It is a particularly Chinese sort of irony: this week a conference about getting round online censorship was cancelled – by the censors themselves. The Wall Street Journal reports that the Chinese Blogger Conference – which has been held annually since 2005 – was prevented from gathering in Shanghai when the venue was pressured into pulling the plug on hosting the event.
As of the end of last year, China had 145 million bloggers. But the issue of online freedom of speech remains a tug of war between the censors and netizens. For example, this year’s conference was set to discuss how microblogging (think Twitter) could be used to communicate in the face of official restrictions. That was evidently a red rag to the authorities. Possibly another problem was that Shanghai was just too high profile a location. Last year the conference was held in a cave in southern Guangdong. Primitive but acceptable, it seems.
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