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Search Censors Can’t Swat A Sparrow

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One Chinese blogger stays on the move, uses multiple blogs, and says the demand for non-corrupt political officials is the real foe of censorship.

Li Xinde has no First Amendment to protect him as an investigative reporter in China. But he does have a knack for finding stories of corruption and abuse that make their way even to state-run media outlets, Reuters reported.

“I can still spread news across the whole country in just 10 minutes, while the propaganda officials are still wondering what to do,” Li told Reuters.

He described how he has to work to avoid arrest, by shuttling around to different Internet bars in rural China:

“It’s what Chairman Mao called sparrow tactics. You stay small and independent, you move around a lot, and you choose when to strike and when to run.”


Those strikes have taken down a corrupt deputy mayor in one province, while another claimed a businessman met a brutal death while held in official custody.

On the topic of businesses like Yahoo and Google choosing to yield to censorship requirements in order to operate in China, Li said he understands the business reasons, but, “morally it’s wrong to sell people’s freedom.”

His freedom has become more difficult to maintain over the past two years, the article noted. Though he isn’t famous, he has built enough of a reputation that he is something of a marked man.

Still, he has reason to fear. Evidence prosecutors obtained from Yahoo in China has contributed to the jailings of two journalists, and others who have published stories on the Internet also languish in prison, the report said.

As more Chinese citizens move online, their interest in the habits of politicians could be the ultimate undoing of censorship and media suppression:

Li said Chinese people’s demands for clean, accountable officials, and their salacious curiosity about bad ones, were the censors’ ultimate enemy.

“Our party always said revolution depended on the gun and the pen — the military and propaganda,” said Li, echoing a slogan of Mao’s. “The gun is still firmly in the party’s hands, but the pen has loosened.”


Li’s website, in Chinese: www.yuluncn.com

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David Utter is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.

Search Censors Can’t Swat A Sparrow
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