Saturday, February 23, 2008

And here I just ate Chinese

Like many other classical music bloggers, I am blocked in China. I'm disappointed, but I'll have to think more about the idea of boycotting the Olympics. I can see Daniel's point, but I also wonder about the effectiveness of boycotting a country.

First, will their economy suffer if I don't watch the Olympics? I suppose whichever network that is broadcasting it won't get good ratings, and won't be able to charge as good of advertising rates in the future, thus losing some revenue. Perhaps they even lose some immediate revenue if there are clauses in their contracts to meet minimum views. But I doubt that the network has a clause that gets them to take back money they paid China for the right to broadcast. Thus China doesn't lose any immediate money. Corporations might be less likely to do business in China if an effective boycott is made, that would hurt their economy.

Second, what part of China suffers if their economy is hurt? I have a feeling those citizens who are blocked from reading my blog will be hurt more than the bigwigs who decided to block it.

What are your thoughts?


Daniel Wolf said...

Scott --

Even if every single blogger on the planet didn't watch the Olympics, it wouldn't have a significant impact on a single worker in China. What it would do, however, is send a signal to the leadership that if they don't allow the free exchange of information, then they shouldn't expect us to pay attention to the materials that leave their country via the official censors. There are plenty of good reasons to boycott Chinese products in general (prison labor, indentured servitude, Tibet, Taiwan, etc.) but here is something directly connected to the blogging media, and we have a way to send a small signal that yeas, free and open markets require the free and open exchange of information and opinions. It's not about our individual blogs and websites, it's about censorship of _any_ blogs or websites: if they want to participate in the world economy, they've got to participate in the world.

Elaine Fine said...

I don't think it's anything personal, or has anything to do with your views on music. I imagine that anything having to do with blogspot or any other blog host is equally blocked.

Steve Smith said...

Strangely enough, neither my old URL ( nor my new one ( are blocked in Beijing. I pinged the first one from New York when Pliable's initial post appeared, and the new one just now from here in Seoul; both came up positive.

What's weird is that I actually *have* blogged about the Taiwanese black-metal band Chthonic, which has been politically active in the cause of Taiwanese independence and recognition by the United Nations. Strange. I'd have thought I might have a mark against me for that alone, but I had no trouble accessing my blog from Beijing over the weekend. (I also had full access to reading and posting in Pyongyang over the last two days, but that was under a controlled environment of full access made possible by the Associated Press.)

Scott said...

Thanks for the responses. Daniel, I can see your point, but I also am wrestling with whether the Olympics are a Chinese product, or something more international (dare I say universal?) I'm completely against censorship, and am for free Tibet. I try to buy locally-produced things in general. But I don't know if I'm willing to give up watching the Olympics with my kids. I wonder how I would have felt about the '36 Olympics?

Elaine, I'm not taking it personally, if anything I'd be (foolishly) offended if they didn't
ban me, thinking I was self-censoring too much. But then Steve's example proves the randomness of such blocking, so I can't even act all activist-tough about it.