It will be a long time before the people of China have democracy, but how long will it be before they can gain uncensored access to at least a small bit of it, the internet. Some form of dissent on the internet does take place, but nowhere near enough. And it is good news to see that Barack Obama has called on the Chinese government to put this right.
Obama hasn't been the amazing success most progressives wanted and expected him to be, and this could possibly be another example of talk rather than action from a president who still has much to prove. But these words at least chime with Obama's own actions at home, where he has used the internet to go straight to the voters. He has been able, in this way, to set a context and frame an argument without having to go through journalists. By talking straight to the people, Obama has been able to ditch the soundbites that characterised the New Labour spin operation and swing public opinion before he goes to Congress.
The other great strength of the internet is that it allows people to hear primary sources for themselves, meaning it is harder for politicians or even the media to distort the facts. I just hope that one day the people of China will be able to experience the full benefit of this.
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