Roadblocks as the Information Superhighway approaches the Bamboo Curtain

The 1980’s and the 1990’s were most optimistic times: people seriously believed that information advances, beginning with the fax machine and culminating in the internet would, of necessity, integrate all aspects of the world at the speed of light, and places that heretofore were stymied under the heavy hand of authoritarian regimes and worse would liberalize. And not merely economically. China, the world’s largest nation and the world’s most rapidly developing one, seemed to be the primary focus of this thinking.
It was believed that the fax machine hastened the student protest movement that, alas, was crushed by good old tanks and the willingness to use them against one’s own populace by Deng Xiao Ping and the CPC hard line leadership
who crushed the student democracy movement at Tiannamen Square in the late 1980’s.
But the subtle, yet total control of China’s government manifests itself, such as this piece from People’s Daily noting that 50,000 “illegal” internet cafes have been, or are being, shut down by the central government. The government can state a variety of reasons for this action, such as “inappropriate” use of the internet, or failure to pay licensing fees, but what it is doing loudly and clearly is demonstrating just who is in charge of the inflow of information into (and around) China, and hence, the ability to disseminate that information in a way that might be unfomfortable (or worse) for the Beijing government.
One has to admire the Beijing government’s attention to detail: for example, note this piece observing the government of Vanuatu espousing “the one China policy”.
Well, as we fight for freedom and democracy in Iraq, we’ll endeavor to give you periodic reports from the Eastasian Metropole, so we can see how our new owners are doing.