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December 4, 2004
The Chinese Indulge In Self-Delusion

In contradiction to earlier reports, China will not allow foreign newspapers to circulate in the Communist nation, which has long tried to close itself off from Western influences. However, they will permit foreign publications to take advantage of cheap Chinese labor and print their newspapers strictly for export:

Foreign newspapers have been given the green light to print in China but they will not be allowed to circulate on the domestic market.

"Foreign newspapers can be printed in China, but all should be exported," Zhu Weifeng, an official with the State Press and Publication Administration (SPPA) told the China Business Weekly.

This "means they are made for export for an international market, so not one copy should be left to enter the Chinese market ... the circulation of overseas newspapers will remain forbidden in China, in the near future."

Beijing has to be in full-blown denial if they really think that China can somehow ensure that "not one copy" will enter the underground market. Those who have worked at printers will remember that copies wind up everywhere, especially those poor copies that can be read but don't meet customer specifications. It's possible to secure against some of the unintended distribution that one gets at commercial printers, but it requires a lockdown and security procedure that rapidly eats into the fat profit that the Chinese hope to earn from these business ventures.

Using a printing press to earn money while forbidding their own citizens the freedom to read what's printed is pretty ironic, and completely self-defeating. Eventually these newspapers will get out, and the populace will suddenly have other sources of information besides the official government news. I think the Chinese are deluding themselves for a few dollars in profit, and they will find the irony more and more bitter as their experiment in the free press backfires on them.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at December 4, 2004 6:50 AM

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