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China: Porn, Games and Military Power
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January 25, 2008: Chinese Internet use grew over 50 percent last year, to 210 million users. In a few months, China should surpass the United States, which has 215 million users (and a quarter of China's population). The rapid acceptance of the Internet in China is a mixed blessings. Despite a huge bureaucracy dedicated to policing the Internet, there are still problems. Last year, the Chinese Internet police closed 44,000 porn sites, and arrested hundreds of users who were caught spreading news the government did not want discussed (usually about corruption, or anything that made the government look bad. ) Another problem is online games, which a quarter of Chinese Internet users play. Millions are addicted, and parents are complaining to the government about students who flunk out of school because of their game addiction. This looms as a worse threat than porn.

But the Internet also spreads technical knowledge, and the growth of higher education, and the economy (which continues to expand at 10-11 percent a year) is being used to provide China with more military power. The government believes that, in the next few years, China will surpass South Korea in technical abilities, and Germany in GDP. While China is still a minor player in the world of military high tech, the government is putting lots of money and effort into changing this. Expensive, and long term, efforts are being made to produce high tech items like jet engines, missiles and military electronics. At the current rate of progress, Chinese military technology will match that of the United States in a decade or so.

January 13, 2008: In Taiwan, parliamentary elections increased the slim majority of Kuomintang (KMT) party (and smaller parties allied with it). The KMT, which favors closer ties with China, and opposes declaring Taiwanese independence, now controls two-thirds of the seats in parliament. The president of Taiwan is still pro-independence, but that may change after the presidential election on March 22nd.

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