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胡泳,北京大学新闻与传播学院副教授,博士。价值中国网(www.chinavalue.net)总编辑。中国传播学会常务理事。著有《网络为王》、《众声喧哗》等,译有《数字化生存》、《未来是湿的》等。

北京大学新闻与传播学院副教授,博士。价值中国网(www.chinavalue.net)总编辑。中国传播学会常务理事。著有《网络为王》、《众声喧哗》等,译有《数字化生存》、《未来是湿的》等。

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urumqi longing to be reconnected to online world  

2009-07-17 14:00:22|  分类: engage |  标签: |举报 |字号 订阅

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http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2009xinjiangriot/2009-07/16/content_8434260.htm

Urumqi longing tobe reconnected to online world


By Hu Yinan inUrumqi and Cui Jia, Cui Xiaohuo in Beijing (China Daily)

Updated:2009-07-16 08:04

 

Almost two weeksafter Xinjiang's deadliest riot in decades, most Urumqi residents feel secureagain after tension has eased significantly in the city.

 

Now, for many inthe autonomous region, another big step toward normality will come when thelocal government unblocks the Internet so they can go back online.

 

"No Internetin Xinjiang, no business for me," said Li Fenfa, an Urumqi resident whoruns an online business selling dry fruit and who has seen no transactions forseveral days.

 

Online businesseshave been among the hardest hit since authorities cut access to the Internet inmost of the Xinjiang region following the July 5 riot that took the lives ofalmost 200 people.

 

Many online storeowners have had to rely on friends in other parts of the country to postmessages on their homepages telling potential buyers that business is on holduntil after the Internet lockdown.

 

Professor ChenLidan, a communications scholar at the Beijing-based Renmin University ofChina, said the government had blocked online access because that was the wayinstigators of the riots spread their messages and mobilized rioters.

 

Investigatorsbelieve overseas separatist groups used Internet tools including Tencent QQ andMSN, as well as social networking sites Twitter, Facebook and Xiaonei, tospread messages.

 

The Xinjianggovernment said it terminated Internet access to prevent the spread of theviolence. Up to now, the only known public venue where the Internet could befound was the Hoi Tak Hotel, which was used as a base by reporters covering theriot's aftermath.

 

Some Web usershave complained that their attempts to access Twitter and Facebook in otherChinese cities have also been unsuccessful. And Chinese portals, includingFanfou, which is similar to Twitter, have also been unavailable.

 

The government hasnot yet given a date when the services will be resumed.

 

"I believemost governments in the world will do something similar in times like these.But it is frustrating to know that I can't talk to my soccer club members afterforum access was blocked," wrote John Ning, a self-proclaimed "Webfreak" in Beijing.

 

Internet expertsare now concerned that an extended "indistinctive Internet lockdown"may create new dilemmas for the government.

 

"Theauthorities probably think they are justified to cut off Internet on nationalsecurity grounds, so they openly admitted it for the first time," said HuYong, a new media expert with the School of Journalism and Communication atPeking University.

 

But the lockdownhas inevitably curtailed harmless Web activities, such as daily forums,information sharing and online shopping.

 

"Time aftertime, young Web users may grow doubts over the government's Internet policies,which will produce more profound impacts," Hu said.

 

China's young,whose daily lives often rotate around the Web, make up a large percentage ofChina's 300-million cyber population. They will "get discouraged" ifthey find their Internet space getting smaller, experts said while urging thegovernment to use "wisdom of the masses" to deal with issues broughtby new media.

 

"Blockinginformation should not be the first choice in an open society," said YuXiaofeng, director of non-traditional security and peaceful development studiesat Zhejiang University. "The government should allow official andunofficial sources so that both the government and the public can seek truththrough knowledge."


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