China’s Communist Party Bans DocumentaryTelevision.com. More ASD/Chengdu Takeaways

The Great Firewall of China blocks DocumentaryTelevision.com from our eager readers in China.

My newsletter is not alone.

Usain Bolt, I Love Typography and the Sacramento Ballet are among the torrent of WordPress-hosted blogs that are deemed dangerous by China’s one party rulers.

ChengduOldNew

(Old and New Chengdu)

Why?

The uncensored voices heard on the Internet are a threat to top-down Communist Party control.

  • When I checked Guardian.com for the latest news from Crimea, I found that the URL was blocked.
  • The New York Times, too.
  • But I could freely browse the conservative Telegraph (UK) and Murdoch press.

To bypass the censors, savvy Chinese set up a VPN, or Virtual Private Network. But this is a cat-and-mouse game where VPN’s are often blocked.

You get the sense that millions of civil servants browse away, night and day, at terminals in rows inside giant sheds located across China’s vast territory, and with a “click” here and there, they block URL’s that they deem to be threatening.

Equity

As well as controlling public discourse, the PRC’s top-down media policy is to build locally-owned media assets:

  • Banning Twitter and Facebook created space for WeChat, Weibo and other Chinese social media phenomena.
  • But like Weibo, WeChat’s 270+ million users, which included nearly everyone at ASD, also suffer from censorship and periodic shutdowns of microblogs.
  • (Discovery and other foreign-owned channel brands are also locked outside the firewall.)

No China Bashing!

I’m not a China basher.

  • Communist Party rule brought hundreds of millions out of poverty in a few decades.
  • That’s a tremendous achievement!

20[1]

Source: “American Conservative

I’d barely heard of Chengdu before Asian Side of the Doc, but found myself in a city of 14 million, staying in a high-rise business district that feels like an aspiring Park Avenue, and is served by a subway system packed with a well-trained, young workforce.

Not long after my week in booming Chengdu, I visited the Detroit area. It was a painful reminder that for most working Americans, the needle on the well-being index has been pointed in the wrong direction.

Great Power Rivalry

A smart punter looking at the rise and rise of China would bet that the United States’ position as the world’s sole super-power will sooner or later come to an end.

  • We all hope that it comes to pass peacefully, but the history of Great Power rivalry says “This may be a rocky road!”
  • The US’s erratic ‘pivot to Asia’ and this month’s shoring up of its China containment policy via military alliances with the Philippines and Japan may indicate tense decades ahead.

A Word of Caution

China is a very complex market for the Western nonfiction professionals who are lining up for business there.

  • Most in demand are the classic, content-rich, authored documentaries that are in steep decline in North America.
  • There are valuable conferences in China, like the successful Asian Side and the upcoming WCSFP in Beijing.
  • And executive tours like PACT’s recent one for UK independents.
  • As well as a rapidly expanding pipeline of coproductions.
  • And Western experts are even popping up as prominent International Consultants to China’s Communist Party-run broadcasters.

But a sudden swing from containment to hostility, like the US/Russian relationship after Ukraine, will leave some of us, particularly Americans, asking: “What happened to the opportunity?”

——————

Update: Unblocked Today! 

  • In response to this post, a friend wrote that her parents in Beijing checked DocumentaryTelevision.com this morning, and they report that our newsletter is accessible there without a VPN.
  • DocumentaryTelevision.com/Chinese is also uncensored.
  • Both were blocked while I was at ASD in Chengdu.

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