China reacted angrily to Wednesday’s announcement that the Obama administration was making $25 million available to help democracy activists and cyber disidents circumvent online censorship.
The money is to be used to enable netizens to overcome online hurdles such as China’s great firewall. Ironicall, but unsurprisingl, one China’s first actions following the announcement was to censor reports of it.
Recent popular uprisings in the middle east, while not being attributed to the influence of the internet or social media, were certainly assisted by it.
Social media was a key tool in the organization of the uprisings which tapped into long held resentments, it did not create those resentments in the first place.
But the swift actions by large numbers of citizens have been carefully watched by leaders of authoritarian regimes like China fearful they will suffer a similar fate.
New agency The Canadian Press reports that “China on Thursday warned the United States not to use calls for uncensored access to the Internet as a pretext to interfere in the domestic affairs of other countries.”