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My latest column for New Matilda is about China’s crackdown on internal dissent and its fear of the internet:

Although China is also battling a seemingly unsurmountable pollution problem, the regime appears determined to ignore Western calls for greater openness. “Why can’t China accept that dissent and argument are part of being a normal country?” asks leading Hong-Kong based academic Rebecca MacKinnon. “Why behave in such an insecure manner that violates international human rights norms, damages China’s international image, and distracts media attention away from the Chinese people’s genuine achievements over the past 30 years?”

But outside pressure may be starting to have an effect. When Hollywood filmmaker Steven Spielberg recently announced his withdrawal as an artistic director for the August games, the Chinese regime responded with indignation. The director claimed that Beijing was doing too little to pressure the Sudanese Government over its behaviour in Darfur. But the New York Times now reports that, in fact, “China has begun shifting its position on Darfur, stepping outside its diplomatic comfort zone to quietly push Sudan to accept the world’s largest peacekeeping force.” Beijing is clearly listening and remains determined to avoid an embarrassing Games hijacked by human rights agendas.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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