By Steve Kelman

Blog archive

The Lectern: 'Mr. President, please write on my wall'

Since last spring, China's government has been blocking access to YouTube; then this summer, after the disturbances in Xinjiang province, the government started blocking Facebook. Some Chinese can get access to these blocked sites through so-called "proxy servers," but this represents -- in my view -- a doomed attempt by the Chinese government to have the Internet and block it, too.

Yesterday morning I found in my inbox a message from a Chinese Facebook friend that informed me Facebook was no longer blocked in China.  I haven't been able to confirm this -- I have sent Facebook messages to a number of other Chinese Facebook friends about this, but haven't heard back.

President Barack Obama has just left for Asia and will be visiting China next week. I saw a Facebook post yesterday from Zhang Erping, a Chinese former Kennedy School student and critic of the regime there, asking that the president raise the issue of Internet blocking during his trip. It would strike a Web 2.0 blow for human rights, and be consistent with the president's own interest in new technologies and social media, for him to raise the issue of Internet blocking while he is there.

Perhaps he can paraphrase Ronald Reagan's challenge to Gorbachev and say to Hu Jintao, China's president:  "Mr. President, write on my wall."

Posted by Steve Kelman on Nov 13, 2009 at 12:08 PM


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