China: November 29, 2004


 China finds itself deploying military forces on several fronts. The most obvious is the coastal areas facing Taiwan. Here there are over 500 ballistic missiles set up and ready to fire, along with several hundred thousand land, air and naval troops.

But there is also a build up of military units on the border with North Korea. The situation in North Korea gets worse each month, with military and police discipline breaking down and more North Koreans illegally crossing into border to defect, do business or commit crimes. China fears a complete breakdown in North Korea, and millions of desperate refugees trying to get into China.

Throughout China, the government continues to "battle" the religious movement Falungong. With tens of millions of devout followers, Falungong only wants to be able to practice their religion openly. But police continue to hunt down members and arrest them. Falungong has gone underground, and is still very much around. And so are thousands of police assigned to stamp out the organization. China expects religious groups to be very responsive to government wishes. Falungong refuses to submit.

On the Internet front, the government has thousands of technicians and police trying to control what is said, and seen, by over a hundred million Internet users. The current major headache is the growth of blogs. There are at least half a million Chinese blogs, and they have proved very difficult to police. The Chinese national police has established "internet squads" in over 700 locations throughout the country. These are the guys who will find local internet transgressions and make arrests. But the local cyber cops are very dependent on China's national level Internet screening efforts. This is called the "Great Firewall of China." It's not perfect, but it does force Chinese to stay away from many foreign news sources. Thus the danger of blogs, which provide news commentary locally, inside the Great Firewall of China.


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