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China “Harmonizes” YouTube

I was so preoccupied with work this week that I somehow missed that YOUTUBE IS NOW COMPLETELY DOWN IN CHINA. As yet, the take down has not been explained by any Chinese official, though as the WSJ put it:

The latest YouTube ban coincides with the March 20 release by the Tibetan Government-in-Exile of a video allegedly showing Chinese forces beating Tibetans during protests that occurred in March 2008.

From the perspective of authoritarian Chinese bureaucrats, perhaps it makes sense to grab this bull by the horns. The Tibet video would no doubt have gone viral like Tienanmen , and perhaps they’re still smoldering in humiliation over the alpaca meme. Best to “harmonize” all of YouTube instead. To the degree they’ve said anything, Chinese officials have denied there is a ban, also claiming that the video footage of Chinese police beating Tibetan protesters was fake.

I know China and the U.S. have a complex, if schizophrenic relationship, but if any other country had taken down YouTube to silence videos of police brutality (Burma, anyone?), wouldn’t the US be inclined to say something? How long can we sit on the fence, waiting for China to magically bloom into a regime which protects civil rights, if all we can come up with are muted expressions of concern. Good luck Chinese users and good luck to YouTube trying to compete against Chinese video sharing sites which eagerly self-censor and the strong arm of the Chinese censorship regime.

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