If China Flies Blind in the Information Economy…

Data is the raw material that consumable information is built from, but it is impossible to definitively say what data is useful and what should be left on the cutting room floor.   Even the data created by our pursuit of data, the meta-data, is valuable.  The only certain thing about data is that we are collecting it faster than we can store it, and at rates that are unsustainable with our current capacity for power generation.   Meanwhile, those best able to make sense of the data deluge, and the data exhaust, are giving rise to a new economy of information: from phone apps that help drivers avoid red lights, to cloud computing companies that help watchdog groups keep a tally of a politician’s successes and failures.  In this brave new world, nothing is so important as pristine data sets, descriptions of the world left unspoiled by human interests. The Economist gives fourteen pages to these issues in a special report from its February 27th, 2010 edition, titled Data Data Everywhere.

One can interpret the argument for the sanctity of uncensored data in today’s global economy as either a dismissal or a reaffirmation of a dominant, 21st century Chinese economy.  How one interprets it depends on a couple of things.

First, on whether or not one believes that the economy of information will become the dominant economic engine of the next one hundred years. Second, on one’s interpretation of how China’s leaders – representatives of a government that currently guards its power and legitimacy with a powerful censorship apparatus – will react to a world in which the strength of nations will be most closely related to the abilities of their institutions and entrepreneurs to freely access and analyze data.  Will China’s centralized power be a boon or a drawback?  Will China’s next generation of Politburo members draw back the curtain or fly blind?

A Chinese student sitting blindfolded.

In theory, democracies are built upon the principles of open government, transparency rules, and a particularly egalitarian leadership ethic.  Gathering and profiting from information in a country where the tradition of open information is strong should, in theory, be miles easier than in a country which treats all information as a potential threat to the State. In theory, America and it’s democratic allies have an insurmountable lead, and the race for 21st century economic supremacy is theirs to lose.

Personally, selfishly, I find myself wishing that theory holds, and America, democracy, freedom all win out as a result.  The thought of democracy creating a lasting economic advantage simply because of the principles it’s based upon plays out in my mind through a dark silhouette of Uncle Sam with a neon blue thought bubble floating above his head.  “Citizen, everything you’ve ever learned about democratic ideals in your Texas School Board approved social studies classes is true!”, it reads.  The neon glare shines like a beacon of hope amidst a much darker cesspool of thoughts about the economic future of the democratic world: a cesspool populated with article clippings, hazy audio tracks, and hash-tagged tweets touting the unavoidable subservience of democratic economies to a streamlined, has-the-ability-to-make-quick-decisions China.

But, I am also keenly aware of how impossible it is to believe that ultimate transparency and equality will give every business venture from the democratic world a boost of economic nitrous, and somehow leave centrally controlled nations, or those where state-sponsored censorship is a way of life, without any discernible advantages.  The ability to quickly organize people into massive work units has to count for something in the race to collect and synthesize information, right?  Furthermore, wouldn’t China’s immense black market experience with information piracy and computer hacking prove especially valuable in a global economy that’s information dependent?  And, if the goal of the information economy is to learn how to interpret information, shouldn’t Chinese people have a leg up relative to the rest of the world considering that China’s languages are better suited to expressing ideas between the lines than on them?

Conversely, won’t an information based economy also magnify democracy’s disadvantages?  Sarah Palin is building a media empire based on her ability to trump up the benefits of remaining blissfully uninformed.  In a country where Sarah Palin is a billionaire, unlimited transparency and freedom of information doesn’t amount to much.  Europe, too, has its Palin equivalents, and the rise of these airhead pundits is perhaps the best testament to the democratic world’s inability to harness the power of a data set.

There are certainly more questions to be answered and they certainly won’t be answered by any single person, or, for that matter, any single generation. I’ve barely scratched the surface.  But, what I have done is given some context, and it is my hope that this is enough to spark a strong china/divide discussion.

