PBS NewsHour did a piece yesterday on the current state of Chinese Internet censorship. Speakers included an anonymous Chinese software engineer, Orville Schell (Dean of UC Berkeley’s School of Journalism), Xiao Qiang (China news aggregator and media activist extraordinaire), and Minxin Pei (Carnegie Endowment and wellknown China scholar).
Much of what was said was not new if you’ve been following the issues, but I thought a few things noteworthy:
more than 100,000 Chinese use proxy technologies
to circumvent Chinese filters every day
Minxin Pei says that Google.cn “has introduced a revolutionary technology of
translating English into Chinese instantly with about 75 to 85 percent of accuracy.” Pei’s point is that this opens up a world of uncensored English-language content to Chinese Internet users.
link to read transcript Update: PBS’s Frontline transcript, with Jeremy Goldkorn, Rebecca MacKinnon, Yan Sham Shackleton, and John Palfrey, goes into a lot more rich detail than the NewsHour piece. See the transcript here.
I had to try out the Google.cn translation tool, so I typed in “Institute for the Future,” and from there went to this blog itself. First of all, it’s fun to see your own site with the familiar design elements, but in Chinese rather than English. However, as those of you who can read Chinese will see from below, the translation gets the general jist across but loses a LOT in the process. I’ll be interested to explore how many people actually use this in China, and how useful they find it. (A rough re-translation of the “About Virtual China” first sentence is actually pretty funny: “China is a virtual simulated exploration and experience…”.)
link to see this blog in Google-translated Chinese. [Update: the link doesn’t seem to work anymore despite my best attempts!]
But it’s probably not fair to test a translation tool on that sentence anyway. Why don’t you try your own site? Go to Google.cn, type in your keyword, press the button that says Google on it. Then click on the purple text that looks like this, next to your website, to initiate the translation: