Monday, October 26, 2009

China left in the dark as U2 plays to the world

On Sunday night U2 streamed their concert from the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, California live to YouTube. As the site announced earlier this week, some 16 countries will be able to view the show live: Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, India, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Netherlands, New Zealand, South Korea, Spain, the United Kingdom and the US. But As the show got underway there was one country left almost entirely in the dark, China.

YouTube has been blocked in China since March this year. Even if it hadn't, Bono's words "I want to tear down the walls that hold me inside" would have probably been enough to censor him and the video hosting site.

But despite the blocks many Chinese and hundreds of expats are still jumping through hoops or using applications that circumvent the firewall to post messages on Twitter, the microblogging social network.

On Sunday a new site came into being which called on people to post messages. The Berlin Twitter Wall was set up to commemorate the fall of the Berlin Wall and asked that people post messages to relay their thoughts twenty years on, or say which walls should also fall. It wasn't long before hundreds of comments from Chinese Internet users flooded the site with calls for the Great Firewall of China to be consigned to history.

On 12th June 1987 President Ronald Reagan stood at the Brandenburg gate in West Germany and called on the Soviets to open its borders. "We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe, if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall!" President Ronald Reagan said.

Within two years the wall had fallen. During a revolutionary wave that was sweeping across the Eastern Bloc, the East German government announced on 9th November, 1989, after several weeks of civil unrest, that all GDR citizens could visit West Germany and West Berlin. Within days the wall was being broken up.

In November this year President Obama will step onto Chinese soil. Many so called netizens and expats in China have expressed the view that he might follow in the footsteps of Reagan and repeat the words, "Tear down this Wall!"

tvnewswatch, Beijing, China

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