So…

Will the information economy topple China’s Great Firewall?

Or

Will Chinese central control prove to be a blessing, and somehow give China a lasting advantage in the developing information economy of the 21st century?

—-

Thank you goes out to Elizabeth Thomsen for making her wonderful flickr photos available to the public.




39 Comments

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  1. Joe

    -+-3

    Yo I love Kro’s Nest

  2. -++1

    A really interesting issue, but I think there are uncertainties built-in here that make predicting especially difficult. For one thing, will China follow similar development/political freedom curve as other industrialized countries? That is, if China continues to open up in the next 20-30 years (as it reaches actual “developed country” status), then this distinction between China and the US becomes less, well, distinct!

    Second, as you’ve mentioned, Damjan, will data drive economies in the future? Perhaps. Certainly the growing pace at which technology advances seems to be making cloud computing a larger chunk of the global GDP all of the time. But when will that percentage become significant enough to actually threaten the economies of those countries who restrict clear data flow? Right now, GDP is still largely driven by investment and manfacturing, two things for which a more centralized state is particularly good.

    Given the two above trends, I would say this, in short: China will have economically significant problems *if* the “data curve” is much sharper than the “political freedoms in China” curve.

    • Damjan

      -+

      Kevin,

      You bring up two great discussion points: 1) The scenario that I put forth is wholly dependent on China’s development time-line, and 2) the further growth of cloud computing and other data based technologies is not guaranteed.

      And, I really like how you illustrate the relationship between the two by referencing the data and political freedoms curves.

      I think that the data information curve is already growing exponentially, while the political freedoms curve is by necessity a stop and go linear process, in China. Of course, it is possible to legislate media freedom with one stroke of a pen, so it’s easier for political freedom to catch up to data than the other way around.

  3. Hank

    -+

    In the middle 1950s, the US census discovered for the first time that the number of white collar workers grew more than blue collar workers.

    Since then, there has been a continuous drop in manufacturing workers (11.6 million in November, 2009) in the US and a corresponding increase in the service industry.

    The combination of technology and knowledge workers is the path of the future.

    Peter Drucker, Alvin Toffler, Paul M. Romer, and others refer to this change as the beginning of a “knowledge economy.”

    World economies are divided into various stages: those entering the “information age” based on a “knowledge economy (US, Japan, EU);” countries in transition from a manufacturing economy to an “knowledge economy” (the “BRICS”); and countries still in the primary production or agriculture stage and simple manufacturing (Africa, Middle East, Latin America).

    China is a combination of all three with the manufacturing sector being the primary driver. This gives China the best and worst of all options which is why it is difficult for China do develop a comprehensive economic plan without hurting one sector of the economy.

    China’s small “knowledge economy” is concentrated in Beijing, Hong Kong, Shanghai and is involved in all the high-tech industries. The middle-classs associated with this sector are the highest trained and best educated. (They are also the key supporters of Google.)

    China’s industrial sector is known as the “factory of the world.” In a way, it is. The developed countries outsourced its manufacturing (along with its pollution) and low-wage jobs to China. This provides China with employment (as well as dirty air and polluted rivers) but it does not allow China to make the giant leap into a full knowledge economy.

    “While the United States was losing millions of manufacturing jobs over the past decade, China was gaining many millions more. China’s manufacturing employment increased by 10 percent in four years, from 100.9 million workers in 2002 to 112 million in 2006, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). The increase was almost equal to the total number of Americans working in the U.S. manufacturing sector (14 million at the end of 2006, declining to 11.6 million in November, 2009). China has 100 million more people working in its manufacturing sector than does the United States.”

    http://www.manufacturingnews.com/news/09/1215/Chinamanufacturingjobs.html

    In order for China to climb the “food chain,” it will have to improve its university system; raise the intellectual skills of its people; and allow for the free flow of information.

    In addition, for China to make the wholesale transition from a manufacturing economy to a knowledge based economy, political changes will have to be made. Without these changes, China will always trail the US.

    • pug_ster

      -+

      Hank,

      So if some Chinese grad that doesn’t know much about the June 4′s incident, it makes this person a worse than someone who does? Can you explain to me how restricting ‘free flow of information’ is an disadvantage?

      • Hank

        -+

        @pug_ster

        pug_ster said, “So if some Chinese grad that doesn’t know much about the June 4’s incident, it makes this person a worse than someone who does? Can you explain to me how restricting ‘free flow of information’ is an disadvantage?”

        First, it doesn’t make that much difference if a grad student doesn’t know much about June 4, 1989. Tian An Men is a red herring used by Westerners to divert attention from the changes taking place in China.

        What is important is that the grad student should know that in 1983, the American, Alvin Toffler and his wife Heidi were invited to China.

        Alvin Toffler, the American futurologist, has a loyal following in China. He is held in such esteem that the Communist Party considers him among 50 foreigners — including Karl Marx, Richard Nixon, Marie Curie and Michael Jordan — who have most significantly influenced the country’s modern development.

        http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/10/11/AR2006101101977.html

        In China their book, The Third Wave, was first banned as a bearer of so-called “Western Spiritual Pollution”, then became China’s greatest best-seller, second only to the speeches of Deng Xiaoping, and has cited in the press as the “Bible” of China’s reformers.

        In his book The Third Wave Toffler describes three types of societies, based on the concept of ‘waves’ – each wave pushes the older societies and cultures aside.
        • First Wave: is the society that replaced the first hunter-gatherer cultures. Agricultural societies.
        • Second Wave: is the society during the Industrial Revolution (ca. late 1600s through the mid-1900s). The main components of the Second Wave society are nuclear family, factory-type education system and the corporation.
        • Third Wave: is the post-industrial society. Since the late 1950s most countries are moving away from a Second Wave Society into what he would call a Third Wave Society.

        “While Hu Yaobang labored in 1984 to fashion a more benign political and ideological environment for the expansion of economic reform and the opening policy, Zhao Ziyang was busy promoting a different sort of reform. With Deng Xiaoping providing key political backing, Zhao and his supporters began to flog the notion of a Chinese information revolution.

        “Based on the Third Wave theories of American futurologist Alvin Toffler, who lectured in China in January 1983, the idea of a technology-driven, microelectronic based global information revolution attracted a great deal of favorable attention among techno-economic reformers working in various think tanks and policy advisory groups affiliated with the State Council.

        “For a number of reasons, the Third Wave concept proved particularly appealing to China’s anti-Leftist reformers. For one thing, the information revolution lay at the farthest frontiers of global technological development.

        “This made it attractive to all modernization-minded “scientific socialists” in China regardless of ideological predisposition.

        “Moreover, the information revolution had the advantage of being, on the face of it, class neutral, that is, untainted by putative spiritual pollutants.

        “Finally, Third Wave technology was readily transferrable internationally; its acquisition would enable China rapidly to close the gap with the “four little dragons” of East Asia. For all these reasons, and epidemic of “Third Wave fever” broke out in Chinese reform circles in early 1984.”

        ["Burying Mao: Chinese politics in the age of Deng Xiaoping"
        Richard Baum - 1996]

        Later, after Zhao Ziyang was removed, the “Third Wave” was banned. One can still find Chinese editions but selected portions have been deleted. This also applies to Toffler’s recent book, “Revolutionary Wealth” which is widely read in China.

        The above long-winded background was necessary to show that China’s leaders, almost 30 years ago, were aware and struggling with the idea of how to incorporate the ‘free flow of information’ into building China.

        This struggle is continuing today; the outcome of this struggle will determine if China becomes a modern, global power or falls back to only a second-tier country.

