Saturday, April 12, 2008

Chinese Government Agents Invade YouTube

A veritable army of Chinese government cyber-agents has swarmed over YouTube, bullying pro-Tibet users, monopolizing comment boards on pro-Tibet videos, and setting up anti-Tibet YouTube channels in an attempt to salvage the dismal image of the autocratic Beijing government, host of the 2008 Olympics.

A few days ago, I captured some video of the  pro-Tibet protests surrounding the running of the Olympic torch in Paris. I did so because the brave struggle of the Tibetan people against their Chinese oppressors, ongoing since the Beijing government invaded and subdued the Tibetans in 1950 (resulting in the eventual exile in 1959 of Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama), is one of many human rights causes worldwide in which I am interested.

The pro-Tibet Olympic protests are a response to March's bloody Chinese crackdown on Tibet. The brutal repression, which, coincidentally or not, caused a major embarrassment to the Bush Administration, because it began just three days after President Bush removed China from a blacklist of nations which abuse human rights, involved at least 20,000 troops, and has resulted in the deaths of dozens or hundreds of Tibetans.

The response to my posting of that video has been sinister, sobering and disturbing. To an extent I've never seen before on the Internet, people who are obviously paid agents of a government's (China's) party line have invaded and monopolized the comments for this video, and for many other YouTube videos depicting the anti-Beijing protests in London, Paris, and elsewhere.

In a chillingly robotic and Orwellian way, these manufactured YouTube profiles yammer on endlessly about the utopia that Tibet has been under Chinese rule (what a cruel joke THAT is), about how Tibet "has always been a part of China," and about how Buddhism is in fact a violent religion (they use World War II-era Japan as an example, and even stoop to reach back 800 years to mention Genghis Khan).

I just started investigating this story, and have already learned that others have discovered that, just since the latest Tibetan protests, YouTube has become rife with Chinese agents.

The democratic and uncontrollable nature of YouTube and of the Internet scares the hell out of China. That's why YouTube is blocked there. That's why China asked Google to "filter" (censor) search results made from within China -- a request with which cowardly Google, to its eternal shame, has complied.

Left, uncensored Google results about Tiananmen Square; right, the censored Chinese version
Source: A Picture Says 1000 Words About Google's Censorship In China

Google said in 2006 it would launch versions of its search and news Web sites in China that censor material deemed objectionable to authorities there, reasoning that people getting limited access to content is better than none.

Reporters Without Borders, a France-based group that defends freedom of the press, blasted Google, saying the company was taking an immoral position that could not be justified. "By offering a version without 'subversive' content, Google is making it easier for Chinese officials to filter the Internet themselves. A Web site not listed by search engines has little chance of being found by users," the group said in a statement. "The new Google version means that even if a human rights publication is not blocked by local firewalls, it has no chance of being read in China."

Meanwhile, Microsoft admitted removing the blog of an outspoken Chinese journalist from its MSN Spaces site, citing its policy of adhering to local laws. Microsoft also acknowledged censoring words like "freedom" and "democracy" from its Chinese MSN portal site.

Ever since the pro-Tibet protests began, users within China trying to access YouTube now get a blank screen and an error message saying the web page could not be displayed.

Nothing scares an autocratic regime, which relies on a brainwashed and fearful population trained for blind loyalty, more than the unfettered flow of information and ideas. Both Pakistan and Myanmar (the former due to anti-Islamic content, the latter due to anti-government unrest) have blocked access to YouTube recently because they fear their own people. Brazil, Iran, Morocco, Thailand, and Turkey have also blocked or disrupted access to YouTube in the recent past.

An informed populace is a scary thing to those who would control your very thoughts.

That the Chinese leadership has gone to such absurd and undignified lengths to prevent their own populace from accessing ideas and information counter to the party line is eloquent testimony to their fear of, and unwillingness to engage in, a real debate.

That's one reason for the laughably inept, ham-fisted nature of their attempts to monopolize the ongoing Internet conversation regarding the suppression of dissent in Tibet.

They pretend to be engaging, when in actuality they are sadly limited to a few minor variations of the same old party line.

Let me give you an example:

"bhshootingstar," a profile created on March 31, 2008, posted:

In old Tibet before 1950, 88 percent of Tibeten people were born as slaves. Slaves didn't belong to themselves, they belong to their slave masters who occupied 5% of Tibeten population at that time. Slaves could be sold,bought,abused at the will of their masters![...]
Those Chinese who abolished the slave system in Tibet in 1950s are heros either.

Perhaps the most incongruous argument they make, in view of their contention that Tibet has always been a part of China, is their repeated criticism of what they call the slave-holding, feudalist nature of Tibet before China took over.

So, which way is it, Beijing? Has Tibet always been a part of China, or did China come in and set the Tibetans straight? You can't have it both ways.

For countless other examples, ad nauseum, visit any of the other YouTube videos on pro-Tibet protests.

But the Chinese government hasn't been content to just try to monopolize the debate on pro-Tibet videos. They have also created multiple, pro-China, anti-Tibet YouTube channels of their own, under various guises, and thereon posted revisionist videos whose basic point is that China's glorious "liberation" of Tibet is responsible for pretty much everything good that has ever happened to the Tibetans.

For just one example of these Chinese propaganda YouTube channels (there are many, many others), visit the site of "Monarex," apparently based in Los Angeles:

If you visited the above link, you saw for yourself the tiresome, predictable party-line bullshit of the Chinese government.

You must remember this is the very same Chinese government that shot and drove tanks over their own people in Tiananmen Square in 1989. It is one of the most totalitarian, brutally repressive regimes in human history.

Judge its words accordingly.

These bogus YouTube profiles, in many cases, were created expressly to trash the Tibetan people, their ancient culture, and their religion.

Don't be taken in.

China is rightly embarrassed by its abysmal human rights record, and they are desperately trying to repair their tarnished image worldwide. They see the upcoming Olympic games as an opportunity to redeem themselves in the eyes of a world horrified by the human rights abuses that occur in China on a daily basis.

Their repeated exhortations of the Chinese to "keep sports and politics separate" ring particularly hollow, since they themselves are the ones turning the Games into a political propaganda event. For the nearest parallel in the 20th Century, think the 1936 Olympics in Berlin -- which were (mis)used by Hitler's Nazi Germany for image-burnishing propaganda purposes -- even as he planned the construction and operation of concentration camps.
Bookmark and Share


txr said...

Cheers Man!
Love reading your straightforward and meaningful analyze!!

julie said...

info, i was a bit in the dark with media manipulation until i saw this site.
interestingly, i found this site on a myspace message someone left on this right wing lunatic's page.
i am in sf and loved the spirit and energy put behind the golden gate climbers and the protests during the torch relay.
thanks for spending your time informing us, hopefully it will bring some change and transition to a world in trouble.