The new initiative was announced in a decree issued by the ministry for the information industry (MII) on 20 March, which said all China-based websites – commercial or otherwise – would have to register by 30 June, giving the complete identity of the persons responsible for the sites. According to the authorities, the aim is to control information that “endanger the country.”
According to official figures, about 75 per cent of Chinese sites have already complied with the new procedure. The Russian news agency Interfax reported that the ministry subsequently announced that a new system called “Night Crawler” (Pa Chong, in Chinese) that allows the authorities to locate and block unregistered sites would get under away at the start of June.
At the request of the authorities, the Telecom operators that host the biggest Chinese news portals informed their users that this procedure is obligatory. In May, many bloggers received email messages telling them to register to avoid their blogs being declared illegal.
In independent blogger asked what he needed to do to register and was told not to waste his time, because there was no chance an independent blogger would be granted permission to publish.
From time to time I will hear North Americans, especially American Christians, complain about the increasing restrictions placed on our freedoms here. It is true that there are people in this country who would like to see a tighter muzzle on freedoms of speech and religion. It is true that the best way to prevent that is to be noisy about our objections and active in publicizing them via emails, letters, blogs, conversations, telephone calls. We may have big mouths, but those big mouths are all the better to protect ourselves, my dears.
Not too long ago we listened to a man who had been to China as a missionary. He told us storis about Chinese Christians coming to meet together, and they had to come one at a time, spacing themselves out by several minutes so as not to attract unfriendly attention to their meeting. When the Chinese Christians wanted to sing a hymn, they sat in a tight circle and whispered the song, so as not to be heard.
I am thankful for our big mouths here in this country, but let us not lose our sense of perspective- let’s be vocal and inconveniently noisy in protecting our own freedoms, but let us be realistic about the differences between oppression in this country and oppression in countries like China.
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