Walled world



If you live in Beijing and Google molihua – jasmine flower – the ‘page cannot be displayed’.

The New York Times reports that sales of the fragrant little white flower are being suppressed in flower markets as China remains in a heightened state of anxiety that the scent of dissent may spread from West Asia. “Local officials, fearful of the flower’s destabilising potency, cancelled this summer’s China International Jasmine Cultural Festival,’’ said NYT. Text messages with the Chinese characters for jasmine are reportedly blocked.

The NYT report is not blocked, though its link to a video of President Hu Jintao singing the Qing dynasty folk song Molihua is behind walls.

Since February, ordinary tasks like reading the morning news online or just sending emails have become tests of patience. The latest Gmail mystery remains unsolved with both Google and the Chinese government saying they are not to blame for the reason why users across China are finding it difficult to sign into Gmail. I’ve given up clicking and refreshing Gmail chat. When I send messages, the computer hangs for several seconds or longer as if deciding whether to send it or stifle it.

Some news websites are now selectively accessible. I can access the Guardian homepage but there are days when I click on the China section and ‘the page cannot be displayed’.

The Guardian reports that China has now started turning its attention to virtual private networks (VPN) used to circumvent the firewall. “Chinese internet users suspect that their government is interfering with the method they have been using to tunnel under the Great Firewall to prevent them connecting with the outside world,’’ said the report. “Sites such as search engine Google and news site MSN have become difficult to access, they say. And a number of universities and businesses have begun warning their users not to try to evade the firewall.’’

There are still ways to find the news without VPN if you have plenty of patience. A version of molihua music played at the Beijing Olympics medal ceremonies is online in a 2008 China Daily report with an audio clip. “This piece of music reminds you of the gold medals for the Beijing Olympics, which are made of gold and jade,’’ Zhao Dongming, the head of the Olympics cultural department, is quoted saying.

Online life in China has completely changed since the Olympian heady rush of 2008 when I came to Beijing. I could then post Facebook messages, chat on Gmail and download YouTube videos.

Since April in Beijing, I can no longer open the Hindustan Times e-paper on my laptop, though the homepage and other sections of the website are available. Friends in Beijing are wondering why they can’t click and read the paper either.

A reader from a remote northern province emailed that he can’t access his morning paper and ‘misses the news’. A few days later the same reader sent another email. “HT opens well in Stockholm where I am on holiday.”

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  • Jay

    Welcome to China! Your inability to read your daily newspaper is caused by the folks at 5 Chang ‘an Avenue West in the capital city of the worlds most populous country. That is the real China that hundreds of Chinese experience everyday, a veritable Gulag where humans have to conform to animal behaviour. Didn’t Chairman Mao once order people to drop their names and replace them with numbers? To read about such success stories I strongly recommend Mao by Jung Chang, which will surely not be available in China.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/bappam Bappa Mukherjee

    SA wrote: “Question today is which party can give good governance in UP?” Unfortunately, good governance is not a priority for any of the political parties in UP where they exploit religion and caste affiliations to divide and mobilize voters. Things have gotten so bad that the venality of candidates is generally not enough to disqualify them from running for office. An ex-IAS officer of the UP cadre, Mr. P.L. Punia is a classic example. He was known as an acolyte of Mayawati during her earlier reign and her Mr moneybags. Any impartial investigation into his assets under the Prevention of Corruption Act would land this man behind bars. Instead, he trots around as a leader of the Scheduled Castes by the Congress and nobody thinks to inquire into his background. This lack of alternatives is the problem that is eating into the vitals of Indian democracy. Just because he has won an election, we are supposed to respect people like him. Anna Hazare’s movement has launched a bold experiment to intervene in this process as veto players where they vet candidates based on their position on the Lok Pal bill like pressure groups in the US. For example, the Americans for Tax Reform has ensured that most Republicans running for elective office sign a pledge not to raise taxes. This is just the beginning.

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  • Guru

    Gautam Saheb, Sonia is using Congress or Congress is using Sonia? I think Sub Chor hain.

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  • Kushal

    It’ll more likely be Hong Kong, Akhilesh.It was on a trip to HK in 2004 from deadly dry Delhi that I realised how much I loved the sea.

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  • Parmanu

    This reminded me of our walk along the Marine drive, that lovely evening in Jan 2010.

    I’ve never lived by the sea, but I’m certain that I’ll love it. For precisely the reasons you outline.

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    Kushal Reply:

    Yep, you get it, Parmanu. Grin.

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  • Anamika

    You cannot…you must not do that

    Not after sharing those amazing bookstores….

    Retire to one of those. I’m sure they’ll take a bookophile (is there word like that?) very gladly as one of their permanent residents :)

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  • Manpreet Singh

    There was a suggestion on Twitter long ago. I forgot the name of the person, but here it is (paraphrased):

    Instead of boycotting the Olympics, Indians should turn up at the Olympics, win medals, and refuse to accept them.

    Succinct and effective.

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  • Bangman

    This pathetic **** who calls himself Iyer or watever his mother told him must be shamed first. Pathetic **** or **** brit as you may be, Indians are going to crush you very soon. Get out of commenting from here you worthless piece of shite.

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  • guest

    Who cares for Indian. They are bunch of arrogant, just like Vir. A country where 60% of population deficate outside in the open, where 42% of the children are malnourished, where almost all politicians are corrupt, where 250 women dies during pregannacy of every 100 000 birth, where 80% live with income less than 80 Rs a day, who will take it seriously. Grow up India.

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  • Guest

    Maybe Vir can get his pal Niira Radia to run the Shame campaign. They certainly have enough practice!

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  • ManmohanSingh

    ahem – why not collect 7 million pounds from each major donor and give it to the Bhopal victims? that would certainly help them. shaming Dow may or may not do anything.

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  • http://aol.com AnilRprla

    Pakis cares where we are headed!!!

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  • Surinder Sharma

    By any paranoid assessment inheritors of legacy of Rajiv Gandhi & Arjun Singh who were directly connected to escape of Union Carbide chief from dragnet of Indian laws can be assigned the responsibility to be held responsible for the misdeed of their predecessors.
    Similarly now even ex chief Union Carbide is squarely & specifically responsible for all liabilities after Bhopal gas leak tragedy & not at all DOW which is being dragged to divert attention from Rajiv Gandhi & Arjun Singh.

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  • Anonymous

    Ridiculous and senseless article by Vir. It was the Indian Govt. of the day which agreed to the compensation package from Union Carbide. Only after everything was settled, Dow agreed to buy Union Carbide. Dude, you should brush up your history!

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  • R,K,Malhotra

    Yes India must stand up ,if it can. But we need a strong and straight spine for that.

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  • Ramesh Talwani

    The Congress TOP leaders ,who tookCARE OF ANDERSON, THEN CHAIRMAN UNION CARBIDE ,when he visited BHOPAL and got dropped at AIRPORT BY BHOPAL GOVT MACHINERY AND BROUGHT TO DELHI IN OFFICIAL PLANE.
    AJAI MAKEN SHOULD STOP CRYING HOARSE.IF CONGRESS IS SERIOUS BAN DOW IN INDIA.

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  • Guest

    This man is obviously arabized as many of his ilk are. They are just too weak to resist the power of arabization.

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    Mohd Inam ullah Reply:

    You are in gross ignorance….you are blaming arabs when right under your nose there are rapes specially in Rape Capital Delhi …I mean India’s capital….
    19,348 rapes were done in 2006 (2 rapes per minute)….. compare this with crime rate of Arabia…specially Saudi where a rapist is given harsh punishment and those who want to do the same crime think 1000 times before they want to commit it….in India if you do 10 rapes or 10 murders you get bail ….

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    Anonymous Reply:

    The Saudi king’s son was arrested in Ldonon for trying to rape and molest a male servant and then finally killing him. Very pure in your eyes!!
    Had it been Riyadh, a conspiracy theory would have been cooked upt that a zionist was trying to attack the prince and the brave prince single handedly killed an armed attacker, barehanded !! And you would have bowed down in admiration!

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  • Guest

    An arabized mind finds reality inconvenient so it invents a parallel world where everything is a Zionist , crusader or infidel plot.

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    Mohd Inam ullah Reply:

    An Indian Slave mind finds everything given by west as heavenly so no questions….as far as 9/11 is concerned just check specially the pentagon claim that Plane that attacked pentagon melt into air……if you know anything about metals and the degree at which they melt then you will question them how come a whole plane melt at such low degree…and even in WTC the steel used was so powerful that it will not go down unless bombs used for soft demolition are used…..just check the engineering videos on youtube which refute US claims that only planes hit brought down WTC….and why should i say anything just check the black sins of mossad if you think zionist are so clean…..even India is a slave of US and Israel so you see that even though USA is so bad in economy still it manages to keep its paper tiger on top (read Dollar)….wake up from your slumber.

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  • Guest

    Sure. The write has already had his say by writing this article. Now the people are having their say. This is classical freedom of expression. Is this unislamic or something for you?

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  • Guest

    This article seems to be based on a “profound” philosophy which goes like this
    “retrograde laws in sharia are ok since in reality other religions also practice the same retrograde laws”

    What’s conveniently left out is that other religious followers may follow retrograde ways in their personal lives regarding child marriage but their laws do not allow them under the Indian constitution. What zia is suggesting is the institutionalization of retrograde Islamic laws for Muslims in India.

    I find it hard to believe that an educated person would take such a stance. It’s totally disgusting.

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  • Anonymous

    I think is another blow to the idea of secular India. This is throwing acid on the foundations of our country. That in the name of minority appeasement, the Government of UPA is willing t sell decency, human rights, women’s rights, children’s rights. It is willing to send girls to, what would qualify as child sex abuse in many countries.

    Shame on UPA.

    Shame on Zia for forgetting the rights of girls. What is the use of your education zia? What is the use of working for a national daily like HT, when you want to peddle the most fanatic ideas.

    SO the idea of getting Seema Chisti and Seema Mustapha in journalism is going to be dead now.

    The idea of getting Sania Mirza’s will be over now.

    The idea of India is going to be dictated by illiterate goons who claim that all that is good is written in this book and if you disagree we wil kill you.

    That before 7th centruy jahils existed on this planet. they were no dinosaurs. There was no religion.

    Ho !! Hum!! What trash…

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  • Anonymous

    If there is a difference between humans and lambs why dont you question why Muslim women worldover have the lowest literacy.
    Why dont you ask yourself why Islam welcomes people in but kills people who want to convert out of it.
    mr Lamb, have you asked yourself why Ahemdis, Qadinis, Sikhs, HIndus and Christians are killed in Pakistan?

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    Mohd Inam ullah Reply:

    Even in India there is low literacy rate thanks to the politicians who dont want to make the common man thinkable similarly where ever the women are low in literacy it is fault of the rulers or the followers or lack of facilities…as far as Islam is concerned it makes mandatory for every male and female to acquire knowledge….famous saying Talabul ilmun farizatun ala kulli muslimin wa muslimatin…Acquiring knowledge is obligatory on every muslim male and female…even the first revelation of the last and final book was Iqra(meaning Read)….so there is no question of Islam prohibiting women …in case of methodlogy Islam does not guide us to get degrees for syllabus designed by Macaulay(During british rule)…..syllabus can change as per needs of the times and needs…if you see early scientist many of them are muslims…..
    http://scienceislam.com/muslims_science.php

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    vijay ! Reply:

    So you feel married girls at 15 will get better knowledge?

