicians compared Yahoo's collaboration with China's ruling Communist Party to companies that helped the Nazi regime exterminate the Jews. A proposed bill in the House would probably force Yahoo and other companies to move servers out of China.

Yahoo general counsel Michael Callahan testified in February that Yahoo was "unaware of the particular facts" about the case, such as Shi's identity and occupation, until news reports surfaced. Also, the company is an investor in and does not have day-to-day control of Yahoo China, which is run by Alibaba.com, he said.

China Restores Google.com
Eli Milchman

China has lifted its online blockade of Google.com after a two-week crackdown that had prevented direct access to the site and temporarily thwarted popular workarounds, a media watchdog group reported Friday.

The Paris-based journalism advocacy group Reporters Without Borders, or RSF, said that tests revealed the uncensored version of the search site was accessible again to internet users in Beijing and Shanghai. The crackdown overlapped with the June 4 anniversary of the bloody 1989 Tiananmen Square protests.

A Google spokesperson confirmed this, saying that "we have heard no further reports from users in China of problems accessing Google.com."

On June 6, RSF reported that Google.com was blocked throughout much of China, and that programs like DynaPass and Ultrasurf, which allowed users in China access to censored web content, were also being blocked on a large scale successfully for the first time.

"It's always the same thing that happens in China -- they heavily censor the internet because they think people will be discussing the event," said Julien Pain, RSF Internet Freedom desk chief.

"This year, what's new is that they blocked Google at this period."

Google in January launched Google.cn in China, a self-censored version of the search engine that conforms with official government restrictions on content, including pornography and gambling, as well politically sensitive subjects such as Tiananmen Square and the Falun Gong sect.

On Tuesday, Google co-founder Sergey Brin was quoted in news reports saying that he believed the company may have compromised its principles by agreeing to state-ordered censorship.

RSF's Pain criticized Google for creating the site, saying it gives the Chinese government an option to fall back on if they decide block Google.com.

"If you give them the option ... in time of crisis they will block it. And in the long run, they will block it."

If you leave the option open to the Chinese, you have to be really naïve to think that they won't use it," said Pain.

Intellectual property on the internet

No Pirates in China
June 29, 2007

SHANGHAI -- Sometimes, the sensibilities of China's State Administration of Radio, Film and Television, or SARFT, are straightforwardly predictable: Scenes that are explicitly sexual, portray Communist China negatively, or praise the Japanese or the Kuomintang are consistently excised from films shown in mainland movie theaters.

Application of these concepts, however, is often inconsistent, such as in last year's censorship of laundry hanging out to dry in "Mission Impossible III." The movie was filmed partly in Shanghai, and SARFT objected not to the orientalized cliches of the city, but rather the urban backgrounds of drying laundry draped from windows and balconies - as is customary in places where clothes dryers are uncommon - as unfitting the city's aspirationally "international" image. The version screened here digitally removed said offending laundry.

The logic behind SARFT's censorship of the recent U.S. blockbuster, "Pirates of the Caribbean III" is just as circular, but less clear. The opening 18 minutes of the film are removed in the movie theater release, replaced by a twominute, Star Wars-like scrolling introduction recapping the previous films and explaining what happens in the cut scenes, which consist of a mass hanging and a scene in Singapore. Xinhua News Agency quoted SARFT Deputy Head Zhang Pimin making vague explanations about reflecting "China's actual conditions"-bizarre, given'that the film is mostly set in mythical or imaginary places, and the cut scene was set in Singapore.

The cuts remove about half of the scenes contributed by Hong Kong icon Chow Yun-Fat, who plays Singaporean pirate Sao Fang. Mr. Chow's chops are wasted on a throwaway role in a throwaway film, a Fu Manchu-esque caricature, albeit rendered perhaps less offensive in the context of a franchise that plays all sorts of stereotypes out to their ludicrously campy extremes.

The Chinese press has speculated that the cuts reflect an objection to negative portrayals of ethnic Chinese. Theoretically, that represents as positive a goal as censorship can justify, but given SARFT's spotty concept of policing the image of China, it is doubtful they would do much better promoting that of overseas Chinese. It is questionable, too whether SARFT officials have any awareness of the context of historical Hollywood racism. If SARFT had a problem with Chow Yun-Fat's introduction in a drungy gangland0like bathhouse, why do later scenes, where Sao Fang creepily munches leaves and makes an unwelcome pass at the film's heroine, remain untouched?

SARFT's supposed objection to cliched cinematic portrayals of China and the Chinese is all the more specious given that SARFT is the primary supporter, promoter, exploiter and exporter of said cliches, as exhibited in kung fu costume fluff productions that are made with censors' approval, like "Hero," "The Banquet" and "Curse of the Golden Flower." Chinese film certainly has its own share of silly, one-dimensional - and ethnic Chinese - villains.

One possibility is that the excision of the Sao Fang scenes were a smoke screen to distract viewers from the also-removed opening scene of a mass hanging amid suspension of habeas corpus. An analogy could be made between that scene and China's limited appeals processes and its enthusiasm for the death penalty.

The irony is that by censoring such things, SARFT only draws attention to the fact that they censor trivialities, raising questions of why they do so. China's hypersensitive international image is far worse for the country than a Singapore of red lanterns and brothels, or a Shanghai with laundry on its balconies. Further, the cuts only impact local viewers, who recognize the China-filmed scenes, and who are mostly indifferent to Tinseltown misrepresentations of Chineseness. Instead, the censorship just provides them with additional motivation to watch "Pirates" - and much else-on ? on pirated copies.

General information on internet in China

Après huit ans d'efforts, le fabricant canadien du... (les Echos)

Après huit ans d'efforts, le fabricant canadien du « BlackBerry » a obtenu le mois dernier l'autorisation du ministère chinois de l'Industrie de l'information la permission de vendre en Chine son célèbre téléphone multifonction.

China Netcom to Expand Its Broadband Business (WSJ)
June 7, 2007

China Netcom Group Corp. (Hong Kong) Ltd. will use 40% of its capital-spending budget this year to expand its broadband Internet business, Chief Executive Zuo Xunsheng said. China Netcom said in April that it plans to set aside 21 billion yuan ($2.75 billion) for capital expenditures this year, down 21% from 26.47 billion yuan in 2006. Mr. Zuo said China Netcom wants to expand its Internet protocol television business to five cities in China by the end of next year. IPTV allows users to view TV programs over broadband Internet connections.

Coca-Cola to Launch Teen Networking Site (WSJ)
June 7, 2007

ATLANTA -- Coca-Cola Co. is creating a virtual teenager hangout like MySpace and Facebook -- but only on cellphones -- to lure more youngsters to its sodas and flavored drinks, starting in the U.S. and China. The beverage company said it is creating a mobile-phone network under its Sprite brand in which members can set up profiles, post pictures and meet friends.


Cabinet d'avocats