One of the brightest, most interesting voices writing about a critical piece of the China story is Michael Pettis, a Professor of Finance at Beida (Peking University). He blogs at www.piaohaoreport.sampasite.com and writes intelligently about the Chinese economy, the increasing bind the government is in over its mounting current account surplus and semi-pegged currency, and other issues that are of vital and increasing interest to global investors and policymakers.
It is an informative site, and it is also apolitical. That is, Michael doesn’t do Chinese politics, just economics and finance. Yet his site remains blocked by the censors in China—a victim of the intensified firewall that went up prior to the Party Congress.
The conventional wisdom before the Congress, peddled by all sorts of China hands, was that the intensified scrutiny was standard operating procedure before the once every five years event, and that things would revert back to normal once the Party leaders concluded their festivities.
Well, it’s been over a week now, and the Piaohaoreport site remains inaccessible in China. Indeed, Professor Pettis hasn’t even been able to access it and write anything from Beijing in several days. Check out his post October 26. Note specifically the reaction he cites from a Chinese colleague. He has graduate students—who are, literally, the best and the brightest in China—who work on the site with him, and they equally frustrated and furious. Multiply this by the thousands of other blogs in China that remain blocked–for now conceivable reason–and what do you get?
Meanwhile, I have to go say my daily prayers at the altar of Chinese “soft power,” which unfurls, according to various and sundry pundits and Council of Foreign Relations types in the United States, like the mast on a 16th century Spanish galleon, proudly conquering all that comes before it…
What a crock.
Herewith Michael’s post on the subject:
Contrary to expectations, the firewall has gotten even worse and less discriminating after the completion of the 17th Congress. Once again I cannot access my site except through a proxy, which cannot be used for postings, so I depend on a friend outside the mainland to make my entries for me. I apologize for posting things a little late. One of my Chinese colleagues recently expressed intense frustration at how the censors are making it harder than ever for Chinese students to use information technology even while another part of the government proclaims its intention to make China a technological powerhouse. He is furious. I am merely annoyed.