CFP96 Plenary Session

China and the Internet: Living in Interesting Times

Moderator:Gary T. Marx
Panelists: Xing Li
Zaiqing Fang
Mark Berthold
Milton Mueller
Raymond Wacks

The Chinese expression "may you live in interesting times" clearly applies to issues of computers and society as the internet explosively spreads in China and throughout Asia. All of the questions involving access, content, security, freedom of expression, privacy, property and the undermining of conventional borders are relevant. In addition there are unique issues facing developing countries and those that have not institutionalized Western notions of individual liberty. What happens to local cultures in the face of the strong media models offered by the West? Can a society have competitive economic development without permitting the freedom of expression and access made possible by new information technologies? Will horizontal means of communication such as the Internet lead to the weakening of centralized government and commercial control and even of national borders? What laws and policies are likely to govern iternet use? What will happen to traditional civil liberties and privacy expectations when Hong Kong returns to China in 1997? What are some of the likely social impacts of the internet on China and of the Chinese internet on the outside world? The panel will begin with a general overview of internet and computer issues in China and then explore questions such as the above.

Moderator Gary T. Marx, Professor Emeritus M.I.T. and Professor of Sociology Unversity of Colorado, is the author of Undercover: Police Surveillance in America and Undercover: Police Surveillance in Comparative Perspective. He recently spent a month teaching in China as part of a broader study of technology and borders. Contact: / (303) 492-1697


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Last updated April 6, 1996