As the strangest Valentine ever (but absolutely the coolest), I was invited to discuss Censorship in China on the BBC World Service on a show called "World: Have Your Say."
I was pretty much the only person on the panel of four that found Censorship in China an actual problem.
Tian a film-maker who is Chinese and lives in China was very interesting. He had a very strong grasp on the political situation in China and seemed to be really intelligent and thoughtful but when pushed reverted to the usual, "People in China are not ready for free speech," because like everyone in China has been brought up to believe it will cause civil war and chaos instead of a lesser Police State. The thought passed me by to ask Tian if he ever thought it's possible he had bought into Chinese Government Propaganda and just repeating it, but not only would that have been rude but he also may not actually want the authorities on his back afterward.. My friend who was listening asked me if he was being paid by the government, but I really don't think so. I think he was passionate in his own way.
Mr. Lee, who is a lawyer in China who from his accent I think is Singaporean, so he obviously was not going to critique someones else's country about a right he doesn't have at home. He very early in the discussion admitted he doesn't have any political consciousness hence he believed it's not an issue. He's one of those people who always amaze me as they don't really have an opinion on the issue he or she's been invited to speak, and I always wonder why if you would agree to speak to a journalist about it at all -in length. I always feel there is a whiff of simply enjoying the process of being interviewed and getting a bit of attention more than anything else that motivates these people. But they always make points which you can disagree with that helps strengthen the opposing points of view so I guess that's why journalists like to ask them.
Then last there was Chris from the UK who is a business man in China. He was sympathetic to the cause overall but made an interesting case of why he cannot "interfere" due to his position as a foreigner and the difficulties in engaging people in China about these issues. I would have liked to listen to his other points of view if we had longer actually.
For me, I was pretty critical about the points the others made but I figure if one has agreed to go onto an international news show to discuss an issue, one has to expect to be disagreed with and point out that one is wrong. I spent a good hour before thinking about what others would say, and how I would answer it if those topics came along. I knew how special an opportunity it was to say to an immeasurable number of people about the cause of free speech in China and why it's important for people to "aspire to something greater," so it was time for to get the point across in the least number of words possible.
You probably have a clue of what I did say. Something about American companies and the Internet, the issue is not whether you can access sites through proxies, it's got to do with having freedom of speech so people don't go to jail when they dissent (I mentioned that a FEW times), it's true that people in China have serious economic priorities so it means people who live in the west should care more about rights they have that other people don't and should have rather than ignoring the issue. And finally the topic that took up the most time..if foreign companies and foreigners willingly ignore the censorship issue in China does it makes it harder for people like work towards human rights in the country's job harder.. YES...
And I did mention something about a "Non-Elected" government, now off the Internet onto a "real world," so I think I really should just destroy my Chinese Visa as talking about democracy in China on an international forum is not going to make me very welcome in the country, not that I was for a while now but this is a little more. To be honest, I don't mention it often because it just causes me attention which I feel will cause me trouble (although it might just be paranoia). I really didn't mean to pass that line (Free Speech in China, Okay. Democracy in China, NOT) but it just came out in the first 30 seconds of me speaking.... It's kinda serendipitous, as writing about wanting a "Democratic China," for my birthday exactly two years ago which got my site banned, where I did that protest, which gave me the press attention, which is how I ended up speaking on the radio 24 months down the line.
PS. If I sound strange and suprized when I started, I was. I listen to the BBC World Service every morning and when I was sitting there listenning to the feed waiting for the show to start, I kinda got lulled into the habit of just listenning as it all seemed so familiar and when the host talked to me, I was like, "Oh, this live, this is me. This isn't the radio.." so all I could do was blurt out, "No Problem." I think I should have said, "It's a pleasure" or something like that... that and it was 2am...