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Evening Chats with Perry Link: Freedom and Control on the Chinese Internet

Oct 17, 2018 06:00 pm to 08:00 pm
Organiser: Barbara Mittler, Heidelberg Centre for Transcultural Studies
Institute of Chinese Studies, Room 208

Respondents: Prof. Dr. Sebastian Harnisch and Prof. Dr. Rudolf Wagner

The appearance of the Internet in China gave a huge boost to free expression by Chinese citizens, not only because it provided vast new sources of information but also because it offered platforms from which people could speak to the world, whether anonymously or not.  The Chinese regime, rightly perceiving a major challenge to the control of information it had long coveted, established effective systems of censoring the Internet and—even more effectively—of prescribing what should go onto the Internet in the first place.  Newspapers, magazines, and websites are regularly advised about which topics to stress and which to downplay, even to the detail of which page a news item should appear upon and what size characters should be used in its headline.

Perry Link, “Censoring the News Before it Happens” in The New York Review of Books. https://www.nybooks.com/daily/2013/07/10/censoring-news-before-happens-china/

Liu Xiaobo, “Long Live the Internet” and “Imprisoning People for Words and the Power of Public Opinion” from /No Enemies, No Hatred./ (on moodle)


Why Evening Chats?  

Chinese intellectuals have a traditional duty, for which there is no equivalent in the West: to worry, to “take responsibility for all under heaven,” to argue the question “What can we do with China?” In his 1992 classic Evening Chats in Beijing, an “utterly absorbing gem of a book” (Library Journal), Perry Link conveys the worries besetting China’s most prominent writers, journalists, scientists, professors, and contentious officials. Link creates “an invaluable opening onto China’s best and brightest hearts and minds” (Kirkus Reviews), allowing the Chinese themselves to tell us what happened in Beijing throughout the Cultural Fever. Now that Perry Link will be in Heidelberg, he is letting us in on his readings of Chinese intellectual fervours and the possibilities of thinking across borders. He will offer a series of interactive lectures where colleagues and students are to take an active part. 


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