Internet challenge to great wall of media censorship

The latest challenge to China's strict media control comes from nobody. Nobody@usa.net, that is. This is the e-mail address which since 3 June has been sending out Tunnel, China's first electronic underground magazine which, according to its inaugural statement, aims "to break through the present lock on information and controls on expression".

According to Chinese sources, who understandably did not want to be named, the Chinese-language e-mail magazine is written and compiled in China, sent to the United States, and then distributed back to the Chinese network. The magazine urges readers to pass on editions to others, assuring its readers that this would not put them at risk from "relevant departments". In fact, e-mail users in China assume that the security apparatus routinely monitors messages, just as it does phone-calls.

Most articles in the five issues of Tunnel have been by US-based authors, suggesting that overseas Chinese dissidents may be involved in the project.

Subjects covered so far by Tunnel include the 1989 Tiananmen Square crackdown, the collapse of communism in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, and a copy of the script of the US-made documentary film Gate of Heavenly Peace about the Tiananmen massacre.

Although opening an Internet account still means registering with the Public Security Bureau, China has generally embraced the information highway and is encouraging the spread of the technology across the country. Commercial Internet accounts were first available in May 1995 and officially there are now 150,000 users in China, with the figure forecast to double by the end of this year.

For a while, western media sites on the World Wide Web, including CNN and various US newspapers, were blocked, but this was stopped by the end of last year. Most of the sites still put out of bounds by the Chinese cyber-police involve pornography and discussions of human rights.

Tunnel, however, is exactly the sort of product which the Chinese authorities do not want to see. Newspapers and television inside China are very strictly controlled and there are no underground publications like the samizdats which used to be passed around in the former Soviet Union. Although the number of newspapers and magazines has mushroomed during the Nineties, censorship of anything which can be considered political has tightened over the past two years, as the country's propaganda chiefs have orchestrated a "spiritual civilisation" campaign. Fashion and lifestyle magazines have thrived, but can exist because they eschew all politics and sensitive social and economic subjects.

Tunnel's inaugural editorial made it quite clear that such self-censorship is not on the agenda: "The autocracy in the past was able to block what we see and what we hear and rectify our thoughts because they monopolised the technology for dissemination of information. The computer network has changed this. It disseminates technology onto the desks of each and everyone of us ... hence it can undermine the two pillars of an autocratic society - monopoly and suppression."

t Authors wishing to publish in Tunnel should submit their works to tunnel@earthling.net.

News
The cartoon produced by Bruce MacKinnon for the Halifax Chronicle-Herald on Thursday, showing the bronze soldiers of the war memorial in Ottawa welcoming Corporal Cirillo into their midst
news
Voices
Funds raised from the sale of poppies help the members of the armed forces with financial difficulties
voicesLindsey German: The best way of protecting soldiers is to stop sending them into disastrous conflicts
Voices
Nigel Farage has backed DJ Mike Read's new Ukip song
voicesNigel Farage: Where is the Left’s outrage over the sexual abuse of girls in the North of England?
Property
One bedroom terraced house for sale, Richmond Avenue, Islington, London N1. On with Winkworths for £275,000.
property
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
The Edge and his wife, Morleigh Steinberg, at the Academy Awards in 2014
peopleGuitarist faces protests over plan to build mansions in Malibu
News
i100
News
peopleFox presenter gives her less than favourable view of women in politics
News
Mario Balotelli has been accused of 'threateningly' telling a woman to stop photographing his Ferrari
peoplePolice investigate claim footballer acted 'threateningly' towards a woman photographing his Ferrari
Life and Style
The Zinger Double Down King, which is a bun-less burger released in Korea
food + drinkKFC unveils breadless meat beast
Arts and Entertainment
A shared vision: Cerys Matthews has been familiarising herself with Dylan Thomas’s material, for a revealing radio programme
arts + entsA singer, her uncle and a special relationship with Dylan Thomas
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SSRS Report Developer - Urgent Contract - London - £300pd

£300 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: SSRS Report Developer – 3 Mon...

KS1 Teacher

£95 - £150 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Key Stage 1 teacher require...

HR Business Partner - Essex - £39,000 plus benefits

£32000 - £39000 per annum + benefits + bonus: Ashdown Group: Generalist HR Man...

Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £30000 per annum + uncapped: SThree: Do you feel like your sales role...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker
Renée Zellweger's real crime has been to age in an industry that prizes women's youth over humanity

'Renée Zellweger's real crime was to age'

The actress's altered appearance raised eyebrows at Elle's Women in Hollywood awards on Monday
From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

Disney plans live-action remakes of animated classics

From Cinderella to The Jungle Book, Patrick Grafton-Green wonders if they can ever recapture the old magic
Thousands of teenagers to visit battlefields of the First World War in new Government scheme

Pupils to visit First World War battlefields

A new Government scheme aims to bring the the horrors of the conflict to life over the next five years
The 10 best smartphone accessories

Make the most of your mobile: 10 best smartphone accessories

Try these add-ons for everything from secret charging to making sure you never lose your keys again
Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time against Real Madrid: Was this shirt swapping the real reason?

Liverpool v Real Madrid

Mario Balotelli substituted at half-time. Was shirt swapping the real reason?
West Indies tour of India: Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Hurricane set to sweep Windies into the shadows

Decision to pull out of India tour leaves the WICB fighting for its existence with an off-field storm building
Indiana serial killer? Man arrested for murdering teenage prostitute confesses to six other murders - and police fear there could be many more

A new American serial killer?

Police fear man arrested for murder of teen prostitute could be responsible for killing spree dating back 20 years
Sweetie, the fake 10-year-old girl designed to catch online predators, claims her first scalp

Sting to trap paedophiles may not carry weight in UK courts

Computer image of ‘Sweetie’ represented entrapment, experts say
Fukushima nuclear crisis: Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on - and may never return home

Return to Fukushima – a land they will never call home again

Evacuees still stuck in cramped emergency housing three years on from nuclear disaster