        • King Tubby

          -++1

          Hank. Whatever the thumbs down, and I often dislike parts of your posts, you always put together a solid entry and that is to be applauded. Plus references. Curtis Le May, now he was a worry. You have read about the dancing cinders response before a senate committee during the height of the Cold War. If this site cannot accommodate diverse yet respectful entries, it will have failed its mission statement.

          • Hank

            -+

            @King Tubby

            Hahaha! So sorry for the “thumbs down.” I didn’t realize you were so sensitive. In the future, I will give all your post “thumbs up.”

            Regarding Major General Curtis LeMay (“Father of the Strategic Air Command”) aka “Dr. Strangelove,” during the years of the “Cold War,” with leaders like him, the US made a credible threat of using nuclear weapons that all countries, including the Soviet Union, believed. As a result, there was NO war.

            Talleyrand once said, “I am more afraid of an army of 100 sheep led by a lion than an army of 100 lions led by a sheep.”

            (He was talking about Chairman Mao, yes?)

            I believe in strong leaders. They provide credibility to their people and a strong warning to their enemies. Weak leaders, on the other hand, like Obama, Clinton, and Carter, are despised by their people and held in contempt by their enemies. They invite opportunities for adventurism on part of their enemies. This eventually leads to war.

            In the world today, many countries are being led and governed by weenies. This is a sure bet that sooner or later, a major war will breakout. (I’m going short on Iran, Korea, Syria, Israel, Lebanon.)

            King Tubby writes: “If this site cannot accommodate diverse yet respectful entries, it will have failed its mission statement.”

            With all due respect, a little confused. Please explain.

          • pug_ster

            -+

            @Kai,

            I have to disagree with what you said and there is much misinformation about Tiananmen Square. The problem with how people’s minds process and remember information is associative rather than logical.

            http://www.csmonitor.com/2003/0314/p02s01-woiq.html

            To give you an example, there was much discussion of how Bush actually linking 9/11 and Iraq. After the 9/11 attacks, only 3% of Americans believe Iraq or Saddam was responsible, however in 01/03 44% of Americans believed it. Why the sudden jump? When Bush made his speeches after 9/11, he kept alternating between references of 9/11 and Saddam in every other sentences until a good portion of Americans convinced that one has some association between the 2.

            A similar associative effect can be done to Tienanmen Square and the June 4th incident. I’m sure many people would remember where they are or what they were doing when 9/11 happened. When was the last time you read some book or newspaper that it mentions this without mentioning the incident in 1989 also? The similar thing can be said with Normandy and WWII.

            The thing with ‘the free flow of information’ is that how much information that we read without processing it. It is like seeing something but not looked at it. That’s why it is in my opinion that this is misinformation.

        • pug_ster

          -+

          Interesting hypothesis. However, according to your hypothesis, China’s leaders did follow Alvin Toffler’s advice in economic theories but not the political ones.’ A good information economy is not really about the amount of information is good for a society rather it is the quality of the information.

          If we have information that would would ferment unreast or destabilize society, would you think that is good? For example, China tries to clamp down on porn in the internet. I’m sure that many conservatives in here in the US wishes that our government would do the same. One of the things that I don’t like about the Chinese newspaper(at least in HK anyways) is articles about suicides, yet many Western Media you just don’t see them unless it is considered high profile. Do you think it is a good thing? Information can be a constructive and a destructive force to society and I see that Chinese is doing the right thing by embracing the constructive aspects while rejecting the destructive aspects.

          • King Tubby

            -++1

            Suicide is a sign or symptom of a deeper social malaise. You have a great future …..in Beijing. Disgusting.

          • King Tubby

            -+

            pug_ster Buff your cv, CCTV will love you.

          • Hank

            -+

            @pug_ster

            pug_ster wrote: “according to your hypothesis, China’s leaders did follow Alvin Toffler’s advice in economic theories but not the political ones.’

            Whoa! dude, I presented no such hypothesis. Don’t put words in my mouth.

            pug_ster wrote: “A good information economy is not really about the amount of information is good for a society rather it is the quality of the information.”