    Why dont you see the world form the eyes of a 15 year old girl in a burqa who could be a fourth wife all because of an outdated anti human rights personal law .

    Please don’t say that it rarely happens because it does happen. If Islam makes it obligatory for women to have knowledge than the people who propagate retrograde ideas like marriage at 15 have only got the wrong knowledge.

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  • meena

    Its irrelevant that media made it a big issue the fact remains that Islam allows under age marriages..it is also irrelevant that most mmuslims do not marry their daughters under 18 years…they still can if their law permits…what are you trying to say here..

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  • meena

    It is irrelevant whether media made this an issue the fact remains that Muslim law allows underage marriages..it is also irrelevant that most Muslims do not marry thedir daughters at 16..but this does not change the fact that the law permits and therefore they can if they want..dont defend the indefensible

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  • engrich

    goverment should intervene in 99%of muslim countries women marriage age is 18,

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  • Anonymous

    The nonsense about Saudi purity!
    On of the myths many Muslims suffer from is that they have at least 1% Saudi blood in them. This is a sort of lie which is used to make them feel that Saudi blood is superior. If you read the tales of Mohammad of Ghazni, Nadir Shah, Ghouri… none of them came ot India with women.
    All of the women were captured on the way. Or maybe they fell in love with the soldiers. Fair enough– this is the charitable version.
    But the fact is that there is HIndu blood in the Muslims of india. If you go by one invading horseman marring a local woman– then it is 50-50. But in cae the progeny later again married and mated with a local– then it becoms 75 % HIndu and 25% Muslim.
    So Mr Inam … have a look at real history, rather than imagined propoganda.
    The Saudi king’s son was arrested in Ldonon for trying to rape and molest a male servant and then finally killing him. Very pure in your eyes!!

    Had it been Riyadh, a conspiracy theory would have been cooked upt that a zionist was trying to attack the prince and the brave prince single handedly killed an armed attacker, barehanded !! And many rote learners of Saudi surperiority would have bowed down in admiration

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  • Anita

    The funny thing is that marraige is not void even for underage Hindu, Sikh or other Muslim couples if the minor partners don’t ask for an annulment. It is not a Muslim personal law thing.
    In almost all western countries, the age of consent to have sex is from 13 in Japan to 16 in most European countries. Yet, the idea is that they are mature enough to understand and emotionally have sex but not marry? Infact, most states in the US and some western European countries even allow marriage of teenagers under 18 but older than 16 if Parental consent is provided.

    Also, the case here is that the girls parent DID NOT want the girl to get married. They were opposed to the marriage and did not provide parental consent. So I don’t see how even under Muslim personal law this is possible because parental consent is required for minor girls.

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  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100001723038692 Kyle Blank

    The problem is that the peak oil theorists are always claiming we will encounter problems in “the next few years,” then the next few years come and nothing happens. Now I am sure if I had debated this with say a Matthew Simmons or whatnot, that they would have wiped the floor with me as they understand (in Simmons’s case understood) the subject a lot better than I do, but peak oil theorists do not seem to understand the subject nearly as well as they think they do. If they did, then they would have been right on the claims made about hitting peak oil in the late 1990s, the early 2000s, the mid-2000s, 2012, and so forth.
    One thing to keep in mind as that as oil gets more expensive, investment pours into new technologies to make extracting the tougher oil (like shale oil) easier and cheaper. Yes, production rates might be slower and harder to maintain with current technology, but new technology has ways of making previously “impossible” things in different areas of technology possible. There was a time, for example, when engineers said that the idea of having televisions the size of phones and flat screen displays, and so forth, was just science fiction, and would never happen, then it happens.
    Another thing to keep in mind is that if the older economy was built on cheap oil, that means industry didn’t have the incentive to do things as efficiently or cheaply regarding things requiring petroleum. As oil gets more expensive, industry isn’t just going to sit and continue chugging along as usual. They’ll by themselves start investing in finding new ways to do all sorts of things far more efficiently, and with less.

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