It has always been appalling at the way China treats its dissidents. It quashes even a remote hint of authoritarian overture by suppressing any speculation that could develop into a movement over a period of time. Freedom of speech is not restricted, rather, it is something that is not even heard of. A democratic tone is killed without any trace and the "nipping in the bud" phrase is followed in the most precise way. If you had the guts to take on the government, you are virtually left naked. There is absolutely no place to hide. The jail terms can be astounding, and the jail conditions absolutely dark, literally as well as metaphorically.
As I was talking to one of my Chinese friends, I was stunned by the level of control that the government exercises on the common man. The fundamental rights of the citizens are snatched and the suppression is taken to a level that virtually leaves a person with no way of getting information that is not government regulated. Coming from India, and now, living in the US, this is something that is highly difficult to comprehend. Every form of social integration is banned - no tweets, no blogs, no feeds and nothing that can even remotely induce an anti-government propaganda. I opined that it is just a matter of time before all these things will be lifted. After all, this is the new millennium, I said with a great degree of confidence. He replied back saying that if I was thinking about the technological advantage, then I was wrong. Technology is neutralized, he said. The Chinese firewall is unquestionably strong and very carefully monitored. So, there is no way of organizing a movement based on online forums or blogs. Media is in the hands of the government. People see and hear what the government wants them to. Even a simple query on the search engine can result in the internet connection being disconnected. Ultimately, you are on the government radar. Arrests are even more dangerous, as no explanation is given about your whereabouts, if need be.
Being deprived of the American versions of the social media, the Chinese locals have come out with their version of Twitter, Facebook and the other equivalents. To say the least, they are making tons of money with it. The best way to make easy money is to create the Chinese versions of the popular websites from the other side of the world. Of course, these websites are controlled. So, there is no way one can get involved in trash talk. Queries like Tiananmen Square Massacre are obviously filtered. In fact, I was told that a few days preceding and succeeding June 4th, greater number of websites were added to the watch list. The hard to believe part is the fact that a massacre of such magnitude took place in 1989 without the slightest of concern to international reactions. The locked up Nobel peace prize winner from China Liu Xiaobo, an open dissident of the authoritarian system is serving a 11 year term for demanding a democratic setup. China has also asked other countries to boycott the ceremony in Oslo, and who to pay heed to the request, but countries like Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea among the 18 countries.
In way, the Chinese setup is different, my friend remarked. I was curious. He replied that as a part of the growing up process, they are instilled with this belief in the strongest possible way, the non-existence of God. "So, we don't fear anything", he said, as a matter of concern. That does seem a bit out of the way for the government as it fears every small thing that it thinks could result in a "subversion of state power".