            What do you mean “the quality of the information”?

            There is a data-information-knowledge-wisdom hierarchy that has been used to show the relationship between data and information and information and knowledge. However, since these concepts are abstract and vague, it creates many situations for confusion.

            To avoid a future misunderstanding, may I suggest that you google “Third Wave,” “knowledge economy,” “information economy,” to get a better idea of what is being discussed.

            The following are a few definitions of an “information economy.” There are many more and none make a moral judgement (“good for a society”) about the “quality of the information.”

            Information economy – is a term that characterizes an economy with an increased emphasis on informational activities and information industry. (The vagueness of the term has three major sources. They are discussed in the definition.)
            wikipedia

            Information economy – is an economy in which knowledge is the primary raw material and source of value.
            businessdictionary.com

            Information economy – is a term used to describe the economic and social value created through the ability to rapidly exchange information at any time, anywhere to any one.
            South Australian Government

          • pug_ster

            -+

            @King Tubby,

            Suicide is a sign or symptom of a deeper social malaise. You have a great future …..in Beijing. Disgusting.

            Read my message again. I agree that there is some reporting that should be censored and I don’t agree with what the Chinese media shows about sucide.

            @Hank,

            I did not put words in your mouth. You put up an article about Alvin Toffler’s article and I just replied to it. The Chinese censors probably agree with his economic theories but not political ones and that’s probably why his Third wave book was modified.

            In your reply of what ‘information economy’ is, there is no real definition as this term is vague and Damjan never define how China ‘flies blind’ by it. I think the problem is that this ‘free flow of information’ supposed to change the way people think and how censorship supposed to ‘inhibit’ the way people think because it ‘blocks’ this free flow of information. This is totally bogus.

            The problem is not ‘free flow of information,’ rather the problem is with misinformation. For example, many China watchers think Tianamen square as an event when it is actually a place. Yet when you go to google and search for this term you can see that event in 1989. That’s the kind of misinformation that the Chinese censors tries to block.

          • -++1

            pug_ster,

            The problem is not ‘free flow of information,’ rather the problem is with misinformation. For example, many China watchers think Tianamen square as an event when it is actually a place. Yet when you go to google and search for this term you can see that event in 1989. That’s the kind of misinformation that the Chinese censors tries to block.

            Your example is not “misinformation”. Tiananmen Square has become both a place and an event. It will be what people see it as, and Google’s success rides on providing search results that reflect what the majority is thinking of when they type anything in. Unfortunately for you, Tiananmen is better known for what happened there. Search for the beaches of Normandy (hell, even “Normandy”). It’s a place too, but what results are you getting? Like Tiananmen, you get a lot of results relating to WW2, for which the place became famous for in modern society.

            I think most people can empathize with the general thrust of your argument, that it is understandable that some information is undesirable, even “dangerous”. You need to go back, start from that premise with those you disagree with, and find out where the consensus ends.

    • King Tubby

      -+

      Hank. You are a serious war determinist. Giving you a compliment because you provide general references. Myself, tired of google cut and paste type entries. Traditional book type information still rules even when net posting. I think I need a chinasmack cartoon holiday and return here refreshed, mainly because I am self-censoring far too much.

  4. -++1

    I guess it’s fun to debate issues such as these, which assume all things remaining bubble-like. Notwithstanding the importance of “information” in the development of economies, I humbly submit that the issues of water and food ultimately are of greater importance. Throughout the next decade we face the convergence of worldwide droughts and an ever increasing repurposed use of food-stuffs. Both the US and China will be challenged to provide its citizens sufficient food; “information” will be a luxury few will miss.

  5. pug_ster

    -+-1

    Censorship is only things that is politically motivated and has nothing to do with economics. So I find your logic flawed.

    • Damjan

      -+-2

      @pug_ster

      Responding to you is the low hanging fruit here. Politics has everything to do with economics. There is a clear relationship with country per capita GDP and the level of political freedom in a country.

      • pug_ster

        -+

        @Damjan,

        More flawed logic here. The Four Asian Tigers’ gdp shot up are not done by political freedoms or democracy, it is done by planned economy and authoritarian governments. China is just following their footsteps. And second, what did you say have anything to do with ‘Information Economy?’

        Another thing, if ‘Responding to me is the low hanging fruit here,’ you don’t like people who dissent?

        • Damjan

          -+

          The whole point of the piece is to encourage discussion about the impact of the information economy on China’s place as a superpower in the 21st century, and I haven’t taken a position on either side of that question. From what I can tell, neither have you. So, as to whether or not I “don’t like people who dissent”, my response is that I don’t even know what issue you’re referring to, and I can also assure you that my feelings about online commenting avatars will forever remain completely neutral.

          Why is responding to you a low hanging fruit? Because you submitted a two sentence response without any real attempt at submitting a fully thought through argument. I figure that responding in a similar manner was the easiest response I could put together. I think the truism that describes this best is “You get back what you put in.”

          I am sure that at some level you, pug_ster, understand that arguing for why something as complicated as am economical or political event occurred, or you necessarily have to make guesses. The same is true when making predictions about the future of a country or its economy.

          It is impossible to say definitively that “X caused Y”, or that “X will cause Y”. You, pug_ster, have insisted on using these overly simplified relationships as your line of argument. Unfortunately it is hard for me or anyone to respond when no room is given for a response as far as the material at hand is concerned. Indeed, the only response that you can hope for is one of the type that I’ve just given which focuses on the all too trivial relationship between what you think of me and what I think of you instead of may actually be valuable to readers.

          • Damjan

            -+

            should be

            “you understand that when arguing for why something as complicated as an economical or political event occurred, you necessarily have to make guesses.”

          • King Tubby

            -++1

            Damjan. I was reading and your reference to log hanging fruit sort of sounded strange to me. If we are opening up debate here, you could have have requested an expansion of those remarks. Much easier and more valuable to other readers than justifying the type of response you gave.

            (* I must admit I don’t follow my own advice*, but it is your op ed and it takes a pretty courageous person to put one on the board, given the fractured and at times heated nature of the readership here.)

            economic and political events.

            Nonetheless, great piece and look forward to follow up when I get home this eve.

          • Damjan

            -+

            @ King Tubby

            That’s exactly how I should have responded. I am quite embarrassed at how much of people’s time I wasted attempting to justify my own two sentence comment. What a rookie mistake that was. Anyway, hopefully we can get past this now and focus on the discussion.

          • pug_ster

            -+

            Damjan,

            No you did take sides by making wild assumptions like: “Second, on one’s interpretation of how China’s leaders – representatives of a government that currently guards its power and legitimacy with a powerful censorship apparatus – will react to a world in which the strength of nations will be most closely related to the abilities of their institutions and entrepreneurs to freely access and analyze data. ”

            Yet in that statement am asking you how censorship in politics have anything to do with “entrepreneurs to freely access and analyze data.” Yes, I did make a concise statement, which you did not respond. You make repeated claims of censorship yet in China there are no censorship in cultural, educational and economic terms. Informational Economy is a very general term, yet you did not define it.

          • -++1

            pug_ster,

            You make repeated claims of censorship yet in China there are no censorship in cultural, educational and economic terms.

            Emphasis mine. Are you serious?

  6. Joe Ginger

    -++4

    there is a disconnect between what was the basis of the article to the questions posed.

    the data exhaust and indeed the Economist article focuses on the “practical” challenges of processing “data.” Whereas, the questions at the end are soliciting opinions based on particular beliefs in political dogma.

    secondly, data is information arisen from real world events uncontaminated by any individual’s opinions. i do believe there is a vast difference between the two. if you look in detail how china’s great firewall works as well as the sort of information it targets for censorship, the great firewall in practice, lets through a vast majority of “data” in its entirety.

    thirdly, even when one operates within a system of zero censorship, it does not imply one is working off a complete dataset or good data. transparency is never guaranteed and thus successful action and strategies are not necessarily a given. deliberate manipulation or omission underneath a censorship free system system is as damaging if not more detrimental than a system with clearly defined censorship rules.

    i apologize for dragging the boring old Google China spat out. but i do believe it is a good coase to illustrate the fact that no censorship may not necessarily lead to good choices and success in the information economy. During the entire episode, the google publicity machine as well as international media that shamelessly reduced themselves into google fanboys left out several pieces of relevant and important “data.”

    (1) Back in 2001, google.com had 60% search market share in china. at that time, china’s current search champion baidu.com was a cash strapped private enterprise (therefore received little or no government support) in greenfield stage with the 7 founders working for themselves.

    (2) in 2006, google announced it is going into china. google.cn, thus placing its servers inside the great firewall, and therefore pretty much equally footing (since baidu is a private enterprise, not a state-owned enterprise) as the then already market share leader baidu.

    (3) fast forward to 2009, baidu, (a private enterprise under the same censorship requirement imposed on google.cn) is the no.1 in search and google’s market share despite moving inside the firewall, was around 30%.

    (4) january, 2010. EVERYBODY in china came under hackers’ attacks. in fact, on january 12, there was a major breach at baidu. just as baidu’s management was in firefighting mode and was at a lost regarding how to deal with the breach with their account holders, on january 13 David Drummond of google announced the company will stop applying censorship on their searches through google.cn …

    over the past few months, google’s pr machine and the gullible (and more often ill-informed) western press will have you and i believe:

    (1) google is the good guy. the champion against censorship and therefore they would rather pull out of china … as if the fact that their local competition is intensifying had absolutely nothing to do with it;

    (2) they were hacked and implied the attacks were politically motivated. although all they said was that they had dissidents as gmail account holders … as if dissidents would only open webmail or IM accounts with google. and as if only google and other american concerns were attacked by hackers, but not the fact that everything under the sun and inside and outside the great firewall were hacked.

    it is simply naive to assume because a censorship mechanism is not in operation, one is enjoying the benefits of unfettered access to good data. by my somewhat limited intellect, but with practical world experience from having world in china since 1986, i’d say that it is better and easier to work in a system with clearly defined data blockage, than an alleged open system where players can and will spin the truth.

  7. Saratu

    -++1

    My two cents:

    I’m less concerned about what happens to freedom of information in a country where the major source of capital is still, necessarily, the government. The thing with emerging market countries is that their development is very much top-down: the govt’s cronies who are rich enough have their economic interests, that sustains the larger economic health of the country. The obvious countries, Brazil, India, China, South Africa — have centralization of capital in differing extremes. If the middle class expands so much so that mass poverty is not the case and there’s still much centralization, then I’d worry. Why? Because then the people who will make demands of their government now have market power. That, I think, is a more dangerous situation than if the main complainants are foreigners tut-tutting at the Chinese government while accepting their help in investment and buying of govt bonds.

    In short, I’m not worried about freedom of information now. I’m worried about freedom of information later.

    • -+

      Saratu,

      In general I agree with you. But in the China context, the middle class has already risen above 250 million individuals, AND there’s still 800 million or so people living in poverty. So, China has to keep a grip on centralized power and figure out how to simultaneously give a certain degree of freedom to the middle class who are already able to compete in the international job market.

      It’s a problem not so much shared by Brazil, South Africa, or even India.

      But, again, in general, freedom of information is secondary to lifting people up out of poverty.

  8. Hank

    -+-1

    @pug_ster

    I still believe in the saying by a great man, “no investigation, no right to speak.”

    If you don’t take the time to investigate what you’re talking about, to present new information or cogent arguments, you’re talking nonsense. In that case, shut the fuck up!

    • pug_ster

      -+

      @Hank,

      Quoting from someone’s book (Third Wave) stating it as fact when this book is merely someone’s opinion and pawning it off as your own? What kind of research? Research based on opinions? Google ‘Information Economy China’ and you get a vague results, if any. You don’t like my opinions, that’s fine. Just don’t make up straw man excuses for not responding to my arguments.

    • pug_ster

      -+

      http://unctad.org/en/docs/ier2009_en.pdf

      After doing more ‘research.’ I google’d information economy 2009 and found an UN report on Information economy report 2009. One thing I couldn’t help noticing in page 64 is that China is the biggest exporter of ICTs (Information and communique technologies.) Maybe China is already in the ‘Third wave’ already and not some second rate country.

      • Hank

        -+-3

        @pug_ster

        pug_ster said:
        “China is the biggest exporter of ICTs (Information and communique technologies.) Maybe China is already in the ‘Third wave’ …”

        What are you talking about?

        Is this what you call “research”?

        China is the major exporter of dildos, vibrators, and other sex toys, what does this make China?

        I used Toffler’s “opinions” to make a point about how China also considered his views valuable in helping China understand an “information economy.”

        Unfortunately, there are always people who will disagree with new ideas even when they have no ideas to present themselves.

        Everyone has a right to his opinion but some opinions are more correct than others. In this case, Toffler’s opinions are better than yours. That is why I suggested you check him out before you criticize something you know nothing about.

        I understand that English is not your first language and it’s difficult to use in when thinking, but I’m sure the people who speak your mother tongue are able to formulate a clear, reasonable arguments.

        Use some of these people to quote as the source for your “research.”

        • pug_ster

          -+-2

          @Hank,

          You didn’t respond to my opinions. You didn’t respond when I presented with facts. Instead you thought of some ‘futurist’ is smarter than the China’s leaders and thinktanks who shaped the country as what it is today. Instead you think it is better to talk about about me instead shows that you are truly ignorant and immature to post anything thoughtful in this thread.

          • Hank

            -+-3

            @pug_ster

            It’s truly amusing and pathetic to see how weak (intellectually and morally) you are.

            As I mentioned to another poster, whites (Westerners) can accept a strong debate. Chinese, on the other hand, if losing their shallow “face”, will delete or ban comments that make them look ridiculous.

            China, with people like this, will never rise.

            For you to delete my last post shows how weak you are. I’m sure you delete many others but it only proves your limited intellect.

            Of course, you cannot post this.

          • -++1

            Hank, you’re not being civil.

            Moreover, I have no idea why you think pug_ster has any control over your comments, unlike those of us who actually run the blog. For the record, your comment was simply waiting in moderation though I’m not sure why (unless it was previously unapproved by Stan or Custer). Not knowing why, I approved it, though I now regret doing so after reading your exchange with pug_ster where you degenerate into trolling him AND after I realized you’re actually one of the China blogosphere’s infamous trolls in yet another false identity. As such, I’ve now actually officially added you to moderation and your future comments will not be approved unless you abstain from indulging in trolling. You’ve made perfectly reasonable comments before. Stick to that. I’ve also gone ahead and wiped out all of the extra votes you made for yourself and against others.

  9. Hank

    -+

    @pug_ster

    NEVER ARGUE WITH A FOOL

    “It is best not to argue,
    But if you do at all,
    Never do so with a fool.
    A fool can defeat all.

    “He does not care for the facts.
    He does not know debate.
    He’s a stranger to reason.
    Logic he can negate.

    “In the end the fool will win,
    His logic is so strong!
    Decides what he does not like
    And then it must be wrong!

    “It’s better to keep quiet
    When challenged by a fool.
    Else, to prove his own wisdom,
    He will make you a tool.

    “It is hence my policy
    To not respond to those
    Who ask questions not to learn
    But to be bellicose.”

    by Dr M C Gupta

    It’s all yours, pug_ster. I’m outta here.